From a PR standpoint, a Guinness World Record is worth its weight in press release gold. That's why Kia hit the road to pick up a pretty niche world record that will likely stand until the same driver does it again in a different car.
Kia earned a new Guinness World Record with its. The car made it from Los Angeles City Hall to New York City Hall, a distance of 3,715.4 miles, at an average fuel economy of 76.6 mpg. That's a little over four tanks of gas. The official record of the record is Lowest Fuel Consumption by a Hybrid Vehicle. The car wasn't modified for the journey in any way.
That's a pretty good number, considering the Niro's EPA-estimated fuel economy figures. In fuel-sipping FE trim, it's rated at 52 mpg highway and 49 mpg city. The mid-range Niro LX achieves 51 mpg highway and 46 mpg city. If you want to get fancy, the top-trim Touring cuts economy back to 46 mpg highway and 40 mpg city. Achieving nearly 1.5 times the EPA-estimated fuel economy requires a light foot.
Autoblog points out that this isn't Kia's first appearance in the Guinness book. Back in 2011, Kia hired the same driver to complete a drive through the 48 contiguous US states in an , which achieved 64.55 mpg over the course of the journey. Kia lost that record to a Honda Insight.
Autoblog also brings up another good point -- that there isn't a point, really. With so many records available, and with new ones coming up all the time, the idea of achieving a world record is a bit more diluted than it used to be. After all, the only things required to pick up a new world record are paying Guinness some money and creating a new category.
Seeing a hybrid hit 76.6 mpg is impressive, but beyond gloating and putting a "World Record Holder" sticker on the car at dealerships, it's not really representative of much. These kinds of numbers are very difficult to hit in the real world without taking extreme measures such as driving below the speed limit and varying vehicle speed based on road topography, which is a bit less safe than just hustling along with the flow of traffic.