Kia goes Toyota Prius hunting with its new Niro hybrid
With gas prices hovering at wallet friendly low, it's probably not the most opportune time to be launching a new hybrid vehicle.
but ever more stringent government fuel economy standards and the fact that low gas prices won't last forever are still making them important to auto makers.
In Kia's case, its green car plans call for them to almost triple its offerings by 2020, with one of its major players in the charge being the 2017 Niro.
Based on the company's first dedicated eco car platform, Kia
[INAUDIBLE] Calling the Niro a hybrid utility vehicle.
That aims to deliver the efficiency of a hybrid, the practicality of a small crossover.
But at the same time, provide nice driving dynamics with styling doesn't scream hybrid like the Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Volt.
On the design front, it's a success, because the Niro looks clean and attractive with wide and low proportions, along with Kia's signature tiger nose grill up front.
It looks like a regular small crossover.
Inside the cabin, Kia addresses comfort with higher seating positions, providing easy ingress and egress, and pays close attention to keeping unwanted wind, road, and [INAUDIBLE] Noises out with plenty of sound insulation, body sealing materials and an acoustic glass windshield.
The quiet cabin will also allow you to easily listen to the UVO3 entertainment system which is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.
For maximum cabin and cargo space, the hybrid system's lithium ion polymer battery pack is set under the rear seat.
He expects the [UNKNOWN] hand to be strong and is targeting a 50 mile per gallons combined rating from its updated hybrid drive trains that pairs an [UNKNOWN] cycle and direct injected 1.6 litre 4 cylinder with a transmission mounted electric motor.
Together they provide a net system output of 146 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque.
Routing power to the front wheels is an updated 6 speed dual clutch transmission which almost surely will provide standard performance traits over the continuously variable transmissions found on most hybrid vehicles.
While I can't comment on driving dynamics, the dual clutch transmission should certainly help and Kia says it's worked on tuning the drive train for smooth power delivery and providing linear performance from the regen brake.
If Kia's done a good job there, they'll squash common hybrid vehicle complaints about odd throttle tipping response and break pedal feel to possibly have a nice driving green vehicle on it's hand.
If the 2017 Kia Niro look and sounds promising to you, strap yourselves in for a bit of a wait because it won't go on sale here in the US until the 1st quarter of next year and who knows, maybe we'll have higher gas prices by then making this normal looking hybrid even more attractive