Kia Niro (2016-2022) Review
The Kia Niro is a small SUV available as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and also available in electric e-Niro form
Strengths & weaknesses
The Kia Niro is a small family SUV that was designed from the start to be available with hybrid power, so all versions of the car have some kind of electric motor. This means it’s an alternative to models such as the Toyota C-HR and Renault Captur.
The Niro uses 1.6-litre petrol engines alongside its electric motors. In the hybrid model there’s a small battery that is charged using this engine only, while in the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version the battery is bigger and can also be charged up using a plug to maximise efficiency.
Hybrids are getting more and more popular as buyers move away from diesel power, as this type of car can bring excellent fuel economy on petrol power and without the inconvenience of an electric model. However if you do want an electric car, there is also the Kia e-Niro, which is a fantastic car, and you can read more about that in our dedicated article covering it.
The Niro is a practical, quiet and easy car to drive, plus it has lots of standard kit and the hybrid setup means it’s really efficient. It has a few drawbacks, though, mainly its dull driving experience, slightly firm ride over bumpy roads and its relatively high price.
As a used car it could be a great option for a couple of reasons. It came with a seven-year warranty, so many examples still have plenty of cover left over, and it should also be really reliable and cheap to run.
Read on to find out more about the Kia Niro and see if it’s right for you.
Should I get a Kia Niro?
✔ Efficient engines
✔ Well equipped
✔ Quiet and easy to drive
✘ Not as comfortable as its rivals
✘ A bit expensive
✘ Dull to drive
The Kia Niro is an interesting choice - it’s one for people who have a pragmatic mindset when buying a car. It’s not something you buy with your heart, as it’s dull to drive, has a plain interior and isn't the most comfortable car.
Yet if you are buying with your head and get a good deal, you’ll find that the Niro is a good option. It’s roomy inside, quiet, efficient, should be reliable and comes with plenty of standard kit. It’s a great family car for people who just need something easy to drive and that won’t cost a lot to run.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Hybrid/Plug-in hybrid
- Charge time
- Best Niro for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
Kia Niro Hybrid
The Kia Niro is a small SUV but it’s still big enough for a family - it’s not as roomy as the Skoda Karoq, but it’s bigger than the Ford Puma. It has five doors and is available only as a hybrid or, in the case of the related e-Niro (covered in a separate buyers' guide), as an electric car.
Both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions use a 1.6-litre petrol engine, and in the normal hybrid it’s combined with an electric motor and a small battery to create 140hp. It uses a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is a contrast to many hybrid cars such as the Toyota C-HR, which uses a CVT (a type of automatic gearbox with no physical gears).
The car went on sale in 2016 and was updated in 2019 - it got new bumpers, headlights and some other equipment, but was fundamentally the same. It went off sale in 2022 when the new version arrived.
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
The Plug-in Hybrid version of the Niro uses the same 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, with the same combined total of 140hp. However in this car the electric motor provides more of the power in the mixture, and you can drive on electric power for much longer periods - about 30 miles, 10 times further than the hybrid - provided you regularly charge the batteries.
Fuel economy is claimed to be around 200mpg but that’s not to be taken seriously - it’s an ideal-world figure and relies on the car being charged regularly and mainly covering short journeys. In reality, both versions are likely to achieve around 60mpg, but the PHEV version has the potential for driving to work and doing town trips on electric power alone - again, provided you charge the car beforehand - so could be really efficient if your situation suits it.
|'2'||From £13,689: All versions of the Niro come with Bluetooth, alloy wheels, climate control, a digital radio, parking sensors, LED lights and an eight-inch media system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.|
|'3'||From £14,995: The mid-spec '3' model adds an upgraded 10.3-inch screen, adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, tinted windows, heated seats and automatic lights and wipers.|
|'4'||From £16,995: The top-spec model comes with all of the above as well as 18-inch alloy wheels and a large sunroof.|
For most people the normal Kia Niro hybrid will be the best option. It doesn’t need to be charged up at home, as the engine charges the small battery, yet you can still benefit from 60mpg fuel economy and near-silent low-speed driving. It’s also a lot cheaper to buy than an equivalent plug-in hybrid.
However, some people will really benefit from the PHEV model. If you have a sub-30-mile commute and can charge at work or at home - and have the discipline to do this regularly - you can make maximum use of the electric motor and hardly use the petrol engine at all. Those people can save a lot of money on fuel.
The plug-in hybrid version of the Niro has a small 9kWh battery pack driving its electric motor (alongside a 1.6-litre petrol engine). The Niro PHEV can drive for about 30 miles on a single charge, and takes about two and a quarter hours to charge up at a home wallbox charger.
It can’t charge any faster at a public rapid charger, but you don’t really need to do so as you have a petrol engine as a backup anyway - though run the battery down and rely on the petrol engine and you can expect poor fuel economy that comes nowhere near the official figures. Charging using a three-pin plug will take a bit longer than those two hours, but it’s easily doable overnight.
There aren’t that many versions of the Kia Niro, as there are only three trim levels and two formats - there’s not even a choice of gearbox, as both versions are automatics. However you might choose a certain version if your situation fits it best, so we’ve come up with the best versions for a range of drivers below.
|Kia Niro 1.6 Hybrid '3': The normal hybrid is better value than the PHEV, and the best trim level to choose is the '3' as it has a really good array of equipment and isn’t as expensive as the '4', which has unnecessary kit.
|Kia Niro 1.6 Plug-in Hybrid '3': If you need a car for the school run, the plug-in hybrid might be a better choice. Charge up overnight and you may be able to drive to school on electric power only, so you could potentially save money on fuel and get to school - and maybe even back home - with no emissions on the route as well.
|Kia Niro 1.6 Plug-in Hybrid: The PHEV version has the exact same power output - 140hp - as the hybrid, but as the electric motor is more powerful it’s able to get up to speed quicker. It goes from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds, which isn’t very fast, but it feels punchy from low speeds.|
|Kia Niro 1.6 Plug-in Hybrid '4': The top-spec '4' version is rather expensive considering you don’t get a whole lot of extra kit. Not only is it worse value than other versions, but the larger 18-inch alloy wheels also make it more uncomfortable over bumpy roads.
The Kia Niro is a slightly unusual size for an SUV, so it has quite a broad spread of rivals. The main ones you should consider include the Toyota C-HR and Renault Captur, which are available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms and are a similar size.
There’s also the Ford Puma, Hyundai Tucson and Mini Countryman. Other rivals that aren’t SUVs are out there as well - the Hyundai Ioniq is a close one, as it uses the same engines and battery tech, but is a bit more efficient. There’s also the Toyota Prius, which is more efficient still and is very comfortable, reliable and good to drive.
Kia Niro practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Kia Niro is 4.4m long, 1.5m tall and 1.8m wide (excluding the door mirrors), so it’s about the same size as a Toyota C-HR. It’s a more square shape than the Toyota, though, so there’s a little bit more room inside - especially in the back seats.
Two adults will be able to sit in the back of the Niro without too much trouble, although three would be a stretch. The middle seat is quite narrow, and shoulder room isn’t the best. Since the Niro is a bit higher up than some models such as the Toyota Prius, it’s easier to get in and out of for some passengers as well.
|Length 4,355mm||Width 1,805mm|
|Height 1,535mm||Weight 1,500kg - 1,594kg|
The Niro has 382 litres of boot space in Hybrid form, but this drops to just 324 litres in the plug-in version. This is because the larger battery is situated below the boot floor, so it reduces the amount of space available inside.
The rear seats fold down to create a space of 1,380 litres in the Hybrid model or 1,322 litres in the PHEV. The Niro is decently practical - it’s about as roomy as a VW Golf - but there are some rivals with more space for luggage. The Toyota C-HR has 377 litres, so it’s about the same, but the Prius has a huge 502-litre boot with a big hatchback door for easy access.
|Seats up 324-382 litres||Seats down 1,322-1,425 litres|
The Niro is likely to be very reliable. Not only is Kia known for building reliable cars, the Niro itself came in 15th place in the 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, where reliability makes up a big part of its high ranking.
Kia as a maker came in second in that section of the poll, so it’s likely to be a very good car to own and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend one as a used car. Not only that, but it will probably still have some factory warranty left even as a used car (see below).
The Kia Niro comes with a fantastic seven-year warranty from new, so even fairly old used examples will still have plenty of time left on the factory cover.
The warranty lasts for 100,000 miles, and given that Niros are best used for shorter trips (especially the PHEV model), it’s easy to find examples with low mileage and plenty of warranty left. Only Toyota offers a longer warranty (up to 10 years) with its models.
|7 years||100,000 miles|
The Kia Niro is not a very exciting car, as it’s a bit dull to drive and isn’t exactly stunning to look at. However, if you’re a pragmatic buyer and want something that’s reliable, cheap to run and roomy inside then it could be a great choice.
It’s well equipped and has all the tech you need, plus it’s available as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid so you can pick the best one to suit you. It’s not the best value for money, as rivals such as the Toyota C-HR are similarly priced and better to drive, but the Niro is practical, easy to drive and should deliver high fuel economy and low maintenance bills.
The Kia Niro Hybrid is the best-value version. It’s just as good to drive as the PHEV model but is cheaper to buy and will easily manage 60mpg in normal driving without even having to charge up overnight. The '3' trim level is the best value in terms of the kit you get versus the price you pay.
Choose a Kia Niro PHEV if you have a short commute or school run and can - and will remember to - charge up at home, as you can predominantly use the electric motor alone and save a whole lot of money on fuel. If you can’t -or won't - charge up, though, avoid this version as it’s less efficient without making the most of the batteries.
The top-spec '4' model is really well equipped and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof plus everything you get on lesser models. One thing to remember when choosing this version, though, is that it’s a little bit more uncomfortable than the versions with smaller wheels, as there's less rubber between you and the road.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.