In-depth reviews

Kia Niro SUV review

"The Kia Niro is a hybrid SUV that’s not quite as frugal as the Toyota Prius, but is practical, easy to drive and highly affordable"

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Impressive practicality
  • Good refinement
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Relatively high list price
  • A Prius is more efficient

The Kia Niro is a hugely capable family car – not least because it's spacious, fuel-efficient and loaded with kit. It sits somewhere between a family hatchback and an SUV, and comes with a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains.

That choice of propulsion means it spans a large part of the family car market. It will appeal to buyers looking at petrol or hybrid versions of the Ford Puma, Hyundai Kona and Toyota C-HR, as well as plug-in models of the MINI Countryman and Renault Captur. The pure-electric e-Niro goes up against the new Vauxhall Mokka-e, and Volkswagen ID.3.

Unlike hybrid conversions of petrol and diesel-engined cars, the Niro was intended as an electrified model from the start. This means its electric motor and battery system were integrated into the design from the outset and don't rob it of interior or boot space as is the case in some less thoroughly designed rivals. Its relatively square proportions help to increase the sense of space inside, too; the Niro is a very accommodating family car.

It went through a mid-life refresh in 2019, which updated the car’s design slightly but was mainly about upgrading the technology on board. A bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen was introduced, along with the ability to remotely check on the car via Kia's UVO Connect Services smartphone app. 

The Niro hybrid has always been a pretty economical car, and Kia has left its powertrain largely untouched for the facelifted version. Kia claims 58.9mpg for the hybrid model, a figure that can't quite match the Toyota Prius, but is pretty remarkable for such a bulky, practical machine. If its official fuel-efficiency seems lower than before, that's because it's now tested to stricter WLTP standards, which means the quoted figure is much easier to achieve in real life.

Total power output is 139bhp, so don't expect a sparkling drive – 0-62mph takes 11.1 seconds. However, unlike other hybrids that use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Niro has a dual-clutch automatic, and this helps it to feel fairly responsive and eager, avoiding the sluggish feel for which CVTs are well known. It gives far fewer cues as to its hybrid nature than most cars of its type to drive.

The plug-in hybrid feels much the same to drive, but its larger battery pack and electrical hook-up means it can be charged overnight for up to 30 miles of all-electric driving. Some urban commuters will find this sufficient for a trip to work and back and its official fuel consumption figure is 201.8mpg. It's worth noting that you're only likely to realise this figure if you make full use of its electric capabilities and rarely run on petrol, but some will find its 31g/km CO2 emissions figure of far more consequence – it places the Niro PHEV in a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax band and allows it to enter low emissions zones like the area covered by the London Congestion Charge.

Although forward-thinking design means the Niro's hybrid system steals little interior space, its extra weight has still forced compromises to be made. The suspension is on the stiff side, which prevents the Niro from leaning heavily in bends but also gives it a rather firm ride – made worse by the 18-inch wheels of range-topping versions. The steering is rather inert, too, lacking much in the way of feel. But spirited driving really isn't what the Niro is all about – it's far more at ease providing fuss-free family transport without burning a lot of fuel.

You can choose from 2, 3 and 4 trim levels on the hybrid and 2 and 3 specs on the PHEV. All come with essentials like Bluetooth, alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, rear parking sensors and LED daytime running lights as standard. There's also an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, allowing you to use your phone and certain apps, such as Google Maps and Spotify, via the screen.

The 3 adds desirable upgrades like a 10.25-inch screen, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, front parking sensors, satellite navigation with traffic updates, tinted windows, black leather upholstery (heated in the front) and automatic lights and wipers. The 4 gets all the toys, including 18-inch wheels and a sunroof.

The pure-electric Kia e-Niro is also defined as a standalone model in it's own right, though it is available with a choice of batteries and specs. The smaller battery models will officially do 180 miles, while those with the larger battery are capable of 282 miles between charges. That latter figure beats rivals like the Nissan Leaf, as well as premium models like the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace. As the most high-tech Niro offered, it’s also the most expensive, with the flagship ‘4+’ trim model costing a shade under £40,000.

The Niro has been well received by owners, who ranked it in an impressive second-place overall in our 2021 Driver Power survey. The company's seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is one of the best in the business, too.

This helps to round off a package that might not set the standard in any given area, but makes a very competent, well equipped all-rounder that should be very easy to live with.

An all-new Kia Niro has already been announced, and will arrive later this year. It features bold new design, upgraded technology and a choice of hybrid and electric powertrains. 

See how this car scored on our sister site DrivingElectric

Recommended

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2022
Hyundai Tucson SUV review
Best cars
5 Jul 2022

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2022

Toyota Yaris Cross SUV review
Toyota Yaris Cross
Toyota Yaris Cross
4 Jul 2022

Toyota Yaris Cross SUV review

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate review
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate
4 Jul 2022

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate review

Kia Sorento Edition aims to solve new car shortages
Kia Sorento Edition diesel
Kia Sorento SUV
1 Jul 2022

Kia Sorento Edition aims to solve new car shortages

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Facelifted Volvo XC60 driving - front
Deals
1 Jul 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car technology
22 Jun 2022

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022
2021 Citroen Ami
Best cars
16 Jun 2022

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022

More on Niro

Show me:
Top 10 best used hybrid cars 2022
Corolla best hybrid cars
Best cars
29 Jun 2022

Top 10 best used hybrid cars 2022

Read our guide to see the best used hybrid cars available to buy right now.
2022 Kia Niro: prices, specs and Niro EV prototype drive
2022 Kia Niro EV cornering
Kia Niro
14 Jun 2022

2022 Kia Niro: prices, specs and Niro EV prototype drive

Kia’s smaller family SUV starts from under £30k, with Niro EV models starting from £34,995
Top 10 best Motability cars 2022
Renault Clio hatchback
Car buying
18 May 2022

Top 10 best Motability cars 2022

We pick out 10 cars that are great options for Motability users in the UK
Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
9 May 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

SUVs and 4x4s don't have to be gas guzzlers. We've picked out some of the most economical SUVs you can buy
Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

Our rundown details the best and most fuel-efficient cars on sale today
Top 10 best used SUVs 2022
Skoda Karoq - front 3/4 view
Best cars
12 Apr 2022

Top 10 best used SUVs 2022

Want to find an affordable SUV? Check out our list of the top 10 best used SUVs available.
Top 10 best small hybrid cars 2022
Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid driving
Best cars
15 Dec 2021

Top 10 best small hybrid cars 2022

If you're after an economical car that doesn't take up much space and doesn't have a diesel engine, you'll want to read our guide to the best small hy…
Best used cars: our 2022 Best Used Car Award winners
Carbuyer Best Used Car Awards 2022 - the winners
Awards
13 Oct 2021

Best used cars: our 2022 Best Used Car Award winners

These are the winners of Carbuyer Best Used Car Awards 2022
New Kia Niro Connect special edition unveiled
Kia Niro Connect
Kia
2 Jul 2021

New Kia Niro Connect special edition unveiled

Kia’s Niro Connect offers extra features and costs from £25,995
New Kia Picanto and Stonic special editions unveiled
Kia
2 Jan 2020

New Kia Picanto and Stonic special editions unveiled

Colourful Zest and Maxx versions of the Kia Picanto and Stonic are on sale now
Facelifted 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid now on sale
Kia Niro plug-in hybrid front quarter
Kia Niro SUV
8 May 2019

Facelifted 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid now on sale

Revised Kia Niro hybrid range features a revised exterior and interior, and an array of updated tech
Top 3 used plug-in hybrid SUVs for £28,000: MINI Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Niro
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV
20 Dec 2018

Top 3 used plug-in hybrid SUVs for £28,000: MINI Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Niro

“Dear Carbuyer, I’m after a plug-in hybrid SUV without a premium price tag. What options are out there for £28,000?”
New 2018 Kia e-Niro electric SUV: specs, price and on-sale date
Kia Niro
2 Oct 2018

New 2018 Kia e-Niro electric SUV: specs, price and on-sale date

Choice of two battery capacities for Kia e-Niro electric car – up to 301-mile range claimed
Suzuki Vitara hybrid on its way
2018 Suzuki Vitara front
Suzuki Vitara
19 Sep 2018

Suzuki Vitara hybrid on its way

Suzuki will introduce electrification to its range in the coming years, starting with the Vitara SUV
Why owners love their Kia Niro
Sponsored
9 Aug 2018

Why owners love their Kia Niro

Discover why owners voted their Kia Niro as the UK’s best small SUV

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
20 Jun 2022

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
24 Jun 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022