2017 Kia Niro FE Review: The Mass Appeal Hybrid

– Cleveland, Ohio

The Kia Niro is meant to compete with the Toyota Prius head on. To make it a fair fight, Kia gave its hybrid two things the other one doesn’t have: better handling and some style. Oh yeah, and impressive fuel efficiency – nearly as much as the other guy – but that’s a given for any car that wants to take on the world’s most popular hybrid. The Niro, though, is something altogether new: an attractive, crossover-esque hybrid with utility, economy, and styling in spades. Plus, it drives nothing like your parents’ Prius.

 

 

Pros

Prius-level MPG. The Niro’s fuel economy is a moving target because it’s rated separately by trim level – the higher you go, the heavier and less fuel efficient your Niro will be. This base model Niro FE is the most efficient of the bunch and only burns a thimble more of fuel than the Prius – 50 miles per gallon combined versus 52, respectively, according to official estimates. In real world terms, that equals just 0.1 gallon more fuel burned over 100 miles of driving. During my week driving the Niro FE, which included a lot of highway driving, I matched the official rating of 50 miles per gallon according to the trip computer. Around the city, though, I saw 50-55 mpg and even 60+ mpg when I employed some hypermiling tricks.

Un-hybrid styling. This car’s corporate platform-mate, the Hyundai Ioniq, has the same basic shape as the Prius. The Niro, though, looks nothing like either, instead sporting an outline that evokes the styling of a ...