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2020 Kia Niro Hybrid gets tweaked design, more tech features

The refreshed Niro carries on with a 50-mpg hybrid powertrain

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Kia's gasoline-electric Niro will enter the 2020 model year with minor design updates inside and out. The re-styled crossover made its debut next to the new Kia Seltos at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Stylists started the redesign by giving the Niro's front end a nip and tuck. The 2020 model stands out from the outgoing 2019 variant with new-look headlights, chevron-shaped fog lights Citroën likely wishes it had thought of first, and grille with diamond-shaped inserts. The changes made to the rear end are largely limited to the bottom part of the bumper, which looks more rugged thanks in part to gray trim designed to mimic a skid plate. And 2020-specific 16- and 18-inch alloys round out the changes.

Experiencing déjà vu? It's likely because the European-spec Niro made its debut during the 2019 Geneva Motor Show with the same look. 

Peek inside and you'll spot a redesigned, 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. Customers can upgrade to a 10.25-inch infotainment screen programmed with navigation at an extra cost. The list of options includes shift paddles that let the driver dial in the desired amount of regenerative braking, an electronic parking brake, and, for a more festive vibe, ambient lightning that glows in six colors.

There are no mechanical changes, meaning the Niro carries on with a hybrid powertrain made up of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine bolted to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and an electric motor that draws power from a 1.56-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The two power sources join forces to deliver 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and they give the crossover nearly 600 miles of driving range. Fuel economy checks in up to 50 mpg in a combined cycle.

Kia expanded its suite of available electronic driving aids with lane following and lane-keeping assist, which help keep the Niro in its lane. The crossover is also offered with high-beam assist.

The 2020 Kia Niro will arrive in showrooms in early 2020. Pricing will be released in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date. The company confirmed the Plug-In Hybrid model will receive the same updates as its plug-less sibling, and it will go on sale at about the same time. It's reasonable to assume the Niro EV will go under the knife, too, but Kia excluded it from its announcement.

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