2020 Niro New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Kia Niro hatchback is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric EV. It's been updated for 2020 with fresh styling and a revised instrument panel with larger infotainment screen.
Most Niros on dealer lots are the standard hybrid, which uses a 139-horsepower 1.6-liter inline-4 to send power to the front wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The Niro plug-in hybrid adds a bigger battery that gives it about 26 miles of electric-only range, after which it behaves just like the standard car.
The Niro EV uses an electric motor and a much larger battery pack good for upward of 200 horsepower, nearly 240 miles of electric range, and excellent acceleration. It gives the Chevy Bolt EV a serious run for the money, and from a practicality standpoint offers most of what the Tesla Model 3 does, at a fraction of the price.
The Niro hybrid performs adequately in around-town driving but falls short in passing. Its soft ride and pleasant handling, not to mention its sky-high economy, make it a great commuter car.
The cabin is spacious, with an updated dash this year that houses a bright digital instrument cluster and excellent infotainment software run through either a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, as are Bluetooth and plenty of USB ports.
The hybrid is EPA-rated at a heady 51 mpg city, 46 highway, 49 combined. The Touring model, with bigger wheels, drops down to 46/40/43 mpg.
The plug-in hybrid is rated at 46 mpg combined and has a 26-mile estimated electric-only range.
At nearly 240 miles, the Niro EV's range is a bit better than the Chevy Bolt EV and well over the Nissan Leaf. It's only available in some markets.
The NHTSA hasn't crash tested the Niro yet, however the IIHS rated the 2019 Niro a Top Safety Pick+ when fitted with the available HID headlights.
The base Niro LX lacks automatic emergency braking, although it comes on the LXS, along with active lane control.
The Niro comes as LX, LXS, EX Premium, Touring, and Touring Special Edition. The LX comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, a digital instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, and power features.
The LXS adds automatic emergency braking with active lane control, keyless ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a few other features.
The EX Premium adds adaptive cruise control.
The Touring Special Edition heaps on synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and cooled front seats, a 10.3-inch touchscreen with navigation and upgraded Harman Kardon audio, and a few other features.