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MSRP: $23,490 - 35,200

2019 Kia Niro Review

A polished cabin, a spacious interior, and excellent fuel efficiency are just a few things that push the 2019 Kia Niro toward the top of our subcompact SUV rankings. However, some competitors have more engaging rides.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Spacious, upmarket cabin
  • Good cargo capacity
  • Not as agile as some competitors
  • Not available with AWD

New for 2019

  • All-new Niro Electric model
  • Niro Graphite Edition renamed Niro S Touring

Is the Kia Niro a Good SUV?

Yes, the Kia Niro is a good subcompact SUV. As you would expect from a hybrid SUV, the Niro has outstanding fuel economy estimates. Although performance isn’t a strong suit for this Kia, it has a decent amount of engine power along with a comfortable ride. Inside, the Niro boasts roomy, comfortable seating, as well as generous cargo space. Still, this hybrid is more expensive than most competitors, it lacks available all-wheel drive, and it isn’t as athletic as many rivals.

Should I Buy the Kia Niro?

The 2019 Kia Niro should be on your short list if you're a hybrid shopper looking for a small SUV with a composed ride and a comfortable interior. Given how deep and competitive this class is, however, it's worth considering some other subcompact SUVs. The Kia Sportage offers the same level of performance as the Niro, but it also offers all-wheel drive and additional passenger and cargo space. If you're more of a performance-minded shopper, consider the Hyundai Kona. The Kona’s agile handling and available turbocharged engine make it a joy to drive.

Compare the Niro, Sportage, and Kona »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Niro?

The 2019 Niro is part of a generation that debuted for the 2017 model year, and there have been few major changes since then. Kia added a plug-in hybrid model to the lineup for the 2018 model year, and Kia introduces an EV model for 2019. Aside from those two additions, the 2017 Niro is nearly identical to the 2019 Niro. It's worth shopping for an older Niro to get a similar car at a much lower price.

If you're interested in a used model, be sure to read our reviews of the 2017 and 2018 Niro. If you decide that a used Niro is for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Niro »

We Did the Research for You: 24 Reviews Analyzed

To give you a complete overview of the 2019 Niro – and make your car-shopping experience easier – we analyzed 24 Kia Niro reviews alongside performance specs, interior dimensions, and more.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current Niro generation, which includes 2017 to 2019.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our crew has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we do not accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an external company manages the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Niro Cost?

With a starting price of $23,490, the Niro is one of the more expensive SUVs in the class. This isn’t surprising considering it only comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric variants. The hybrid’s top-of-the-line Touring trim costs $32,150. The Niro plug-in hybrid starts at $28,200, and its high-level EX Premium trim is $34,900. Prices for the Niro Electric are unavailable at the time of this writing.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Niro Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Hyundai Kona?

The Hyundai Kona is another high-ranking subcompact SUV. It comes in both nonelectric and electric variants, which have a few things worth highlighting. The nonelectric Kona has an available turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, and the electric Kona EV has a longer range than the Niro: 258 miles compared to the Niro EV’s 239. In both forms, the Kona has one of the most engaging rides in the class. Plus, it's less expensive than the Niro and comes with more standard safety features. However, the Niro has a more comfortable ride and additional passenger and cargo space. Ultimately, performance-minded shoppers will prefer the Kona, as will EV shoppers who want a longer electric range. For additional space and comfort in a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, opt for the Niro.

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Kia Sportage?

Though the Kia Sportage sits in the compact SUV class, it has a similar starting price as the smaller Niro. In addition to more storage and passenger space than you'll find in the Niro, the Sportage is available with all-wheel drive (not available with the Niro) and a turbocharged engine. Still, the Niro is a better option overall. It gets significantly better fuel economy estimates than the gas-only Sportage, and it comes with more standard features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.

Compare the Niro, Kona, and Sportage »

Niro Interior

How Many People Does the Niro Seat?

There's seating for five people in the Niro. There is plenty of passenger room in both rows, and the nicely padded seats keep all occupants comfortable on extended trips. Reviewers praise the raised seating position of the Niro's driver's seat, which creates good forward visibility. Quite a bit of road noise seeps into the cabin, however. Available features include a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Niro and Car Seats

There are two sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats. There's also an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for its ease of use. It's mostly easy to use, but the lower anchors are too deep in the seats. 

Niro Interior Quality

With a simple, well-constructed design and quality materials like durable cloth upholstery or available leather upholstery, the Niro's interior should please most shoppers. However, there are some hard plastics scattered around the cabin.

Niro Cargo Space

The Niro has 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 54.5 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. That's superb for a vehicle this size. Standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats allow you to carry one or two people in the back while folding down one side of the back row for additional cargo space.

Niro Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, six speakers, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and a USB port. The infotainment system is equipped with plenty of smartphone technology, and it's intuitive and easy to use.

Available features include an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, an eight-speaker premium audio system, a wireless phone charger, and HD Radio.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Niro Performance

Niro Engine: Sufficient Power

Both the Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid are powered by a four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to make 139 horsepower. The Niro has a decent amount of power for most daily commutes, but some reviewers note that acceleration can be slow. It’s paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is a rarity among hybrid and electric vehicles. Reviewers applaud Kia's decision to include this transmission, which delivers natural shifts while retaining fuel efficiency. However, some reviewers note that the shifts could be smoother.

The new-for-2019 Niro EV comes with a 150-kW electric motor that makes 201-horsepower. It's paired with a single-speed transmission. This setup provides the EV with quick acceleration.

Niro Gas Mileage: Some of the Best

The base Niro hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient subcompact SUVs around. It delivers 52 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. The plug-in hybrid also gets commendable estimates. It has a 105 MPGe combined rating, and it can go about 26 miles on just electric power. The brand-new Niro Electric gets 112 MPGe and has a 239-mile electric range.

For more information, read What Is MPGe?

Niro Ride and Handling: Stable and Comfortable

The Kia Niro has responsive steering and composed handling, and it maintains a comfortable ride over rough roads. However, some class rivals have tighter handling that makes them more enjoyable to drive. Front-wheel drive is standard in the Niro, and unlike some rivals, all-wheel drive is unavailable.

Read more about performance »

Niro Reliability

Is the Kia Niro Reliable?

The 2019 Niro has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D Power.

Kia Niro Warranty

The 2019 Niro comes with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty for various hybrid components. Kia has not yet released warranty details for the Niro EV.

Read more about reliability »

Niro Safety

Niro Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2019 Niro a Top Safety Pick+ designation and the highest rating of Good in all six IIHS crash tests. IIHS also gave it a Good rating for headlight visibility and the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention. 

Niro Safety Features

The Niro comes standard with a rearview camera. Available active safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Niro Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Niro hybrid comes in five trim levels: FE, LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring. The plug-in hybrid comes in LX, EX, and EX Premium trims. Niro EV models come in EX and EX Premium trims. The base trim of each Niro model comes with a solid list of standard features that should satisfy most shoppers. Pricing for EV models is unavailable at the time of this writing.

Kia Niro FE

The FE is the base trim for regular hybrid models. It starts at $23,490 and comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, six speakers, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and a USB port. No optional packages are available for this trim.

Kia Niro LX

Starting at $23,800 for hybrid models, the LX trim adds push-button start and a hidden storage tray in the cargo area. There is an available LX Advanced Technology package that costs $1,450 and adds automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The LX is the base trim for plug-in hybrid models. It costs $28,200 and comes with all the FE trim's features as well as a slew of safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Kia Niro EX

The EX trim starts at $26,300 for hybrid models and adds partial leather upholstery, a rear USB port, and heated front seats. Two packages are available. The EX Advanced Technology package costs $1,950 and includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The EX Premium Package costs $5,300 and includes a sunroof, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, an eight-speaker premium audio system, front and rear parking sensors, leather-trimmed seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a wireless phone charger, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

For plug-in hybrid models, the EX trim starts at $31,800 and includes blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, a rear USB port, heated front seats, partial leather upholstery, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

This is the base trim for EV models. Base Niro EVs get all the LX trim's features as well as partial leather upholstery, heated front seats, fog lights, a wireless phone charger, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection.

Kia Niro S Touring and Touring

The S Touring and Touring trims cost $28,700 and $32,150, respectively. These are the top trim levels for hybrid models. The S Touring trim adds an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and a premium audio system. The Touring trim adds a sunroof, leather-trimmed seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Kia Niro EX Premium

Starting at $34,900 for the plug-in hybrid, the EX Premium adds front and rear parking sensors, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, leather-trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats. You can add a sunroof for $700.

EX Premium EV models include front and rear parking sensors, an 8-inch touch screen, a heated steering wheel, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, leather-trimmed seats, and a sunroof.

See 2019 Kia Niro specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Kia Niro is an excellent pick in the subcompact SUV class. It boasts spacious seating, refined cabin features and materials, and generous cargo space. The Niro also has sufficient engine power and a composed ride. Budget-friendly shoppers or those wanting a more enjoyable ride should look elsewhere, however.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • Really, the Niro is more of a hatchback that's styled to look like a crossover SUV. As long as you're OK with that, there's a lot to like. … From a features perspective, Kia stacks the deck. Even the base Niro FE trim includes standard smartphone integration and dual-zone automatic climate control. … There's also a roomy back seat and decent cargo capacity. Should you want a hybrid with more SUV-like traits, such as more cargo space and all-wheel drive, you might want to take a look at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Otherwise, we think the Niro provides an appealing mix of efficiency, maneuverability and value." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid are as family-friendly as they are eco-friendly. The attractive 4-door-hatchback design rejects the more futuristic contours of some rivals, offering a look that’s part hot hatchback and part small SUV. Competing head-on with the more fuel-efficient Toyota Prius, the aging Ford C-Max and the electric-hybrid Chevy Volt, the Niro has its work cut out. Still, with a combined 50-mpg fuel-economy rating, and the plug-in’s ability to travel up to 26 miles solely on electric power, the Niro twins are clearly in the game to win. Alongside an unbeatable standard warranty, the Niro comes in a variety of trims, all of which include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Niro is an approachable and practical, crossover-like hatchback—one that just happens to have a hybrid powertrain and EPA city ratings of up to 52 mpg. Refreshingly straightforward, it has no unfortunate packaging concessions, no bizarre styling, and no weird controls that are different just for the sake of being different (we're looking at you, Prius shifter)." -- Car and Driver (2017)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: May 31, 2019

Low Sales: The Kia Niro is selling slowly compared to its peers in the subcompact SUV class. The class sales leader, the Subaru Crosstrek is outselling the Niro by a ratio of almost 5 to 1. In addition, Niro sales have dropped by 17.2% this year relative to the same period in 2018.

Research more buying advice »
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