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2020 Kia Niro Review

The 2020 Kia Niro earns a spot in the middle of our hybrid and electric SUV rankings. The Niro is fuel-efficient and offers superb handling, but the quality of its interior materials doesn’t match what many rivals offer.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Spacious interior when compared with subcompact SUVs
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Not available with all-wheel drive
  • Interior not as upscale as rivals’
  • Unimpressive acceleration

New for 2020

  • Updated interior and exterior styling
  • New standard and available features
  • Renamed trim lineup

7.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.6
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 6.2
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.1 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Kia Niro a Good SUV?

Yes, the Kia Niro hybrid is a good SUV. Few vehicles in any class get better fuel economy. The Niro rides smoothly, has decent handling, and provides more space for people and cargo than many small SUVs. It even comes with easy-to-use tech features and earns a good predicted reliability rating. With its combination of value and quality, the Niro was a finalist for our 2020 Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money award.

There are some things, however, the Niro doesn't do well. This isn't the quickest or most powerful vehicle – not by a long shot – and it doesn't offer all-wheel drive, which is rare for an SUV. It also doesn’t feel as upscale as some other hybrid and electric SUVs.

In addition to the Niro hybrid, Kia produces the Niro plug-in-hybrid and Niro all-electric (EV) models.

Should I Buy the Kia Niro?

The Niro is an outstanding choice for shoppers looking for a small, practical vehicle that gets great gas mileage. There are a lot of SUVs that fit that description, many of which are larger and afford more passenger and storage space than the Niro. One of these is the Kia Sportage, a compact SUV whose base model costs just $500 more than the Niro. Electric vehicle shoppers will want to check out the Hyundai Kona EV, which has excellent driving range.

Compare the Niro, Sportage, and Kona EV»

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Niro?

The 2020 Niro receives some modest, but notable, changes. It gains an 8-inch standard touch screen (up from 7 inches in the 2019 Niro) and is now available with a 10.25-inch touch screen and driver drowsiness monitoring. The Niro also sees some modest interior and exterior styling updates and a shuffled trim lineup. If these features are important to you, stick with a new Niro. If not, look for an otherwise identical used model, which will likely cost less.

There have been few changes to the Niro since it launched for 2017. Most notably, Kia added the plug-in-hybrid model to the lineup for the 2018 model year and introduced the EV model for 2019.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Niro, 2018 Niro, and 2019 Niro reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Niro »

We Did the Research for You: 17 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This 2020 Niro review incorporates applicable research for all model years of the current generation, which launched for 2017.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Kia Niro Cost?

At the time of writing, Kia has not released pricing data for the 2020 Niro. However, we don’t expect it to vary significantly from 2019. The base 2019 Niro started at $23,490. The plug-in model had a starting price of $28,500, and the EV was priced at $38,500.

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 EV is neck and neck with the Niro in our hybrid and electric SUV rankings. The Kona EV has a 258-mile driving range, which bests the Niro EV’s 239. The Hyundai also delivers engaging handling, it has available all-wheel drive, and it offers more standard safety features than the Niro. However, the Kia has a smoother ride and more passenger and cargo space than the Hyundai. Both are good vehicles, so pick the one that most appeals to you. Both of these crossovers were finalists for our 2020 Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money award.

There’s also a nonelectric Kona. It offers all-wheel drive, and there are two gasoline engines to choose from. Regardless of the engine that you choose, you won’t get anywhere near the fuel economy you will with the Niro.

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Kia Sportage?

The Kia Sportage is a nonhybrid compact SUV. It offers all-wheel drive and, by virtue of its larger size, more room for people and cargo. The Niro is the better pick if you prioritize fuel economy. Otherwise you're probably better off with the larger Sportage, which has a base price just a few hundred dollars higher than the Niro’s. Both of these SUVs offer good quality and value, making them finalists for our 2020 Best Car for the Money award. The Niro was a finalist among hybrid and electric SUVs, while the Sportage was a finalist in its class.

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius is a hybrid car and not a natural alternative to the Niro. However, the Prius is one of the few vehicles that can compete with the Niro's fuel economy ratings. In fact, the Prius gets ever so slightly better gas mileage. The hatchback design also means the Prius provides more cargo space than most cars, though still not nearly as much as the Niro's maximum capacity. The Kia has a more stylish cabin than the Toyota. Both vehicles’ front and back seats have plenty of space for adult passengers, and each also has a user-friendly infotainment system. Neither the Niro nor the Prius delivers thrilling power, but the Kia handles pretty well.

Compare the Niro, Kona EV, and Sportage »

Niro Interior

How Many People Does the Niro Seat?

The Niro seats five people. Both rows of seats are comfortable and provide ample support for long drives. They also offer enough head- and legroom for adults to ride without feeling squeezed.

Niro and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Niro’s rear outboard seats, as well as an upper tether for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The tether anchors are easy to find, but the lower anchors are set too deep in the seats. 

Niro Interior Quality

Climb inside the Niro, and you'll immediately notice its stylish cabin. Soft-touch materials cover most surfaces, though there are some hard plastics interspersed throughout.

Niro Cargo Space

The Niro offers 19.4 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats and 54.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Those numbers don’t measure up well against other hybrid and electric SUVs. In fairness, most hybrid SUVs are larger than the Niro. However, this Kia offers more space than almost all subcompact SUVs.

Niro Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The UVO infotainment system comes standard in the Niro, and it includes an 8-inch touch screen, four speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Available features include a sunroof, push-button start, wireless device charging, a 10.25-inch touch screen, navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, satellite radio, and an additional USB port.

Shoppers looking for a user-friendly infotainment system will love the Niro. Kia's UVO interface is intuitive and doesn't require a steep learning curve. The touch screen is responsive, and there are physical controls for some functions.

Read more about interior »

Niro Performance

Niro Engine: Take Your Time

The Niro's hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains both consist of a four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Total system output is 139 horsepower. The powertrain delivers adequate acceleration and enough overall muscle to move this small crossover easily in most driving situations.

The Niro EV’s powertrain makes 201 horsepower. It has a 170-kW electric motor paired with a single-speed transmission. Acceleration is pretty good with this setup.

Niro Gas Mileage: Outstanding

The Kia Niro gets exceptional fuel economy ratings. Better even than many of its hybrid competitors. The base Niro hybrid gets 52 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. LXS and EX Premium models get 51 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. Touring models get 46/40 mpg city/highway.

The 2020 plug-in hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 46 mpg and 105 MPG-equivalent city/highway combined. It has an all-electric range of 26 miles.

At the time of writing, the EPA has not tested the 2020 EV model, but the 2019 Niro EV can travel 239 miles on a full charge.

Niro Charging Times: Not Bad

The Niro plug-in hybrid can charge in about nine hours using a standard household-style power outlet. With a 240-volt outlet, you can charge it in about 2½ hours.

At the time of writing charging times for the 2020 Niro EV were not available. However, the 2019 model takes nearly 60 hours to charge using a household-style outlet and about 9½ hours to charge with a 7.2-kWh charger. DC fast-charging is standard and can power up about 80% of your battery in 75 minutes.

The Niro's regenerative brakes also capture energy, recharging the battery every time you press the brake pedal.

Niro Ride and Handling: Capable and Composed

The Niro is highly maneuverable thanks to its tight turning radius. It also has accurate steering, solid handling, and a generally cushioned ride. Add it all up, and you've got a small crossover that's easy and enjoyable to drive. One downside, however, is that the Niro is the rare SUV to not offer all-wheel drive.

Read more about performance »

Niro Reliability

Is the Kia Niro Reliable?
The 2020 Kia Niro has an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.
Kia Niro Warranty

The 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.

Read more about reliability »

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Kia Niro?

The cost of insuring a Kia Niro will depend on a variety of factors, including your deductible, the level of coverage that you want, and the type of insurance that you choose. Your age, gender, location, credit score, and driving record can also have an impact on your insurance rates. Check out our car insurance guide to find the best policy for you.

Niro Safety

Niro Crash Test Results

At the time of writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 Niro. However, the IIHS named the similar 2019 Niro a Top Safety Pick+, the organization’s highest honor.

Niro Safety Features

A rearview camera comes standard in the Niro. Available active safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane change assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Niro Dimensions and Weight

The Niro is 14.3 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,199 to 3,391 pounds.

Where Is the Kia Niro Built?

Kia builds the 2020 Niro in South Korea.

Which Kia Niro Model Is Right for Me?

The Kia Niro comes in five trims: LX, LXS, Touring, Touring Special Edition, and EX Premium. The hybrid and plug-in-hybrid models feature a 139-horsepower powertrain comprised of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard as well.

There’s also a fully electric version of the Niro, but information on this EV was limited at the time of writing. The 2019 version has a 170-kW electric motor paired with a single-speed transmission that makes 201 horsepower.

Many buyers will be tempted to stick with the base trim, which comes with a nice array of standard features. That's fine, but the LXS makes an even better choice. It's only one rung higher on the trim ladder, and it adds several driver assistance features.

At the time of writing, Kia has not released pricing information for the 2020 Niro.

Niro LX

The base Niro LX comes standard with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a rearview camera. Also standard is the UVO infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, four speakers, HD Radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Niro LXS

In addition to the base trim's features, the Niro LXS comes with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Niro Touring

On top of the lower trims' features, the Niro Touring comes with a sunroof, cloth and leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat, satellite radio, and adaptive cruise control.

Niro Touring Special Edition

The Niro Touring Special Edition includes leather upholstery, a 10.25-inch touch screen, navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and an additional USB port.

Niro EX Premium

Standard features in the Niro EX Premium include synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, and rear parking sensors.

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.

See 2020 Kia Niro specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Kia Niro is an intriguing entry in the hybrid and electric SUV class. The Niro is smaller and has less storage space than most vehicles in this class. Compared with other subcompact SUVs, however, the Niro has a decent amount of space for people and cargo. It comes with user-friendly tech features and gets a good predicted reliability rating.

This isn't the most powerful or athletic SUV, but it gets outstanding gas mileage, which is the main thing hybrids are supposed to do well.

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

  • The Niro has several toes in the crossover pool but maintains a manageable, compact footprint. It's also extremely efficient, managing 52 mpg in the city in its hybrid variant and delivering an EPA-rated 239 miles of electric range in EV form. Is it quick? Not really. The best driver's car on the block? Also no. But with your hard-earned money and perhaps a nagging climate conscience on the line, it's a compelling choice." -- Car and Driver
  • 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 … trim includes standard smartphone integration and dual-zone automatic climate control. … There's also a roomy back seat and decent cargo capacity." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "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. …[W]ith 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 (2019)

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