2018 Kia Niro

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MSRP: $23,340 - 34,500

2018 Kia Niro Review

The 2018 Kia Niro finishes in the top half of our subcompact SUV rankings. It has tremendous fuel economy and looks great inside, but some rivals deliver more engaging performance.

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Magnificent fuel economy
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • Upscale, comfortable cabin with plenty of space
  • Generous cargo capacity
  • Less athletic than rivals
  • Not available with AWD
  • High base price

Is the Kia Niro a Good SUV?

The Kia Niro is a good subcompact SUV. Although its performance can’t match that of some rivals, its gas mileage ratings are the envy of the class. The Niro's stylish, well-built interior packs a lot into a small package. The seats provide plenty of room, and there's more cargo space than in some rivals. The Niro's infotainment system is easy to use as well.

Should I Buy the Kia Niro?

The Niro brings a lot to the table in terms of practicality, but drivers looking for a fun-to-drive SUV may want to explore other options. The Niro costs more than many rivals, and while that's common for hybrids and electric vehicles, it still may affect your decision. If you want to explore other options, consider the Honda HR-V and Kia Sportage.

Compare the Niro, HR-V, and Sportage »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Niro?

The 2018 Kia Niro is part of a generation that began with the vehicle’s introduction for the 2017 model year. A new plug-in hybrid model debuts for the 2018 model year, but there are no other major changes.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used car instead of a new one, though be aware that it might be difficult to find a used Niro so soon after its debut. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overview of the 2017 Kia Niro. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017 and 2018 Niro »

We Did the Research for You: 14 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 review uses research and data from every year since the Niro's debut, which include the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Niro Cost?

The Niro’s base price is $23,240, which is one of the highest starting prices in the class. However, hybrids typically cost at least a few thousand dollars more than nonhybrids. There are several higher trims, with the top-level Touring trim starting around $32,000. That, too, is more than most rivals’ top trims cost.

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 Honda HR-V?

The Honda HR-V finishes just above the Niro in our subcompact SUV rankings. While it’s not nearly as fuel-efficient, it has many advantages over its Kia rival, like a much lower starting price. The Honda has more engaging road manners, a smoother ride, and available all-wheel drive (not offered in the Niro). On the other hand, the Niro has more standard features, more available safety tech, and a higher predicted reliability rating. The HR-V is a slightly better SUV overall, but there are still compelling reasons to buy the Niro, with fuel economy chief among them.

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Kia Sportage?

Despite being a compact SUV, the Kia Sportage’s starting price is comparable to the Niro's. Neither of these SUVs will blow you away when you're behind the wheel, but the Sportage does offer all-wheel drive. The Sportage is not nearly as fuel-efficient, though. You'll spend roughly twice as much on gas driving the Sportage than you would with the Niro. While the Niro comes with more standard features, the Sportage provides more cargo space. At the end of the day, the Niro provides more value than the Sportage, and it's a better choice if you don't need the Sportage's extra space.

Which Is Better: Kia Niro or Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid's powertrain produces 55 more horsepower than the Niro's, but it gets far lower mpg ratings – 34/30 mpg city/highway for the Toyota compared to 52/49 for the Kia. One feather in the RAV4 Hybrid's cap is that it comes standard with all-wheel drive, which isn't offered in the Niro. Both SUVs have two rows of seats that accommodate adults easily. The Toyota has more upscale interior and more standard driver assistance features, but the Kia offers more features overall (both driver assistance and infotainment tech). While the Niro has a good amount of cargo space for a subcompact SUV, the RAV4 Hybrid has a far larger cargo hold (roughly 16 cubic feet). The RAV4 Hybrid's starting price is also roughly $4,000 higher. Overall, the Toyota is bigger, but the Kia is just as good or better in many ways. The Kia is a solid choice if you don't need the RAV4 Hybrid's extra space.

Compare the Niro, HR-V, and Sportage »

Niro Interior

How Many People Does the Niro Seat?

The Niro seats five people. There’s enough head- and legroom for adults to be comfortable up front and in the back, which isn’t the case in every subcompact SUV. Drivers have good visibility because of the high seating position.

Niro and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing car seats. The system is generally easy to use, and most types of car seats will fit without too much trouble.

Niro Interior Quality

The Niro’s interior is among the nicest in the class. It’s stylish and modern, and there are high-quality materials throughout.

Niro Cargo Space

This Kia has great cargo capacity for a subcompact SUV. With the rear seats up, the Niro has over 19 cubic feet of space, which is enough room for a large dog or more than a dozen pieces of carry-on luggage. Fold the rear seats down, and you have more than 54 cubic feet of space, letting you haul everything you’d need for a day at the beach with room to spare.

Niro Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Kia Niro include a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, a USB port, and Kia's UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio.

Available features include a rear-seat USB port, a Harman Kardon eight-speaker audio system, a sunroof, wireless phone charging, and an upgraded UVO system with an 8-inch touch screen and a voice-command navigation system.

The Niro’s infotainment system is great. The responsive touch screen is easy to see and reach, and it has crisp graphics. There are also physical controls. The Niro comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are optional features in some competitors. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Niro Performance

Niro Engine: HEV or PHEV?

The Niro comes standard with a four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 139 horsepower. It has ample power for most driving situations, and it even feels a bit energetic in Sport mode. Unlike most hybrids, the Niro doesn’t come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Instead, it has a dual-clutch six-speed automatic.

The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Niro features the same gas-electric setup, but it can go for 26 miles on electric power alone. It recharges in as little as two and a half hours, depending on what kind of outlet you connect it to, and you can program the vehicle to draw its charging power when you're not paying your peak electric rates.

Niro Gas Mileage: Outstanding Mpg

The Niro is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. It earns 52 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. Only ultra-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles like the Hyundai Ioniq get better gas mileage – and even then, the difference is small. Compared to the Niro, the Hyundai will only save you about $50 per year in gas money. The Niro will save you about $450 per year compared to the Honda HR-V, a nonhybrid subcompact SUV.

Niro Ride and Handling: Slow but Steady

This Kia isn’t as nimble as some of its class rivals, but it is poised around turns and provides a comfortable ride. While some hybrids have regenerative braking systems that are rough and grating, the Niro’s brakes are smooth.

Read more about performance »

Niro Reliability

Is the Kia Niro Reliable?

The 2018 Kia Niro has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Kia Niro Warranty

Kia covers the Niro 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 certain hybrid components. The Niro has one of the best warranties in the class.

Read more about reliability »

Niro Safety

Niro Crash Test Results

The 2018 Kia Niro has not yet been put through crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Niro Safety Features

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

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Niro Model Is Right for Me?

There are several Niro trims, all of which come with a 139-horsepower hybrid powertrain, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. You really don’t need to go above the EX trim. It offers all the features you can get in the high-end Touring trim – the difference is just that everything is standard in the Touring.

Even the lower trims, the FE and LX, have a nice assortment of infotainment features, so you’ll be fine with them if you don’t want premium seating or any of the driver assistance features.

Kia Niro FE

The Niro FE has a base price of $23,240. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker sound system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a USB port, and Kia's UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio. There are no notable optional features with this trim.

Kia Niro LX

The Niro LX has a starting price of $23,650. The LX’s features list is nearly the same as the FE’s, though it does come with push-button start and an under-floor cargo storage area as well. However, it has more available features.

You can add the LX Advanced Technology package ($1,450), which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keep assist.

The plug-in hybrid Niro LX starts at $27,900.  It comes standard with all the features offered in the base LX, including those in the Advanced Technology package.

Kia Niro EX

The Niro EX starts at $26,150. The EX comes with a rear USB power outlet, partial leather upholstery, and heated front seats. There are two option packages. The EX Advanced Technology package ($1,950) includes a power-adjustable driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keep assist.

The EX Premium package ($5,300) adds all the features of the Advanced Technology package, plus a sunroof, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and the upgraded UVO system with an 8-inch screen and navigation.

The PHEV Niro EX has a starting price of $31,500. It comes standard with the base EX's features and the contents of the Advanced Technology package. However, the Premium package isn't available with the plug-in EX trim.

However, there is an EX Premium trim for the plug-in Hybrid. It starts at $34,500 and includes the Premium package's features in addition to those listed in the previous paragraph.

Kia Niro Touring Graphite Edition

The Niro Touring Graphite Edition starts at $28,450. This is a limited-production trim that has styling options not offered in other trims. The Touring Graphite Edition comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, HD Radio, and the upgraded UVO infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation. There are no notable option features with this trim.

Kia Niro Touring

The Niro Touring starts at $32,000. The Touring comes standard with nearly every feature you can get in a Niro, including a sunroof, wireless phone charging, full leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and lane keep assist.

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 2018 Kia Niro specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Kia Niro is a pretty good SUV. It has a spacious interior, good predicted reliability, and it hits some of the notes you expect from a hybrid, like great fuel efficiency. And while the Niro isn't perfect, it brings enough to the table to earn a top-half spot in our subcompact SUV rankings. In the end, the Niro is worth a look if you’re in the market for a small SUV, but it may not be the best choice for buyers that want something that’s fun to drive.

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

  • "The all-new Niro is the first Kia designed from the ground up as a hybrid/electric vehicle, and the result is an impressive mix of outstanding fuel economy, ample passenger room and a long list of modern convenience and safety technologies." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The latest Toyota Prius has embraced 'Space Oddity' styling, but that doesn't appear to be spurring sales of that hybrid icon. The new Kia Niro, on the other hand, looks like the kind of vehicle that can inspire Americans to trade in their compact or mid-size sedans. 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)
  • "Taken as a whole, the Niro is a solid car. It's not outstanding, and it's not horrible; it's good. It looks handsome enough, it rides comfortably enough, it handles well enough, and most important for some, it does a good job of hiding the fact that it's a hybrid at all. It's best thought of as a competent and competitive crossover that happens to get roughly 50 mpg if you go easy on the options. There are crossovers and hybrids that are sportier, more comfortable, or more striking looking. But for many people, the Niro will be just about perfect, giving them the crossover look and feel they desire with a measure of utility, while also delivering excellent fuel economy. That combination is at least noticeable." -- Autoblog (2017)
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