Unveiled globally at the 2016 Chicago auto show, the all-new 2017 Kia Niro is a no-compromise vehicle that combines driving enjoyment with eye-catching design, functional utility and hybrid efficiency. Arriving in Kia retailers in the first quarter of 2017, the all-new Niro strikes the perfect balance for today’s consumers and stakes claim to a unique position between the hybrid-electric vehicle and CUV segments.
“We’re excited about the Niro,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president product planning KMA. “It’s fantastic – exceptional fuel economy, great looks, the usefulness and security of a compact utility and it’s fun to drive. The Niro really does set a new standard in the market.” Designed to provide a new generation of environmentally conscious, adventurous and design-loving drivers everything they want but was previously unavailable, the Niro’s long list of features and attributes includes:
- Exceptional fuel efficiency — up to 50 mpg combined1 — and, as a result, reduced emissions.
- An innovative hybrid system featuring a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with Sport Mode, to provide a more dynamic and engaging driving experience, while delivering extremely efficient operation.
- A spacious cabin with lots of room for occupants and their gear.
- Kia’s full array of driver assistance features – advanced high-strength steel structure, seven airbags, available Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).2
- The Niro doesn’t look like other hybrids, its eye-catching design is athletic – strong, sculpted and modern.
- It’s well-equipped – Standard UVO3 with Apple CarPlayTM3, Android AutoTM4 and a 7-inch touchscreen and available Smart Cruise Control, navigation and a Harman Kardon®5 premium audio system.6
An “Un-Hybrid” Design
Designed at Kia’s design centers in Irvine, California, and Namyang, Korea, the Niro demonstrates that owners don’t have to sacrifice emotionally engaging design or functional utility in the name of efficiency. Wide and low proportions with a long wheelbase and short overhangs yield an athletic stance, while aggressively shaped headlights and a new interpretation of Kia’s tiger nose grille define the front theme. The Niro’s profile is distinguished by its strong shoulders, defined wheel arches, rocker-panel cladding, and roof rails. The strong and sporty rear theme is enabled by the wide stance, rear skid plate, and multi-element horizontal LED tail lamp graphic.
The instrument panel is uncluttered and clean, with colorful and informative gauges at the forefront and perfectly positioned primary and secondary controls falling readily to hand. Interior roominess comes by way of the Niro’s generous 106.3-inch wheelbase, body height, and wide stance, which affords ample leg-, head- and shoulder-room. While the clever packaging of the high-voltage battery assists in delivering a desirable driving experience, its location underneath the rear seats also increases cabin and cargo space and allows a flat load floor.
In addition to spaciousness and comfort, ensuring a quiet interior environment was also a key development focus for engineers. Noise and vibration countermeasures were employed to minimize at the source, with specially designed engine mounts, equal-length driveshafts, and even by adding a damper inside the steering wheel hub to minimize vibrations felt in the steering wheel. Copious insulation in the Niro’s front structure, optimized suspension bushing stiffness, careful body sealing, and application of expanding foam inside the A- and B-pillars all prevent road and tire noise from entering the cabin. Furthermore, acoustic windshield glass and carefully shaped side mirrors help mitigate wind noise.
Strong and Light Core
The platform underpinning the Niro has been specifically engineered to accommodate the gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, and with 53 percent of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), including reinforcement in the A- and B-pillars as well as the roof rails, it is both a lightweight and durable structure. Extensive use of hot-stamped components and industrial joint adhesive increase torsional rigidity and improve structural integrity. As such, Kia is targeting the Niro to earn top honors from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).
Weight reduction was a critical Niro development aspect, and in addition to the body, AHSS was also used to engineer other elements, including lightweight seat frames. Further, engineers were able to bring down the overall weight by using aluminum for the hood, tailgate and several suspension elements including the front lower control arms, front and rear knuckles, and in the brake calipers. The engineers even eliminated the traditional 12-volt battery to reduce weight, instead utilizing the high-voltage lithium-ion polymer battery.
Uniquely Engineered Hybrid Powertrain
At the heart of the Niro’s all-new powertrain is a state-of-the-art 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine –- from Kia’s Kappa engine family –- which is engineered specifically for hybrid applications. Making 104 horsepower, the new engine marks the first combination of the Atkinson Cycle, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), GDI and a long-stroke-narrow-bore specification to maximize efficiencyto up to 50 mpg (Combined)1. Efficiency and emissions are further improved via the Niro’s exhaust heat recovery system, which speeds engine warm-up by routing coolant to a heat exchanger in the exhaust system. A 43-hp tractive motor is fitted between the engine and transmission and works in tandem with the gasoline engine to produce a robust 139 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.
That power is transmitted through a newly developed, second-generation six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which not only boosts efficiency but is also a key factor to the Niro’s great driving experience. The transmission delivers smooth, quick shifts for a natural and spirited feel, which is in stark contrast to that of other hybrids equipped with continuously variable transmissions. Electric energy and power for the whole system is provided by a compact and lightweight 1.56-kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery located underneath the rear seat. Because the high-voltage battery is both power and energy dense, it is smaller and lighter than other hybrid batteries, and also allowed engineers to downsize the gasoline engine to further maximize fuel economy and reduce emissions.
The Niro’s simplified parallel hybrid system creates seamless transitions of power delivered to the front wheels, resulting in a very un-hybrid-like driving experience. The hybrid system is neither intrusive nor obvious. The Niro accelerates quickly off the line and continues its smooth power delivery, inspiring driver confidence in everyday driving maneuvers such as merging onto the highway.
Special attention was also paid to brake feel. Applying lessons learned through development of two generations of Optima Hybrids as well as the fully electric Soul EV, Kia engineers designed the Niro’s regenerative system to seamlessly blend in hydraulic friction braking. Consequently, deceleration feels more consistent and linear than in other hybrids.
Advanced Hybrid Technology
The Niro is offered with a suite of advanced driver assistance and convenience technologies, including Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA); Smart Cruise Control (SCC); Lane Departure Warning (LDW); and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).
All-new Eco-DAS(Driver Assistance System) features Kia’s first application of Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control, which use the navigation system and analysis of the driver’s route to improve efficiency. The Coasting Guide aims at maximizing fuel economy by coaching the driver on when to coast and brake. Predictive Energy Control anticipates topographical changes on the road ahead to actively manage energy flow, seamlessly determining when its best to recharge the battery and when its best to expend stored energy to optimize overall efficiency. Similar systems have been seen on German luxury makes, but it Kia’s is the first system to monitor and adjust for both ascending and descending scenarios. Other notable features include Smart Air Intake, which reduces drag by carefully managing the intake of outside air for the HVAC system, and also an accompanying Auto Defog system that prevents condensation from building on the glass by monitoring cabin air conditions to manage the cycling of the A/C compressor.
Kia’s award-winning infotainment and telematics system aims to keep Niro drivers connected at all times, with the newest version, UVO3, trickling down from the all-new 2017 Sportage. Complete with AndroidAuto™, Apple CarPlay®, and UVO eServices featuring 14 telematics services, the enhanced system features up to 8 GB of music storage, access to onscreen apps such as Pandora®7 and Soundhound and Wi-Fi tethering capability. All this is displayed on a 7-inch capacitive touch screen.
The Niro is the latest vehicle introduced under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics environmentally friendly sub-brand and represents a number of firsts. While it was preceded by clean mobility products such as the Optima Hybrid and Soul EV, Niro is the first Kia to make use of an all-new, dedicated eco-car platform and is an important next step on the path to nearly tripling the brand’s global EcoDynamics line-up by 2020. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is due to be added to the car’s line-up later in its life-cycle.
In late January, Kia announced pricing for the all-new 2017 Niro crossover hybrid. When the Niro arrives in dealerships early in 2017 it will be offered in five trim levels – FE, LX, EX, Touring and a limited-production, Launch Edition. MSRP1 for the FE is just $22,8901 and the top-of-the-line Touring with its many luxury, infotainment and convenience features is $29,650. Destination charges of $895 are not included in the MSRP.
“At Kia, we’re always striving to offer exciting new products that redefine their segments in all areas, including price,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. “The new Niro checks all the boxes – it provides crossover utility, good looks, outstanding fuel economy, it’s fun to drive and it’s affordable.”
The Niro FE, with a starting MSRP of $22,890 and 50-MPG (combined)2, is equipped with a long list of standard features, including: 16-inch wheels; 6-way front seats; power windows; keyless entry; cruise control; 7-inch touchscreen display with rearview camera; UVO3 with Apple CarPlayTM3, Android AutoTM4 and a six-speaker audio system with steering-wheel-mounted controls.
Moving up to the $23,200 LX trim adds Smart Key with push button start, roof rails and LED rear combination lamps. Among the extras added to EX $25,700 are heated combination cloth and leather seating, leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, heated power folding mirrors, front fog lamps, and Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA) driver assistance features5.
The Launch Edition is available in Snow White Pearl or Aurora Black Pearl exterior colors and offers an exclusive look via the unique Hyper Gray 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin tires, unique metallic color grille, 10-way driver’s seat, 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, 8-speaker Harman Kardon®6 premium audio and is $28,000.
Touring trim $29,650 is equipped with an amazing array of additional features – power tilt/slide sunroof, front and rear park assist, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat with memory and 8-speaker Harman Kardon® premium audio,
Three option packages are available. Advanced Technology Package is offered on the LX at $1,450 and includes Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning System5. Sunroof and Advanced Technology Package is offered on EX at $2,300 and includes power tilt/slide sunroof, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning System5. The Advanced Technology Package $1,900 offered on Touring includes HID headlights, wireless phone charger and 110V inverter, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning System5.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX, SX & Limited and certain LX Trims only) are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts
1 Based on EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and your vehicle’s condition. Niro EPA estimated MPG city/highway/combined FE 52/49/50, LX 51/46/49, EX 51/46/49, Touring Launch 46/40/43, Touring 46/40/43.
2 These features are not substitutes for safe driving, and may not detect all objects surrounding vehicle. Always drive safely and use caution.
3 Apple® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
4 Android™ is a trademark of Google, Inc.
5 Harman Kardon is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Incorporated.
6 Warning: Driving while distracted can result in a loss of vehicle control that may lead to an accident, severe personal injury and death. Always drive safely and use caution.
7 Pandora® is a registered trademark of Pandora Media, Inc.
** K900 available in select trims and in select markets with limited availability.
*** Soul EV in select markets with limited availability.
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