The second-generation Kia Niro is all new for 2023.
The 2023 Kia Niro is a key piece of the automaker’s broad electric car strategy. Launched in 2017 and redesigned for this year, the Niro now comes in three flavors: Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-powered electric vehicle. All are small, efficient five-passenger crossovers that are roomier, more versatile, and more fun to drive than the outgoing model. And while Kia looks to become a major player in EVs, the two hybrid models reviewed here will comprise the majority of sales, largely thanks to impressive fuel economy ranging from 46 mpg to 53 mpg (The Niro EV is reviewed separately).
The Toyota Corolla Cross is the Kia Niro’s closest competitor. It’s nearly identical in size, but doesn’t offer a hybrid or plug-in hybrid model (although one or both are likely soon). The newly redesigned Honda HR-V is 5 inches longer than the Niro and costs about the same, but it isn’t a hybrid.
The 2023 Kia Niro is available in seven trim levels: Hybrid LX, Hybrid EX, Hybrid EX Touring, Hybrid SX, Plug-in Hybrid EX, Hybrid SX Touring, and Plug-in Hybrid SX Touring.
The Niro Hybrid LX trim starts at $27,785, including a $1,295 destination fee, and comes with 16-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, cloth upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, and keyless entry. An 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three USB ports, and a six-speaker audio system are among the key infotainment features. Other Niro trims are more generously equipped, but the LX comes with all the essentials at a bargain price, making it our recommendation for most buyers.
Starting at $30,385, the Hybrid EX trim adds mixed leather and cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, synthetic leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear seat vents, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a wireless device charger. Curiously, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto revert to a cable connection with this system.
Hybrid EX Touring
The EX Touring ($32,685) builds on the EX with a few extras, including 18-inch wheels, fog lights, power-folding side mirrors, a sunroof, and LED cabin lighting.
The Hybrid SX ($33,785) blends most of the features of the EX and EX Touring, reverting to 16-inch wheels but adding a power tailgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, synthetic leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, driver seat memory, a heated steering wheel, and a premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
Plug-in Hybrid EX
The Niro Plug-in Hybrid EX ($35,035) is the “base” plug-in model and comes equipped like its regular hybrid counterpart, but with a few upgrades, including a heated steering wheel and optional heated rear seats.
Hybrid SX Touring
The SX Touring tops out at $36,085 and comes with most EX Touring and SX features, with the addition of laminated front side windows.
Plug-in Hybrid SX Touring
The Plug-in Hybrid SX Touring ($40,785) offers the same features as the regular SX hybrid, but with the plug-in hybrid powertrain.
The 2023 Kia Niro hybrid delivers exceptional fuel economy. Equipped with 16-inch wheels, it is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 53 mpg during city driving and 54 mpg on the highway (53 mpg combined). With 18-inch wheels, it’s rated at 49 mpg combined. The Niro plug-in hasn’t been rated yet by the EPA, but Kia expects it to achieve 108 miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe). That’s an improvement over the previous generation Niro plug-in, which is rated at 105 MPGe.
The conventionally powered Toyota Corolla Cross doesn’t come close to the fuel economy of either Niro. It is rated at 31/33 mpg city/highway (32 mpg combined). The Toyota Prius Prime, not a crossover, does much better at 133 MPGe.