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A blue 2021 Kia Niro is shown from a high angle after leaving a used Kia dealer.

Which Trim of the 2021 Eco-Friendly Kia Niro Should You Get?

Kia has been campaigning for a reputation in the green car space recently. With an array of body styles now coming in plug-in hybrid and hybrid powertrain options like the Sportage, Sorento, and Niro, it’s clear that Kia is vying for that top spot in the minds of environmentally-conscious consumers. Most recently, the car manufacturer snagged a Red Dot Award for the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid in the Product Design category, with much of the praise focused on the eco-friendly features of the subcompact SUV. The Red Dot Award is an internationally recognized seal of quality. Manufacturers and designers in a variety of industries have been applying for it since its inception in 1995, and for Kia to win one is a big deal. But they haven’t just won one; this recent award is the 28th since 2009 that the car maker earned.

The Red Dot judges gave the subcompact SUV high marks for its incredible mileage and impressive eco-friendly interior materials, like recycled wallpaper in the headline, VOC-free paint in door panels, and PU vegan leather seat coverings made from Eucalyptus trees. The buzz around the plug-in hybrid Niro will probably have many budget-minded drivers searching for their nearest used Kia dealer. Even a brand-new model sits solidly in the affordable price range, so a pre-owned one can mean incredible savings and great green features. If you are looking for a used Niro, the 2021 model is an excellent option with tons of thoughtful features. But with three trims, which model will best fit your driving needs? Let’s take a closer look and see what each trim offers eco-friendly drivers.

Standard Features for Every Trim

Each of the 2021 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid trims has a 1.6L engine with a plug-in hybrid electric motor paired with a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, drivers can expect a combined EPA-estimated 105 MPGe when utilizing both gas and electric power. With the rear seats down, the Niro has an impressive 63.2 cu.ft. of total cargo room, making it more than ready to accommodate several bags for a weekend getaway or some modestly-sized gear for adventures. It also has an under-floor storage tray for concealing valuables. Plus, it has around 100 cu.ft. of passenger area for a spacious cabin feel, and the armrest in the rear seats folds away for times when your passengers want even more space.

Every trim will enjoy a sound-absorbing front windshield for a quiet interior and a rearview camera to help with backing up in a crowded parking lot. That camera complements the generous suite of standard driver-assist features, courtesy of the Kia Drive Wise Assist Technology, which includes tools like a Blind Spot Collision Warning, a Lane Keep Assist System, and a Driver Attention Warning with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert. A tilting telescoping steering wheel helps drivers set the steering wheel to the ideal driving position; meanwhile, the Dual-Zone Climate Control should keep all on board comfortable. Add the standard Bluetooth connectivity, and you can handle hands-free calls no matter where you are on the road.

The 2021 Niro Plug-In Hybrid LXS

The LXS is the base trim. It had a reasonably-priced MSRP, so you will no doubt be able to take advantage of great savings when shopping for a pre-owned model. On top of its exceptional value, this entry-level trim comes equipped with an 8-inch color touchscreen display and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It also features a smart key with a push-button start and a remote start on the key fob, giving the model an added layer of convenience.

The black dash with red accents is shown in a 2021 Kia Niro.

The 2021 Niro Plug-In Hybrid EX

When you move up to the EX, you’ll begin to see more luxury and convenience features added to the vehicle. These will include heated and power-folding exterior mirrors that can quickly melt away view-obscuring ice on cold days and move closer to the vehicle when parking spots are tight. You’ll also find cloth and leather seat trimming on the seats, along with the front ones offering a heated feature.

Plus, you get a wireless phone charger, which is worth noting for drivers who don’t want to bring a USB cord everywhere they go. This trim is also where you get the Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, an incredibly useful tool for those who spend long hours on the road in stop-and-go traffic and want a little break. The EX also has a 7-inch Supervision Instrument Cluster to provide you with all the important driving information you need.

The 2021 Niro Plug-In Hybrid EX Premium

Once you arrive at the EX Premium, you really see a difference in luxury features. You’ll have a power sunroof to let in natural light when you want it at the push of a button. You also get LED headlights for high-quality illumination in low-light settings. This trim also gets a memory driver’s seat. As a driver, you won’t need to reset the seat to your preferred angles and height every time you start the ignition; the vehicle will automatically do that for you. On this trim, you get heated front seats like with the EX, but they’re also ventilated, making them perfect for those humid summer afternoons.

While the lower two trims will have an 8-inch color touchscreen, this trim gets a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen. If you like to see your navigation route in larger graphics, you might consider this trim for the touchscreen size alone. On the subject of navigation, this trim has Navigation-Based Smart Cruise Control that will take over driving when activated while staying on track with your route. Continuing on the driver assist front, this trim gets Rear Parking Assist Sensors to help you get into tight spots. Finally, this trim gets the impressive Harman Kardon premium audio system for one of the best listening experiences in a vehicle.

A red 2021 Kia Niro is shown from the rear.

The Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid Is Eco-Friendly and a Lot of Fun

Kia knew it had some competition when it entered the hybrid space. Prius had cornered that market, but Kia believed they could offer customers something that no other manufacturer could, and they proved it with the Niro. Winning that Red Dot award is no small feat, but Kia worked hard to put thought into every inch and corner of this hybrid subcompact SUV. Its impressive EPA fuel economy will relieve drivers of frequent stops at the pump, so you can enjoy more uninterrupted miles of fun and keep some of that gas money for whatever you want. You might now know it from looking inside the vehicle, but throughout it are green choices Kia made, from the seat materials to the paint. Kia is pulling their weight on being friendlier to the planet with their line of hybrid and PHEV vehicles, and it really shows with the Kia Niro.

While the trim lineup is modest for this vehicle, it is also mighty. Most drivers should find the features that matter to them through this lineup. Kia did a smart thing of making big jumps in feature offerings from one trim to the next. The base level LXS is a no-frills trim that offers a ton of value with its standard features. If you stopped at this trim, you’d probably be impressed with what you got. The EX eases you with a handful of well-planned comfort and convenience features for someone looking for a mid-range option. Finally, the EX Premium is shamelessly luxurious and should have enough upscale features to appeal to more selective consumers while maintaining its dedication to creating fewer emissions. Whichever pre-owned model you choose, you will undoubtedly add exceptional value to your drive while leaving a smaller ecological footprint.