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A blue 2023 Kia Niro PHEV is shown in front of a city across a bay.

While Its Competition Plays the Fiddle, the Kia Niro Sets the SUV World on Fire

When you were a kid, your folks probably warned you about playing with fire. It was a matter of safety. But now that you’re older, fire can be your friend. This is definitely the case with the Kia Niro, one of the hottest alternative energy vehicles on the road today. For residents looking for a great Kia Niro dealer, be aware that there are three versions of the vehicle. One is a standard hybrid, the second is a plug-in hybrid, and the third is an all-electric vehicle or “EV.” Understanding the benefits of each is key to deciding which one works best for you.

Kia introduced the Niro in 2017. The first model was a standard hybrid, combining a conventional gas engine and an electric motor driving the front axle. The design of the Niro is a compact SUV, which gives you comfortable seating for up to 5 passengers and a roomy hatchback trunk. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid followed one year later in 2018. Kia then debuted its Niro EV in 2019, giving drivers the option of fully electric driving. The 2023 Kia Niro is a fully redesigned model with improved performance and interior space. These enhancements have been applied throughout the Niro lineup.

What Keeps the Niro Burning?

The current class of compact and subcompact SUVs is filled with models that are quite similar. Kia realized this, deciding to set the Niro apart by making it an alternative energy vehicle across all models. In this way, you can burn up the roads in a Kia Niro while drivers of other subcompact SUVs are burning through their wallets, making endless trips to the pump.

There are some key differences between the three 2023 Niro models. The standard hybrid relies on a 1.6-liter I-4 Hybrid engine paired with an electric motor driving the front axle. A 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission blends the output of the gas and electric motors, delivering 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. At lower speeds, the Niro relies mainly on the electric motor, with the gas engine powering a generator to keep the electric motor’s lithium-ion battery pack charged. The Niro also relies on regenerative brake recapture to charge the electric battery. At higher speeds, the Niro shifts to primarily gas power. Either way, the Niro provides exceptional fuel economy, with an impressive 53 MPG in the city and 48 MPG on the highway.

If you want more convenience and improved performance, you can opt for the 2023 Niro Plug-in Hybrid. In addition to charging off the 1.6-liter I-4 Hybrid gas engine and regenerative brake recapture, you can also plug the Niro into a public DC fast charger station or recharge it at home. You can get a full charge on the 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery in less than three hours when connected to a 240-volt energy supply. The improved performance of the Niro Plug-in Hybrid is courtesy of a larger electric motor than the standard Niro hybrid, delivering an impressive 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid also has a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The larger electric motor accounts for this model’s ability to travel 33 miles on electric power alone.

If you want to really burn through the competition in this subcompact SUV, you can opt for the 2023 Niro EV. This model will allow you to say goodbye to the gas pump forever. Instead, you can keep the Niro EV‘s lithium-ion polymer battery charged through the included 11.1-kW onboard charger. This is an upgrade over the 2022 Niro EV, which featured a 7.2-kW charger. The difference is stark, as the 2023 Niro EV can get a full charge in less than 7 hours on a 240-volt home supply, compared to the 9 hours it takes for the 2022 model.

In addition, you can get up to 80% recharge in the 2023 Niro EV in under 45 minutes at a public DC fast charger station. The 2023 Niro EV also provides the greatest output performance of the three Niro models, an impressive 201 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. However, that performance and fuel economy comes at a price, as the base MSRP for the 2023 Niro EV is $39,450, significantly higher than the $26,490 MSRP on the 2023 Kia Niro LX.

A close up shows the black wheel on a 2023 Kia Niro EV.

The Niro’s Flaming New Infotainment System

Each 2023 Niro model, except for the Niro LX, features the Kia Connect infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display. This is one of the largest standard touchscreens on a subcompact SUV, while the Niro LX comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that is still quite sizable for its model class.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard on the Kia Connect system, which will help you pair your smartphone with the system, allowing you to stay connected wherever your travels take you. You will also be able to stream your favorite apps, whether it’s music with Pandora or Spotify or navigation through Waze or Google Maps. The Kia Connect has its own built-in navigation system on all models except for the Niro LX. In addition, these models feature SiriusXM satellite radio, giving you great music wherever you drive your Niro across the country.

The Niro’s Smoking Interior Space

Kia has given the 2023 Niro a surprisingly large interior space. In fact, there is over 105 cu.ft. of space inside the Niro, which is impressive, considering that the Niro is a subcompact SUV. This is best seen in the Niro’s legroom, a roomy 41.5 inches in the front row and a spacious 39.8 inches in the back. This will allow you and your passengers to stretch, which can’t be said for other models in the Niro’s vehicle class. A big reason for this is that Kia has stashed the Niro’s lithium-ion polymer battery pack underneath the rear seat.

The interior space extends to the voluminous trunk of the Niro. The 2023 Niro and Niro EV provide 22.8 cu.ft. of cargo space, while the Niro Plug-in Hybrid has a solid 19.4 cu.ft. for your belongings. Access is easy in a Niro with its hatchback; plus, you get an impressive 6.3 inches of ground clearance, making loading the Niro quite easy.

Standard Safety Features Make the Niro a Hot Choice

Kia has made great safety features standard in the 2023 Niro. Each model features the Kia Drive Wise Driver Assist Technology. This set of active safety features makes operating the Niro safer than ever. The blind-spot collision warning will make changing lanes safer; once you signal to change, the system will alert you if another vehicle is driving in your blind spot. Once that vehicle has cleared, you can safely move over.

Similarly, lane keeping assist will help you maintain your position on the highway. If you start to drift out of your lane, the system will use slight steering adjustments to get your Niro back on the straight and narrow. The lane following assist works similarly but moves the wheel to follow the lanes on the highway. Front end collisions are always a major concern. This is why the Niro has forward collision avoidance technology. If the vehicle in front of you comes to an abrupt stop, the system will engage the emergency brakes. This will either bring you to a safe stop or mitigate damages if a collision is unavoidable.

Each Niro has a rear-view monitor to make it safer and easier to back out of parking spaces; however, you can’t always see what is behind your vehicle. This is why the Kia Niro has a rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist system. It will alert you if another vehicle or a pedestrian is about to pass behind your Niro when driving in reverse. The Niro also has a high beam assist system, automatically turning on your Niro’s high beams in areas of low light and then turning them off as soon as the lighting has improved or the system detects another vehicle. This allows you to focus on the road while the system handles your headlights.

A green 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid is shown driving on a mountain road after leaving a Kia Niro dealer.

The Kia Niro Just Got Hotter!

With three different models offering different powertrains, the 2023 Kia Niro truly has something for everyone. No matter which one you choose, you will get the fuel economy afforded by a hybrid engine or the end of reliance on gasoline, which comes with an EV. In addition, the Niro provides a roomy interior for you, your passengers, and your belongings, with plenty of standard driver assistance features to get you where you are going safely, while the standard Kia Connect system ensures you stay connected and have fun during your travels. This is one subcompact SUV poised to smoke the competition.