The Kia Niro PHEV is a perfect plug-in for urban life

Jonathan Gitlin

Every time we get to drive one of the Kia Niro family, it seems like we fall in love. At the beginning of 2017, our UK offshoot tested the regular Niro hybrid (and its Hyundai Ioniq cousin) and came away with the impression that Nissan, Toyota, and the rest of the competition should worry. Later that year, I got slightly lost on the shores of the Chesapeake in a Niro, an enjoyable experience that was replicated in 2018 when I spent a week with one on the streets of Washington, DC. Soon, it will be time to try out the battery electric version—uncomplicatedly named the Niro EV—when it arrives on these shores. But today, it’s the turn of the middle child: the Kia Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid.

It’s mostly the same as the one we already tested

The Niro PHEV shares an awful lot with its not-pluggable hybrid sibling. It looks virtually identical, save for some badges and a charger port behind the left front wheel. It’s exactly the same length (171.5 inches/4,356mm), height (60.8 inches/1,544mm), width (71.1 inches/1,805mm), and wheelbase (106.3 inches/2,700mm), and all the interior dimensions are identical, too, so you don’t sacrifice any legroom, headroom, or cargo capacity. It has exactly the same suspension set-up—MacPherson struts up front, independent multilink at the rear. The transmission is the same six-speed dual clutch gearbox. It even uses an identical aluminum 1.6L, four-cylinder, 16 valve direct-injection gasoline engine, which provides 104hp (78kW) and 109lb-ft (148Nm) via the Atkinson cycle. (If these details leave you wanting more information, please refer to the aforementioned prior coverage on the Niro.)

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