Kia Niro (2016 – 2021) Review

Kia Niro (2016 – 2021) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
With a choice of hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, the Kia Niro is a practical electrified option that caters for most needs.

+Easy to drive. Impressive fuel economy and low running costs. Space for a family.

-Ride quality is sometimes unsettled over country roads. Hardly desirable inside or out.

New prices start from £21,295
Insurance Groups are between 11–15
On average it achieves 91% of the official MPG figure

With full electric power this car was sold as the Kia e-Niro, but also as the simpler Kia Niro with a choice of two hybrid power options. The hybrid model has a short electric driving range, while the plug-in PHEV can cover up to 36 miles in zero-emissions mode. It’s also a very decent family car rival to the dependable Honda HR-V or dramatically styled Toyota C-HR. Read on for our full Kia Niro review.

Both the hybrid and the plug-in have a high driving position and plenty of space, but are also economical, with low emissions and impressive economy in real-world driving.

On the basic hybrid, power comes from the combination of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 44PS electric motor, with a total output of 141PS and 265Nm of torque. Official economy is 74.3mpg and emissions are 88g/km, with no plugging in necessary.

A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard, as opposed to a CVT like on the Toyota Prius hybrid.

The result is a driving experience that will feel more familiar to drivers used to a conventional automatic transmission or a manual gearbox. In fact, the Kia Niro just feels like any other car for the most part, particularly out of town, where it’s easy to drive and very comfortable. 

It can operate on electricity alone under some circumstances, such as at low speeds in traffic or when cruising at a steady speed. However, most of the time the engine needs to be working. Fortunately, while it is audible, it’s only really noticeable when accelerating very hard for overtakes or joining motorways.

If you can charge a car at home, there's also a plug-in hybrid model, with an official 36-mile range under electric power alone. The PHEV was only available in one trim level, the 3, meaning it’s well equipped.

Aside from the hybrid system, the Kia Niro is very much like any other small SUV. It’s spacious, comfortable and comes with plenty of modern technology, including standard-fit lane keep assist, Bluetooth and cruise control, plus, on mid-grade 2 versions, there is navigation and smartphone mirroring through Android Auto.

Space in the back is adequate even for adults, while the boot is a perfectly decent 421 litres, expandable to 1425 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

However, in the PHEV, the boot is reduced to 324 litres thanks to its larger battery pack lurking under the load floor. Like all compact SUVs it has a fairly high load deck compared to hatchbacks, but that’s par for the course and the Niro is no worse than anything else in this respect.

If space, performance and convenience technology matter more to you than running costs then there are better choices, including the Kia Sportage. But the Kia Niro’s ease of use and impressive economy make it a great alternative to petrol or diesel-powered compact SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai or the SEAT Ateca. 

If you’re looking for the latest Kia Niro, check out our 2022 Kia Niro review.

Ask Honest John

I'm buying a car but it missed its first service - should I walk away?

"A local dealer here (Pisa, Italy) has three 2020 Kia Niro Hybrids for sale, all low kms (45k-60k), all midspec. They are all ex company cars and are all missing their first service. The salesperson explained that the company did not want to pay for the service, and as a consequence the Kia 7 year warranty is no longer valid. instead they offer the cars with a 12 month warranty with a local garage. I will confirm with Kia Italy tomorrow about the status of the official Kia warranty. But in the meantime, is missing the first running-in service a big issue with the Kia 1.6 GDI hybrid engine?"
There is nothing to suggest that this engine in particular is at greater risk of issues due to the first service being missed than any other, but we would be cautious of any car with missing services and expect the price to reflect this. 60,000 kilometers (37,000) miles is a long time to go without a service, and we would not expect Kia to honour the seven year warranty.
Answered by David Ross

Will changing the headights in my Kia Niro affect the warranty?

"Will upgrading my headlights affect my warranty?"
Your warranty documents should explain in more detail what is and is not in breach of your warranty conditions, but assuming you are considering changing the bulbs in your headlights then this should have no effect on your warranty. However, if you are looking at changing the headlight units for a different specification then this may affect your warranty.
Answered by David Ross

Can I trickle charge my hybrid?

"I own a Kia Niro PHEV and about to be out of the country for about seven weeks. I have bought an AA 4.8W solar-powered trickle charger. It includes the ability to use the EOBD socket as wellas normal battery clams and 12v cigar plug. However, before risking damage to my car I have tried to investigate it's possible use. I had assumed the starter battery would be the standard 12v lead acid unit but I believe the battery is an AGM battery to cater for the intelligent stop/go function. I have two questions. I safe to use this on an AGM battery and secondly, am I safe to use the EOBD socket? The dealer says OK but should connect directly to the battery terminals. Normally I would remove the live connection but don't really want to risk that as it will upset the car."
Your Kia Niro has its starter battery located underneath the rear seat, so connecting directly to it is probably not a realistic option. AGM batteries require a different charge cycle to conventional lead-acid batteries although this is less of an issue when using a trickle charger. Although the dealer has said it is safe to use the OBD port, the ideal option would be to use a smart charger that has a specific program for trickle charging an AGM battery for complete peace of mind.
Answered by David Ross

Is water from the exhaust pipe normal?

"I have a 2021 Kia Niro. From new it leaves a small pool of water from the exhaust. I reported this to the dealer who told me that it was nothing to worry about and to ignore it. I have had the car for two years now without any problems but am concerned about this issue. Dealer said water was from AC. Should it do this after each journey? Have you heard of this issue?"
Water from the exhaust pipe is a natural phenomenon, usually more noticeable in cold weather, high humidity or if you frequently make short trips. If the vehicle is running normally and you are experiencing no other problems then it is highly unlikely this is anything to be concerned about.
Answered by David Ross
More Questions

What does a Kia Niro (2016 – 2021) cost?