All-New Updated Styling+Higher MPG and Longer Range
The second generation 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid continues what Kia started in 2017 when the Niro Hybrid debuted. We liked it then and like the all-new Niro hybrid even more. Kia also has all-new 2023 versions of the Niro EV and Niro PHEV, which Clean Fleet Report will be reviewing separately, so make sure to sign-up for the newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.
Efficient with Low Emissions
The 2023 Kia Niro hybrid is the class leader in fuel economy. Running on 87 octane, the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine coupled to a 32-kW electric motor that puts out 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, driving the front wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Niro hybrid has an EPA estimated fuel economy of between 49 and 53 miles per gallon, depending if equipped with 16-inch or 18-inch wheels, delivering a driving range of up to 588 miles.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Clean Fleet Report recently had the opportunity to be among the first to drive the 2023 Niro Hybrid. Kia invited media to the Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas, California, from which we ventured out over the Cuyamaca Mountains and through the Cleveland National Forest to the 1800s silver mining town of Julian, with an elevation of 4,245 feet. Driving beach-to-mountains-to-beach was a good test for the handling and performance of the Niro Hybrid.
The Niro Hybrid, weighing-in at 3,247 pounds, feels planted on the road, with the 61%/39% weight distribution only giving pause under the most aggressive cornering above the posted speed limit. The under-floor battery placement creates a low center of gravity resulting in overall good driving dynamics. The motor-driven power steering was well-tuned for road feel, with maneuvering in town, especially parking, being easy.
We clocked 10.8 seconds in a few 0-60 mile per hour runs. This is not quick, and we wanted more pep, but fully understand the Niro Hybrid is not made for speed but efficiency, which it excels at.
The Niro Hybrid has front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension delivering a smooth and stable ride, with tire and wind noise at a minimum. Clean Fleet Report drove the highly-optioned Niro SX Touring trim that came with 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/45 Continental Pro Contact all-season tires. Stopping was through four-wheel electric-boosted anti-lock brakes.
The Niro has been completely redesigned for 2023 with what Kia says was inspired by combining nature with aerodynamics. What we saw is a smoother and more sophisticated looking compact crossover that has an impressive drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.29. Kia’s signature tiger nose grille continues from the previous generation Niro, but now is part of a more rounded nose that wraps seamlessly into the fenders, meeting-up with the distinctive “heartbeat” designed LED daytime running lights. The wheelbase and length have increased slightly, adding more passenger and cargo room.
The gently sloped hood draws a smooth profile to the laid-back A-pillars, leading to a near-flat roof with rack rails and a shark fin antenna. The roof tails-off to an integrated spoiler over the rear hatch window that incorporates the LED high brake light. The vertical, boomerang-shaped LED taillights frame the rear hatch that has a painted skid plate-like feature and a very demure “Hybrid” badge on the lower right corner of the hatch.
The most eye-caching element from the side view is what Kia calls the Aero Blade. This boomerang-shaped panel is designed to aid airflow underneath the D-pillar, and can be painted the body color or in a variety of contrasting colors. Decide for yourself if you like the look in the accompanying photos. If so, it is a $195 premium.
Climbing inside, the spacious cabin includes ample leg and headroom up front, and for two six-footers to sit comfortably in the rear seat. Separated by a center armrest with cup holders, the fold-down 60/40 split rear seat produces a near-flat cargo area, with easy access through the large hatch opening. The backside of the front seats have unique grab handles to aid entering and exiting the rear seats.
Clean Fleet Report was driving the Niro SX Touring model with comfortable and supportive heated and ventilated front seats. All seats were covered with a vegan leather seat material that is soft to the touch and looked pretty good. The driver gets 10-way power adjustable with lumbar, while the passenger gets 6-way manual adjustments, including seat height. Outward visibility is excellent as the 6.3-inch ground clearance results in an outlook on the road a bit higher than a sedan, but not as high as a SUV.
The center dash houses the 10.25-inch LCD touchscreen (an 8-inch LCD screen is standard on the base Niro LX) for navigation and the 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, with a subwoofer, that plays AM/FM and SiriusXM, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Kia Connect provides access to vehicle systems including remote start and remote charging, and connects to a smartphone app for Apple and Android operating systems. Smartphone integration and voice commands are via Bluetooth. The vegan leather-wrapped steering wheel had controls for audio, telephone and cruise control.
Kia has a clever design to go between the dual-zone climate controls and infotainment controls. On the narrow horizontal screen below the main touch screen, there are capacitive touch points for the temperature and fan, and then the radio controls, which include volume and channel knobs. This space saver had a short learning curve, quickly showing its benefits.
Comfort and convenience features include an auto-dimming rear view camera, smart key with push button start/stop, Auto Hold, power-folding heated outside mirrors, carpeted floor mats, LED interior lights, rear passenger HVAC vents, driver and passenger power windows with automatic up/down, power door locks and sunroof, and new for 2023 a power rear lift gate.
Safety and Warranties
The Niro Hybrid comes with an extensive list of standard safety features. They include seven airbags, forward emergency braking and collision warning, stability control, smart cruise control, blind spot monitoring, park assist with front and rear sensors, vehicle stability management, traction control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The 2023 Niro Hybrid comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Battery – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
The 2023 Niro Hybrid comes in three trim levels and two packages. These base prices include the $1,295 destination fee.
EX Touring $32,685
SX Touring $36,085
Observations: 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid
Kia is all-in with vehicle electrification and Clean Fleet Report is glad it is. We have reviewed Kia’s hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, and have been impressed with them all.
The 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid wasn’t designed nor intended to be a sporty car, but one that is hard to beat for fuel economy, ride comfort and value. Clean Fleet Report is impressed with the overall drivability, comfort and features of the Kia hybrid, plus the unbeatable warranty.
The Niro hybrid has a few key hybrid competitors—the Ford Escape, the Toyota Corolla and the Toyota RAV4. The Niro Hybrid only is available in front-wheel drive, as is the Corolla, while the Escape and RAV4 Hybrid only comes with all-wheel drive. So make sure to compare carefully the features and efficiency to determine which hybrid compact SUV to buy.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Kia.
Previous Kia Niro Hybrid Interactions by CFR Staff:
Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (a 2nd opinion)
Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (a 3rd opinion)
First Drive: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
News: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro FE Hybrid
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].