The first generation 2022 Kia Niro is at the end of its lifespan, as a redesigned 2023 model is about to take its place, with a slightly longer wheelbase and more overall length.
This would imply Niro’s roomy cabin is about to get more spacious, while its exterior design takes on Kia’s current design language, and a look lifted from the 2019 HabaNiro Concept. So, is the current one worth splurging for, or should you wait for the new one? Read on.
Offered in base LXS, mid-level EX and top-of-the-line EX Premium trim, the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, or PHEV, is one of the three ways that you can have you Niro. It also comes with a gasoline-only driveline, as well as a pure electric vehicle powertrain.
The former is the least expensive, the latter the most expensive. The PHEV splits the difference. It is a a good choice for those who want to try an electrified vehicle for the first time, but are not quite ready to take the plunge into a pure electric vehicle. The Niro PHEV provides 26 miles of pure electric driving, after which it converts to a standard hybrid. To recharge it, just plug it in.
While the Kia Niro PHEV wears the brand’s Tiger Shark grille, the rest of the vehicle’s design maximizes its footprint with a modern aerodynamic flourish that’s clean and contemporary, but hardly exciting. This should appeal to those who prefer function over flash. For those who prefer something more “high style,” wait for the 2023 model. It’s far more interesting, and far less somnolent.
Perhaps this vehicle’s biggest advantage is its interior space. For a vehicle measuring 171.5 inches long, there’s 100.9 cubic feet of passenger space. You’ll notice adult-size room in both rows, with generous headroom and legroom, and rear legroom better than you might expect.
There’s also a surprising 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space; impressive for a subcompact hatchback. Fold down the rear seats, and that expands to 54.5 cubic feet — only a few cubic feet short of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is 15 inches longer. However, the rear seats don’t fold flat.
Interior material quality is adequate for the price, constantly reminding you this vehicle starts at less than $25,000 in gas-only form, something that was clearly evident in our $36,460 base-priced vehicle. As in many Kia products, controls are simply designed with a contemporary flair and proves easy to use from first glance.
The Kia Niro PHEV uses a 1.6-liter double-overhead-cam 4-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle engine and 59-kW battery pack mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, rather than the continuously variable transmissions typically found in hybrids. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is not available. The Niro’s fully independent suspension uses MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the 2022 Kia Niro PHEV, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has, rating it “Good” in all crashworthiness ratings.
Standard safety features include Forward Collision Avoidance, Blindspot Collision Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning, Lane Following Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Highway Driving Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lead Vehicle Departure Alert, and Parking Distance Warning.
The infotainment system comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, but upper trim levels, such as our test vehicle, come with a larger 10.3-inch touchscreen. The user interface is extremely easy to use, and comes with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our EX Premium test vehicle also had wireless device charging, as well as USB ports. Audio system sound proved adequate in quality.
The 2022 Kia Niro PHEV is fuel efficient, but it isn’t fast. It lacks the insurgent, instant-torque feel typical of EVs. Power is adequate at best, and requests for more power from the rumpus room is met with a delayed response as the driveline debates which sort of power to offer up. It almost feels like a CVT.
When it’s time to tackle the twisties, you won’t find the Niro PHEV to be the most willing dance partner, as the body leans and the low-rolling-resistance tires lose grip. Push it a bit and you’ll cause the tail to twitch. It’s controllable, but doesn’t impart the driver with a feeling of confidence. Steering does provide a scintilla of road feel, and it’s fairly well-weighted. Braking feel is spongy, with unexceptional stopping ability.
Ride comfort is about what you’d expect of a car starting at less than $25,000; fairly comfortable, but with large bumps pounding through uncomfortably. Road and tire noise is modest at low speeds, but can become cacophonous at highway speeds, drowning out conversation and music.
2022 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium Specifications
|Dimension||L: 171.5 inches/W: 71.1 inches/H: 60.8 inches/Wheelbase: 106.3 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter Atkinson-Cycle 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed dual-clutch transmission and front-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||105 mpg-e combined city/highway (electricity and gas)/46 mpg combined (gas only)|
|Performance Specs||139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base prices: $36,490; As tested: $38,025 including $1,175 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2022 Kia Niro’s biggest advantage is its commodious interior and Lilliputian exterior. It’s a trick of design that makes you feel as if you stepped through the looking glass. But it’s driveline proves disappointing. Although its 43 mpg is more than commendable, it trails similarly sized Toyota hybrids. And its performance and handling is unexceptional.
Certainly, this is a vehicle that’s in need of a redesign. In our opinion, it’s worth waiting for the 2023 model. We haven’t driven it yet, but what we know sounds promising. The 2023 model’s motor is upgraded to 62 kilowatts, while horsepower rises to 180, while pure electric range jumps to 33 miles, a 25% improvement. Torque remains unchanged.
Competent but unremarkable, the 2022 Niro PHEV has become outdated in a field of more modern alternatives.
2022 Kia Niro PHEV — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mpg for the 2022 Niro plug-in hybrid?
105 MPG-e in combined city/highway driving when the 32-kWh battery is charged, 46 mpg when driven as a standard hybrid.
What is the range of a Kia Niro PHEV?
According to the EPA, the 2022 Kia Niro PHEV has 560 miles of range, including 26 miles of pure electric range.
Does Kia Niro have AWD?
No. The Kia Niro comes only with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not offered.