Kia’s been making big changes to its line-up, not just the type of vehicle, but also to the design of the new models as well as the mainstays.
All new for 2023, Kia’s Niro has been treated to the same high style redesign as the rest of its showroom siblings. What’s more, Niro brings the value proposition upon which Kia’s reputation rests into even sharper focus. It’s absolutely remarkable how a car that looks this good and is packed with this many features can be offered at such an affordable price point.
Easily the most distinctive styling feature of the Niro SX Touring model with which I spent the week was its Gloss Black C-pillar trim. Reminiscent of the side blade adorning Audi’s R8 supercar, the styling element gives the Niro a decidedly upscale appearance, while simultaneously making the little Kia stand out from all of the other two-box designs currently inhabiting grocery store parking lots across America.
Surprisingly upscale in appearance, the interior treatment relies upon sustainable materials and what can only be termed a sculptured dash to bring elevate the concept of frugality into a whole new realm. The overall look, plus the slick ambient lighting elements had me wondering how Kia packs this much style into such an affordably priced car.
Getting back to that whole sustainability thing for minute though, recycled materials and natural fibers — including eucalyptus leaves — comprise the headliner and upholstery. However, this is not to say the Niro’s cabin is a plastic free zone. The interior design team strategically placed it so it doesn’t stand out as being the dominant material.
I had guests from out of town visiting that week, so we spent a lot of time touring about in the Niro. We found comfort to be good at all seating positions, though I do wish they’d specified smooth upholstery for the doors’ armrests. The textured material employed there irritated my elbow over the course of longer drives. Cargo capacity, even with the rear seat deployed, was quite admirable though and all of her luggage fit — with room to spare — no problem.
The 2023 Kia Niro SX Touring uses a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine teamed with a hybrid electric motor, which is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. A 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters feeds power to the front wheels. Total system output is 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
Kia’s “Green Zone” tech uses the nav system to advise the Niro to switch into EV mode under circumstances in which maximum power is not likely to be required. At one point, running low on gasoline, I saw the distance to empty readout display higher numbers when the Kia was running on electricity and lower numbers when employing the ICE. Creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic on electricity alone was very reassuring as I kept an eye out for the next gas station.
The EPA says to expect to see 53 mpg in the city, 45 on the highway and 49 overall. I averaged 50.
Safety and Technology
Here is where the little Kia gets even more impressive. Standard equipment on the SX Touring Niro includes smart cruise control with stop and go capability, lane following assist, highway driving assist, forward and rear facing parking distance warnings, blind spot warning, and on and on and on.
Infotainment features resided within a sleek glassed-in panel that also housed the Niro’s operational instrumentation. A Harman/Kardon audio system, wireless phone charging, dual zone automatic climate control, CarPlay and Android compatibility, as well as the aforementioned nav system, could be accessed using the 10.3-inch touchscreen side of the panel.
I really appreciated the competence of the Niro’s lane keep assist and smart cruise control. Touring about that week found me dealing with more traffic than I had seen in years. Rather than enduring the stresses and frustration that go with stop and go traffic, I left the Niro to manage the situation—which it did in an exemplary fashion—while my friends and I enjoyed music and conversation.
With 139 horsepower on tap and 195 lb-ft of torque, one cannot reasonably expect the Niro to be classified as fast — and it meets those expectations handily. In other words, while the Kia compact crossover SUV is indeed sporty looking, it isn’t exactly sporty in the way it goes about closing the gap between points alpha and bravo.
However, the powertrain moves the little crossover along both competently and confidently under all typically encountered circumstances. There’s more than enough power to merge onto a busy freeway, even if it does take the Kia approximately nine seconds to hit 60 from a standing start. Handling is good, if not exactly outstanding; on the other hand though, its ride quality absolutely is outstanding.
2023 Kia Niro SX Touring Specifications
|L: 174 inches/W: 71.8 inches/H: 60.8 inches/Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
|1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine w/electric motor, 6-speed DCT
|53 mpg city/45 mpg highway/49 mpg combined
|139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $34,790; As tested: $36,435 including $1,325 destination charge.
With its distinctive appearance, everyday practicality and affordable price point, the 2023 Kia Niro SX Touring puts 53-mpg fuel economy within the reach of a whole lot of people—and without looking cheap. Simply said, Kia vividly displays its penchant for offering an abundance of content for relatively small amounts of money with the Niro.
2023 Kia Niro SX Touring – Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Kia Niro a reliable car?
Kia offers a five-year/60,000-mile overall warranty, a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile battery pack warranty. That’s a pretty good sign when it comes to the faith a manufacturer has in its products.
Is the Kia Niro expensive to maintain?
The estimated cost to maintain and repair a Kia Niro ranges from $95 to $2307, depending upon the nature of the issue, with an average of $245. Again though, given the extensive warranty coverage, major repair bills are a non-issue for at least 10 years or 100,000 miles.
How much is a Kia Niro oil change?
The average cost for a Kia Niro oil change at a dealer is between $121 and $133. Labor costs are estimated to fall between $44 and $56 while parts are priced between $77 and $78. Prices are likely to be considerably lower at quick-change places.