Driven

Quick Spin: 2018 Kia Niro PHEV

Regular followers of this website would recall that we recently tested the Kia Niro Hybrid not that long ago. We liked it so much that we decided that driving its plug-in hybrid sibling would also go over well, and possibly return even greater mileage.

Kia Niro PHEV 1

From the outset, the Niro PHEV seemed like a more put-together car. Ironically, the larger batter pack, up from 1.6-kWh to 8.9-kWh, feels like it suits the personality of the Niro better. In our initial tests of the hybrid variant, we felt like the car was stopping and starting a little too abruptly and trying to run on EV mode a little too frequently. The PHEV solves this issue with the larger battery life and acceptable EV-only range of 34 miles. Our week, even on a full charge, netted about 20 miles from the battery pack. We’ll chock that one up to freezing temps and winter-like conditions.

Kia Niro PHEV 7

For our performance oriented readers, the Niro is not for you. It’s not going to rip down the quarter mile, but it will merge into traffic just fine thanks to its readily available electric torque. Rated at 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, we just didn’t feel it was appropriate to be flooring it and pushing the limits on the Niro PHEV. Instead, the Niro PHEV subtly re-calibrates your brain to drive as economically as possible. Regenerative braking, coasting, and four separate driving modes provide all the motivation for you to strive for efficiency. You’re also being constantly graded on your driving style by the on-board computer, just so you know where you stand in the categories of Economical, Normal or Aggressive. We couldn’t get the 1% Aggressive to go away all week, but that could just be a testament to our preferences. On the week we averaged 47.2 miles per gallon over 340 miles with a couple full battery charge sessions netting a few electric-only miles.

On the design front, there is almost no distinguishable way to tell the PHEV from the regular Niro. There are some light blue accents on the front and rear fascia and a charge port cover on the front driver side fender. The PHEV also gets a unique and drag-reducing wheel design. Inside there is the obvious “ECO plug-in” badge to go with the same blue accents and stitching from the Kia Soul EV.

Kia Niro PHEV 8

We thoroughly enjoyed the drive of the regular Niro, and the PHEV is a slightly more expensive, but more complete package that takes the Niro to all new heights. Customers opting for the PHEV will enjoy the more sophisticated hybrid system and greater EV range that all but justifies the price increase.

-Scott Villeneuve

2018 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium
$34,500
Snow White Pearl with Light Gray With Electric Blue Accents Leather
$395
Destination Charges $940
As Tested MSRP $35,835

Related:
Incognito Hybrid: 2017 Kia Niro
Artificial Heart: 2016 Kia Soul EV

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