The 2021 Seoul Mobility Show will serve as the stage for the global debut of the 2023 Kia Niro. Now entering its second generation, Kia’s dedicated efficiency-focused model takes a lot of the design cues from the HabaNiro Concept revealed at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Two shadowy teasers showing the crossover’s exterior reveal the same LED light patterns as the show car. In the rear, the horizontal taillight clusters have been replaced by full-length vertical ones. It also appears that you can get contrasting C-pillars on the new Niro based on the orange strip seen peeking out of the second exterior teaser.
Like the 2023 Sportage family, the 2023 Kia Niro’s interior gets a lot of influence from the EV6. You get an asymmetrical dash layout with a massive piece of glass housing the main screen and the digital cluster. The main display, however, appears to be a smaller 10.25-inch unit instead of the 12.3-inch one found in the Sportage and EV6. Like its siblings, the center stack is angled toward the driver. Kia appears to have plucked the EV6’s angular two-spoke steering wheel and put it in the Niro. On the passenger’s side of the dash, there appears to be blue ambient lighting. Part of the center stack reveals the presence of physical controls including a volume and tuning knob. The start/stop button shown in one of two interior renderings appears to pulse in blue too.
The 2023 Niro will be the next salvo in Kia’s electrification efforts and will serve as the entry-level offering in the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric lineups. Unlike the larger EV6, the new Niro will retain the same platform as its predecessor. However, it’s been heavily modified to accommodate the latest iterations of Hyundai Motor Group’s electrified powertrains. Kia has remained mum on what we’ll find under the hood of the new Niro. It’s likely that the crossover gets either an upgraded version of its current powertrain or the 226-hp hybrid system out of the Sorento and Sportage.
In addition to a conventional hybrid, the Niro will be available in plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants. Expect the former to get the same 13.8-kWh battery as the Sorento. However, the electric motor could be less powerful. That will depend on whether it gets a carry-over naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic or the turbocharged unit and six-speed torque converter automatic used in the newer system.
Major updates to the Hyundai Motor Group’s Eco platform could also signal that Kia is poised to add a more potent Niro EV. The current model uses a single electric motor rated at 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque backed by a 64-kWh battery pack. Kia may be poised to add a dual-motor version, which could offer more power. Additionally, a higher capacity battery pack may be in the cards to get to the 300-mile range rating.
Expect the 2023 Kia Niro to go on sale in North America sometime in early to mid-2022. It will slot below the Sportage Hybrid in the hybrid range and the EV6 on the battery-electric side of things. While other markets are getting the standard hybrid, the word on the street is that the plug-in hybrid and EV are the only variants coming to the U.S. Considering the major changes that this generation received, expect a price increase across all models. The Niro EV will also be sold in all 50 states alongside the plug-in hybrid.