The 2023 Kia Niro family made its North American debut at the 2022 New York Auto Show sporting its cool new look complete with contrasting colored side blades. It now features the tiered headlight setup and lots of design cues from the HabaNiro Concept first shown at the 2019 installment of the New York Auto Show. Vertical LED taillights now flank the hatch, giving the crossover a distinct rear end. The standard hybrid and plug-in hybrid can be distinguished by their black cladding on the lower part of the doors and the wheel arches. Pure battery-electric versions get Steel Grey or black depending on the exterior color you choose.
Versus the outgoing car, the 2023 Kia Niro is 3.5 inches longer at 174 inches. Its wheelbase grows by 0.8 inches to 107.1 inches. The increased dimensions give you additional cargo capacity at 22.8 cubic feet versus the old car’s 19.4 cubic feet. Ground clearance, however, stands at 6.3 inches. The side blade, which is available in different colors, helps the Niro’s aerodynamic performance, resulting in a drag coefficient of 0.29. You can complement the contrasting colors with available 18-inch wheels on the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
Kia went all-in on sustainable materials for the interior. The Niro EV, for example, uses no animal-based materials. Its headliner is composed of recycled wallpaper made from 56 percent reused PET fibers while the seat backs are built from bio polyurethane and Tencel sourced from eucalyptus leaves. Even the paint is environmentally friendly and doesn’t contain benzene, toluene, and xylene isomers to reduce its environmental impact and cut waste.
The Niro’s dashboard features a unique angular design. You can opt for two 10.25-inch displays housed under a single glass panel. Other features include an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, a head-up display, wireless charging, and interior ambient lighting. Active Sound Design, which plays digitally enhanced powertrain noises in the cabin, has also found its way to the Niro. There’s also a new digital key feature accessed via the new Kia Access App on the EX grade and higher. The car is also able to accept over-the-air (OTA) updates, enabling it to get improvements via software without needing to visit a dealership.
Every model also gets the full DriveWise suite of active safety technologies, which include pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring. Adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist are also available and use data from the built-in navigation system to detect turns. High Driving Assist II, a semi-autonomous system that blends adaptive cruise control, lane centering, steering assist, and traffic jam assist, is also available but only on the Niro EV. It also includes automatic lane changing.
Three powertrains will be offered. The Niro Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder coupled to a lithium-ion battery, a 32-kW electric motor, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Its combined system output is 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It gets improved cooling and combustion technologies to improve efficiency, which Kia says should allow it to get a 53-mpg combined rating from the EPA and travel up to 588 miles. Slotting above that is the Niro PHEV, which uses a larger 11.1-kWh battery and a more powerful electric motor, increasing its horsepower to 180. You can fully charge the car in less than three hours via a level 2 AC charger. When fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, the Niro PHEV’s all-electric range is expected to be 33 miles, a 25 percent bump over its predecessor. Expect versions with the 18-inch wheels to have a lower all-electric range.
Finally, at the top of the lineup is the Niro EV, which uses a 64.8-kWh battery and a 201-hp. Kia says it is aiming for an EPA rating of 253 miles per charge for its newest entry-level battery-electric vehicle. However, its peak DC charging rate has gone down to 85 kW, meaning going from 10 to 80 percent takes 45 minutes. Thankfully, Kia upgraded the onboard charger to an 11-kW unit, allowing the car to get to 100 percent in less than seven hours using a level 2 AC charger. A heat pump and battery warmer return as available options to preserve the Niro EV’s range in cold climates. It is also the only variant available with vehicle-to-load (V2L) capability, enabling it to power appliances and other electronics just like the larger EV6.
Other unique features include a Green Zone drive mode that immediately turns off the internal combustion engine on the hybrid and PHEV models in residential areas, schools, and hospitals. The Niro Hybrid and PHEV will also use navigation data and your driving history to optimize electric motor usage and the amount of energy recaptured.
The 2023 Kia Niro family goes on sale nationwide this summer. Both the plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants remain eligible for federal tax credits with the latter qualifying for the full $7,500. Like its predecessor, the new Niro is FWD only regardless of the powertrain you choose.