2021 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid SUV

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in Suvs
2021 MODEL
$29,490 - $36,390
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Overall Rating

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2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: August 11, 2020
Kiran Menon's image

Kiran Menon

Content writer

The Kia Niro is a 5-door subcompact crossover SUV. It shares its platform with Kia Seltos and the Hyundai Ioniq. The plugin hybrid version was released in the U.S. in 2018 along with the electric version. Though Kia Niro PHEV does not offer a powerful engine as compared to its rivals, it is still one of the most popular cars in this segment because of its smooth handling, comfortable seats with plenty of interior space, impressive cargo space, easy to use infotainment system, and class leading fuel efficiency.

See detailed review »

Pros

Impressive fuel economy and commendable all-electric range

One of the affordable hybrids in the market

Plenty of standard and optional features

Cons

Less cargo volume than a typical crossover

Sluggish acceleration

Despite a crossover, all-wheel drive is not available

What's New?

The 2021 Niro gets redesigned 16-inch and 18-inch wheels, new LED headlamps, and a redesigned diamond-pattern grille up front.

Inside, the Niro gets an updated digital instrument cluster and an 8-inch screen as standard (an optional 10.3-inch unit is available as well)

Another addition is the steering-wheel shift paddle, which works rather unconventionally.


Pictures

Exterior
Interior

Styles

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV in Solar Orange color 2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV in Aurora Black Pearl color 2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV in Runway Red color
Solar Orange

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

6.8

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV LXS

LXS

power
104 hp
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
49 combined

$29,490


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
LXS 5dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A) Starting at $29,490 MSRP (51/49/46) 104 hp, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed automatic front wheel drive 5

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV EX

EX

power
104 hp
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
49 combined

$33,290


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
EX 5dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A) Starting at $33,290 MSRP (51/49/46) 104 hp, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed automatic front wheel drive 5

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV EX Premium

EX Premium

power
104 hp
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
49 combined

$36,390


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
EX Premium 5dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A) Starting at $36,390 MSRP (51/49/46) 104 hp, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed automatic front wheel drive 5

Expert Review

6.8

Overall Rating


The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV competes with the likes of Hyundai Kona Electric, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It is available in three different trims - the base LXS trim is available at $29,490, the mid-level EX trim is available at $33,290 and the top-spec EX Premium trim is priced at $36,390.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Front Third Quarter
2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Rear Third Quarter

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Features

The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV is available in three different trims: LXS, EX, and EX Premium. The base trim, that is LXS is priced at $29,490, the mid-level trim that is EX is priced at $33,290 and the highest trim, EX Premium, is priced at $36,390. With Kia offering a lot of standard features for the Niro lineup, it’s no wonder they rack up a lot of sales numbers.

Model

LXS

EX

EX Premium

MSRP(FWD)

$29, 490

$33,290

$36,390

Key Features

16-inch alloy wheels

All of LXS’ features

All of EX’s features

 

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert

Adaptive cruise control Wireless charging pad

LED headlights

 

Clear-lens Halogen Headlights

Lane following assist

Power sunroof

 

Forward collision avoidance

Ten-way adjustable power driver’s seat

Heated and ventilated front seats

 

Eight-inch touchscreen interface

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Heated front seats

10.25-inch touchscreen interface

Eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system

Coming with an MSRP of $29,490, the base LXS trim does not comprise all the standard features. It gets a standard eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Most of the safety features are offered as standard equipment in the Kia Niro.

Having an MSRP of $33,290, the EX trim can be a very good buy as it has all the standard features and offers a similar range as that of EX Premium. It also comes with a standard eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with anpotional 10.25-inch screen. Adaptive cruise control and power adjustable seats are some of the features offered in this trim.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Side View

The highest trim offered, the EX Premium is priced at $36,390 and it gets all the features. It has a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with an 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Sunroof and comes with heated/cooled seats..

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Maintenance, Reliability and Warranty

Kia Niro PHEV has been one of the most reliable cars since its introduction in the market. In the 2018 survey conducted by J.D Power, the Niro obtained 2nd place out of 75 cars and received an overall reliability score of 93%. In 2019, it came down to the 10th position but received a large number of positive reviews regarding reliability. 

The 2020 Kia Niro also got an overall rating of 76 out of 100. The report can be split as; 76 in quality and reliability, 76 in the driving experience, 78 in resale value, and 74 in-dealership experience. 

As per the 2020 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study by J.D. Power, Kia has occupied the 14th position, which is above the industry average. In the 2020 Consumer Reports for reliability, Kia has secured the 9th position out of 30 cars in the list of most reliable brands.

The cost of ownership is one of the factors that play a very important role while buying a car. The ownership of a car, in turn, depends on a number of factors - insurance, fuel cost, maintenance, deprecation, and tax credit. However, the cost of ownership of the 2020 Kia Niro PHEV is not yet available.

In 2017, Kia Niro PHEV was recalled three times due to a faulty hybrid propulsion system and faulty electric power-assist system in the steering. After that, there are no such instances of recall for Kia Niro PHEV. 

Warranty

Kia Niro PHEV offers one of the best warranty packages in this segment. It gets a limited warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles, powertrain warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles, warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles for hybrid components, warranty of 8 years or 130,000 miles for emission components and roadside assistance for 5 years.

Criteria

Period

Limited warranty

5 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain warranty

10 years or 100,000 miles

Warranty for hybrid components

10 years or 100,000 miles

Warranty for emission components

8 years or 130,000 miles

Roadside assistance

5 years

Among the rivals, Hyundai Kona Electric comes with the exact same warranty package as offered by Niro. Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid comes with a limited warranty of 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever is earlier. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid also comes with a basic warranty of 3 years or 36,000 mikes, whichever is earlier.

Miles per dollar

Since we don't have the ownership costs associated with maintaining a Kia Niro PHEV. We cannot come up with an MPD ratio. We will update once we receive the data required.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Buying Advice

We will advise you to go for the EX trim. It is the mid-level trim and is priced at $33,290. It gets all the standard features present in the vehicle and has a similar range as compared to the topmost trim. 

You will save some money if you buy the base trim but you will not be satisfied with its performance. The EX Premium trim is priced at $36,390 and is obviously, the best of all, if you want to spend those extra bucks. 

Is buying a used car Niro PHEV a good idea?

You can go for a used Kia Niro PHEV and though you will save some dollars, you will miss out on some important updates. The 2020 model came with a lot of new features. The most notable of which was the introduction of a standard 8.0-inch touch screen with an optional 10.25-inch screen. 

In the previous year's models, there was a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen. It also gets a new feature known as driver drowsiness monitoring that is not available in the previous ones. Apart from all these, a number of exteriors and interior updates have been introduced. So, if you do not want to miss the updates, you must go for the new model.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Engine and Performance

Unlike Tesla, Not all electric vehicles (EV) provide a power-packed performance. The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV gets a 1.6 L Inline-4 gas or electric engine with an auto-shift manual transmission and a front-wheel-drive drivetrain. The 1.6 L engine is capable of producing a power of 139 hp and a torque of 195 lb-ft. Though it does not have one of the most powerful engines, it is sufficient enough for your daily activities. The transmission shifts are also not smooth enough. 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Engine

It takes nine hours to charge the PHEV by using a 120-Volt power outlet whereas it takes just two and a half hours if charged through a 240-volt outlet. Moreover, it comes with regenerative brakes that drive back the energy when you press the brake pedals.

Models

Kia Niro PHEV

Hyundai Kona Electric

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

MSRP

$36,390

$36,210

$33,016

$36,880

Engine

Gas/Electric 1.6L I-4

Electric Direct Drive with AC motors

Gas/Electric 2L I-4

Gas/Electric 2.5L I-4

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

AWD

AWD

Transmission

Auto-Shift Manual w/OD

Automatic

CVT w/OD

CVT w/OD

Power

139 hp @ 5,700 rpm

201 hp @ 3,800 rpm

148 hp @ 5,600 rpm

219 hp @ 5,700 rpm

Torque

195 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm

291 lb ft @ 0 rpm

134 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm

163 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm

In this segment, Toyota RAV4 hybrid and Hyundai Kona Electric offer the most powerful engines with 219 hp and 201 hp respectively. On the other hand, the Kia Niro is more about offering world-class efficiency rather than power output.

2021 Kia Niro PHEV Acceleration And Braking Performance

Having a 1.6 L I4 gas or electric engine, the 2021 Kia Niro PHEV provides decent acceleration with 8.7 seconds to reach 60 mph and 16.8 seconds to reach the quarter-mile mark. It has a top speed of 126 mph. It may not be a fun-to-drive car but it is one of the most comfortable cars in this segment. 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Accelerate 0-60 MPH Just In 8.7 Sec.

Moreover, it offers a smooth and comfortable ride quality with excellent handling and a tight turning radius. Having a curb weight of 3,161 lbs, it offers satisfactory braking performance with a stopping distance of 134 feet from 60 mph.

Models

Kia Niro PHEV

Hyundai Kona Electric

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

0-60 (seconds)

8.7 

6.4 

7.1 

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

16.8

15.5 

16.5 

15.9 

Top Speed (mph)

126 

104 

120 

120 

60-0 (ft.)

134 

173 

131 

143 

Among the rivals, Kia Niro is the slowest car but with a quite impressive braking performance. Hyundai Kona Electric offers the best acceleration with just 6.4 seconds taken to reach 60 mph and 15.5 seconds to reach the quarter-mile mark. On the other hand, Kona gives the worst braking performance in this segment with a stopping distance of 173 feet. Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has the best stopping distance of 131 feet.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Fuel Economy

The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV will offer very high fuel efficiency, having a mileage of 51 mpg in the city, 46 mpg in highway and combined mileage of 102 mpg. Having a fuel tank capacity of 11.4 gallons, it offers one of the best ranges in this segment.

Models

Kia Niro PHEV

Hyundai Kona Electric

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

MPG (City)

51

120

N/A

41

MPG (Highway)

46

132

N/A

38

MPG (Combined)

102

108

N/A

36

Fuel Capacity

11.4

13.2

14.5

N/A

Range (City/Highway/Combined; Miles)

547/502

258

N/A

595/551 

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has announced extraordinary mileage figures with a combined mileage of 108 mpg, city mileage of 120 mpg, and highway mileage of 132 mpg. If this is true, then no other cars in this segment can compete with Kona in terms of fuel efficiency.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Interior

The 2021 Kia Niro comes with a spacious and stylish cabin. It can accommodate five adults with ample head and legroom for both the front and rear-seat passengers. The seats are also comfortable and come with standard cloth upholstery and optional leather upholstery, power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated steering wheel. 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Front Seat

The interior of Niro has a user-friendly layout, with all keys and control buttons properly marked and easy to locate. Though the interior of Niro comprises plenty of high-quality materials, there are also some hard plastics used that make the cabin less attractive.

For ensuring the safety of children, two entire sets of LATCH are present in the rear window seats and an upper tether present in the rear middle seat. The total cargo space is 19.4 cubic feet, which is quite impressive and it increases to 54.5 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. 

Models

Kia Niro PHEV

Hyundai Kona Electric

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

40.6/56/41.7

39.6/55.5/41.5

37.6/55.6/43.5

37.7/57.8/41

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

39.1/55.2/37.4

37.7/54.5/33.4

39.8/55.6/36.7

37.7/56.4/37.8

Cargo Space (cu.ft.)

19.4

15.9

19.2

37.6

Moreover, the battery of the car is situated under the rear seat as a result of which it can be folded flat, and thus, it becomes much easier to load the cargo in the car. When compared to its rivals, it offers the most spacious cabin. However, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers the highest cargo space with 37.6 cubic feet, which is massive.

How’s the 2021 Kia Niro PHEV’s infotainment system?

The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV gets a UVO infotainment system with a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, four speakers, a rearview camera, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, USB Port and Bluetooth. UVO has one of the most user-friendly interfaces that is easy and simple to understand, works smoothly, and has physical controls along with the touchscreen. 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Infotainment Screen

Along with the standard features, there are various optional features also such as a 10.25-inch screen, eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, an extra USB port, and satellite radio.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Exterior

The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV comes with a charming design and has gorgeous exteriors that will attract most of the buyers. The design is simple yet it is elegant. The mid-life update received by the vehicle has solved all the minor issues. 

2021 Kia Niro plug-in-hybrid Third Quarter View

It comprises LED headlamps, LED DRLs, and LED fog lamps and the front end gets the signature tiger-nose grille. The rear end has been redesigned and given a refreshed look with LED tail lamps. 

Models

Kia Niro PHEV

Hyundai Kona Electric

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Curb Weight (lbs)

3161 

3715 

3717 

3755 

Length (inches)

171.5

164.6

175.8

180.9

Width (inches)

71.1

70.9

71

73

Height (inches)

60.4

61.2

62.8

67

Ground Clearance (inches)

6.3

6.2

8.7

8.1

Wheelbase (inches)

106.3

102.4

104.9

105.9

Other impressive exterior features include plastic cladding all over the car, front and rear bumpers, rear spoiler, chrome inserts on doors, roof rails, etc. Though the 2021 model of Kia Niro gets a sophisticated design, the exterior design of both the Hyundai Kona and the Toyota RAV4 are more attractive.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Safety

The 2020 Kia Niro received a superior safety rating by IIHS in front crash prevention: vehicle to vehicle and advanced rating in front crash prevention: vehicle to pedestrian. In 2019, IIHS awarded Niro the Top Safety Pick+ award. The NHTSA has not yet rated the 2020 Kia Niro. Besides getting impressive safety ratings, it has also received good reviews from the owners regarding safety. Built on a strong and durable platform that is shared by Kia KX3 and Hyundai Ioniq, this car comes loaded with safety equipment. 

Some of the standout safety features are as follows:

  • Available automated emergency braking
  • Available blind-spot monitoring
  • Available adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning and emergency braking system
  • Rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep and lane change assist

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Competition

2021 Kia Niro PHEV vs 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Both the cars come within a similar price range. Hyundai Kona Electric gets an Electric Direct Drive Engine with a massive power of 201 hp and 291 lb-ft whereas Kia Niro comes with a very underpowered engine. Kona also gives the best performance in the acceleration segment.

 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

However, the braking performance of Kia is much better. Hyundai Kona claims that it will offer a combined mileage of 108 mpg and Kia offers a combined mileage of 102 mpg. Both have impressive warranty packages.

2021 Kia Niro PHEV vs 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru Crosstrek comes at a lower price than Kia. It gets a 2L Inline-4 engine that is slightly more powerful than that of Kia and offers 148 hp. Subaru offers better acceleration and a slightly better braking performance.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

However, the gas mileage offered by Kia is far better. Kia offers more attractive warranty coverage as well.

2021 Kia Niro PHEV vs 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the most expensive car in this segment. It is also the most powerful with a 2.5 L Inline 4 that produces 219 hp. Toyota RAV4 also offers better acceleration and decent braking performance.

 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

However, in terms of fuel economy, Kia scores better and the warranty offered by Kia is also better. Being a Toyota, the warranty game may not be enough for the Kia to beat it.

2021 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid SUV Final Verdict

Kia Niro PHEV can be a very good buy in this segment. If you are looking for a compact utility vehicle for your daily use, then the Niro is one of the best options. It provides world-class mileage with excellent ride quality and handling. However, if you are looking for a car that will give you thrills while driving, then this is not the ideal one for you and the Toyota RAV4 would be much better.