Kia, the South Korean company that keeps churning out a brand new vehicle every 8 hours or so, just rolled out another debut model: The all-new Kia Niro. That’s Niro, with an ‘i,’ not with an ‘e.’ That’s the crazy Roman emperor dude or that unneeded antagonist from that Star Trek re-boot movie. This is neither.
The Kia Niro is, like seemingly all their products, pretty durn cheap to acquire, and comes frosted with a stack of gizmos, features, doo-dads, luxury bits, and alleged-luxury bits that make the car, whatever it’s shape, imaginary function, or invented “styling” worth considering.
No, you will probably never see a Kia pull slowly into the drive-in and have a gearhead in a greasy white shirt whistle low and say, “whoa, a Kia!” No, you will probably never see a Kia product of any kind grace the lawn at Pebble Beach. But you will see, most likely, a Kia in the hands of a new driver – say 16 or 17 years old – or that kid that works at the drive-in or golf course and you’ll say, “not a bad choice for a first car.”
And they’re not. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and, let’s face it, you also get the added insurance (as odd as that term might sound just now) of having a car that is largely forgettable and disposable when you trade it in on your second car.
Take the all new Kia Niro as a good example.
It’s the brand’s new for 2017 crossover hybrid with five different trim levels: FE, LX, EX, Touring, and a limited production Launch Edition. And it rings the register between $22,890 for the FE to just $29,650 for the Touring. Kia crows: “Five different trim levels offer a Niro for every buyer, crossover utility, and hybrid efficiency at an affordable price.” Yes, that’s an awkwardly worded quote, but look what you get with this guy.
FE & EX Trims
The Niro FE, that’s the range starting, bottom of the line, cheap-o version, with a beginning MSRP of $22,890. However, it is furnished with a long list of standard features such as 16-inch wheels, 6-way front seats, power windows, keyless entry, cruise control, and a 7-inch touchscreen display with rearview camera. It’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, and features a six speaker audio system with steering wheel mounted controls.
Around $23,000 for all that, and it pulls in 50 mpg (combined) in fuel economy, meaning it’ll be cheap like the budgie to own. Next rung up on the trim ladder is the $23,200 LX. Spring for that extra $300 clams and you get Smart Key with push button start, roof rails, and rear LED combination lamps.
Shell out a little more for the EX ($25,700) and you get heated seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, heated power folding mirrors, and front fog lamps. Driver assistance features include Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA). Many automakers today include the acronyms for these various technologies, if you’re wondering why all the extra letters. Which, to my way of thinking (arcane as it may be) translates as Look Over Your Shoulder (LOYS) Really, Look Over Your Shoulder (R,LOYS), and Make Sure There’s No One In The Next Lane Before You Move, Dingbat (MSTNOITNLBYM,D).
Seriously. Just pay attention for once, will ya?
Launch Edition & Touring Trim
The Launch Edition is offered in only two colors: Snow White Pearl or Aurora Black Pearl. It is further set apart by unique Hyper Gray 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin tires, and a unique metallic color grille. A 10-way driver’s seat, 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, and Harman Kardon premium audio are included.
The Launch Edition will set you back $28,000.
The top of the line Touring trim chimes out at $29,650. Not at all unreasonable. For that, you get to add a power tilt/slide sunroof, front and rear park assist, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, and the aforementioned Harman Kardon audio.
In case those trim levels are not enough for you, there are also three option packages on offer. The Advanced Technology Package for the LX is $1,450 and includes Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning System. There is a Sunroof and Advanced Technology Package for the EX at $2,300 that also includes a power tilt/slide sunroof, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning System.
The Advanced Technology Package, $1,900, for the Touring includes HID headlights, wireless phone charging, 110V inverter, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and the Lane Departure Warning System once again.
“We’re always striving to offer exciting new products that redefine their segments in all areas, including price,” said Orth Hedrick, Vice President of Product Planning, Kia Motors America, and owner of a really cool superhero name. “The new Niro checks all the boxes – it provides crossover utility, good looks, outstanding fuel economy, it’s fun to drive, and it’s affordable.”
So there’s a lot to like about the new Kia Niro; content, efficiency, and probably most of all, price.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.