The 2023 Kia Niro made its hometown debut at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show before turning heads at the 2022 New York International Auto Show. It’s the second-generation variant of Kia’s electrified crossover that first debuted in 2016. The most significant change for the all-new Niro has nothing to do with powertrain options.
It remains available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or as an EV that delivers up to 253 miles of all-electric range. Instead, the Kia Niro is now grown up and bears an uncanny resemblance to the striking HabaNiro concept first seen in 2019.
2023 Kia Niro: Good Looks Run In The Family
We get it. The 2023 Kia Niro aims to impress with its concept-car styling, and it’s a refreshing sight from the homologated shapes of modern crossovers, electrified or not. Kia claims the new Niro’s bolder “Opposites United” design takes inspiration from “nature and aerodynamic refinement.” It has a slim tiger-nose grille and a massive lower air dam flanked by “heartbeat” daytime running lights and new headlight clusters. Meanwhile, it has boomerang-shaped LED taillights and small pods on the rear bumper that house the signal lamps and reverse lights.
“The 2023 Kia Niro was designed for today’s needs and for sustainable future mobility,” said Steven Center, COO & EVP, Kia America. “The all-new Niro offers more refinement, versatility, connectivity, and technology than ever.”
It’s hard to talk about the Kia Niro without mentioning the vehicle’s Aero Blade. This colored or blacked-out panel runs from above the rear fenders to below the roofline, a styling element inherited from the HabaNiro concept. Kia claims the Aero Blade’s shape gives the Niro a distinguishing feature while improving airflow, proven by the crossover’s impressive 0.29 drag coefficient.
The design change has also contributed to a mild growth spurt. According to Kia, the second-gen Niro is a larger vehicle than the outgoing model, with a lengthy 107.1-inch wheelbase, 174 inches of overall length, and 6.3 inches of ground clearance. It now offers 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which Kia says is 50 percent more cargo room than a Tesla Model 3.
Three Electrified Powertrains
Willliam Cowper’s 1785 poem The Task couldn’t have said it better: Variety is the very spice of life that gives it all its flavor. The 2023 Kia Niro offers a choice between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or all-electric powertrain, giving it a unique selling proposition. The Niro HEV has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a 32kW electric motor producing 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. Kia claims the Niro hybrid achieves a targeted 53 mpg combined and 588 miles of total driving range.
Meanwhile, the Niro PHEV has a 1.6-liter gas engine and a more potent 62kW electric motor good for 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. It also has an 11.1 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that recharges in under three hours (using a Level 2 charger) and ekes out an estimated 33 miles of all-electric range (with the standard 16-inch wheels). The Niro hybrid and PHEV variants get a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Niro EV has a larger 64.8 kWh battery and a single front-mounted electric motor that offers 201 horsepower and up to 253 miles of driving range. An optional heat pump and battery warmer could squeeze out more range in freezing weather, but Kia didn’t say how much. The Niro EV is compatible with an 85 kW DC fast charger that recharges the battery from 10 to 80 percent in under 45 minutes. In addition, a standard 11kW onboard charger can fully charge in under seven hours using Level 2 charging, while the EV6’s vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionality is available in the Niro EV.
All variants of the 2023 Kia Niro have regenerative braking, while the HEV and PHEV get a new Green Zone driving mode apart from the standard Sport and Eco modes. Green Zone enables the Niro HEV and Niro PHEV to automatically operate in all-electric mode when driving through residential areas, hospitals, and schools.
Upscale Yet Sustainable Interior
The 2023 Kia Niro has an all-new cabin inspired by the EV6. It has an off-center dashboard that marginally curves around the front occupants. In addition, two 10.25-inch display screens under a single glass panel are flanking the driver’s line of sight. The standard equipment list includes interior ambient lighting, wireless Apple CarPlay/wired Android Auto, USB charging ports, and artificial engine sounds. In addition, other features like an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, power/heated/ventilated front seats, and wireless smartphone charging are optional.
The Kia Niro’s avant-garde interior features soft-touch materials derived from sustainable, animal-free sources. For instance, you’ll find recycled wallpaper on the headliner, while a bio polyurethane and Tencel material derived from eucalyptus leaves are covering the seats. Furthermore, the Kia Niro’s door panels only use BTX-free paint that doesn’t contain harmful benzene, toluene, and xylene isomers.
Cutting-Edge Safety Features
The new Kia Niro is a paragon of active safety. All variants come standard with comprehensive safety features like forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic avoidance, and rear occupant alert, to mention a few. Additional safety tech like smart cruise control, highway driving assist, and a heads-up display remain optional.
2023 Kia Niro: Pricing & Availability
The 2023 Kia Niro will go on sale this fall across all 50 U.S. states. Pricing remains forthcoming, but Kia promises similar base prices as the outgoing Niro. That means around $25,000 for the Niro HEV, $31,000 for the Niro PHEV, and about $40,000 for the Niro EV.
If you have questions about new vehicle financing, this auto loans 101 guide will point you in the right direction.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.