2017 Kia Niro Long-Term Update 1: Ecobox or Econobox?

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Judgment day has arrived for our Kia Niro. Not long after the hybrid wagon quietly rolled into our garage, we put it through our battery of tests measuring acceleration, handling, fuel economy, and other key areas of performance.

Earlier, we tested a Kia Niro LX hitting 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. More than 110 pounds heavier, thanks to additional content, our long-term Touring managed the run in 9.6 seconds. That’s about on par with a 2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring, which reached 60 mph in 9.7 seconds. Meanwhile, a Hyundai Ioniq Limited slid to 60 in 9.4 seconds.

The Niro traveled a quarter mile in 17.2 seconds at 79.0 mph, besting the Prius’ 17.4 seconds at 77.6 mph. In the figure eight, the Niro clocked 27.3 seconds at an average of 0.62 g, ahead of the Prius at 27.8 seconds at 0.61 g.

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On the road, the Niro feels unrefined in some ways, but it’s not for a lack of power. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission lurches abruptly at very low speeds, making for some uncomfortable moments in the parking lot. Noise levels are as expected in a subcompact mainstream car, though the ride can get a little wobbly at high speeds.

“If ride comfort is more your priority, skip the Touring trim and get a loaded EX with the smaller 16-inch wheels [instead of 18-inch wheels],” noted associate online editor Stefan Ogbac. Fortunately, the well-equipped interior makes up for most signs of coarseness on our Touring model. But more on that later.

So our Niro Touring is slow and slightly uncouth. But it’s extremely efficient, as verified by our Real MPG tests. The Niro achieved 59.6/44.5/51.7 mpg city/highway/combined, well ahead of the EPA’s rating of 46/40/43 mpg. Predictably, it’s a bit behind the Prius Four Touring’s 56.4/56.2/56.3 Real MPG rating.

Drivers should enjoy fewer trips to the gas station with the Niro. Kia lists the Niro’s range at a commendable 511 miles. Other trims claim even greater ranges between 583 and 595 miles. During my turns behind the wheel of the Niro, I’ve witnessed the range readout after a fill-up indicating anywhere from 478 to 539 miles.

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Read more about our 2017 Kia Niro:

2017 Kia Niro EcoHybrid Touring
BASE PRICE $30,545
PRICE AS TESTED $32,575
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.6L/104-hp/109-lb-ft plus 43-hp/125-lb-ft front electric motor; 139-hp/195-lb-ft combined
TRANSMISSION 6-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,237 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.5 x 71.1 x 60.8 in
0-60 MPH 9.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.2 sec @ 79.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 123 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.3 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 59.6/44.5/51.7 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 46/40/43 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 73/84 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.45 lb/mile

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