Kia unveiled the second-generation Niro in November 2021 and we had to wait until now to discover the US version. Arriving at the New York Auto Show, the compact crossover is once again being offered with a choice of three powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and purely electric. Even though several months have passed since the debut, we're still a bit in awe regarding the drastically modified design derived from the 2019 Habaniro concept.
Larger than the model it replaces, the 2023 Niro stretches at 4,420 millimetres (174 inches) long and has a wheelbase measuring 2,720 mm (107.1 in). As a result of the increased footprint, the electrified crossover offers a cargo capacity of 645 litres (22.8 cubic feet) behind the rear seats. The reshaped body has lowered the drag coefficient to 0.29 and there are optional 19-inch wheels with a design derived from the concept's alloys.
2023 Kia Niro (US Spec)
As previously reported, the revamped Niro gets an "aero blade" on the rear pillar, finished in either the same colour as the body or in a contrasting hue. In the case of the models equipped with a combustion engine – HEV and PHEV – there's black cladding on the doors and wheel arches. As for the EV, it comes with Steel Grey or a black trim based on the body colour.
Much like the exterior has been overhauled, the cabin has practically nothing in common with that of its predecessor. The 2023 Niro boasts a fully redesigned dashboard to accommodate a pair of 10.25-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment's touchscreen.
It might be only a mainstream crossover, but it has high-end features like ventilated front seats with memory and side USB ports. At an additional cost, Kia will throw in an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a head-up display, and wireless smartphone charging. You won't have to pay extra for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as it comes out of the box.
Let's talk powertrains. The Niro HEV makes use of a 1.6-litre petrol engine working together with a 32-kilowatt electric motor. With the power of the two combined, the quirky crossover offers 139 bhp and 195 lb-ft of torque. In terms of efficiency, Kia is targeting 53 miles per gallon in the combined cycle and a total driving range of 588 miles.
Step up to the Niro PHEV and you get the same ICE but teamed up with a beefier 62-kW motor for a combined 180 bhp and 195 lb-ft. The plug-in hybrid model uses a lithium-ion polymer battery with a capacity of 11.1 kWh. A full charge takes less than three hours provided you're using a level 2 charger. With the battery fully replenished, the vehicle is estimated to cover 33 miles without sipping any petrol as long as it's running on 16-inch wheels. Compared to its predecessor, electric efficiency is up by an impressive 25 percent.
The HEV and PHEV versions use a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission to send power to the road. Much like the combustion-engined Niro models, the purely EV is front-wheel drive as well. It uses an electric motor rated at 201 bhp (150 kW) that draws its necessary juice from a 64.8-kWh battery. You'll have to wait less than 45 minutes to charge the pack at 85 kW from 10 to 80 percent by using a Level 3 charger. Alternatively, it takes under seven hours to replenish the battery on a level 2 charger at 11 kW. On a full charge, it'll cover an estimated 253 miles.
For those living in colder climates with harsh winters, the new Niro will be optionally offered with a heat pump as well as a battery warmer to maximise range. With the next-gen model, Kia is giving the crossover a nifty feature called Green Zone Drive Mode, which automatically turns off the ICE in residential areas. As demonstrated in the EV6, the Niro also gets the vehicle-to-load (V2L) function to turn the vehicle's battery pack into a mobile generator to power a variety of devices.
Kia will have the 2023 Niro on sale in all 50 states this summer, and while pricing has yet to be disclosed, we do know it's going to qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit. The previous model started at $24,690 MSRP for the HEV, followed by the PHEV at $29,590, and the EV at $39,990.