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Kia Introduces Their First Dedicated Hybrid

Posted: February 12, 2016 - 9:42AM
Author: Will Maley
Kia has offered a hybrid version of the Optima sedan for a few years now. But they never had a model that was built solely as a hybrid. That changed yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show as Kia pulled the covers off a new dedicated hybrid model.


Called the Niro, Kia describes this as a Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV). There is a fair number of element pulled from the larger Sportage such as the tiger-nose grille and triangular headlights. The overall shape is very slippery with a drag coefficient of 0.29.

Under the Niro's skin is a new dedicated eco-car platform that is shared with the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq, and allows for various configurations of engines and batteries. In the case of Niro, it will come with 1.6L four-cylinder and an electric motor producing a total output of 146 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic routes power only to the front wheels. Finishing off the powertrain is a 1.56 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery located under the rear seat. Kia is targeting a combined fuel economy rating of 50 MPG.

Kia has a couple of new technologies to boost fuel economy in the Niro. First is a coaching system that will help the driver drive more efficiently. Second is what Kia Predictive Energy Control that uses the navigation system and cruise control to determine topographical changes in the road and vary the energy flow from the battery.

The Niro Hybrid will go on sale sometime later this year. A plug-in model is expected to follow sometime after.