TestDrive started off by filming unique and interesting cars, mostly older models that got little attention online from videos or journalists. Since starting with new vehicles we've looked to continue featuring vehicles that stand out, and this 2018 Kia Niro SX Touring fits the bill. This hybrid electric subcompact crossover SUV is quite unique in Canada, being the only hybrid in this segment, despite some of the other manufacturers offering hybrids outside of North America. Our fully loaded test model gives us a good idea of what the future holds for Kia.
We've been very excited to get the chance to try this car out, as it marks the first hybrid vehicle we've fully reviewed, considering the 2016 BMW i8 we filmed early on was only a full tour of the car, although we did have the chance to drive it off-camera. The Kia Niro joins the rapidly growing subcompact crossover SUV segment, with strong competitors like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Chevrolet Trax, and the new Ford EcoSport. In fact most manufacturers selling in Canada have a subcompact crossover SUV on the market, but the Kia's hybrid drivetrain is what makes this one stand out.
Coming in with an MSRP of $33,195.00 fully loaded, the only additional option selected on this car was the $200.00 Graphite Metallic Paint. On the outside we found HID Xenon headlights with halogen fog lamps, power folding mirrors, proximity key entry points on the front doors, a manual lift gate, and parking sensors all-round. The Niro also sports a very modern design that certainly looks more like a large hatchback than some of the bubble crossovers offered from the competition.
I really like the way the Niro looks, it's likely one of the most handsome subcompact crossovers available in Canada, and one that we would definitely like to see more of. In fact we've spotted quite a lot of Niros on the road over the past few weeks, most of which were this SX Touring, which Kia Canada expects to be a popular option for consumers.
The interior doesn't attempt to compete with the premium or luxury markets, with it's mostly plastic interior and regular leather seating, but it does offer some compelling features at this price point. For one, the front seats come with heat and ventilation, along with a heated steering wheel and heated outboard rear seats. The 8" infotainment system is also quite good, we continue to like the media experience provided by Kia, although we did note the resolution and colour seemed to be slightly lower on this vehicle than we found on the 2018 Kia Optima SXL Turbo.
Seating was comfortable during our week with this vehicle, and we also feel that overall space is much better than the 2016 Mazda CX-3 GT we drove a few years ago. Our 4 year old daughter had no issues with legroom in the back of this crossover, and we found the trunk area to provide much more space for groceries than we've found elsewhere, considering the batteries take up space in the trunk.
The most important factor for buyers is the fuel economy with that hybrid engine. We ended up averaging 5.8L/100km during our approximate 600km week with the Niro, one of the most efficient we've driven so far. We did find the EV mode worked well in the city and during short commutes, but the lack of an EV Mode button means drivers need to be extra slow in order to keep the gas engine off. We think an option to allow for EV only mode might help those who're just using the Niro for very short trips.
We personally liked the drive and experience of this car overall, but would opt for the full plug-in hybrid electric version that is scheduled to launch later this year. While the hybrid performance and fuel economy was very good, we think the full PHEV experience makes more sense for a small runabout such as the Niro. It's a great new vehicle to enter the market here in Canada, and we're excited to see where Kia takes this vehicle, considering there's serious potential for the electric versions. It's hard to beat the styling on this, and the features found here are quite good for it's price.
You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 Kia Niro SX Touring below: