The Kia Niro is a hybrid SUV that’s cheap to run, easy to drive and comes with lots of kit as standard – other SUVs have bigger boots though
If you’re after an SUV that gives you a slightly higher driving position than a normal family car, is cheap to run and comes with a reassuring seven-year warranty then the Kia Niro could be right up your street.
Although the Niro’s reasonably priced, you don’t get the feeling corners have been cut in the interior. The materials on the dashboard are all soft to the touch and you get a seven-inch colour touchscreen as standard, which even comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring – you don’t get these on the entry-level Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Kia’s height adjustable driver’s seat gives you plenty of scope for getting comfy and two tall adults will find the back seats comfy for long trips. Three adults will find the back seats more of a squeeze than in the VW, however.
Things are a bit less roomy in the Niro’s boot. It’s about as big as the Nissan Qasqhai’s, but some way off the giant space in the Tiguan. That said, you can still fit a bicycle with one wheel removed if you fold all the Kia’s back seats down.
The Niro will set you back as much as a more practical VW Tiguan, but it’ll be a bit cheaper to run thanks to its clever hybrid system
Don’t think that because it’s practical and comfy the Niro is just another SUV – it has a pretty neat trick under its bonnet. It comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that can whisk you along in electric-only mode for around three miles so long as you don’t accelerate hard, but always works alongside the petrol engine to improve fuel economy – expect to get about 65mpg in real-world driving, which is very good for a family SUV.
Despite the Niro’s high-tech engine, it’s as easy to drive as a normal SUV thanks to its quick-shifting automatic gearbox, relatively light steering and a good view out – making it a great choice if you do a lot of town driving. It’s not exactly fun to drive though, and the tyres are designed with fuel economy rather than grip in mind so it can’t corner anywhere near as well as a SEAT Ateca. It doesn’t lean much in corners though, and it’s comfortable so long as you avoid the upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels which make things a bit bumpy. Sadly it is a bit noisy at motorway speeds whatever wheels you pick.
You needn’t worry about safety, however – the Niro scored a respectable four stars in Euro NCAP’s 2016 crash test, meaning that the Niro is a safe, well-equipped, reasonably priced hybrid SUV that’s cheap-to-run and practical enough for family life.