Thanks to its high stance, conservative styling, and a more normal, traditional-acting automatic transmission, the Kia Niro is a genre-splitting hybrid that combines fuel economy with versatility. It uses the same drivetrain as its sibling hybrid -- the Hyundai Ioniq -- and also suffers from some of that car's shortcomings.
When compared with conventional wagons and small SUVs, the Niro's 43 mpg overall is impressive. But that falls 9 mpg shy of the Toyota Prius and Ioniq, our current hybrid fuel economy champs, and that's due to the Niro's extra weight and less aerodynamic body shape.
The Niro does offer an upright driving position, easy access, good visibility, and the utility of a small wagon. And like the Ioniq, the Niro comes across as a fairly conventional car, with easy-to-use controls and a powertrain that feels more ordinary than unusual. Some of these characteristics end up being assets, while others are liabilities.