Thanks to its high stance, conservative styling, and automatic transmission (rather than a CVT), the Niro is a genre-splitting hybrid that combines fuel economy with versatility. It has the same drivetrain as its sibling hybrid—the Hyundai Ioniq—but also some of its relative’s shortcomings.

When compared with wagons and small SUVs, the Niro’s 43 mpg overall is impressive. But it falls 9 mpg shy of the fuel-economy champs, the Toyota Prius and the Ioniq, because of its extra weight and height.

In the race to 60 mph, the Niro tied the Ioniq at 9.9 seconds. It can suffer from a delay when accelerating from a complete stop. And any attempt to rush it is punctuated by a noisy transition from electric drive to gasoline engine.

The Niro shares the Ioniq’s handling traits: Both were unimpressive in our avoidance maneuver. The Niro’s ride can get choppy, and braking performance is mediocre.

The mostly basic interior features a few nice touches. The manual cloth-and-leather front seats look attractive, but they’re not that comfortable, in part because they lack any lumbar adjustment. The driving position is roomy and upright like a small SUV, and the rear seat offers ample space and soft cushions.

The controls and 7-inch infotainment system are a breeze to use. Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are optional, but only on mid- and upper-level trims.

Read the complete Kia Niro road test.

2017 Kia Niro

HIGHS: Fuel economy, cargo versatility, controls
LOWS: Braking, agility, hesitation off the line, front-seat comfort, ride
POWERTRAIN: 139-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine; 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL: 43 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $26,805


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.