The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

Heading over to Atlanta this summer? Then we suggest checking out the all-new 2017 Kia Niro hybrid. The five-passenger compact crossover can go nearly 500 miles on a tank (11.9 gallons), thanks to its gas/electric technology. A 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to an electric motor, which is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 139 horsepower while paired to a laudable 6-speed dual clutch transmission. Basically, the front-wheel-drive Niro can run on gas, pure electric at low speeds or a blend of both.
The hybrid does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the car is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery.
A centered gloss black “tiger nose” grille meets up with sweptback bi-functional projector headlights and unique fog lamps to create a sleek and eye-catching appearance. Stepping into the cabin, our favorite is the attractively designed 4.2-inch instrument cluster of analog speedometer and the cool-appearing LCD hybrid gauge showing charge, eco and power readings, as well as EV mode. They are flanked by a clean digital driver information center. Standard amenities include 10-way power driver and six-way passenger seats, which are also heated and cooled, leather steering wheel and shifter, dual-zone a/c, 8-inch touch for navigation, radio and telephone controls, and push-button start. The 60/40 rear seat folds down to open up 54.5 cubic feet of space.
Kia should be commended for offering several standard safety features, which are optional in competitor vehicles. Some are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, rear camera, rear-cross traffic alert, front/rear park and lane change assist, blind spot detection, four-wheel antilock brakes, rollover sensor, electronic stability and traction control, hill-start assist and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Niro is an excellent gas/electric hybrid effort from Kia. It is sharp-looking, sporty, useful and economical (base FE is available for just $22,890 with EPA estimates of 50 mpg). That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train and a five-year or 60,000-mile basic warranty is a plus. Lest we forget, the lithium-ion battery is also covered for 10-year/100,000 miles.

Tires: P225/45R18
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 171.5 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor-driven power assist
Weight: 3,274 pounds
City: 46 mpg
Highway: 40 mpg
Price: $29,650
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