The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

After the Niro hybrid last year, Kia dispatched over the 2018 Niro PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) for us recently. The only difference is that PHEV adds an electric charge feature enabling the five-passenger compact crossover to go up to 26 miles without using gas. The charge port, located in the driver side front fender, uses a 240- volt system that can take 2½ hours or a 120 volt consuming about nine hours. You can essentially go 560 miles on a tank (11.4 gallons) with its gas, hybrid and plug-in electric features.
A 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to an electric motor (60 horsepower), which is powered by an 8.9 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery weighing 258 pounds. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 139 hp while paired to a laudable 6-speed dual clutch transmission. The crossover does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the ride 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 LED headlights 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, forward collision warning, smart cruise control, hill-start assist and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Niro is an excellent gas/electric/plug-in hybrid effort from Kia. It is sharp-looking, sporty, practical and sips gas (we averaged 50 mpg in city/highway driving). 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: P205/60R16
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 171.5 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor-driven power assist
Weight: 3,450 pounds
City: 48 mpg
Highway: 44 mpg
Price: $34,500
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