Kia made news in 2015 when it announced that it would have no fewer than 11 electric or hybrid vehicles for sale. What made their Eco Dynamics initiative all the more impressive is that rather than simply putting electric or hybrid power trains in existing models (as they’ve already done with the Kia Soul EV and Kia Optima Hybrid), they would be designing entirely new families of vehicles. The first of these, the Kia Niro, is due for the 2017 model year. 

What makes the Kia Niro special? Let’s start with the exterior. Many dedicated hybrids are plug-ugly, but the Kia Niro sidesteps this with a design that’s just a bit futuristic without sacrificing crossover practicality. Under those graceful lines are a long wheelbase and ample passenger and cargo space.

The power train has been designed specifically for this vehicle. It consists of a 1.6 liter 103 horsepower four-cylinder Atkinson cycle Kappa GDI engine, paired to a new six-speed dual clutch transmission. When the gas engine runs in tandem with the 43 horsepower electric motor, the Kia Niro makes a respectable 146 horsepower.

One end result will be enhanced fuel economy and emissions performance, as you’d expect from a hybrid. The transmission and redesigned regenerative braking systems are good news as well, however, since it’s likely to give a better ride (smoother stops, better acceleration) than we’ve come to expect.

If it sounds like we’re excited to offer the 2017 Kia Niro to the drivers we serve in Wallingford and Branford, it’s for good reason. This has the potential to be as much of a game changer for Kia as the Kia Soul was when it debuted seven years ago. That’s a big deal. To learn more about the Kia Niro, or any of the other fantastic used and new Kia vehicles we offer, come to the Executive Kia showroom at 1164 North Colony Rd in Wallingford, CT.