The 2022 Kia Niro is a hybrid vehicle that straddles the line between hatchback and SUV. The Niro first hit the market in 2017 and benefited from a light update in 2020.

Despite the recent refresh, photographs of prototypes testing on public roads lead us to believe that an all-new Niro is coming sometime soon. We expect the new Niro to feature design cues first seen on the HabaNiro concept car Kia debuted at the 2019 New York Auto Show.

The 2022 Kia Niro is available in three versions. This particular review covers the hybrid model, while the plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions are covered separately.

All of these models straddle the line between hatchbacks and subcompact SUVs, and they all benefit from a slightly elevated ride height and a large rear hatch for easier cargo loading.

The base model Niro is estimated to return up to 50 mpg in combined driving, which is an admirable figure even if it’s not quite as fuel-efficient as some rivals.

For 2022, the Kia Niro returns are largely unchanged. There are a few standard features that are shuffled between trim levels, and last year’s Touring trim is replaced with a new LXS Special Edition.

As such, the 2022 Kia Niro remains a strong choice among small hybrids, though we suggest checking out the Honda Insight and stalwart Toyota Prius since they remain our top hybrid picks.

The Niro adopts Kia’s new logo on its nose, tail, wheels, and steering-wheel hub for 2022. Otherwise, the brand’s smallest SUV carries over unchanged to the new model year.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

A 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor team up with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in the regular Niro. The system makes a total of 139 horsepower and motivated the Niro to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds during our testing, placing it in the hunt with much of the competition.

The fully loaded EX Premium trim we tested, which was weighed down by all the extra equipment, needed 9.5 seconds to complete the same task. The plug-in-hybrid version uses the same basic powertrain as the standard model, albeit with a larger battery pack for increased EV range.

That battery adds up to 26 miles of EV operation, according to the EPA. The 2022 Kia Niro easily tackles uneven roads, delivering a controlled, stable ride. However, we noted an unusual level of impact noise coming into the cabin when driving over bump-ridden roads.

Steering responses in the 2022 Kia Niro are swift and accurate. We also appreciate the available multipurpose steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which can be used for changing gears or cycling between four levels of regenerative braking, depending on the selected drive mode.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The thriftiest Niro hybrid is rated at 53 mpg in the city, 48 mpg on the highway, and 50 mpg combined. The last version we tested returned 46 mpg highway on our 75-mph fuel-economy test.

The Niro plug-in hybrid boasts a combined city/highway rating of 105 MPGe, and it also has an estimated all-electric driving range of 26 miles. For more information about the 2022 Kia Niro’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The base LX features a fuss-free interior that is heavy on plastic and cloth. Leather appointments enter the mix starting on the mid-level Touring trim, but even the fanciest 2022 Kia Niro features synthetic upholstery.

Also standard across the lineup is two-zone automatic climate control, with controls for the driver and front-seat passenger. There’s even a button to turn the passenger’s climate control off if that seat is empty, which could save energy in hot summer months when hybrids traditionally forfeit efficiency due to the increased load from the air conditioner.

The 2022 Kia Niro was designed from the outset to be a hybrid, not converted from an existing gasoline-powered vehicle. As a result, cargo space is not reduced by its battery pack.

Unfortunately, the rear seats don’t form a flat load floor when folded, and other similarly sized crossovers can accommodate more cargo. We managed to fit six carry-on suitcases behind the rear seats and 18 with the rear seats folded.

Infotainment and Connectivity

The standard infotainment system is an 8.0-inch touchscreen, but a larger 10.3-inch unit is installed on higher trim levels. Both are supplemented by hard buttons that include a physical volume and tuning knob.

The systems are intuitive and simple, and Kia earns significant goodwill by providing wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Base Niros receive few infotainment baubles beyond smartphone connectivity and SiriusXM compatibility.

The optional navigation system uses GPS data to predict energy demands and will, for instance, save up energy in the battery in anticipation of a hill climb.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

While the base model isn’t offered with any of the most common driver-assistance technology, the rest of the lineup comes standard with equipment such as automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, and more.

For more information about the 2022 Kia Niro’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.

Photos

2022 Kia Niro

2022 Kia Niro

2022 Kia Niro

2022 Kia Niro2022 Kia Niro

Full Specifications

2020 Kia Niro EX Premium

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE AS TESTED
$34,190 (base price: $33,910)

POWERTRAIN
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter inline-4, 104 hp, 109 lb-ft; permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor, 43 hp, 125 lb-ft; combined output, 139 hp, 195 lb-ft; 1.6-kWh lithium-ion

TRANSMISSION
6-speed dual-clutch automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 11.0-in vented disc/10.3-in disc
Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S, 205/60R-16 M+S 92H

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length: 171.5 in
Width: 71.1 in
Height: 60.8 in
Passenger volume: 19 ft3
Curb weight: 3230 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 9.5 sec
100 mph: 28.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 11.0 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 5.1 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 6.9 sec
1/4 mile: 17.2 sec @ 81 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 110 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 192 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.85 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
75-mph highway driving: 46 mpg
Highway range: 520 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 49/51/46 mpg

C/D TESTING EXPLAINED

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