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Driving Impressions on the 2017 Kia Niro 4 Years In.

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Driving Impressions on the 2017 Kia Niro 4 Years In.

Al Ritter

I must admit that sometimes I may be a glutton for punishment. I had replaced a first year 2010 Kia Soul that had about 5 recalls and had under delivered on fuel mileage claims the entire time I had it. It never got the proclaimed 31 MPG it claimed, but later KIA had to make restitution for those claims to its owners. Long story short I never received any restitution because they didn’t start offering money back to the owners until the 2011 model year.

The Soul was basic transportation nothing more, but other than the recalls it was a pretty robust and reliable car costing me little to nothing to maintain over the 7 years I owned it.

Of course I don’t drive many miles a year and the Niro is no exception as it only has 15,000 on the odometer in 4 years. I did like the quality of the Kia product so I was ready to step up to a Hybrid this time with the first year Niro.

This was the first hybrid model for Kia, and I must say I was rather enticed by the bold claim of 50+ MPG, especially after being disappointed by the Soul’s mileage.

The first few weeks it was kind of strange to get used to the silence while on battery mode. The acceleration was smooth on engine power but when on battery power in certain instances it feels a little jerky in motion almost like a conventional over drive transmission feels like as the lockup torque convertor feels kicking in and out of gear.

I purchased the Niro in the fall of 2017 so it took a while for me to get the hang of how to force the car into electric mode, charging, etc. Into the winter of 2017 I was disappointed in the gas mileage once again, but as I later found out, other owners were voicing the same thing. Gas mileage in the winter months was disappointingly in the low 40 MPG area. Kia Forums suggested it was from the oxygenated fuel in the winter, but I had discovered something entirely different. Because an engine doesn’t run while on battery mode, the cabin temperatures would be rather chilly without circulating hot water through the heater. As a result the engine would run quite a bit more to keep the cabin warm, thus decreasing gas mileage.

Cold weather has quite an effect on a hybrid as I found out, not only does mileage drop off in the winter, but the batteries take longer to charge. Also after sitting for a few days the charge that was in the batteries a few days earlier has dropped off.

For these reasons I wouldn’t suggest the Niro for cold climates as it would underperform in almost all the hybrid categories.

Now for the good news! Each year the fuel mileage gets better and better in the summer, with 15,000 on the odometer now it consistently knocks down 57-59 MPG around town and about 50 MPG on the open road depending on how you drive.

There are some not so pleasant things about the car. In the first two years it had 6 recalls, thankfully they have stopped now. Another annoyance is wind buffeting, with either front window down it has this horrible wind buffeting inside the cabin at speeds around 50-60 mph. This forces you to use the HVAC system constantly which is sort of hard on me as I like fresh air! Air conditioning in the summer can knock as much as 2 mpg around town.

Overall impression with me has been pretty good, I like the car and a tank of gas lasts me a few weeks. The comfort level of the interior isn’t bad and all the features work well. The car handles well and the ride is sufficient.

There are a few areas I would like to see improved upon, that wind buffeting problem, a recalibration of the computer to offer more MPG in the winter by limiting the engine run time for the heater, and more floor insulation in the rear to cut down on some of the road noise.

The resale value is something that I’ve learned to deal with also. The last two Kia cars certainly do NOT retain value. My Soul lost half its value in 7 years from $13k to $6k, and the Niro isn’t making any better a showing right now as it has lost half its value in just 4 years from $23k to $14k.


Craftsmanship   9

Fuel Mileage     10+

Paint Quality      6

Handling            8

Ride                   7

Interior comfort    7

Value retention     5

Brakes                  8

Acceleration         7     


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