2017 Kia Niro vs Honda HR-V
You can find many compact crossovers to choose from these days, so standing out in such an increasingly crowded market isn't easy. Kia has taken a bold step by launching a hybrid-only compact crossover in the shape of the 2017 Kia Niro, so let's see how it stacks up against Honda's most recent new model, the HR-V.
2017 Kia Niro vs Honda HR-V
Looks are important in this segment of the market, but Kia has taken what could be seen as a slightly conservative approach with the Niro, possibly thinking the hybrid-only format was different enough without taking further risks with styling. It's a decent-looking crossover, a cross between a tall wagon a standard SUV, although it's not as striking as something like the latest Sportage.
The Honda HR-V is definitely more of a standout design than that of the Niro, but that's because it moves away from traditional SUV styling to something decidedly more car-like. It's got a stubby front fascia and the sheet metal is an interesting combination of angles and curves.
If you're buying a hybrid, fuel economy is going to be a big consideration for you, and the Niro delivers tremendous fuel efficiency for a crossover. The Niro FE delivers EPA-estimated ratings of 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined, while LX and EX models that are likely to be the bigger-sellers are still rated as good as 51/46/49 mpg.
The HR-V isn't a hybrid, but it still delivers excellent fuel economy all the same. The Honda is rated at 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and the optional CVT. Go for all-wheel drive (which also means the CVT transmission) and those numbers are still pretty good at 27/31/29 mpg. They're quite impressive numbers for an SUV, but it's hard to beat a hybrid.
The interior of the Kia Niro is spacious, and that in itself delivers a good degree of comfort for four people all the time and five on shorter journeys. There's also a welcome lack of road and wind noise, and although the Niro isn't as tall as we might expect a crossover to be, it's wide enough to compensate for that. The quality of interior materials is good, so the Niro is overall impressive.
The Honda HR-V also offers plenty of interior room, even if you might not expect there to be when looking at the exterior. Honda's vaunted "Magic Seat" folds and flips so the second row can be converted into a large cargo space. The design and the quality of materials is probably better than we'd expect at this price point.
The Niro offers just one engine option at the moment, although a plug-in hybrid should be here before the end of the year. You can choose between two driving modes, Eco and Sport, and they are very aptly named. Eco makes the performance of the Niro slightly sluggish, but delivers excellent fuel economy ratings. Sport mode delivers more fun, but fuel economy will suffer as a result. The total output of the hybrid system is 139 horsepower; it can run on electric only at low speeds, engine power only when that's most efficient, or obviously a combination of both.
The Honda HR-V has a 141 horsepower 1.8-liter inline-four and as it's not a hybrid it also has a weight advantage over the Niro. Despite all that, the Honda isn't exactly a thrill-a-minute to drive, although the available all-wheel drive does add an extra dimension of capability.
Learn More about the Kia Niro
About the only criticisms anyone could reasonably level at the 2017 Kia Niro are at its slightly conservative exterior styling and the fact it's only available as a hybrid. But unless you particularly prefer the slightly funky styling of the Honda HR-V, it's hard to build a case for choosing it over the Kia.