Car Review: Will Kia Niro’s big makeover bring it back into the eyes of consumers?

The Kia Niro raised eyebrows back in 2017 as a stylish, small crossover that could be a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or an all-electric vehicle. Recently, the nifty trio of Kia Niros were falling behind the competition. So will a new look get them back on track?

A jump to the future with a fresh, modern exterior styling, full of curves and interesting lines, has helped the 2023 Niro gain needed curb appeal. The front-end stands out with a unique LED lighting cluster that slickly wraps around the side. The new grill and badge design has had several people asking what brand it is. Handsome wheels and the eye-catching black C-pillar trim make this little crossover seem bigger.

The new Niro has grown in size, mostly to the benefit of the interior. Front and rear seat riders gain good head and legroom. Kia gave the Niro a more modern look to match its outside. The large 10.25-inch touch screen seems to flow into the driver’s mostly digital cockpit. It looks more upscale and less econobox than before. The Niro provides a comfortable ride with a hushed cabin. The safety and driver assist technology is a huge plus.

The Kia Niro will impress drivers with good MPG. City drivers will get more than 50 mpg in stop-and-go-traffic. The trade-off is acceleration from the small four-cylinder engine. You can still choose the Plug-in or EV version, if you want faster performance.

A fresh, modern exterior styling, full of curves and interesting lines, has helped the 2023 Niro gain needed curb appeal. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

Cost: $34,790; as tested $36,435

MPG: 53 MPG City; and 45 MPG Highway. I managed 47.2 in 306 miles of mixed driving.

Options:  $195 black C-Pillar trim; $155 carpeted floor mats

Safety: blind spot collision avoidance assist-pedestrian; rear cross traffic collision-avoidance assist; enhanced forward collision avoidance-assist, cyclist & junction turning; vehicle stability management; safe exit assist with power child lock; smart cruise with stop-go; parking collision avoidance-rear, parking distance warning

Things to know: The Kia Niro comes in three flavors — hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric version to make this small crossover an efficient option.


  • Impressive interior space and high-quality materials
  • Handsome looks make high dollar statement without costing big money
  • Fuel efficient hybrid is the cheapest of the Niro models


  • No AWD for the Niro models
  • Could save some money and choose the base trim compared to the loaded SX Touring

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