Is the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid a Good Car?

Drivers looking for a solid, affordable PHEV with a safe and functional compact-crossover body will love the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Jul 13, 2022
The 2019
Kia
Niro Plug-in Hybrid is still one of the top-rated plug-in hybrid electric Vehicles (PHEV) on the market. It offers unbeatable gas mileage in its class, impressive utility, robust safety features, and a powerfully fun “Sport Mode.”
Best of all, it’s affordable — a fully-loaded 2019 Niro EX Premium Wagon only costs an average of $27,400, undercutting almost every new PHEV on the market while offering plentiful capability and features.
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2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

As electrified vehicles keep getting more and more complex and expensive, Kia keeps it delightfully simple with the 2019 Niro Plug-in Hybrid.
Despite being marketed as a “compact-crossover SUV,” it’s realistically a sport wagon, designed to compete with models like the
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
and the
Subaru Impreza
. It undercuts the prices of both with far better mileage.
The main downside of the Niro is that it isn’t available with AWD, meaning it may be a second-rate option for families looking for a small SUV with more towing capacity and off-roading ability.
It’s nothing flashy, but the 2019 Niro PHEV is an electrified sport wagon that offers incredible value.

Pricing

A 2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid in the base LX trim has an attractive “typical listing price” of only $23,498, according to
Kelley Blue Book
. The mid-level EX trim rings in at $25,953, and the top trim, EX Premium, goes for $27,261.
The Niro Plug-in Hybrid is also eligible for a $4,543federal tax credit.
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Performance and fuel economy

The Kia Niro’s 1.6-liter Atkinson cycle inline-4 engine paired with its 44.5-kilowatt interior-permanent magnet synchronous motor has one of the most impressive fuel economies in its class, capable of 105 MPGe using its electrified abilities, but even on gasoline alone, you’ll be able to tail any Prius, with 44 mpg on the highway and 48 mpg in the city.
The 2019 Niro Plug-in Hybrid can drive up to 26 miles in electric mode. It can always be recharged like an EV, but even after that, the Niro gets a combined 46 mpg on gasoline alone.
You’ll be able to charge the battery fully on a regular outlet in under 9 hours, and it’ll only take 2-3 hours with a Level 2 charger. If you’re someone in need of a cheap commuter car that you can plug in and drive to and from work without gas, but you’re also someone who loves a good budget road trip, you’re going to love the versatility of the 2019 Kia Niro PHEV.
In terms of performance, the Kia Niro isn’t going to dazzle. It produces about 160 horsepower with the two motors combined, but it still handles beautifully. That being said, don’t expect SUV performance out of the Niro. It functions much more similarly to hatchback and wagon hybrids like the Prius.

Exterior styling

The Kia Niro doesn’t quite try as hard as other electrified vehicles to look futuristic or avant-garde. It looks like a sport wagon/crossover from the 2010s. Available colors are black, blue, gray, red, silver, and white.
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Interior and comfort

The Niro’s ride is quite comfortable for city commutes, but when it gets on the highway it can tend to be a bit nervous by modern standards.
The interior of the 2019 Niro PHEV is spacious, control layouts are basic and user-friendly, it’s easy to get in and out of, and forward visibility is quite good, all coming together for a perfectly acceptable. Nothing here is luxury, which is appropriate given the price.
You’ll enjoy a maximum of 54.5 cubic feet of available cargo space with the rear seats down, and 19.4 cubic feet if you need the seats up.

Technology

While it may not look particularly futuristic, the Niro is packed full of market-standard technology like standard-issue Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, great standard and optional safety features, and an easy-to-use voice control system. Standard driver assistance tech includes:
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind-spot detection
  • Emergency braking assist
  • Pre/post-collision safety systems
You’ll also enjoy a 6-speaker sound system, heated mirrors, hands-free entry, and dual-zone front climate control. 

Warranty coverage

Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program is truly one of the best the market has to offer, consisting of the following warranties:
  • Limited warranty: five years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first)
  • Powertrain warranty: 10 years or 60,000 miles (100,000 if you’re the original owner)
  • Battery warranty: 3 years

Trim levels and options

The 2019 Kia Niro was available in three different trim levels: LX, EX, and EX Premium
Bumping up all the way to the EX Premium will get you closer to the sort of luxury you might be looking for in a newer used vehicle, offering features like rear parking assistance, a heated steering wheel, and an onboard navigation system
Overall, the offerings are kept simple, avoiding complicated packages and options for the most part.

The bottom line

When it comes to vehicles that are both initially and continuously affordable, it’s hard to beat the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid. It handles beautifully in tight city streets and offers a fair amount of utility for its size, all while getting you legendary fuel economy.

2019 Kia Niro PHEV vs. 2019 Toyota Prius Prime

The
Toyota Prius Prime
is one of the Niro’s top competitors. Here’s how they stack up:
The Prius Prime boasted a combined 54 miles per gallon, making it one of the most fuel-efficient gas-burning vehicles ever made, and when in EV mode, it gets 133 MPGe. It can drive up to 25 miles on electricity alone, reaching speeds of up to 84 mph, but it gets less horsepower than the Niro and is realistically less fun to drive. The Niro’s SUV leaning does offer better utility than the Prius.
Model
Starting price
Fuel economy (gas only)
Fuel economy (gas + electric)
Driving range
Charging time (Level 2)
Hybrid battery warranty
2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
$29,000
44 mpg
105 MPGe
25 miles
2 hours
3 years
2019 Toyota Prius Prime
$28,300
54 mpg
133 MPGe
25 miles
2 hours
10 years or 150,000 miles

2019 Kia Niro PHEV vs. 2019 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV  

Competing in the same high-value price range as the Kia Niro PHEV is the
Hyundai Ioniq
PHEV, which had a starting price of $26,200.
The Niro continues to win for being more of a crossover/SUV and offering better performance/utility, but you can’t deny that the Ioniq’s nearly $3,000 undercut of the Niro’s price tag is pretty attractive, especially for a car that can do essentially the same things. Hyundai also offers a better warranty for its hybrid batteries.
And for that higher price, the Niro falls behind the Ioniq on comfort and luxury, with synthetic upholstery in every single trim.
Model
Starting price
Fuel economy (gas only)
Fuel economy (gas + electric)
Driving range
Charging time (Level 2)
Hybrid battery warranty
2021 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid
$26,200
52 mpg
N/A
27 miles
2 hours
Lifetime
2019 Kia Niro PHEV
$29,000
44 mpg
105 MPGe
26 miles
2.25 hours
3 years

How to save money on car insurance

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