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Car and Driver: Kia Niro: A Prius-Like Stand-alone Hybrid That’s Also a Crossover [UPDATE]

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11109_Kia_reveals_first_images_of_all_new_Niro_Hybrid_Utility_Vehicle

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Kia has announced that it is adding a stand-alone hybrid model to its fleet, although with a twist. Whereas the most widely known dedicated hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius, is a tadpole-shaped car, the Kia will be a crossover. And it will have a cool name—at least relative to Prius—”Niro.”

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More than a new hybrid, the Niro apparently marks Kia’s first development of a stand-alone hybrid-car platform, one that’s designed from the wheels up as a hybrid. According to Kia, the Niro’s “all-new platform has been engineered in isolation from existing Kia models, and is designed to accommodate a specific set of environmentally conscious technologies and next-generation powertrains.” This differs from the hybrid Kia already sells, the Optima hybrid, which is merely a hybridized version of a conventional sedan.

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11108_Kia_reveals_first_images_of_all_new_Niro_Hybrid_Utility_Vehicle

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The unique platform also means that despite looking somewhat like a cross between the new Sportage crossover and Kia’s larger Sorento, the Niro won’t share major components with either. And while Kia gave us our first look at the Niro only in sketch form—augmenting that in January 2016 with the poorly lit teaser photos shown above—the so-called “hybrid utility vehicle” appears close to production, given the sale-ready bumpers, lights, grille details, and side mirrors; not to forget, the Niro concept from 2013 already staked claim to the name “Niro concept.” When the production version arrives, the Niro could prove a clever entry point for Kia to the stand-alone hybrid game.

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UPDATE 1/20/2016: Kia has released two teaser photos, shown above, and announced that the Niro will be unveiled at the Chicago auto show in February. Additional fresh details are sparse, but Kia revealed that the Niro has LED taillights and that it was co-designed in the company’s California and Korea styling centers. The teaser images show a very close resemblance to the 2017 Sportage, which appears to be larger than the Niro. 

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Kia Niro hybrid

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Kia Niro hybrid

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