Kia Motors America has announced a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its Niro crossover utility vehicle. Representing Kia’s third plug-in model and anticipated in retailer showrooms by the end of this year, the new 2018 Niro PHEV offers the same design of the Niro hybrid, but with an estimated 26 miles of all-electric range and total driving range rated at up to an estimated 560 miles, according to the company.
“The Niro plug-in is the exciting next step in Kia’s progression toward offering more alternative fuel vehicles by 2020,” says Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America. “Consumers who are intrigued by the Niro hybrid’s fantastic versatility and design, but want even more EcoDynamics technology and the ability to drive only using electric power, will find more to love in the Niro plug-in hybrid.”
The Niro PHEV pairs an all-aluminum 1.6-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) four-cylinder engine with an 8.9 kWh (59 kW) lithium-polymer battery pack and a 60-HP (44.5 kW) electric motor. While the Niro PHEV boasts an MPGe rating of 105, its EPA-estimated MPG ratings of 48 mpg city, 44 mpg highway and 46 mpg/combined are similar to those of the Niro hybrid, according to Kia. The estimated driving range when both electric and gasoline systems work together is up to 560 miles.
The Niro PHEV’s compact, high-voltage battery is tucked under the cargo floor and under the rear seat and maintains the same cargo capacity as the Niro hybrid. A single charging port is located in the driver’s side front fender. Kia says a full charge can be achieved in approximately 2.5 hours via a 240 V (Level 2) charger and under 9 hours via a 120 V (Level 1) charger.
The Niro PHEV employs the same six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) as the Niro, and drivers can choose from several driving modes, including EV mode, hybrid mode, (default) eco mode, or sport mode for quicker transmission response that takes advantage of the powertrain’s combined output of 139 HP and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.
The company says the Niro PHEV is yet another vehicle introduced under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics sub-brand and represents an important next step on the path to nearly tripling the brand’s global lineup of alternative fuel vehicles by 2020, which includes the Niro, Optima Hybrid, Optima PHEV and the Soul EV.