Kia Niro: A Prius-Like Standalone Hybrid That’s Also a Crossover

Kia Niro hybrid

Kia has announced 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.”

Kia Niro hybrid

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.

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 is giving us our first look at the Niro only in sketch form, 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.” We’re waiting to hear back on whether the Niro will debut at this week’s L.A. auto show or in January at the 2016 Detroit show. Either way, the Niro could prove a clever entry point for Kia to the stand-alone hybrid game.

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