Kia is proving that it is possible to create a fuel efficient SUV with the debut of their 2017 Kia Niro hybrid. The Niro hybrid is the automaker’s first dedicated hybrid, and with a combined rating of 50 mpg, they demonstrate it is possible to combine the SUV design that buyers love without sacrificing fuel efficiency.


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The 2017 Niro is based on a new eco-car platform that is wrapped in a subcompact crossover body. Overall the design looks so close to Kia’s other crossovers that it’s hard to tell that it’s actually a hybrid – something that Kia is happy about. Under the hood, the Niro Hybrid is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that generate a total 146 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. The electric motor gets its power from a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion battery that sits under the rear seat and the hybrid powertrain sends the power to the front wheels via a new six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Related: TEST DRIVE: 2015 Kia Soul EV feels more refined than the gas-powered version

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“The Niro hits the sweet spot by offering the best combination of outstanding mpg, an engaging driving experience, utility, and most importantly, a stunning design that doesn’t shout ‘hybrid,’” said Orth Hedrick, vice president product planning KMA.

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Kia estimates the Niro hybrid will have a combined rating of 50 mpg – making it one of the most fuel efficient crossovers that you can buy. A plug-in hybrid version is also in the works, but it won’t be offered until later in the Niro’s life-cycle. Combined with the Optima Hybrid and Soul EV, the Niro Hybrid is the next step in Kia’s plan to nearly triple its green car models by 2020.

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