The 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid and plug-in hybrid get minor upgrades and a minor price increase, the automaker announced Wednesday.
New standard features on the efficient small crossover include rear occupant alerts and the standard 8.0-inch touchscreen that cuts the cord with wireless smartphone compatibility. The other upgrades are limited to driver-assist features specific to certain trims.
LX, LXS, and Touring trims cost $100 more on the 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid, while Touring SE and EX Premium models cost $160 more than the 2020 Kia Niro. All 2021 Niro Hybrids use a 1.6-liter inline-4 and 6-speed dual-clutch automatic that sends power to the front wheels only. A small 1.6-kwh battery helps conserve fuel and boost the pokey powertrain's EPA rating to 53 mpg city, 48 highway, 50 combined on the base LX model that costs $25,865, including destination.
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid gets 52 mpg combined, and the Toyota Prius Eco stretches a gallon to 56 mpg combined, according to the EPA. But the EPA classifies the Niro as a small wagon, so its fuel economy tops that narrow class.
The LXS model comes with more content and a $27,265 price, but fuel economy drops to 49 mpg combined. Still, due to its standard safety features, it's worth the charge over the base LX. Standard safety gear includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, automatic high beams, and a driver-attention monitor.
The $29,565 Touring and $32,125 Touring SE models drop to 43 mpg combined. For 2021, they come with cyclist detection that projects objects in the blind spot in the cluster display, and adaptive cruise control that works down to a stop.
The top EX Premium costs $34,125 and gets 49 mpg combined. It shaves weight and reverts to 16-inch alloy wheels with wheel covers, but also adds heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a wireless phone charger, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, and other goodies new for 2021 such as rear parking sensors.
The 2021 Kia Niro can also be had as a plug-in hybrid with the same engine and an 8.9-kwh battery pack and motor providing up to 26 miles of all-electric range or an EPA-rated 46 mpg combined across the LXS, EX, and EX Premium trims. It is still eligible for a $4,543 federal EV tax credit, depending on the owner's income level, but without the credit it starts at $30,765 and runs up to $37,725 on the top EX Premium model.
Kia said Niro EV details will be released later in the year.