2022 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium new car reviews

Photography Courtesy Kia

Kia’s five-passenger ute comes in several flavors, all involving some sort of battery propulsion. We tested the plug-in hybrid version. The big question: Is it fun?

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This one didn’t do much for me until I realized something: You can slide the shifter over to S to unlock a second personality. Suddenly this little ute–one I wanted to penalize for bobbing and pogoing a bit too much–could be tossed around and steered with the throttle while the transmission would hold a gear just long enough.

It actually became fun, reminding me of the first Minis. (Well, the first modern Minis, not the original models.)

Then add in traditional controls, an easy-to-digest display unit, and a real shifter. Yeah, it’s an automatic, but it’s not a knob, odd mixture of buttons or something New and Exciting conjured up in some design studio somewhere.

The steering wheel had a good feel to it, and the touch points were right on par. Plus it looks kinda cool.

But, before you run out to buy one, a few tempering statements.

The seats feel flat. Like, flat.

The paddle shifters, while present, are worthless as they’re just too laggy. Avoid the disappointment and just let the computer control the shots here. It knows what it’s doing.

And our rather loaded example stickered for $38,025.

My dream: Can Kia section 2 inches out of the body to turn this platform into a true Mini competitor?

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