Is the KIA Niro a good car, and is this a good time to buy?
May 21, 2020 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Due to enthusiastic word of mouth regarding KIA vehicles and their warranty, we are leaning towards buying the self-charging model of KIA's Niro hybrid. Questions about whether we should buy it and if we should buy it now are below.

1) Climate-wise (Think North Dakota, but more north) is the Niro a good fit for the weather and conditions we have? Are the extreme cold/hot cycles hard on the batteries, or system in general?

2) The warranty is apparently solid and repair/replacement experiences will vary by dealership/shop, but is there anything you wished you had known before buying?

3) We're pretty brand-agnostic. Is there another make/model of self-charging hybrid with similar size and performance that we should consider? Most of our driving is urban and we have one kid. It would be nice to have a vehicle that could tow a small trailer (It's possible with the Niro, but not recommended), but we don't need anything huge, heavy-duty, or tank-like.

4) Currently the KIA dealership is waiving 6 months of payments on selected models, not sure how many other incentives are being provided. I realize it's scummy to exploit a pandemic, but fine, scum me up. Have there been any forecasts on how the overall situation have/will impact car sales? We are currently making do with a loaner car from a relative, so we can afford to wait if it's in our interests to do so.
posted by Alvy Ampersand to Shopping (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Kia that I owned (a 2012 Rio) was a TANK but they do tend to vary in comfort and quality based on the model/trim. gives the 2020 Niro a 7.0/10. They may not be glamorous without all of the extras but they are very hearty cars. It will last a long time.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:35 AM on May 21

Also I have to note that I was test driving a Rio a week ago and the website had the price knocked down about 5k but when I went to the dealership I was told that the price was "with every possible discount." So just beware of that shady shit.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:38 AM on May 21

Kia’s are good cars, but their dealerships are notoriously awful.

Also for the love of dog “self charging hybrid” is a frustrating and ridiculous term. All cars, literally every single one, are “self charging”. Unless your alternator is dead.
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 7:54 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]

I like the Niro; I drove one for a week on a vacation in 2017? 18? We got great mileage ( more than 50mpg US). It felt well-put together, ergonomically good for long drives, and....... unexciting. If I were ever to buy an ICE-powered car for everyday commuting/vacation use, it would probably be the Niro.

By self-charging, do you mean that the regenerative braking system/ICE helps recharge the battery that can solely power the car for short distances? Like all hybrids?

[as opposed to a plug-in electric hybrid, which gives you the chance to charge the batteries for the hybrid from the mains, or a plug in electric car, which you have to plug in as it takes no gas?]
posted by lalochezia at 8:39 AM on May 21

When I was researching cars about a year ago, the reviews were mixed for the Niro. I ended up getting a Kia Soul and have loved it. The dealership was also great (and I had fled two other non-Kia dealerships after high-pressure sales). The dealership let me drive the Soul around town for a few hours on my own. I wonder if you could do the same with the Niro.

I'd be very wary of the sticker price for Kias. You should go into the dealership with a price that you've researched online. We paid around $16K for a Soul LX and the list price was $23K.
posted by JuliaKM at 9:02 AM on May 21

I have a 2018 Niro hybrid and I like it a lot. With good winter tires it’s handled winter fine, though I’m not somewhere with extremely cold temperatures (Vancouver, BC). The mileage is as good or better than advertised if you’re mostly doing city stop & go driving.

No idea about whether this is a good time to buy. When I bought mine 2 years ago there was a 3 month waiting list and no wiggle room at all on the MSRP. Given how many I see on the road now I’m sure that’s no longer the case.

The dealership is awful, sexist, and inept, but the car is great.
posted by subluxor at 9:05 AM on May 21

I believe the Hyundai Kona is a very similar car-- they share many of the same components. Does the Kona have similar pricing?

My family's experience with EVs in Alberta winters has been good (an older NiMH based Prius hybrid, and a Leaf EV). The main problem with the pure EVs is that heating the car takes a lot of energy from the batteries. I don't think that's an issue with hybrids, since there is a lot of excess heat from the IC engine that can be put to heating the cabin.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 9:27 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]

According to my husband:
We got a 2017 model (one of the first), and overall it's been pretty solid. 3 or 4 recalls (one was "we have to put these stickers next to the child lock switches on the doors"), but they were handled pretty quickly. No other maintenance outside the usual periodic stuff. It's comfy for long drives (but as others have noted - not luxurious), and has enough space for luggage or the occasional IKEA run. After learning how to drive it (read: there's no need to accelerate super fast from a stop), we get about 47MPG (mostly residential and smaller city road driving).

There's one big downside - The clutch (yes, it's an automatic) slow speeds when swapping between gas and electric. There can be a bit of a jolt, but nothing close to driving with someone who's just learning to drive stick. I asked about it at the dealership, and it seems to be a known thing, but not a Problem. I think I didn't notice because our test drive was all highway (wanting to check road noise). As I've learned to drive it, I know how to minimize it.
What I notice is that the heater doesn't run when the electric is on, so you need to put it into Sport Mode for the heater to be on continuously, and we keep a blanket in the car because I get colder than my husband on long-distance winter drives. Definitely check that out with your dealership.
posted by telophase at 9:28 AM on May 21

(Related note about Kia Dealers: from what I'd heard, they can be pretty tough about honouring warranty repairs if you don't have all the scheduled maintenance documentation strictly up to date.)
posted by ovvl at 4:05 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]

Update: So we bought a used one with just under 15k km on it, spouse is happy with it, I'm ambivalent (But I also just don't like driving in general and take a while to get comfortable with unfamiliar vehicles.) Not super-happy with the dealership - sales manager & financing guys were decent though not much wiggle room on price, salesman a bit of a toad.

One annoying this unrelated to the advice given here is before buying we noticed a small chip in the hood, were told they were going to fix it. Wife brought it in last Monday and it looks like they just put a glob of windshield crack glue filler over it, so yeah, that's a thing that will need to be sorted.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:59 AM on July 8

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