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The 2023 Kia Niro proves why you stick with a winning formula

A green Kia Niro hybrid and a white Kia Niro EV

Enlarge / In green, the Kia Niro hybrid; in white, the Kia Niro EV. (Kia Niro PHEV not pictured) (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Kia provided flights from DC to San Diego and back, plus two nights in a hotel so we could drive the new Niros. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

LEUCADIA, Calif.—The Kia Niro isn’t a flashy car. It doesn’t have a weird origin story like its stablemate, “the boar with a backpack.” There are no sporty pretensions, nor designs on exploring Moab off the grid. Instead, it’s just been an affordable family crossover, quietly going about its way as efficiently as possible, with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicle versions.

The Niro fills the lower end of Kia’s electrified offerings in the US, and for model year 2023, there’s a new second-generation Niro that’s on sale. As before, there are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and BEV versions available, and they’ve actually even gotten a little cheaper, at least once you account for four years of inflation.

Kia’s design team always gives its work interesting names, and the Niro’s design philosophy is called “Joy for Reason.” But if you didn’t find the first Niro offensive, you’re unlikely to do so with the new one. Perhaps the most notable feature is the contrasting section that runs behind the rear door along the D pillar. It’s not just there for looks—it’s a functional aeroblade that controls airflow at the rear of the car to minimize drag and increase efficiency, and it can be body-colored should you prefer.

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