The second-generation Niro PHEV is the cheapest plug-in hybrid SUV in the U.S. and serves as a bridge between gas-powered SUVs and pure-electric SUVs for many customers. The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV has begun rolling into American dealerships, and recently I experienced it (2024 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid SX Touring variant) at 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show to know if it was any good. Here are my first impressions of the plug-in hybrid SUV:
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV is a carryover model, meaning that it doesn’t have styling changes. That said, it looks pretty futuristic, featuring a sporty and technical design that makes it instantly recognizable. Its conventional crossover silhouette is complemented by unique elements like the unusually shaped vertical headlamps, an air curtain in the C-pillar, and boomerang-shaped tail lights. I find the ‘Heartbeat’ daytime running lights & turn signals in the headlights particularly appealing, and the thin full-width chrome strip that accentuates the slim upper grille adds a touch of sophistication to the front.
The available 18-inch alloy wheels and gloss black wheel arch molding provide the 2024 Niro PHEV a sporty styling. The charging port is on the left-side front quarter panel, and I think this location is not the most convenient. I like the C-shaped turn indicators integrated into the mirrors, which pair well with the vertical headlamps and tail lights.
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV has a modern and tech-focused interior that makes it look just as trendy and premium as on the outside. As soon as I stepped into the cabin, my eyes went to the off-center dashboard’s two floating 10.25-inch displays. I feel that the sleek instrument cluster with customizable layouts and the comprehensive infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, and other latest features presented a clear step-up in the segment.
Getting comfortable in the 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar adjustment, I felt that the manually adjustable two-spoke steering wheel was comfortable to reach, and other main controls like the rotary gear selector in the center console and the climate control panel in the dashboard were placed ergonomically.
The various buttons, switches, and dials in the 2024 Niro PHEV offer a tactile feedback. I like the fact that Kia has included normal steering buttons and also rotary dials to adjust the cabin temperature, speaker volume, radio station, etc. The storage box under the central armrest is practical, but the door bins could have been bigger. The SynTex artificial leather seat covers Kia has used in the new plug-in hybrid SUV uplifts the cabin feel and I think they are a good alternative to animal-skin leather seat covers. I could spot plenty of hard plastics around the cabin, but overall quality is quite good for a car in this price range.
I’m six-feet-tall, and I felt that entering/exiting the 2024 Niro PHEV was easy for me, with ample head room. When I was sitting in the driver’s seat, I felt that my lower back support and under-thigh support was adequate. In the back, while I wasn’t able to stretch out my legs, I can say that there is a good level of knee room even for taller folks. Here, I felt that the headroom was again good for a sub-compact-to-compact vehicle, and the under-thigh support was decent.
The 2024 Niro PHEV’s cargo area, though smaller than that of the 2024 Niro and 2024 Niro EV, offers similar dual-level adjustability for the load floor. It gives 19.4 cu. ft. of luggage space, which is expandable to 54.6 cu. ft. by folding the rear seat backrests.
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV has a 1.6-liter GDI engine-based powertrain that produces 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque and a 6-speed DCT. The FWD-only plug-in hybrid SUV stores energy for the electric motor in an 11.1 kWh battery pack, which gives it a zero-emission EPA-est. range of 33 miles. Kia doesn’t state any mechanical changes for the Niro PHEV as part of the MY2024 revisions, so it’s safe to assume that it drives and feels the same.
From what we know, the second-generation Niro PHEV is not exceptionally fast or scary, and provides adequate performance for everyday driving. It’s also worth noting that the cabin can become somewhat noisy at higher speeds, particularly on the highway.
The additional weight of the Niro PHEV’s bigger battery does affect handling and braking, making it not as much fun to drive as the Niro hybrid. From what we read, the synchronization between the regenerative braking system and the disc brakes is well-sorted. The suspension setup is on the firmer side, which impacts the ride quality.
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV retails at USD 34,290 in the EX trim and USD 40,040 in the SX. Both MSRPs exclude a destination charge of USD 1,325.
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV offers style, space, and practicality as well as many latest tech features. It offers decent performance and delivers a good electric driving range, to where the annual fuel cost is $850 (as per the EPA). What works against it is that it is not eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, as the car is imported from Hwasung, S.Korea. While it’s no longer priced lower than the regular hybrid model, as was the case with the first-gen Niro family, it’s still over $5,000 less expensive than the Niro EV.
We recommend that you take the Niro PHEV only if you plan to plug-in regularly, else the Niro Hybrid is the better choice. The only downside we could find in this variant is its firm ride quality, but for customers who don’t mind, the plug-in hybrid is a solid eco-friendly commuter which offers the added benefit of being less affected by fluctuating gasoline prices.
2024 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid FAQs
What is the 2024 Kia Niro PHEV release date?
The 2024 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid is now available at U.S. dealerships.
What is the 2024 Kia Niro PHEV price?
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV starts at USD 34,290 (excl. USD 1,325 destination charge).
Which models are 2024 Kia Niro PHEV rivals?
The 2024 Kia Niro PHEV competes with the Toyota Prius Prime.
This article has inputs from our reader.
An automobile engineer by training, I’ve analyzed the global car market since 2005, with a keen focus on EVs since 2008. My journey in online automotive publishing spans 16 years, during which I have reviewed cutting-edge automotive technologies and interviewed leading CEOs and vehicle developers from around the world.