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When shopping for a new car, it’s always a good idea to do your research. There is a wide range of information about which vehicles have the best fuel mileage, which can go off-road, and the ones to totally avoid. J. D. Power recently released an article ranking small SUVs from best to worst, and the two vehicles in last place are a little shocking.

A gray 2023 Honda HR-V subcompact SUV.
The 2023 Honda HR-V | Honda

The Honda HR-V and Kia Niro tied for worst small SUV of 2023

On a list which contained 16 small SUVs, the Kia Niro and Honda HR-V have come in dead last. Both were ranked in eighth place and received a score of 75 on J.D. Power’s survey.

The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, as owners declined to provide enough explanation to record it. Other vehicles which ranked higher reported pros such as ease of getting out of the second-row seats, and powerful engines.

Factors that lowered a vehicle’s score were poor economy and loud engines. The Niro and HR-V do not have an explanation for why the ratings are so low, but there’s enough information available to figure out why they failed to live up to the hype.

What went wrong for the HR-V and Niro?

To say these results are shocking is an understatement. This is because Honda and Kia are both typically near the top of these lists for being the best. While Toyota usually dominates, Kia and Honda have both established a track record for manufacturing reliable vehicles that are built to last.

In the case of the Honda HR-V, the score came largely down to consumer scores. This particular survey was based on how owners rated their HR-V after driving it. J. D. Power critics actually gave it a fairly positive review.

Owners are speaking out about three problems that helped tank the HR-V’s scores, however. These include low-quality paint, an accelerator that tends to jerk forward or slow down at the worst possible times, and window gaskets that are coming loose.

As for the Kia Niro, these models have recently become a TikTok trend, and not a good one. Several Niros have been stolen using USB cables. Kia is in the process of rolling out resources meant to stop this, but for owners who have had their Niro stolen, it’s too little, too late.

Are these really the worst small SUVs of 2023?

In spite of the low ratings from J. D. Power reviewers, there’s actually a lot to love about the Honda HR-V and the Kia Niro. 

The 2023 HR-V has a very affordable MSRP of $23,650-$28,950. The inline 4-cylinder engine generates 158 hp and 138 lb-ft. The HR-V gets 26 city, 32 hwy, and 28 overall fuel mileage.

There isn’t a ton of tech on board, however. You’ll get safety features such as lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and post-collision safety system, and that’s about it. Still, for the price, this is a steal.

The Kia Niro costs more, with an MSRP range of $26,490-$34,790. It’s a hybrid that is equipped with a 1.6L inline 4-cylinder engine. The Niro’s engine can produce 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automated manual.

Because it’s a hybrid, it gets some serious gas mileage. It gets an EPA 53/54 city/hwy. The range in miles is 588.3/599.4 mi.

There are also more safety features on the Niro, such as blind spot and lane departure warnings, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, and pre- and post-collision safety systems.

For the price, these vehicles are hard to top. There are a few rough spots to look out for, but overall, the Kia Niro and Honda HR-V are solid choices.


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