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The Kia Niro is a popular option in America, especially for folks looking for an eco-friendly car. However, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this compact SUV from Kia. Some folks don’t know if the Niro is a regular hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or an EV. Here’s a look at the Kia Niro and how this compact SUV from Kia is actually all three.

The Kia Niro can be a hybrid, a PHEV, and an EV

A sky blue Kia Niro parked indoors.
Kia Niro | Getty Images

Car and Driver wrote that the Niro is a hybrid, a PHEV, and a typical EV. The standard Niro is a hybrid by default, and customers can upgrade it into a PHEV by choosing its PHEV trim. On top of that, many car critics and regular customers consider the Niro’s EV trim to be a completely different car. 

It’s called the Niro EV, and other than having an all-electric powertrain, it’s essentially the same car as the regular Niro. Due to these powertrain options, the Niro can be a hybrid, a PHEV, or an EV. That being said, while the three versions of the Niro have a lot of similarities, they also have some differences. 

The differences between the Kia Niro hybrid, PHEV, and EV

The standard Niro comes with a 1.6-liter hybrid I4 powertrain that gets 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Like any other traditional hybrids, it has a small battery that works with its electric motor and regular gas-powered engine to get a fuel economy of about 50 mpg combined. The PHEV version of the Niro amps those specs up across the board.

Not only does the Niro PHEV have a more powerful electric motor, but it’ll also have a significantly bigger battery pack. The Niro PHEV still has a 1.6-liter I4 engine as its primary source of power, but it gets 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque combined instead. This PHEV option gives the Niro a fuel economy of about 105 mpge, and since it has a bigger battery, it can also go 26 miles in battery-only mode.

These differences are similar to those found in the Kia Sorento hybrid and its PHEV version. However, what the Sorento doesn’t have is an EV version. The Niro’s EV version has an electric motor that gets 201 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque and a much bigger battery. This bigger battery will allow the Niro to get about 253 miles of range. That said, since it’s an EV, owners won’t have to fill up on gas like they would with the regular Niro or the Niro PHEV.

Kia makes a lot of other great eco-friendly cars


The 2022 Kia EV6 Gives the Tesla Model Y a Run for Its Money

Like many other automakers, Kia is slowly but surely introducing cleaner cars into its American lineup. The Sportage PHEV, for example, is finally coming to America in the near future. It’ll have a 1.6-liter hybrid I4 powertrain, just like the Niro PHEV, but it’ll have a slightly bigger battery. This’ll allow the Sportage PHEV to go 32 miles in battery-only mode.

However, Kia’s first true EV is the EV6, a strong competitor in the compact SUV segment. The EV6 has a max range of about 310 miles, though this range number will shrink to 274 miles if customers choose the all-wheel drive option. The EV6 starts at about $41,000, making it a relatively affordable all-electric SUV.