Kia Unveils All-New 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle in Chicago

Kia had one major world debut at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the all-new 2017 Niro

Described as a Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV), the Niro combines a hybrid-electric powertrain with the practicality given by the subcompact crossover body.

Introduced under Kia's EcoDynamics sub-brand, the Niro is the automaker's first model based on an all-new, dedicated eco-car platform which is also used by Hyundai's Ioniq. Launched as a hybrid vehicle, the Niro will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain as well later in its life-cycle.

The new model uses Kia's latest design language, with the automaker pointing out that the Niro doesn't sacrifice "emotionally engaging design or functional utility in the name of efficiency." That's because the crossover doesn't come across as a typical hybrid vehicle. The Niro features subtly sculpted surfaces, as well as low proportions with a long roofline and short overhangs. Kia says the Niro was designed with aerodynamics in mind, boasting a drag coefficient of 0.29.

Inside, the HUV features a contemporary design with glossy white or black accents, a clean instrument panel, a center console slightly oriented towards the driver and plenty of room – at least according to Kia's claims. The Niro has a 106.3-inch wheelbase, a "wide stance" and sufficient body height to afford "ample leg-, head- and shoulder-room." The hybrid system's battery pack is located underneath the rear seats, helping maximize cabin and cargo space, as well as allowing a flat load floor.

Specially designed to accommodate the gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, the Niro's platform is described as lightweight and durable, as it is built from Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) in a ratio of 53 percent, including reinforcements in the A- and B-pillars as well as the roof rails. Weight reduction measures also include using aluminum for the hood, tailgate, and several suspension elements.

The hybrid powertrain consists of an all-new Kappa 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder gasoline engine that drives the front wheels, a 43 hp tractive motor, a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and a 1.56-kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery that weighs just 33 kg. The 103 hp gasoline engine marks Kia's first combination of the Atkinson Cycle, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), GDI and a long-stroke-narrow-bore specification in order to maximize efficiency.

With a total system power of 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, the Niro is targeting a combined fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg. Fuel efficiency is optimized by Kia's Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System), which tells the driver when to coast and brake.

The European-spec Kia Niro will debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

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