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To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago

For the 2024 edition, we include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and new vehicles coming to market in the next few years.

2023 Kia Niro PHEV SX Touring

Vehicle Type: Small suv Plug-In Hybrid
 overall score
Category Ranking: 9

Vehicle Price

Base Price: $39,490
Price as Tested: $41,635

Fuel Information

Fuel Type: Electricity/regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 9.7
120V Charge Time: 5.1 miles per hour
240V Charge Time: 11.8 miles per hour
EPA City mpg49
EPA Highway mpg47
EPA Combined mpg: 48
EPA Combined MPGe: 108
EPA-Est. Electric Range (mi): 33

Advanced Safety Features

  • Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
  • Advanced Headlights [S]
  • Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • Blind-Spot Warning [S]
  • Driver Monitoring [S]
  • Forward-Collision Warning [S]
  • Lane-Departure Warning [S]
  • Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
  • Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • [S] Standard, [O] Optional

Overall Observations

Kia redesigned its fuel-efficient Niro small crossovers—a hybrid, EV (see pages 118 and 109, respectively), and the plug-in hybrid reviewed here—inside and out for 2023. The PHEV version, which can run as a pure EV or as a hybrid, is arguably the most versatile. The new Niro is more stylish, mimicking the larger Sportage, Kia's best-selling vehicle. And as the numbers and features list prove, the Niro PHEV delivers good value. Take fuel economy, for example: an EPA-estimated 48 mpg and 108 MPGe combined; an all-EV range of 33 miles; and a total range of 510 miles. The cleanly designed cabin provides plenty of room for both front and rear passengers. Standard convenience features include heated front seats and side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and 10.25-inch displays for the instruments and infotainment system. A full set of advanced safety features is standard, including rear automatic emergency braking. And the MSRP for the base EX trim is just over $34,000. But the Niro PHEV is not without its problems. Perhaps the most noticeable are its noisy powertrain and overall high level of cabin noise. And though the ride is smooth on good pavement, it becomes unsettled and jarring on rough roads. Furthermore, the infotainment and climate controls are distracting, and the driving experience is unengaging and bland.

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Pros and Cons


  • Good value
  • 33 miles of pure EV range, with a good overall range
  • Good fuel-efficiency ratings
  • Lots of useful tech and advanced safety features.


  • Throttle lag from a stop
  • Noisy powertrain, overall cabin noise
  • Does not handle bumps/rough roads very well
  • HVAC infotainment controls are distracting

Vehicle Specifications

Model year tested: 2023
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/3
Curb weight (lbs): 3333.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 174.0 / 71.8 / 60.8
Wheelbase (in): 107.1
Number of air bags: 8
Warranty (months/miles): 60/60,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Continental ProContact RX
Front and rear tire size: 225/45 R18
Max towing capacity (lbs): Not recommended
Headlight type: LED
Transmission type: Hybrid drive
Drivetrain type: Front wheel
Engine/motor: 1.6L I4 GDI
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 103 @ 5,700
Combined system horsepower: 180

Test Data

Test Vehicle Scores

Advanced Safety Features:


Fuel Efficiency:


EPA Emissions Score:





Handling: 5.98
Quality and Drivability: 6.38

Ride Quality:


Interior Size:


Easy of Entry and Exit:




Interior Noise:


Cargo Capacity:

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