8 Best & Worst Kia Niro Years (Pictures & Stats)

The Kia Niro is a compact hybrid crossover that was launched in 2017.

Its best known for its high fuel efficiency, plethora of tech features, attractive price tag and car-like handling.

Its siblings are the Niro Plug-In Hybrid and Niro EV, although we cover these separately.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at all of the best and worst model years of the Niro.

2023 Kia Niro

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Kia Niro Are:

The best Kia Niro model years are 2024, 2023, 2022, 2021, and 2020. The worst model years of this model are 2017, 2018, and 2019. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Kia Niro?

2024 and 2023 Kia Niro

The 2023 and 2024 Niros are the first installments of the second generation boasting updated interior and exterior styling, more space for passengers and cargo, several additional tech features, and an updated infotainment system.

Both models deliver a smooth and quiet ride, fantastic fuel efficiency, and spacious seating and cargo space. 

There are 5 trims to choose from: LX, EX, EX Touring, SX, and SX Touring.

The most popular trim is the midrange EX, with a base price of $30,515.

The Niro hybrids 139-hp powertrain consists of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor.

Each model operates on a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission system with front-wheel-drive. 

2023 Niro:

  • Edmunds: 4.7 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 75 / 100

2023 Niro, Edmunds review:

“After being a customer with Hyundai for 15 yrs I’ve decided to switch to Kia. The Kia brand appears to be much more futuristic, both exterior and interior. So far I’ve enjoyed this EX touring Niro hybrid. May not look that big but it does have plenty of interior space…”

2022 and 2021 Kia Niro

Despite lacking the latest futuristic design and new upgrades, the ’22 and ’21 Niro’s are still better looking and more practical than any Prius.

Aside from minor feature shuffling and renaming of the top-spec trim (Touring model is now called the LXS Special Edition), there are no major differences between the two models.

These first-gen models are safe, reliable, and affordable.

The EPA places fuel economy at an impressive 50 MPG for combined city and highway driving, which rivals the top competition in the hybrid segment.

On the safety side, our favorite features are Blind Spot Detection System, Smart Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist.

Both models received a 4-star (out of 5) overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

2022 Niro:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 75 / 100

2021 Niro:

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2021 Niro, Edmunds review:

“This is a great commuter vehicle. I am consistently getting better than the advertised average gas mileage at almost 55 MPG. It is a very comfortable vehicle even for me being larger than most people. The technology is outstanding and well laid out on the dashboard…”

2022 Kia Niro

2020 Kia Niro

The 2020 is another tried-and-tested model that is ideal for drivers who care as much about fuel economy as they do about their budget.

It has plenty of standard and optional features, nimble handling, and a roomy interior with comfortable seating.

For the 2020 mid-cycle refresh the Niro received restyled headlights, fog lights, and grille. A newly available 10.25-inch touchscreen and a more advanced traffic-adaptive cruise control were introduced.

Fuel efficiency is excellent. The EPA places combined city and highway driving at 50 MPG.

There are 5 trim levels available: LX, LXS, Touring, Touring Special Edition, and EX Premium.

Each variant is powered a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive is the only option.

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2020 Niro, Edmunds review:

“Just bought our second Kia Niro. We got one 11 months ago and were so crazy about it that my husband and I argued about whose turn it was to take it. So I went out and bought my own. Gas savings are fabulous and it’s very roomy and comfortable. Love the price, too.”

2020 Kia Niro

Consumer Scores For Best Kia Niro Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2024 Kia NiroNANANA
2023 Kia Niro4.7 / 5.04.5 / 5.075 / 100
2022 Kia Niro4.2 / 5.04.5 / 5.075 / 100
2021 Kia Niro4.1 / 5.04.5 / 5.0NA
2020 Kia Niro4.1 / 5.04.5 / 5.0NA

Related: 10 Best Hybrid SUVs for Long Distance Driving (Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The Kia Niro?

2017, 2018, and 2019 Kia Niro

The 2017, 2018, and 2019 Niros should be approached with caution due to transmission-related issues. These were the first model years produced which are generally more problematic.

Owners reported sudden downshifting, delay in gear engagement, and going in reverse despite having gear in forward drive (and vice versa).

Here’s what owners had to say on the NHTSA website:

“The transmission fails to engage immediately to the gear shifted to. when stationary and with the vehicle in reverse, if you proceed to press the accelerator and the vehicle starts to move backwards, the vehicle will continue to roll in the reverse direction even after switching the gear selector to drive and pressing the accelerator…”

“The latest issue is the transmission failing in traffic and there being no acceleration.”

“Vehicle has been in 5 times in the last several months for a total of over 30 days in the shop. Transmission will do a very hard downshift intermittently when stopping. makes the vehicle dip hard…”

Owners have also reported smoke coming from the engine, which has been linked to a faulty heat recovery unit.

“I noticed white steam coming from the exhaust of my vehicle. Very shortly after noticing this issue I lost all heat and the engine temperature began to rise. I immediately checked the engine coolant level and noticed the reservoir was empty. On 12/04/2021 an authorized dealer diagnosed the issue as a cracked catalytic converter/heat recovery unit…”

“Car caught on fire while in motion on the highway due to safety recall issue”

“My 2017 Kia Niro (hybrid) discharges white smoke and overheats while being driven. I brought it to a reputable mechanic immediately. After a thorough inspection, it was discovered that coolant is leaking into the engine because the ‘heat exchange recovery unit’ is not functioning correctly…”

A recall campaign was initiated for this overheating issue although owners have stated in their complaints that availability of parts was few and far between. 

  • The 2017 Niro had a total of 15 complaints according to CarComplaints.com and 49 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2018 Niro had a total of 7 complaints according to CarComplaints.com and 22 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2019 Niro had a total of 7 complaints according to CarComplaints.com and 41 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.

Common problems:

  • Door handle broke off
  • Check hybrid engine error
  • Transmission issues
  • Fan blower will not shut down
  • Mice chewed fuel line
  • Cruise control malfunction
  • Strong gas smell from vents
  • Brake failure
  • Battery mileage efficiency dropping
  • Cracks in headlight assembly
  • Lane keeping assist failure
  • Drive motor erroneously records overheating then cuts power
2017 Kia Niro

Related: 6 Best & Worst Kia Niro EV Years & 8 Kia Niro PHEV Best & Worst Years

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
(CarComplaints.com)
Problems
(NHTSA.gov)
Recalls
(NHTSA.gov)
2024 Kia Niro0
2023 Kia Niro110
2022 Kia Niro230
2021 Kia Niro30
2020 Kia Niro4140
2019 Kia Niro7410
2018 Kia Niro7222
2017 Kia Niro 15494

What Problems Do Kia Niros Have?

  • Door handle broke off
  • Check hybrid engine error
  • Fan blower will not shut down
  • Mice chewed fuel line
  • Cruise control malfunction
  • Strong gas smell from vents
  • Brake failure
  • Battery mileage efficiency dropping
  • Cracks in headlight assembly
  • Lane keeping assist failure
  • Drive motor erroneously records overheating then cuts power

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Kia Niro?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid8.7$30,900 – $44,310Electric: 80 /Gas: 35 – 38
Kia Sportage Hybrid8.7$27,490 – $36,390City: 38 – 42 /Highway: 38 – 44
Mazda CX-90 PHEV8.5$47,445 – $56,950City: NA /Highway: NA
Honda CR-V Hybrid8.3$32,450 – $38,600City: 40 – 43 /Highway: 34 – 36
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid8.3$35,660 – $41,320City: 33 – 36 /Highway: 30 – 31
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid8.2$30,225 – $38,530City: 41 /Highway: 38
Toyota Highlander Hybrid8.1$40,220 – $52,425City: 35 – 36 /Highway: 34 – 35
Toyota RAV4 Prime8.1$41,590 – $45,460Electric: 94 /Gas: 38
Kia Sorento Hybrid8.0$36,590 – $49,890City: 36 – 39 /Highway: 33 – 35
Kia Niro7.9$26,590 – $39,590Electric: 105 /Gas: 46 – 53
Ford Escape Hybrid7.7$29,345 – $40,500City: 26 – 42 /Highway: 32 – 36
Subaru Crosstrek7.7$36,845Electric: 90 /Highway: 35

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: 20 Hybrid SUVs With Ventilated Seats (With Pictures)

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/kia/niro

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/kia/niro

https://www.edmunds.com/kia/niro/

https://www.kbb.com/kia/niro/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2023/kia/niro

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Kia/Niro/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/tsb/kia/niro/

https://www.cars.com/research/kia-niro/recalls/

https://www.nhtsa.gov/

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...