2022 Niro PHEV

Plug N' Play

One could argue that the Kia Niro represents today’s modern vehicle offerings quite well. As a small SUV it competes against a slew of vehicles and well-recognized names such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V, but the 2022 Kia Niro comes with a gas-only option, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and pure electric option.


This what many automakers are doing to slowly integrate electrification into the industry. Easing an uncertain consumer into the world of EVs is easier without range anxiety, thus the Kia Niro PHEV that I drove seems like a great transitionary vehicle. There is around 26 miles of pure electric range (provided you plug it in) but then it switches over to a hybrid powertrain including a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine. This engine combined with the electric motor totals 139 horsepower.

Therein lies another “welcome to the future” look as the Niro PHEV’s sluggish performance shows that enthusiasm is being pushed aside in favor of fuel efficiency. The torque from the electric motor redeems things a bit and as such the Niro PHEV does seem to over perform the 139 horses.

2022 Niro PHEV

2022 Niro PHEV

The six-speed automatic transmission holds its own as the dual-clutch design keeps the transmission feeling modern. The Niro PHEV is available as front-wheel drive (FWD), in fact the entire Niro lineup is only available as FWD.

Although very little is changed from the 2021 model year, the 2022 version does receive Kia’s snazzy new logo. This helps keep the Niro looking updated and modern. The redesigned Kia logo is prominently displayed on the front grille, the tailgate, steering wheel hub and wheel center caps. Otherwise, the 2022 Niro remains unchanged.

The Niro PHEV is 171.5 inches long, 71.1 inches wide and 60.8 inches heigh and has a wheelbase of 106.3 inches. These dimensions make the Niro right-sized for most people as a daily driver or even as a family hauler. The five-passenger PHEV has 19.4 cubic feet of behind-the-seat storage area. With rear seats folded that cargo haul increases to 54.5 cubic feet.


Overall there’s 100.9 of passenger space inside the Niro. That’s one of the charms of the Niro. Two adults will fit comfortably in the back seats a third would be uncomfortable. But as far as five-passenger vehicles goes, the Niro feels spacious enough in terms of headroom and legroom.

The top-of-the-line Premium trim has leather seat surfaces. Overall the Niro’s interior lacks a wow factor and one reviewer called it an “unoffensive interior.” That is a solid summarization of the interior.

Kia’s infotainment system has plenty of technology and better still is one of the easier to use systems available. The 10.2-inch touchscreen is responsive and you can even personalize it for individual driver’s settings so that the start -up screen provides the data you want to see. An eight speaker sound system does the job and there’s smooth smart phone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bonus points for having wireless connectivity.

2022 Niro PHEV

2022 Niro PHEV

There are three trims offered: LXS, EX and EX Premium. My vehicle was the EX Premium with a starting price of $36,490. The base trim LXS starts under $30,000.

As a PHEV the sole purpose is improved fuel economy. You can forgive the uninspiring performance of the Niro PHEV when you see the EPA estimate of 46 mpg/combined. Less trips to fill up, especially right now with the high cost of fuel, is a major draw.

Kia offers driver assistance features, called DriveWise. This isn’t autonomy, but it is nice to have such features like forward collision avoidance, blindspot collision warning, smart cruise control, high beam assist, driver attention warning and park assist warning. These DriveWise features are nice to have during longer road trips and in tighter parking areas.

The 2022 Kia Niro PHEV is representative of today’s modern vehicles. As sedans become passe and straight gas-only engines also become less popular, the transition from gas to electric is going to happen. PHEVs like the Niro are a great introduction to the vehicles of the near future.