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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 in the AAA Green Car Guide, which initially focused entirely on rating fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles.

For the 2021 edition, we've expanded the focus of the guide to 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 the development of autonomous vehicles.

home Home » Search Results » 2020 Kia Niro EX Premium Hybrid
How The Car Guide Rating Works
Test Results and Rankings:
The green cars tested by the ARC are evaluated on the basis of 13 categories: emissions, fuel economy, crashworthiness, braking, acceleration, handling, cargo-carrying capacity, ride quality, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, maneuverability, roominess, and visibility. The scores for the categories are totaled, and the cars are ranked from high to low.

2020 Kia Niro EX Premium Hybrid

Vehicle Type: SUV/Minivan Hybrid
 overall score
Category Ranking: 32
Vehicle Price
Base Price: $32,790
Price as Tested: $34,585
Fuel Information
Fuel Type: Regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 11.9
EPA City mpg51
EPA Highway mpg46
EPA Combined mpg49
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [O]
Advanced Headlights [O]
Automatic Emergency Braking [O]
Blind-Spot Warning [O]
Forward-Collision Warning [O]
Lane-Departure Warning [O]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [O]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [O]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
Overall Observations
Kia places a high value on value and affordability; a good example is the Niro, a small hybrid crossover introduced in 2017, which is also available as a PHEV (see page TK) and an EV. The Niro's not going to turn heads, nor will it win any speed contests or be the most fun car to drive. Its exterior and interior styling are pretty bland, and the cabin materials look cheap, especially on lower trim levels. But the Niro will look after your wallet at the pump with its EPA-estimated 50 mpg rating in combined city/highway driving. Its hybrid powertrain - a 4-cylinder gas engine, electric motor, and 6-speed automatic transmission - generates a total of 139 hp. Acceleration is slow in the default Eco mode and, unfortunately, there's noticeable drivetrain shaking and rattling during gas-to-EV transitions. The interior is relatively roomy, providing supportive seating and decent space for both passengers and cargo. Handling is competent but not sporty. The Niro's ride is reasonably comfortable, but lots of noise gets into the cabin, especially at highway speeds. A wide range of advanced safety features is available; many are standard on all but the base trim level where, oddly, they're not even an option.
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Strengths and Weaknesses
Strong Points
  • Lots of features for the money
  • Spacious interior and cargo area
  • Good fuel economy rating
Weak Points
  • Rough hybrid drivetrain
  • Underpowered; slow acceleration
  • Cheap-looking interior; poor fit and finish
  • Bland exterior and interior styling
Vehicle Specifications
Model year tested: 2020
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/3
Curb weight (lbs): 3240.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 171.5 / 71.1 / 60.8
Wheelbase (in): 106.3
Number of air bags: 7
Warranty (months/miles): 60/60,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Michelin Energy Saver A/S
Front and rear tire size: 205/60 R16
Max towing capacity (lbs): Not recommended
Headlight type: Halogen
Transmission type: Hybrid drive
Drivetrain type: Front wheel
Engine/motor: 1.6L 4-Cyl. GDI
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5700
Electric motor horsepower: 43
Combined system horsepower: 139
Test Data
Test Vehicle Scores
Advanced Safety Features: 10.00
Fuel Efficiency: 7.76
EPA Emissions Score: 7.00
Acceleration: 2.39
Braking: 1.88
Crashworthiness: 3.46
Handling: 7.10
Ride Quality: 6.89
Interior Size: 4.08
Easy of Entry and Exit: 6.94
Visibility: 6.48
Interior Noise: 4.85
Cargo Capacity: 2.01
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Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 21/27
Price as Tested:  $65,020
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2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan
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Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/114
Price as Tested:  $53,190
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Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large
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Vehicle Type:  Large
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 28/31
Price as Tested:  $73,840
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Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 80/72
Price as Tested:  $84,276
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2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small
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Vehicle Type:  Small
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/108
Price as Tested:  $43,735
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