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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 PHEV EX Premium
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 PHEV EX Premium

Vehicle Type: SUV/Minivan Hybrid
 overall score
Category Ranking: 31
Vehicle Price
Base Price: $36,390
Price as Tested: $37,790
Fuel Information
Fuel Type: Electricity/regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 11.4
120V Charge Time: 2.4 miles per hour
240V Charge Time: 11.6 miles per hour
EPA City mpg48
EPA Highway mpg44
EPA Combined mpg: 46
EPA Combined MPGe: 105
EPA-Est. Electric Range (mi): 26
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
Advanced Headlights [S]
Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
Blind-Spot Warning [S]
Forward-Collision Warning [S]
Lane-Departure Warning [S]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
Overall Observations
Kia's Niro PHEV small crossover is competing in a tough market segment, going up against rivals like the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, the Toyota RAV4 Prime, and the upcoming Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid. As is true with many Kia vehicles, the Niro PHEV focuses on value, matching features offered by class-leading competitors at an attractive price. It delivers low operating costs via an EPA-estimated 26 miles of all-electric driving and 46 mpg in combined driving. Other strengths include a relatively roomy interior; a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT, which provides a more linear driving experience; a complete package of advanced safety features; easy-to-use instruments and controls; and a stellar 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty. The Niro PHEV's biggest liability is that it's not much fun to drive; it seems designed to travel from point A to point B with high efficiency and little fanfare. Its 139-hp hybrid drivetrain is slow off the line, handling is uninspired, the ride can be rough over uneven roads, and lots of road noise enters the cabin. The interior, too, is a mixed bag: It's reasonably roomy, with decent seats, but the styling is bland, with some cheap-looking plastic elements, and the cargo area is only adequate.
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Strengths and Weaknesses
Strong Points
  • Lots of standard features for the price
  • Very good mpg and all-electric range
  • Easy-to-use infotainment system
  • Strong package of advanced safety features
Weak Points
  • Underpowered
  • Cheap interior materials
  • Jerky transmission and noisy drivetrain
  • Lackluster handling
Vehicle Specifications
Model year tested: 2020
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/3
Curb weight (lbs): 3480.0
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: LED
Transmission type: Hybrid drive
Drivetrain type: Front wheel
Engine/motor: 1.6L 4-Cyl. GDI
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5700
Electric motor horsepower: 60
Combined system horsepower: 139
Test Data
Test Vehicle Scores
Advanced Safety Features: 10.00
Fuel Efficiency: 8.73
EPA Emissions Score: 7.00
Acceleration: 2.35
Braking: .42
Crashworthiness: 3.66
Handling: 7.64
Ride Quality: 6.61
Interior Size: 4.51
Easy of Entry and Exit: 7.11
Visibility: 6.81
Interior Noise: 4.75
Cargo Capacity: 1.68
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Fuel Type:  Electric
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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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Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 115/100
Price as Tested:  $37,750
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