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Preview: 2023 Kia Niro takes on bold look, sticks to multi-powertrain strategy

Kia last week unveiled a redesigned Niro compact crossover at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show.

Timing for the U.S. hasn’t been announced but expect the new Niro to arrive at dealerships in 2022 as a 2023 model.

As indicated by earlier teaser shots and our own spy shots of prototypes, the vehicle has taken on a bold look similar to what’s found on the recently revealed 2023 Sportage. The look was first previewed by the Habaniro concept car unveiled in 2019.

According to Kia, the wide C-pillars enhance air flow around the vehicle, helping to improve aerodynamic efficiency, though we’re sure the design also hurts rearward visibility. At the front you’ll note a clamshell hood in combination with low-set headlights. The daytime running light design is described as having a heartbeat signature.

The interior design is a major step up in quality over the current model, with the new dash adopting a clean, uncluttered look and a single element combining a digital instrument cluster and the screen for the infotainment system. Sustainable materials are used throughout, like a headliner made from recycled wallpaper and seats made from an organic-based polyurethane.

Mimicking the strategy of the outgoing Niro, the new model continues to offer hybrid (Niro HEV), plug-in hybrid (Niro PHEV) and battery-electric (Niro EV) options. Powertrain specs haven’t been announced but expect the new Niro EV to better the outgoing model’s 201 hp and EPA-rated 239 miles of range. It’s possible the vehicle will also feature an 800-volt electrical system and bidirectional charging, just like the 2022 EV6.

For the Niro PHEV, there’s a feature that automatically switches the vehicle into electric mode, depending on the area the vehicle is in. Using navigation or driving history data, the feature will select electric mode when entering a city or residential area or areas near schools and hospitals. It also recognizes frequently visited areas, like your home or office as electric zones.

Despite the arrival of new dedicated EVs like the EV6 (an EV9 is also coming), Kia will continue to launch electric versions of vehicles that also support internal-combustion engines, like the new Niro EV. In fact, Kia plans to have 11 EVs in its lineup by the end of 2026, of which only seven will be dedicated EVs.

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