2016 Chicago Auto Show LIVE: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid image

The 2016 Chicago Auto Show is now in full swing and Kia has opted to introduce at the Wind City event their new 2017 Niro – a hybrid crossover.

The model is being described as a no-compromise hybrid, with the Niro also taking inspiration from the world of crossover utility vehicles – it has been adorned with plastic body cladding, roof rails, and a rear skid plate. We also noticed a sleek grille, the tailgate-mounted spoiler, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Kia was rather restrained on disclosing full details, but stepping inside the cabin we noticed the three-spoke steering wheel, gloss white trim, metallic inserts, push-button ignition, high-tech instrument cluster, or the UVO3 infotainment system using a seven-inch screen and coming with full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. The company said engineers worked hard to lower noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels in a bid to make the Niro as comfortable as possible – it even has an acoustic glass windshield, specially designed engine mounts, and equal-length driveshafts.

Under the hood the powertrain consists of a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, mated to a small electric motor, and a 1.56 kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery. The combined maximum power stands at 146 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, with Kia aiming for a 50 mpg return on average. The model also makes use of Kia’s Eco Driver Assistance System, includes a Coasting Guide and has a Predictive Energy Control system. The latter makes use of the navigation system and cruise control system to “anticipate topographical changes on the road ahead and actively manage energy flow, seamlessly determining when its best to recharge the battery and when its best to expend stored energy to optimize overall efficiency.”