Kia Niro Plug-in Looks to One-up the Toyota Prius Prime in One Key Way

2017 Kia Niro - Image: Kia

Kia’s well-regarded Niro, the boxy, decent looking hybrid five-door that’s a cross between a crossover and a hatch (it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive), spawns a plug-in sibling for 2018.

Positioned as a mainstream offering for green yet thrifty families, both Niro and Niro Plug-in offer more than 100 cubic feet of passenger volume in an incognito body while delivering fuel economy approaching that of the Toyota Prius. In plug-in form, the Niro travels 26 miles before requiring the assistance of gasoline.

While the Niro Plug-in’s price tops that of a base Prius Prime, we’ve learned Kia has a strategy for scoring value-minded buyers.

Leasing. More and more Americans are deciding to have their vehicular relationships last no longer than three years, making attractive lease offers an increasingly popular way to lure buyers — and trump rivals.

According to Cars Direct, the base 2018 Niro Plug-in LX, which retails for $28,840 after delivery (an $845 increase over a Prius Prime), is a cheaper lease proposition than its space age-styled competitor. Kia will offer a national lease of $259 a month for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing, which works out to $315 a month.

In the oh-so-green Los Angeles area, that offer undercuts the Prius by $10 a month and the Prius Prime by $90 a month. The Prius’ volume model, the Prius Two, retails for $3,260 less than the Niro Plug-in, but the Kia’s the cheaper lease. Financing is available for as low as 0.9 percent APR.

While the Prius name remains top of mind among hybrid vehicle buyers, Kia figures cost can work in its favor.

There’s actually more than just lease value hidden inside the Niro Plug-in. Regular Niro buyers, Cars Direct notes, might find the plug-in model a better buy than the basic hybrid. Features found in the base plug-in hybrid are only obtainable through an options package on the regular base hybrid, pushing the Niro’s price to just $2,900 less than the plug-in model, before factoring in the federal EV tax credit.

Since entering the U.S. market in January, the Niro hybrid chalked up 24,840 sales through the end of November. That makes it the sixth-best-selling hybrid vehicle in the country, with year-to-date volume just over one third of that of the standard Prius hatch.

[Image: Kia Motors]