Best Kia Niro: Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or All-Electric

Best Kia Niro: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, or All-Electric?

Which Kia Nio Is The Best: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, or All-Electric? The Kia Niro is available in three formats: a regular hybrid, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and an all-electric (BEV). Each has its strengths and weaknesses. 

Interestingly, Kia developed its two new electric vehicles (EVs) on the same platform as their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), or gas, vehicle. By doing so, Kia saved money on development costs, however, may have lost some spatial efficiency since the platform had to accommodate not just a gas powertrain, but also a plug-in hybrid and all-electric powertrain. Overall, Kia developed the Niro to fit every driver’s powertrain preference.  

Best Kia Niro: All-Electric
Kia Niro Electric
Image credit: Kia

To find out which is the best, this three way vehicle review will consist of three categories: specifications, pricing, and cost of ownership. There are many other categories to review a vehicle, however, these were chosen for the most objective review. Let’s begin.

Which Kia Niro Is The Best: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, or All-Electric?

Specifications:

Firstly, to compare apples to apples, the comparison will review the same EX trim. This trim is available in each of the three powertrains. By comparing the same trim, only the powertrain will be different amongst the three vehicles. Additionally, all Kia Niros are only available in FWD and have a cargo capacity of 54.5 ft3 with the seats down.

VehicleBattery/Fuel Tank SizeMaximum Charging RateCharging Duration Range MPG/MPGe
Niro Hybrid1.56 kWh + 11.9 galN/AN/A595 Miles50 MPG
Niro Plug-In Hybrid10 kWh + 11.4 gal7.7 kW3 hours (Level 2 Charging)560 Miles105 MPGe (electric)/46 MPG (gas)
Niro All-Electric64 kWh77 kW45 Minutes (10-80% at DC Fast Charging Station)239 Miles112 MPGe (electric)

Pricing:

The Kia Niro Hybrid starts at $28,350, the Niro PHEV starts at $29,490, and the Niro Electric starts at $38,500. 

Electric Vehicle Tax Credits and Rebates

However, EVs, including both PHEVs and BEVs, are eligible for federal, state, local municipality, air district, and electric utility company incentives. Through a myriad of tax credits, rebates, sales tax exemptions, and other non-monetary incentives electric cars are cheaper than what they are sold for at the dealer. These incentives typically only apply to new vehicles. 

Depending on your location, these incentives range from a few hundred dollars to over $13,000. Again, for the sake of simplicity, lets assume the buyer lives in California since that is where most electric cars are sold per year in the U.S. 

In California, all new BEVs and PHEVs are eligible for a $2,000 and $1,000 rebate, respectively, through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Additionally, electric utility companies like PG&E or SoCal Edison offer rebates of $800 and $1000, respectively.

Lastly, depending on the battery size, EVs are eligible for the Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit. This tax credit can be as much as $7,500. The all-electric Niro qualifies for the full amount while the plug-in hybrid Niro qualifies for $3,548. 

Best Kia Niro: All-Electric
Kia Niro Electric
Image Credit: Kia

Notably, there is a cap on manufacturers who sell 200,000 EVs. To date, only Tesla and GM have reached the limit. 

Niro Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and All-Electric Cost After Incentives

Therefore, including all of the EV incentives, the all-electric Niro is eligible for $9,500 and the plug-in hybrid Niro is eligible for $5,548. This brings the net purchase cost down significantly for the all-electric and plug-in hybrid version of the Niro. 

VehicleMSRPNet Cost After Incentives
Niro Hybrid$28,350$28,350
Niro Plug-In Hybrid$29,490$22,942
Niro All-Electric$38,500$29,000

After considering the electric car incentives, the PHEV and BEV version of the Niro are considerably cheaper than the original MSRP. They are so much so that the plug-in Niro is $4,408 cheaper than the hybrid. The all-electric Niro, after incentives, is just $650 more expensive. 

Cost of Ownership:

The cost of ownership projections for each vehicle will use the third-party source Plugstar. Additionally, the cost of ownership calculation will use the following assumptions: California EV incentives, California average electricity and gas rates, and cash purchase.

After considering the true cost of ownership (depreciation, electricity, gas, maintenance/repairs, insurance, and taxes and fees for five years, the plug-in hybrid is the cheapest option. Second, the all-electric is only a few hundred more expensive. Interestingly, the standard hybrid had the cheapest MSRP, yet it is the most expensive when considering the true cost of ownership. 

Looking at the numbers, the plug-in hybrid costs an estimated $36,058, the all-electric costs $36,422, and the regular hybrid costs $38,682. The reason why the plug-in hybrid and all-electric cost the least is because they are much cheaper to operate than the regular hybrid. Because electric motors are not only much more efficient but also require much less maintenance, they realize the cheaper cost of operation than their gas counterparts. 

Which Is The Best Kia Niro?

If home or workplace charging is available, the best Kia Niro is either the plug-in hybrid or all-electric Niro. The plug-in hybrid, specifically, is not only the cheapest initial purchase but also the cheapest to own after five years. If home or workplace charging is not available, unfortunately, the only practical option is the regular hybrid. 

Best Kia Niro: Interior
Kia Niro Interior
Image Credit: Kia

Closing Thoughts:

Despite electric car batteries costing a premium, due to incentives and lower cost of operation, EVs are typically cheaper. For those who fear about range anxiety and where to charge, the plug-in hybrid is a great stepping stone into the world of electric cars.

Personally, my wife and I got a plug-in hybrid for that very same reason. Typical weekday and weekend trips are almost exclusively covered on the electric range. Only during long trips do we use the gas range extender. On longer trips, we do not need to worry about finding a place to charge. This is because the car automatically “shifts” into hybrid mode after all the battery is depleted.  

Interested in the plug-in hybrid or all-electric Kia Niro, check out my complete list of available and future electric cars. The table includes key metrics such as price, range, and maximum charging rate! Plus, it is available as a PDF by signing up to the email list. Subscribers also receive the monthly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest articles. 

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