2017 Kia Niro
An interesting and cost-saving feature of the Niro is that there is no 12-volt starter battery.
Instead, the hybrid battery pack also starts up the gas engine. This makes great sense and saves you the expense (and hassle) down the road of having to replace the battery every three or so years.
Another neat feature is the driver-only air conditioning setting. Instead of wasting energy to cool the passenger seat when it's empty, you push the button and the system focuses its attention solely on you.
All trims come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen; an 8-inch unit is available and features the latest generation of Kia's excellent UVO interface, an 8 GB music storage hard drive, Wi-Fi and sound-tethering technology.
Word is that Kia will add plug-in capability next year, which will let you drive farther on electricity only and let you recharge the battery pack without running the engine. Depending on how far you're going, you might be able to drive the Niro without burning any gas at all.
And the plug-in should be even stronger, and therefore quicker.
The downside is it will probably costs a few thousand bucks more than the current model.
The Bottom Line
This hybrid doesn't suck gas, suck your wallet dry or suck to drive.
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.