Impressed, coming from a CX-5
October 28, 2018
I recently traded in my 2015 Mazda CX-5 for a 2018 Kia Niro EX Premium. I am very impressed. The CX-5 is also a very good vehicle, but my CX-5's electronics left some things to be desired (the radio station preset interface was archaic, it took a while to pair with Bluetooth devices, and some features, like displaying text messages to the display, never worked).
I looked into the Niro for two main things:
1) I needed better gas mileage due to moving farther away from work. The CX-5 actually had pretty good fuel economy, but the Niro blows away most cars out there. So far this part of the vehicle has been fantastic. If you're a good driver you can pull more than the specified MPG from it. My driving is about 70 percent city/30 percent highway, so that helps too as MPG for hybrids tends to drop some if you're spending more time on highways.
2) Better electronics and tech. Again, the Niro does really well here. The EX with premium package is loaded with safety and entertainment features. The displays are crisp and have bright and easily read text and the whole thing just screams high-tech. Very happy with this element of the vehicle. I haven't even started to dig into the possibilities of Android Auto (or Apple's version of the same).
Now, where is the CX-5 better? First, the CX-5 is a real crossover SUV. As some other reviewers mentioned, the Niro is more like a car than an SUV. The CX-5 also had slightly better external styling and a more flexible second row where you could fold down left, right, and middle sections whereas the Niro has a 60/40 split option only. Both cars feel strong and solidly built but the CX-5 rides higher and has a higher clearance so it's a better fit for actual inclement conditions.
Visibility in the CX-5 was sometimes tricky with its large pillars; the Niro's pillars are a bit slimmer but can still be obstacles.
I also agree with some of the other reviewers in that I miss the larger center console and glove compartment space of my other vehicles. The only other negative surprise to me was that after getting essentially the loaded model I found out that Homelink garage door opener is not included on any Niro trim! It is available with OEM equipment but you'll have to add it separately.
But in almost every other way, the Niro is a great car for me so far and I'm quite happy with it.
Some recommendations on the trim selections: If you don't spend a lot of time in the car and just want something efficient to tool around in between home and short errands in city driving conditions, you can get by with the FE or LX models which are cheaper and have killer MPG. But if you have longer commutes or spend more time in your car, treat yourself to the EX as it has most of the best comfort and safety features. The touring model is the best looking trim, but the higher weight and upgraded 18 inch wheels will drop the fuel mileage a bit.
If you want all the features of the touring without giving up the MPG, get the EX with premium package. That'll add on:
- the full leather seats with both heating and cooling (base EX has combination leather and cloth and only the heating)
- the heated steering wheel
- a wireless phone charger (yes, you read that right, and it's pretty nice if your phone supports it)
- the warm welcome feature (pretty cool, the car detects when you're approaching and folds the mirrors out and illuminates the door handle for you)
- sun/moon roof
- a passel of other safety features (although in my opinion the base EX already has the most important ones [emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert])
- and more