While a lot of our attention is turned towards the Toronto auto show, the Chicago auto show is stealing the show with notable American unveils. Kia has done a double unveil, both in Chicago and in Toronto, for the world premiere of the 2017 Niro Hybrid, their - you will have guessed - new hybrid crossover, or HUV for hybrid utility vehicle. The Chicago stage was slightly more garnished as Kia also unveiled two hybrid variants of the 2017 Optima.
The Niro also becomes a benchmark for the brand in engineering considering it features an equally new environment-friendly car platform and a unique hybrid system. Aknowledging that the crossover market is currently the fastest growing segment, VP product planning Orth Hedrick explained that the Niro is the ideal combination of fuel economy, utility and an engaging driving experience wrapped up in a design that "doesn't shout hybrid".
However, unlike the Optima hybrid or the Kia Soul EV that preceeded it, the Niro premieres a new eco-car dedicated platform and a plug-in variation should come later in the year. Equipped with a 1.6L direct injection engine, the powerhouse will feature an Atkinson Cycle to help maximize the efficiency and will be teamed with a lithium ion polymer battery. The hybrid powertrain will develop a combined output of 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, and offer an estimated 5.6L/100km fuel economy.
The 2017 Kia Niro was unveiled alongside the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Both versions of the sedan will feature a 2.0L engine also teamed to a 270V and 360V lithium ion polymer battery for a combined output of 193 hp for the hybrid and 202 hp for the hybrid plug-in. All three models are expected on the market later this year.