I was uncomfortable with the PHEV's absence of a spare tire, until I thought back on how long it had been since I had a flat that required a tire change (rather than just pumping some air into the tire). That brought back a memory of a time more than 25 years ago when I was poor and driving on tires that were on borrowed time. There was one very hot day when I made the naive choice to drive down a paved road that was in poor condition. The combination of heat and rough surface caught up with me quickly. I got a flat about two miles down that road. Got out, changed the tire, and 20 minutes later was merrily on my way, with about six more miles to go before my anticipated turn on to a better road. Unfortunately, I only manged about three of those six miles before I had my second flat, and I was out of spare tires at that point. No cell phone in those days, had to walk to someone's house, persuade them to let me use their phone, and call family for help.
One of the lessons learned from that day was to replace my tires well before they are worn far enough that they can easily blow out. And now that I can afford to live by that rule, I do. Another lesson was that having one spare tire isn't necessarily enough, depending on the conditions you find yourself in, but that lesson wasn't persuasive enough for me to begin carrying two spare tires at all times. Instead, I just concluded to avoid getting into a situation where my tires were in questionable condition.
Somewhere in the interim, I visited the Guadalupe mountains in West Texas. It was a very rural location, but my employer had an operation there. One of the first things I recognized on that trip was that there was one tire company within 100 miles of my employer's operation, and they absolutely adored my employer because we were paying them to replace two or three damaged large truck tires every day. That site (largely off-road) was **** on tires.
So yeah - the Niro seems to be especially popular with folks who like to visit back country areas, and anyone visiting those kinds of locations would do well to bring a spare if they can (and also a jack, and tire iron). 99% of the time, you won't need it, but it's a real drag to walk 25 miles to get a cell signal to call a tow truck, and the probability of that happening increases when you visit certain kinds of remote areas (like West Texas).
Unfortunately, the Niro's rear hatch opens up, rather than to the side. My wife's 99 CRV had a rear door that opened to the side, and that made it possible for Honda to mount the spare tire outside the car, Jeep style. It probably would detract from fuel economy if we did something like that with a Niro, but it would be nice to have the option.
2018 Niro PHEV Gravity Blue