I gotta say, after reading the forums for over an hour, there sure is a TON of techie sounding things going on!!
I'm a bit challenged in that subject and starting to think this car might be too complicated to me! I was already concerned about the hybrid part - worried there might be a lot more that can go wrong, hoping I don't do something totally stupid to screw it up... stuff like that.
Not that interested in all the extra bells and whistles, just want a good reliable car, with cargo room for all my dog show stuff, and great mileage is a total plus! When the guys at the dealership were talking the differences between the models, much of that stuff didn't interest me.
I live in MN so was wondering more about the heat and handling. What about remote start? Heated seats would be amazing, but not a deal breaker.
What general day to day normal driver info can you give me? Or at least threads on the forums that I might have missed?
I love my 2018 Niro Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). I was thinking about a Toyota Prius, but wishing for something with a little better ground clearance and forward visibility when I first found the Niro.
You can turn off several of the (literal) "bells and whistles" with this car if you don't care for the associated features, but there are some that you can't turn off. This is a very musical car :-)
There are three flavors of the Niro available: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric. The one that feels the most like a conventional car (or maybe like a Toyota Prius Hybrid that you might have heard about) is going to be the Hybrid: you don't have to plug it in or think about charging it. That flavor is also the least expensive of the three, depending on which trim package you opt for.
In terms of owning it: you need to either put Top Tier gas in most of the time, or else put a bottle of Techron additive in the tank once in a while to compensate for using cheap gas. You need to get the car serviced at regular intervals (as you would with any new car). You can find a list of brands that sell Top Tier gas here: https://toptiergas.com/licensed-brands/
. Note that Top Tier gas does not mean Premium grade gas, the Niro uses Regular grade: instead it's about certain additives in the gas that help to keep the fuel system clean.
Heated seats are nice, even here in Southern California. Air Conditioned seats are also appreciated down here. I'll need to defer to those in colder climates with regards to their thoughts on the ability to heat the cabin or handle well in snow, but most of what I've heard on these topics was reasonably good.
Remote start is possible for at least certain trim packages via the Kia UVO app. You need to have a smart phone or personal computer to exercise that feature, or else add an after-market remote start feature. The UVO app is kind of slow and people who are familiar with a key fob button to invoke remote start are likely to prefer that because it's much faster/simpler. The UVO app doesn't describe it as remote start, they describe it as climate control, but it's the same idea: "I want the car to warm up 10 minutes before I have to leave."
In terms of care and feeding, I think the only other thing a new owner absolutely needs to understand is that it's (regrettably) somewhat easier to run down the 12V battery with this car by leaving a light on inside or listening to the radio with the car shut off for an extended period. So don't do that.
A couple of suggestions for a test drive (not a comprehensive list): if you live close enough to the dealer to manage this, drive to your home and park where you normally park, so that you can get a feel for what it's like to park this car in your garage, and back out, or whatever your normal routine is. Also, drive to a busy parking lot at a shopping center and park. Then back out and get a feel for whether you are comfortable with that or not. The rear visibility isn't the best, the backup camera helps (but takes getting used to if you haven't used one before), and the backup sensors that warn of rear cross traffic can be a life saver, but it takes a little getting used to.
Hope it helps.