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When looking into purchasing a hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius is probably one of the first models that comes to mind, but the Prius styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Enter the Kia Niro, a sub $30,000 hybrid that MotorTrend test drove on track and in the real world.

On track, the tested 2017 Kia Niro LX hybrid had a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 8.7 seconds, putting it 1.0 second faster than a 2016 Prius. The Niro may have a heavier body compared to the Prius, but it also has more power in its 1.6-liter I-4 engine and 43-hp electric motor with a combined output of 139 ponies.

Around public roads, the Niro’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission feels responsive and comfortable although it does take a bit of time when during full-throttle jabs and when you’re stepping on the gas immediately after coming to a complete stop. Aside from that, it feels quicker than the Prius and this feeling is even more prominent when in Sport mode.

Two areas where the Niro doesn’t perform as well is fuel economy and stopping distance. Both the Niro LX and EX has an EPA-rating of 51/46 mpg, falling slightly behind the 2017 Prius’ 54/50 mpg and Prius Eco’s 58/53 mpg.

When the Niro is in an emergency braking situation from 60 mph, it has a stopping distance of 134 feet, putting it behind the 2016 Prius Four Touring’s 115 ft and the 2016 Prius Eco’s 119 ft.

But all things considered, the 2017 Niro is a great alternative for those who aren’t a fan of the Prius’ design.
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