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With electrified vehicles gaining momentum, finding one in the wild is becoming a common occurrence in Southern California's major cities and the new 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid will soon be joining the crowd. AutoBlog had a chance to drive to test drive one on the hills of Malibu.

At first glance, not much is different from the average Niro aside from some new hybrid blue exterior accents. Everything else seems identical down to the spacious cargo, which remains unchanging in spite of the 8.9-kWh battery pack sitting under it. Even the engine and motor still produces a combined 139 horsepower.

One exterior feature of note is the charge port. What makes this port special is its unlock function, which automatically unlocks the charge port once the battery is fully charge. This means other electric drivers can simply unplug the charger from you Kia, though it’s not a feature with an indicator.

As for how it drives, they started the day without those 26 miles of all-electric range, making passing other cars a bit of a struggle though cruising a bit above speed limit was a cinch. Once in Sport mode at the Malibu canyon roads, the Niro handled the twists well enough and it’s regenerative braking system added 5 miles of all-electric range after going down a hill.

Sure, the Kia Niro PHEV may not be setting a new benchmark for plug-in hybrids, but for Niro fans its plug-in feature is a bonus.
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