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This is the Kia Niro PHEV, a five-seater plug-in hybrid SUV.

Hybrid vehicles are becoming very popular family cars because of the benefits above and beyond fuel efficiency.  But a lot of people are hesitant to go full EV because of the battery range or uncertainty about charging. With a plug-in hybrid, you get the fuel economy of a hybrid for long journeys AND the feel-good factor of an EV for local trips.

The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV offers a combination of around 45km of battery range and full petrol engine flexibility for longer distances. I want to see how the PHEV model compares to the fully electric Kia e-Niro we tested previously for day-to-day family life of school runs and about town and especially whether it still makes a practical BabyDrive!

That's the Kia Niro EV (main style difference to the PHEV is electric blue trim and filled-in grille)

I already know from my review of the Kia Niro EV that it is extremely practical for families in relation to child seat fitting. Three child seats fit really nicely in the back seats. When installing them, it feels quite spacious in the back and there is just the right-sized gap between the seatbacks and retractable cargo blind to post the top tether straps through to the boot. There are ISOFix points in the two outer rear seats and top tether anchorages across all three seatbacks. Legroom is great in the Kia Niro too, we could sit a 186cm driver in front of the rear-facing child seat or a 186cm adult passenger behind that driver.

2021 KIA E-NIRO legroom with rear-facing child seats installed in the second row

Apart from being less expensive than the Niro EV model, the main visual difference between this PHEV model and the Kia Nero EV I tested a few weeks back is the front grille. The fully EV model has a patterned panel and charging flap instead of the air vents for the engine on the PHEV model.

The main difference I found in the Kia Niro PHEV model is in the boot. There is a battery underneath the boot floor in the PHEV (instead of under the whole car in the EV), making the boot floor flush with the lip of the boot.

The boot of the fully electric Kia Niro EV is one of the best things about it for families, it is nice and deep, as you can see below.

Kia E-Niro EV boot

It means prams can fit down into the boot space well below the retractable roller blind and with shopping bags around them and you have room to put things on top of them too. The twin pram below fits with two shopping bags in the Kia Niro EV.

2021 KIA E-NIRO boot space for twin side by side stroller pram and shopping with two rows of seats in use
2021 KIA E-NIRO  EV with double pram

But as you can see below, the same twin pram only just fits underneath the retractable roller blind in the Niro PHEV model and with no room for shopping bags beside it. This is a real shame and loses some of the car's family practicality for me.

2021 KIA NIRO PHEV with double pram

A tandem pram fits in the Kia Niro EV (pictured below) with four shopping bags beside it.

2021 KIA E-NIRO boot space for shopping with tandem stroller pram if two rows of seats are in use
2021 KIA E-NIRO with tandem pram

The Kia Niro PHEV's smaller boot (pictured below) means the second seat attachment will not fit underneath the roller blind and only one shopping bag will fit.

2021 KIA NIRO PHEV with tandem pram

A single pram fits in the Kia Niro EV (pictured below) with four shopping bags beside it.

2021 KIA E-NIRO boot space for single stroller pram and shopping with two rows of seats in use
2021 KIA E-NIRO with single pram

Then in the Kia Niro PHEV (pictured below) only one shopping bag will fit.

2021 KIA NIRO PHEV with single pram

A compact stroller fits in the boot of the Kia Niro EV (pictured below) with eight shopping bags beside it.

2021 KIA E-NIRO boot space for shopping with compact pram if two rows of seats are in use
2021 KIA E-NIRO with compact pram

And in the Kia Niro PHEV (pictured below) only six shopping bags will fit.

2021 KIA NIRO PHEV with compact stroller

When it comes to putting your dog in the boot of the Kia Niro the depth of the boot also has an impact there too. In the Kia Niro EV you could easily transport a medium-sized dog in the boot.

2021 KIA E-NIRO boot space for dogs with two rows of seats in use
2021 KIA E-NIRO boot with dog

In the Kia Niro PHEV that shallower boot space means you wouldn't fit such a big dog in the boot.

2021 KIA NIRO PHEV boot with dog

Storage inside the Kia Niro PHEV is the same as in the Kia Niro EV. The main difference is in the central console, where the EV model has a rotary dial gear knob and low handbag shelf in front of it.

Kia Niro EV gear knob

The Kia Niro PHEV has a normal gear lever and no low handbag shelf.

There is a button in the central console beside the gear lever to select if you are in full EV or hybrid mode.

Kia Niro PHEV gear lever

You can watch the energy distribution, between the engine and the battery, on the driver's display panel…

…as well as on the media screen. My daughter loves to watch this while we are driving along. You can see where the nearest charging stations are too.

We found the Kia Niro PHEV will do about 45km of around-town driving on a full battery charge. Which has been enough for us for a couple of days of school runs and getting about the suburbs before we needed to recharge the battery.

The Niro PHEV was easy to charge and there is a bar on the dashboard with three green lights that illuminate when the battery is fully charged. I found this handy for being able to see from the outside of the car whether it had finished charging.

When the battery had run out on longer trips we found the Niro PHEV to be economical on fuel when driving, which is great for longer distances and holiday driving too. Like the EV model, the PHEV is also great for quietly sitting with your air-con running while your Bub is asleep without chewing through fuel and polluting the world. The Kia Niro PHEV is a great SUV to drive, it feels nimble and compact around town and not large and frumpy like a lot of SUVs do to drive. The transition between the battery and petrol engine is smooth and doesn't disturb passengers at all.

So when deciding which Kia Niro model is best for your family, the Kia Niro PHEV is a very practical hybrid car for families. It holds three child seats across in the back seats, having the option for lower distances and holiday travel with the fuel engine without the worry of finding charging stations and the hybrid 45km battery range for everyday driving is a good combination. The media system is good and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is just the boot space you really need to consider because it is considerably smaller than in the EV model, so which pram you have and how much storage space your family needs on a day to day basis. If you want a bigger boot in your plug-in hybrid SUV, Mitsubishi has the Outlander PHEV.

The Kia Niro hybrid got five stars in Euro NCAP testing, scoring 80% in the child occupant protection category. However, there is no ANCAP rating for the Kia Niro EV.

Seven airbags come as standard in the Kia Niro, including driver’s knee airbag as well as dual frontal airbags and front side airbags and side head curtain airbags for the front and the rear side passengers.

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