Kia introduces hybrid-only model

All-new Niro hits streets in 2016

After dabbling in hybrid versions of their main cars, Kia showed off an all-new dedicated hybrid on Thursday.

It’s called the Niro, and the little SUV will only be available as a hybrid when it goes on sale in the United States in early 2017.

Being a dedicated hybrid is not a bad thing, as Kia expects the car to get up to 50 mpg. Because the batteries are cleverly tucked under the rear seats, there’s still a lot of room as one would expect in an SUV.

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2016)

Naturally, the five-seater is also equipped with lots of the latest safety innovations, like lane-departure warnings, blind-spot warnings and a forward collision warning.

Creature comforts inside include a wireless charging pad for smartphones and even a driver-only ventilation system that uses less energy to cool or heat just the driver’s side of the front. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will also be available.

There’s even a mode called Predictive Energy Control, in which the car uses the navigation system to calculate the most efficient use of batteries and gasoline power to get to the destination.

Shaving weight was a big concern to also maintain efficiency. Both the hood and the rear hatch are made of lightweight aluminum, and the car also ditches the age-old 12-volt lead acid battery since it can rely on the hybrid’s batteries instead.

Powering the compact SUV is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine good for 143 horsepower. That’s only part of the story as the hybrid batteries provide an additional 43 horsepower.

Pricing for the new Niro will be announced closer to its release date.