2017 Kia Niro vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

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Kia deserves a lot of credit for not being afraid to do something different. And you don’t get much more different than being the only automaker to offer a subcompact crossover that’s also a dedicated hybrid. Of course, it’s not the only small hybrid crossover you can buy, so let’s see how it stacks up against the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in a head-to-head comparison.

2017 Kia Niro vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid


The 2017 Kia Niro probably isn’t as immediately attractive as the Sportage, but as a hybrid-only offering, buyers will probably have a different list of priorities to those considering a gas-only model. The overall look is somewhere between a conventional wagon and a genuine SUV, and it strikes a nice balance between the two. If the funky Kia Soul is just a little too “out there” for you, the Niro is a more conventional alternative.

The exterior of the RAV4 is a bit of a love or hate design that will have as many fans as critics. It’s had a bit of a nip and tuck quite recently, and is starting to adopt a slightly futuristic look like that of Toyota’s luxury Lexus RX and NX models. The Toyota is more individual, but it can also be more polarizing.

Fuel Economy

In the current Kia vehicle lineup, nothing offers better fuel economy ratings than the 2018 Kia Niro. The Niro FE gets the best ratings of 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway, and 50 mpg combined. The LX and EX variants are likely to be the biggest sellers, and even they are rated as good as 51 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg combined.

It might come as something of a surprise, but the RAV4 Hybrid doesn’t get anywhere near the Niro for fuel economy. The best the Toyota can manage is 34 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined. This is therefore a huge win for the Kia.

Interior Comfort and Quality

Considering its relatively compact exterior proportions, the Kia Niro actually has a very spacious and comfortable cabin for seating four people, but it’s definitely wide enough to handle five people if the journey isn’t coast-to-coast. The interior offers a good level of comfort and quality at all levels, especially for the price.

The most recent update of the RAV4 concentrated heavily on the interior, but it’s still a little formal and austere. The quality is undeniable, but in what appears to be an attempt to mimic some of its German rivals, the Toyota’s interior isn’t the most inviting. It is bigger than the Niro, but that’s also reflected in the price so this is another victory for the Kia.

Value for Money

Even if the Kia Niro was a gas-powered crossover it would still look pretty good value for money. But when you think about how much of a premium we are usually charged for hybrid variants of other existing models, the Kia as a hybrid only model starts to look like an absolute steal from just around $23k.

We’ve already said the RAV4 is a bigger vehicle than the Kia Niro, but although the Toyota is bordering on being a midsize, it’s still a compact and not extraordinarily bigger than the Niro. The lowest MSRP for a RAV4 Hybrid is currently nearly $28k. At more than $5,000 less, the Niro is a big winner when it comes to bang for your buck.

Learn More about the Kia Niro

It’s hard to argue against the sales success the RAV4 has enjoyed since it became one of the very first compact crossovers, but the competition is fierce these days and only getting fiercer. Like all-electric cars, a hybrid is likely to be better when its designed as a hybrid from day one rather than being an existing model with a hybrid system dropped in it, and that’s definitely the case here. With an attractive style and interior, better pricetag, and far better fuel economy, the 2017 Kia Niro is our clear winner.