2018 Kia Niro vs Honda CR-V
It’s unlikely the CR-V or the Niro would win a prize for being the most attractive SUV in the world. The exterior styling of the CR-V is probably best described as quirky and individual, but it’s not particularly sporty, striking or handsome. It looks a bit as though it’s been made up of parts from other Honda’s, but not necessarily the best ones.
The Kia Niro is one of those models that you might not be able to decide right away of you like it or not, but it definitely grows on you over time. Rather than following the bland crowd, the front of the Niro has a hint of Porsche Cayenne, but the side and rear of the Kia are fairly standard fare. Between the two, the Kia’s styling is probably going to put off fewer buyers than the quirky look of the Honda. But they’re so different we’ll have to make this round a tie.
This is where the differences get really stark between the two crossovers, and where the Niro strikes out on its own as the only model of its kind on the market only available with an electrified powertrain. Under the hood of the CR-V you can opt for either a 184 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four or a 1.5-liter inline-four turbo producing 190 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available, and both powerplants come mated to a CVT transmission.
The Niro is available with either a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, so there’s no conventional gas-only powerplant on offer. The 139 total horsepower of the hybrid unit in the Kia isn’t as powerful as what’s on offer with the Honda, but the Kia comes with a six-speed direct-shift automatic transmission and three different drive models: standard, eco and sport. The hybrid-only personality of the Niro is what sets it apart, but this is such a notable difference we have to declare another draw here.
Surprisingly, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Kia Niro is considerably more fuel efficient than the Honda CR-V with its gas-powered combustion engines. The best EPA ratings the Honda can muster are 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined.
The best numbers for the Niro hybrid are 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined. Nothing else needs to be said here really, perhaps other than that the plug-in hybrid version of the Niro delivers 105 MPGe combined.
Cost and value
Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are expensive, so the money you save on gas is counteracted by the higher purchase price, right? Wrong again. The starting MSRP for the Honda CR-V is $24,250, while the equivalent 2018 Kia Niro costs from just $23,340. Add the fuel saving over the time you intend to own the vehicle and the Kia works out to be considerably more affordable than the Honda.