2018 Kia Niro vs Honda HR-V
How they look
Ignore what’s going on under the hoods of these two and let’s concentrate for a moment on how they look, and inevitably how we feel about them when seeing them for the first time. Both are a little rounded rather than sharp and angular like some Asian crossovers, but the Kia probably looks more contemporary while the Honda HR-V is perhaps a bit old-fashioned. These are certainly not jaw-dropping designs, and the color choice can make a huge different to how both of them look. But for us the Niro has broader appeal as it’s a touch more aggressive and less cutesy than the Honda.
Here’s where these two diverge the most, and that’s because the Honda uses conventional internal combustion engines while the Niro is only available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. But if you’re looking for rip-roaring amounts of power you will have to look elsewhere. The engine in the HR-V is a 1.5-liter inline-four developing 141 horsepower and 127 lb.-ft. of torque, while the hybrid system in the Kia produces a very similar 139 total horsepower. The Kia does offer three different drive modes of standard, eco and sport, but the most uneconomical sport mode needs to be engaged to match the performance of the less-versatile HR-V. Both powerplants are more than adequate for their application here, so we’d normally have to declare this one a tie. But we’ll give the decision to the Honda because unlike the Niro, the HR-V can be specified with all-wheel drive.
As you might expect for a small vehicle, the Honda HR-V is pretty good on gas. With front-wheel drive and a CVT transmission, the EPA says the Honda HR-V is capable of 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined. That’s good, but it’s no match for the stunning 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined ratings of the most fuel-efficient version of the Kia Niro.
Practicality and value
There’s very little difference in size between these two, and that goes for inside as well as outside. The Kia has a small advantage in terms of passenger space, but it isn’t much and the Honda has better cargo capacity. The seating system in the Honda is more flexible and the HR-V costs less than the Niro. However, if you go up a couple of HR-V trim levels the price difference to an equivalent Niro isn’t as obvious, and if you plan to keep your vehicle for a good amount of time, or if you do a lot of miles per year, you’ll more than get your money back in fuel savings with the Kia. This section is so close it’s easy to make the case for either vehicle, which means it’s a draw.