2018 Kia Niro vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

So far, no other compact crossover in the market is only offered in hybrid form, which makes the Kia Niro in a class of its own. Trying to decide between hybrids, then, becomes comparing the Niro against hybrid versions of models that were actually designed to be gas-only. While that may be a somewhat limiting scenario, let’s see how the Kia Niro stacks up against a hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4.

2018 Kia Niro vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Fuel Economy: Kia Niro

Unless you’re looking at hybrid solely as a way to reduce your carbon footprint, fuel economy is probably one of the most important things that makes a hybrid attractive. The Kia Niro is available as both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, with the most efficient FE version of the hybrid offering numbers as good as 52 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined.

The 2018 numbers aren’t yet in, but the 34 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined of the 2017 RAV4 Hybrid would be impressive in almost any situation but this one. In Kia’s company, even stellar fuel economy numbers can’t really compete.

The Looks: Kia Niro

Few of us will buy a vehicle that we don’t like looking at, whether or not it’s a hybrid. To be fair, the Kia Niro isn’t as attractive as its combustion engine sibling the Sportage, but it’s not a bad-looking vehicle by any means either. The Niro is handsome, straightforward, and no-nonsense. The first impression is SUV, not hybrid, which will appeal to many SUV-lovers.

The Toyota RAV4 doesn’t look like anything else in the market, so at least you can say it’s distinctive. The problem with the RAV4 is that it’s not a very cohesive design, looking a little like it’s cobbled together from bits of other vehicles. Unless you just want to stand out, and not for very good reasons, the Kia Niro wins the beauty contest.

Bang for your Buck: Kia Niro

The Niro is pretty good when it comes to standard and available features/equipment, and the base version of the Niro looks like a particularly good value with a starting price of less than $25,000. To get that mythical 50 mpg combined economy rating, though, the base FE version of the Niro Hybrid loses a few features from the more popular LX trim, but it’s still pretty well specified for an entry model. Every version of the Kia comes with least dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, and a 7.0-inch or larger color touchscreen for infotainment as part of standard kit.

The specification list of the RAV4 Hybrid is equally impressive in terms of equipment and features. But with prices starting at around $4,000 more than for the Kia, it’s hard to look beyond the Niro.

Inside the Cabin: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The interior of the Niro is spacious, comfortable, and pleasant enough for four people. In most circumstances, it’s also quiet and comfortable. The rear seat is wide enough for three, but perhaps not adults on a long journey. The quality of trim and materials is better than some might expect, but you won’t find much about the interior that really wows you.

The interior of the RAV4 is at least equal to the Niro in about every way, but the materials are probably not as upscale as we might expect given the extra cost. But what gives the Toyota the advantage here is the extra room inside. Although it’s not hugely bigger inside, the difference is noticeable and could be enough to sway some buyers.

Learn More about the Kia Niro

You won’t find a lot of difference here between the quality of the Kia Niro and the Toyota RAV4. The only real advantage the Toyota has is the odd bit of extra space here and there inside the cabin. That difference pales into insignificance when we consider the Kia’s fuel economy, styling, and, of course, its much lower price.