Consumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia Niro

It's ironic that the Kia Niro and Toyota C-HR are arriving in America at roughly the same time. They are direct rivals, even though they were invented for entirely different reasons.
Consumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia Niro 6 photos
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Consumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia NiroConsumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia NiroConsumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia NiroConsumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia NiroConsumer Reports Reviews Toyota C-HR and Kia Niro
In Kia's case, the company wanted a part of the Toyota Prius market. But when asked, its loyal customers said they wanted something that looked different, like a crossover.

Meanwhile, the Toyota C-HR was originally supposed to be Euro-only, since North America was never too keen on small crossovers. But even people in Japan liked the design, so it's now a global car.

In Europe, the C-HR is offered either with a 1.2-liter engine or a hybrid system similar to the one in the Prius, with which it shares a platform. But the US-spec model was designed for the defunct Scion brand and is equipped only with a 2-liter making 144-hp. Think of it as a modern substitute for the boxy Scion xB.

Consumer Reports is very impressed with the level of standard safety systems, which is class-leading on even the base model. Handling is good, and the ride is even better. You can thank the Prius platform for that. An engine that "won't win drag races" isn't a problem, but the oversized blind spots are. Prices start at about $22,500.

By contrast, the Niro's styling is as conventional as that of a Volkswagen. With a starting price of about $23,800, it's reasonable for a hybrid crossover.

The Niro too is built on a brand new platform, one which was designed especially for green cars. Expect plug-in hybrid and fully electric models to come shortly. For now, though, you can only have it with a 1.6-liter gas engine matched to a dual-clutch transmission and a small electric motor. Total system output is 139-hp, so just shy of that of the Toyota C-HR.

Neither the ride nor the handling is that good. Several safety systems can be outfitted on the Niro, but Consumer Reports says they should have been standard, and we couldn't agree more. So with that being said, we'd declare Toyota the winner, even though it would have been nice to have a hybrid system as well.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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