Kia has been building up its lineup over the last few years and it is now more diverse than ever. The 2018 model lineup includes everything from a minivan to a family sedan to a sports coupe to a large SUV and all types of SUVs and crossovers in between. One of the newest models to join the Kia lineup is the Kia Niro, which is a crossover, and it has a lot of similarities with the Kia Sorento, also a crossover, but the two also have some distinct differences as well.  

The Lineup

On the surface, the Kia Niro hybrid crossover and Kia Sorento sports utility vehicle (SUV) may look very similar, but if we peer past their exterior looks, their differences quickly become clear. Available in seven different trims, all 2018 Kia Sorento trims are powered by an internal combustion engine. The 2018 Kia Niro is available in four trims and all four trims are hybrid vehicles, which means the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

The seven Kia Sorento trims include the (L, LX, LX V6, EX 2.0T, EX V6, SX, and SX Limited), and there are three engines available to the 2018 Kia Sorento lineup. The engines consist of the standard 2.4-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and gasoline direct injection (GDI) able to generate 185 horsepower and an average fuel economy of 21/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive (FWD).

The second engine available on the Sorento is the 3.3-liter DOHC V6 engine with CVVT and GDI, able to generate 290 horsepower and averaging a fuel economy of 18/25 mpg city/highway with FWD and AWD. The third option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine with CVVT and GDI - smaller turbocharged engines are becoming a popular unit in the industry due to their power (290hp and 252 lb-ft of torque) and their good fuel economy (25 mpg on the highway with FWD and 23 mpg on the highway with AWD). Both, the 3.3L engine and 2.0L engine are paired to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission with a Sportmatic Sports Shifter that allows the driver to change gears manually.

The Kia Niro has a full parallel hybrid system. The engine portion of the powertrain is a 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with CVVT and GDI, able to generate 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. The electric portion of the powertrain is made up of an AC synchronous permanent magnet motor that is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, and it is able to generate 43 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. Together, the full parallel hybrid system can generate 147 horsepower and 234 lb-ft of torque.

Because the 2018 Kia Niro is a hybrid and not a plug-in hybrid, the battery isn’t large enough to power the crossover alone. There is, however, a plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Niro available (starting at $27,900, plus destination fee), due to its great success!

There is a big difference between the Niro and the Sorento in terms of fuel economy, and fuel economy of the Niro varies based on the wheel that the vehicle is equipped with. The Kia Niro FE and LX trims are equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, and they both have a fuel economy of 52 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway - highway mileage is lower on a hybrid due to the increased expenditure of electrical energy as well as fuel. When the Kia Niro EX is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, it has the same fuel economy as the Niro FE and LX trims, and when the Niro EX is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels it has a fuel economy of 46 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, which is also the same fuel economy as the Kia Niro Touring.

We thought it best to look at the powertrain between the two, because upon further inspection, the Kia Niro and KIa Sorento are near clones of each other. They have similar features for the exterior and interior, such as exterior mirrors with LED signal indicators or the option of a power sunroof. They also share technology, with UVO eServices available on a 7-inch touchscreen display or an 8-inch touchscreen display with navigation - both versions come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 2018 Kia Niro however comes with an available eight-speaker Harman/Kardon premium surround system with Clari-Fi and an integrated subwoofer, whilst the 2018 KIa Sorento comes with an available Infinity 10-speaker surround sound system with Clari-Fi and subwoofer.


In the market for a new crossover or SUV of your own? Would you like to go a little green with the 2018 Kia Niro hybrid crossover or have a little more variety with the 2018 Kia Sorento SUV?