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Kia has expanded its Niro lineup to include a Plug-in Hybrid model (PHEV). Thanks to the combination of an electric motor and a gas engine, you can still avoid the gas station on your daily commute, yet have the confidence of driving long distances when you want. The Niro PHEV is rated at an EPA-estimated 26 miles of all-electric range, with a total range of 560 miles. Equivalent fuel economy is 105 mpg-e, and 48 mpg city/44 mpg highway.

The PHEV uses an all-aluminum 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, an 8.9-kWh lithium-polymer battery, and a 60-horsepower/44.5-kW electric motor for a combined output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It has a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, and drivers can select EV, Hybrid, Eco or Sport modes. The battery is stored under the cargo floor and rear seat. Estimated charge time is about 2.5 hours when using a 240-volt charger and nine hours with a 120-volt charger.

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Design enhancements

There are some styling differences between it and the regular Niro, such as a different grille and optional LED headlights. While the PHEV offers the same 5-passenger interior as the regular hybrid, and will be available in LX, EX and EX Premium trims, the PHEV is available with a 7-inch color gauge cluster with a digital tachometer. It also comes with driver-only air conditioning, which saves energy when the driver is in the car alone. Kia also offers a wide range of safety tech, and adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking are standard. UVO eco lets you monitor and charge the PHEV’s battery remotely, as well as preset the defroster and climate control, lock/unlock the doors, and find your vehicle with a smartphone.

The third PHEV in Kia’s lineup, the Niro Plug-in Hybrid is part of Kia’s plan to nearly triple the number of alternative-fuel vehicles it offers globally by 2020. The Niro PHEV is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

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