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2019 Kia Niro

Starting Price: $24,485 | Price Yours

Above Average: Offers 50 mpg combined fuel economy; respectable acceleration in Sport mode; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in all trims

Below Average: Some other hybrids get better fuel economy and have more range in full-electric mode; resale value not well-established

Consensus: The 2019 Kia Niro is a roomy and spacious hybrid small SUV that earns 50 mpg combined. Power may be low, but its quick-shifting 6-speeed dual-clutch automatic and a sporty suspension make it fun to drive. The Niro comes with Kia’s legendary 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

 

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2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Starting Price: $22,790 | Price Yours

Above Average: Station wagon means relative rarity; spunky turbo engine and good steering make it fun to drive; optional all-wheel drive; optional 8-speed automatic transmission; good warranty, that’s also transferrable to the subsequent owner

Below Average: Some competitors have better resale value; all-wheel drive only available on some models

Consensus: A rare station wagon in an increasingly SUV-crowded world, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen stands out with stylish looks and wagon practicality. Powered by a spunky 1.4-liter turbo that makes decent power while also delivering 32 mpg combined, this VW is a fun and practical wagon that even comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive availability.
 

The 2019 Kia Niro and 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen are both fun little cars that carry five passengers and plenty of cargo. They approach it from different angles, however.

The 2019 Kia Niro is a hybrid small SUV, with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder mated to a 43-horsepower electric motor. The VW Golf is a classic station wagon design, powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission.

They both make respectable fuel economy (50 mpg combined for the Kia vs. 32 mpg combined for the VW), and are both relatively agile and fun to drive. Each is offered with a better-than-average warranty, with the VW offering an impressive 6 years/72,000 miles vs. the Kia’s 5 years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper coverage. Resale values for both lag some competitors, however.

Similarities

Both have longer than average warranties; 5-passenger capability plus respectable cargo space; both offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all trims

Kia Niro Advantages

Hybrid powertrain means significantly better fuel mileage; plug-in hybrid offers all-electric range of 26 miles; more power in base trim

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Advantages

Available all-wheel drive; more cargo space; available manual transmission; lower base price

Final Recommendation

The 2019 Kia Niro is an impressive little hybrid SUV that makes a good case for itself, but unless you really want a hybrid and fuel economy is your priority, we have to go with the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen on its fun-to-drive quotient. It’s got a great little turbocharged engine that makes a respectable 32 mpg combined and can be upgraded to an optional turbocharged 1.8-liter.

The fact that it’s a wagon makes it stand out more on the road in a sea of SUVs and crossovers, and in terms of practicality, it offers more than 12 more cubic feet of space than the Kia. The VW also boasts sharp European styling and sportiness, and offers optional all-wheel drive and a manual transmission, another rarity these days.

Resale values may be dodgy, but that 72,000-mile warranty is transferrable, which may help sweeten the pot.

Ready to buy one of these cargo haulers? Find a Kia Niro or VW Golf SportWagen near you!

  2019 Kia Niro 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 1.6-liter I4 hybrid 1.4-liter turbo I4
Horsepower 139 hp @ 5,700 rpm 147 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 195 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission Automatic, 6-Spd  Manual, 6-Spd
Fuel Economy 50 mpg (52 city/49 hwy) 32 mpg (29 city/37 hwy)
Also Available 1.6-liter I4 and 44.5-kW motor (plug-in); EV 1.8-liter turbo I4; Automatic, 8-Spd
Specs    
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles  6 years/72,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 103.5 inches
Overall Length 171.5 inches 179.8 inches
Width 71.1 inches 70.8 inches
Height 60.4 inches 58.3 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 35.8 feet
Headroom, Front 40.1 inches 38.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.1 inches 38.6 inches
Legroom, Front 41.7 inches 41.2 inches
Legroom, Rear 37.4 inches 35.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.0 inches 55.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.2 inches 53.9 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 100.9 cu. ft. 94.3 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 54.5 cu. ft. 66.5 cu. ft.
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