2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Ford EcoSport

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The EcoSport doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers optional Parking Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Niro and the EcoSport have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The EcoSport’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Ford covers the EcoSport. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the EcoSport ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 42 points higher than the EcoSport.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked fifth.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Ford is ranked 15th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 16 more horsepower (139 vs. 123) and 70 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 125) than the EcoSport’s standard 1.0 turbo 3 cyl. The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 46 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 149) than the EcoSport’s optional 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Kia Niro is faster than the Ford EcoSport 4 cyl.:

 

Niro

EcoSport

Zero to 30 MPH

3.6 sec

3.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

9.9 sec

10.7 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

6.6 sec

6.7 sec

Quarter Mile

17.6 sec

18.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

80 MPH

79 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the EcoSport:

 

 

Niro

EcoSport

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

27 city/29 hwy

1.0 3 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

n/a

 

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

23 city/29 hwy

2.0 4 cyl./Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Niro uses regular unleaded gasoline. The EcoSport with the 1.0 turbo 3 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the Ford EcoSport (3 to 5). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the EcoSport every 15,000 miles.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the EcoSport (225/45R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the EcoSport’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Niro S Touring/Touring has standard 18-inch wheels. The EcoSport’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The Kia Niro’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Ford EcoSport only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Kia Niro has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The EcoSport 4x2 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Niro has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Niro flat and controlled during cornering. The EcoSport 4x2 suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 7.1 inches longer than on the EcoSport (106.3 inches vs. 99.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Niro is 1.6 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the EcoSport.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 9.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the EcoSport (100.9 vs. 91.1).

The Niro has .5 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, .7 inches more rear legroom and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the EcoSport.

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the EcoSport with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 50 cubic feet).

The Niro’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The EcoSport’s swing out door blocks loading from the driver’s side.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring), the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Niro Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The EcoSport doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Niro’s standard front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches and its driver’s window also automatically closes, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The EcoSport’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

The Niro has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The EcoSport doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The EcoSport’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The EcoSport doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The EcoSport doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Niro has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The EcoSport doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers an optional Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The EcoSport doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Ford EcoSport isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The EcoSport isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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