2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Jeep Renegade

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Renegade doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Niro and the Renegade 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, 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 Renegade’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 Jeep covers the Renegade. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Renegade ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Niro’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Renegade 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.’s camshafts. If the Renegade’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

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 Renegade.

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 Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

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 Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 66 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 28th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Jeep is ranked 20th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 184) than the Renegade’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 20 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 175) than the Renegade’s optional 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Niro is faster than the Jeep Renegade 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

Niro

Renegade

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.1 sec

Quarter Mile

16.8 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

83 MPH

80 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

Niro

Renegade

 

FWD

 

n/a

24 city/33 hwy

1.4 4 cyl. Turbo/Manual

 

FE

52 city/49 hwy

24 city/32 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

n/a

 

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

24 city/31 hwy

1.4 4 cyl. Turbo/Manual

 

 

n/a

21 city/29 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

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

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Niro’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Renegade doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Niro uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Renegade with the 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The Kia Niro comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Renegade.

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Renegade doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops shorter than the Renegade:

 

Niro

Renegade

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Niro FE/LX/EX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Renegade’s standard 65 series tires. The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Renegade’s optional 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Niro has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Renegade’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Renegade (106.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Niro is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Renegade.

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Renegade Trailhawk 4x4 pulls only .73 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the Renegade Trailhawk 4x4 (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 29 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is .5 feet tighter than the Renegade Trailhawk 4x4’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.3 feet). The Niro’s turning circle is 1.5 feet tighter than the Renegade’s (34.8 feet vs. 36.3 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Kia Niro amounts to more than styling. The Niro has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Renegade (.35 to .37) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Niro get better fuel mileage.

For excellent aerodynamics, the Niro has standard flush composite headlights. The Renegade has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

The Niro has .5 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more front hip room, .1 inches more front shoulder room, 2.3 inches more rear legroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Renegade.

The front step up height for the Niro is 3.9 inches lower than the Renegade (15.5” vs. 19.4”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 3.4 inches lower than the Renegade’s (16.2” vs. 19.6”).

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Renegade with its rear seat up (19.4 vs. 18.5 cubic feet). The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Renegade with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 50.8 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Niro easier. The Niro’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29 inches, while the Renegade’s liftover is 30.2 inches.

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the Renegade’s in every dimension:

 

Niro

Renegade

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

28.9”/59”

Max Width

48.2”

n/a

Min Width

41”

37.6”

Height

36”

33.7”

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 Renegade 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 Renegade doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Renegade doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Consumer Reports rated the Niro’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Renegade’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

The Niro has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The automatic headlight on/off feature is not available on the Renegade Sport.

The Niro has standard power remote mirrors. The Renegade only comes with remote mirrors at extra cost. Without them the driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

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 Renegade’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 Renegade doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Renegade.

Both the Niro and the Renegade offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Renegade doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat 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 Renegade doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the Niro, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Bluetooth costs extra on the Renegade.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Jeep Renegade 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 Renegade isn’t in the top three.

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

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