2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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 Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Compared to metal, the Niro’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a metal gas tank.

Both the Niro and the Outlander PHEV have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

There are over 2 times as many Kia dealers as there are Mitsubishi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Niro’s warranty.

Reliability

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 Mitsubishi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 39 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mitsubishi is ranked 26th, 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 Mitsubishi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 51 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mitsubishi is ranked 26th.

Tires and Wheels

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 Outlander PHEV’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Outlander PHEV (106.3 inches vs. 105.1 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 Outlander PHEV.

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the Outlander PHEV’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.6 feet).

Chassis

The Kia Niro may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 900 to 1050 pounds less than the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

The Niro is 1 foot, 1.3 inches shorter than the Outlander PHEV, making the Niro easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Niro has .8 inches more front legroom, .9 inches more front hip room and .8 inches more rear headroom than the Outlander PHEV.

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 Outlander PHEV 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 Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Niro and the Outlander PHEV have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Niro is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Outlander PHEV prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Niro’s standard front power windows open with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Outlander PHEV’s front passenger window doesn’t open automatically. The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches, and its driver’s window also automatically closes.

The Outlander PHEV’s standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The Niro’s standard doors lock when the transmission is engaged. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Niro has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Outlander PHEV only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Niro has standard extendable sun visors. The Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 Outlander PHEV’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 Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Niro and the Outlander PHEV 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 Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is standard on the Niro S Touring/Touring. The Niro’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Outlander PHEV doesn’t offer a navigation system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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 Outlander PHEV isn’t in the top three.

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

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