2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Niro and the Rav4 Hybrid 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, 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, rear parking sensors 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 Rav4 Hybrid’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 Toyota covers the Rav4 Hybrid. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Rav4 Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota 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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.

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 Rav4 Hybrid XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Rav4 Hybrid SE/Limited’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Niro has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Rav4 Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Rav4 Hybrid (106.3 inches vs. 104.7 inches).

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Rav4 Hybrid Limited pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Rav4 Hybrid Limited (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

The Kia Niro may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 650 to 800 pounds less than the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.

The Niro is 12 inches shorter than the Rav4 Hybrid, making the Niro easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and .2 inches more rear legroom than the Rav4 Hybrid.

The front step up height for the Niro is 3 inches lower than the Rav4 Hybrid (15.5” vs. 18.5”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 1.6 inches lower than the Rav4 Hybrid’s (16.2” vs. 17.8”).

Ergonomics

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 Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Niro and the Rav4 Hybrid 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 Rav4 Hybrid 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 Rav4 Hybrid’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 Niro’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Rav4 Hybrid’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

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 Rav4 Hybrid’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 Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Niro’s optional (except FE/LX/S Touring) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Both the Niro and the Rav4 Hybrid 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 Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro and the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, 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 Rav4 Hybrid isn’t in the top three.

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

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