2019 Kia Niro vs. 2019 Hyundai Kona

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 Kona doesn’t offer a whiplash protection 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 Kona doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Niro and the Kona 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.

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 Kona.

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 Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked third.

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 Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Hyundai is ranked 10th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 132) than the Kona’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Kia Niro is faster than the Hyundai Kona 2.0 4 cyl.:

 

Niro

Kona

Zero to 30 MPH

3.6 sec

4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

9.9 sec

11.1 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

6.6 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

17.6 sec

18.3 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

Niro

Kona

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

27 city/33 hwy

1.6 Turbo

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

28 city/32 hwy

2.0 4 cyl.

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

26 city/29 hwy

1.6 Turbo

 

 

n/a

25 city/30 hwy

2.0 4 cyl.

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Kona 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 Kona doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Kona 4x2 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer than on the Kona (106.3 inches vs. 102.4 inches).

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 lower than the Kona (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Niro get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Niro has .5 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more front hip room, .5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, 2.8 inches more rear legroom and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kona.

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Kona with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 45.8 cubic feet).

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

 

Niro

Kona

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

28.6”/61”

Max Width

48.2”

48”

Min Width

41”

40”

Height

36”

30”

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 Kona 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 Kona doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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

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 Kona’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Niro’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Kona doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

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 Kona 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 Kona doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Kona doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Niro and the Kona 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 Kona 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 Kona doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

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 Kona doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro and the Hyundai Kona, 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 Kona isn’t in the top three.

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

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