2019 Nissan Leaf vs. 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

The Leaf SL has a standard Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Leaf and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear cross-path warning and driver alert monitors.

Warranty

The Leaf’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid runs out after 100,000 miles.

There are over 40 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Leaf’s warranty.

Engine

The Leaf’s standard electric motor produces 8 more horsepower (147 vs. 139) and 41 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 195) than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The Leaf PLUS’ standard electric motor produces 76 more horsepower (215 vs. 139) and 55 lbs.-ft. more torque (250 vs. 195) than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Leaf gets better fuel mileage than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid:

MPGe

Leaf

147 HP electric motor

124 city/99 hwy

PLUS S electric motor

118 city/97 hwy

PLUS SV/SL electric motor

114 city/94 hwy

Niro Plug-In Hybrid

electric motor

110 city/99 hwy

MPG

1.6 4 cyl. Hybrid

48 city/44 hwy

The Leaf’s standard maximum EPA estimated driving range is 151 miles on a full charge. The Leaf PLUS’ maximum EPA estimated driving range is 226 miles on a full charge. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid can only travel about 26 miles before it has to start its internal combustion engine.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Nissan Leaf higher (10 out of 10) than the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (7). This means the Leaf produces up to 11.8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

The Leaf’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Leaf SV/SL’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid (215/50R17 vs. 205/60R16).

The Leaf S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s standard 60 series tires. The Leaf SV/SL’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Leaf SV/SL has standard 17-inch wheels. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 16-inches.

The Leaf has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Leaf has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

Passenger Space

The Leaf has 1.1 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more front legroom and 1.7 inches more rear hip room than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

The Leaf has a much larger cargo volume than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid with its rear seat up (23.6 vs. 19.4 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Leaf SV/SL has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Leaf SV/SL detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Both the Leaf and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid offer available heated front seats. The Leaf SL also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Leaf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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