2020 Lexus NX Series vs. 2019 Kia Niro

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The NX Series’ optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Niro doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The NX Series offers an optional Intuitive Parking Assist with Automatic Braking that use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Niro doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The NX Series offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The NX Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Niro 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.

The NX Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Niro doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The NX Series has standard Safety Connect®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Niro doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the NX Series and the Niro 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 blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Lexus NX Series weighs 653 to 1074 pounds more than the Kia Niro. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The NX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Niro’s (6/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Reliability

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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 NX Series’ reliability 11 points higher than the Niro.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Engine

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The NX 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 55 more horsepower (194 vs. 139) and 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The NX 300’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 96 more horsepower (235 vs. 139) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the Lexus NX Series is faster than the Kia Niro:

NX 300h

NX 300

Niro

Zero to 60 MPH

8.3 sec

6.9 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

15.3 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.5 MPH

91 MPH

80.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The NX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (14.8 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The NX Series’ standard fuel tank has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (15.9 vs. 11.9 gallons).

Transmission

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The NX 300h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Niro doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the NX Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Niro:

NX Series

Niro

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.1 inches

10.3 inches

The NX Series stops much shorter than the Niro:

NX Series

Niro

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

138 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

152 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the NX Series has larger standard tires than the Niro (225/65R17 vs. 205/60R16). The NX Series F Sport’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Niro (235/55R18 vs. 225/45R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the NX Series has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Niro FE/LX/EX.

Suspension and Handling

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The NX Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Niro’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The NX Series 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 doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The NX 300h handles at .80 G’s, while the Niro EX pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The NX 300 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Niro EX (27.2 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

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The NX Series has 1.1 inches more front legroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room, 1.3 inches more front shoulder room, 5.6 inches more rear hip room and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Niro.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the NX Series’ rear seats recline. The Niro’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The NX Series’ cargo area is larger than the Niro’s in almost every dimension:

NX Series

Niro

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

36”/71.5”

31.8”/64”

Max Width

53”

48.2”

Min Width

44.3”

41”

Height

27”

36”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the NX Series’ optional rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Niro doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the NX Series. The Niro doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the NX Series’ power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Niro doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Towing

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Standard trailer towing in the NX 300 is 2000 pounds. The NX 300h offers up to a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The Niro has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The NX Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Niro uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 56% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

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The NX Series 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 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The NX Series’ instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Niro does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The NX Series’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Niro’s parking brake has to released manually.

The NX Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully 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 Niro’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully. Only its driver’s window closes automatically.

If the windows are left open on the NX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (Your Lexus service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the Niro can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The NX Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Niro’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the NX Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Niro doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the NX Series F Sport has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Niro doesn’t offer cornering lights. The NX Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The NX Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia only offers heated mirrors on the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring.

The NX Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Niro offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the NX Series and the Niro offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the NX Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Niro doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Economic Advantages

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The NX Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the NX Series will retain 50.95% to 51.77% of its original price after five years, while the Niro only retains 40.77% to 42.14%.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/21

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus NX Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Niro isn't recommended.

The Lexus NX Series outsold the Kia Niro by over two to one during 2018.

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

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