Best & Worst Kia Niro Years

We've ranked each Kia Niro model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Kia Niro years and pick the best year for you.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll analyze all Kia Niro generations, unveiling the best Kia Niro years to buy and the worst Niro years to avoid.

Leveraging insights from authoritative sources like the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Edmunds, we ensure our recommendations are rooted in factual analysis and real-world experiences.

Focusing on critical distinctions between Kia Niro models, we’ll highlight their yearly reliability, safety, technology, common owner-reported problems, recalls, and average resale values.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Kia Niro Generations

The Kia Niro debuted in 2017, marking Kia’s ambitious foray into the hybrid and electric vehicle market. Designed as a compact crossover, the first model stood out for its impressive fuel efficiency, practical interior space, and standard features, including advanced driver assistance technologies.

All Kia Niro generations from 2017 to present:

1st generation (DE)2017-2022
2nd generation (SG2)2023-Present

Understanding the updates between Kia Niro generations is crucial, as significant changes, particularly in performance, technology, and design, can greatly influence purchasing decisions.

Kia Niro Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

In evaluating the best and worst years for the Kia Niro, we consider a comprehensive range of factors, such as:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

This graph combines ratings from the sources above, offering a visual overview of the Kia Niro’s performance through the years.

Kia Niro Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Here’s a table categorizing all model years of the Kia Niro into the best, neutral, and worst years, serving as a quick reference for potential buyers.

GenerationBest YearsWorst Years
1st generation (DE)2020
2nd generation (SG2)20242023

“Neutral Years” are those not significantly standing out for exceptional performance or facing significant issues, according to our evaluation criteria.

Factors such as NHTSA recalls can have a detrimental impact on our rankings. More complaints and recalls correlate with a decrease in the vehicle’s overall reliability.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Kia Niro 1st Generation (2017-2022)

Kia Niro 1st generation 2017 model
The 2017 Kia Niro

The Kia Niro’s first generation debuted in 2017 was designed to offer an eco-friendly alternative in the compact SUV market.

It boasts impressive fuel efficiency, a spacious interior, and advanced safety features. The best Kia Niro years of this generation span between 2020 and 2022, while the years to avoid are 2017-2019.

The Best Years: 2020, 2021, 2022

The best years for the Kia Niro’s first generation are 2020, 2021, and 2022, marking a period of enhanced reliability and feature upgrades.

These models refined Kia Niro’s powertrain options, including the efficient 1.6L I4 hybrid system paired with an electric motor, delivering a combined output of 139 hp and achieving an EPA-estimated 51 city/46 highway MPG.

Over the years, Kia expanded Niro’s technology and safety offerings, incorporating features like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assistance.

The introduction of the Niro PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) offered an even greater electric-only range, catering to the growing demand for versatile and eco-friendly transportation solutions.

These improvements, alongside increased customer satisfaction and fewer reported issues, solidify these years as the most advisable for potential buyers.

The Worst Years: 2017, 2018, 2019

The initial years of the Kia Niro’s launch – 2017, 2018, and 2019 – were met with several challenges, particularly in the powertrain and electrical systems.

Owners reported multiple electrical malfunctions, including issues with power steering and shorts that led to operational failures.

These years were also marked by significant recalls, addressing fire risks related to overheated rear seats in hybrid models and clutch actuator oil leaks.

Despite offering innovative hybrid technology and a suite of standard safety features, these early models’ reliability concerns make them less desirable compared to later iterations of the first generation.

See NHTSA 2017, 2018, 2019 Kia Niro recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Kia Niro 2nd Generation (2023-Present)

Kia Niro 2nd generation 2023 model
The 2023 Kia Niro

The second generation of the Kia Niro unveiled in 2023, marked a significant evolution in Kia’s commitment to eco-friendly innovation and design.

This generation introduced a bolder aesthetic and advanced powertrain technologies. It emphasized digital connectivity and driver assistance systems, setting new benchmarks for the compact SUV segment in sustainability and technology.

The Best Years: 2023, 2024

The 2023 and 2024 model years of the Kia Niro stand out for their significant efficiency, technology, and comfort advancements.

These models offer a 1.6L I4 engine paired with a more potent electric motor powered by an evolved hybrid powertrain.

This combination delivers improved horsepower and torque while achieving superior fuel efficiency, with an estimated EPA fuel economy exceeding 53 city/45 highway MPG.

The introduction of a fully electric variant provides an impressive range, catering to the growing demand for zero-emission vehicles.

Safety features see a considerable upgrade, with the Kia Drive Wise suite incorporating advanced technologies like highway driving assist, blind-spot collision avoidance, and an enhanced forward collision avoidance system.

The interior boasts a cutting-edge infotainment system featuring a larger touchscreen display, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and high-quality materials throughout the cabin.

Trim levels from the LX to the top-tier EX Premium offer a wide range of options, including luxury amenities such as ventilated seats, a premium sound system, and ambient interior lighting, ensuring a comfortable and personalized driving experience.

The 2023 and 2024 models are particularly appealing for those seeking a blend of eco-friendly performance, cutting-edge technology, and refined comfort in a compact SUV package.

Kia Niro Resale Values

Discover the average resale values of the Kia Niro across its model years in this graph.

Kia Niro Average List Price


Which Kia Niro is best?

Our analysis of the Kia Niro’s generations show that the 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 models are the clear leaders in innovation, performance, and value, making them the best years to purchase.

Conversely, 2017, 2018, and 2019 are the Kia Niro years to avoid for potential buyers due to its initial teething issues, though these were quickly addressed.

How important are eco-friendly features to you when choosing a vehicle like the Kia Niro?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.