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The 2019 Kia Niro is something of a conundrum. Sure, Kia labels this vehicle as an SUV, but, just from looking at it, you might get the sense that it is almost more of a crossover with a hatchback vibe. Yeah, it does not have the same amount of ground clearance, and it also lacks the availability of an all-wheel drive drivetrain.
Regardless of its non-SUV tendencies, the Kia Niro has some good things going for it. Take for example the 1.6-L 4-cylinder engine an full parallel hybrid powertrain system that comes standard on every trim level. Together, these components work to give the Niro a respectable fuel efficiency. The best numbers come from the base FE trim, which provides 50 mpg combined (52 mpg city/49 mpg highway). For the modest price tag that the Niro bears, this makes for quite the affordable vehicle. This makes it kind of easy to overlook the fact that the Niro is not very fast on its feet.
As far as features go, you cannot go wrong with any trim level. Even the base FE trim comes loaded with features that other automobile manufacturers do not include as standard on their base trims. Of course, you can get exponentially more when you upgrade to the line-topping Touring trim.
Speaking of trim levels, the 2019 Kia Niro has five different ones to choose from: the FE, LX, EX, S Touring (which used to be the Graphite Edition trim), and the Touring. Each of these trims comes with a lot of the same standard features, but there are some noteworthy differences that could sway your mind when you go to test-drive one. That being said, let us break these trim levels down and compare them. By the end of this review, you should have a clearer perspective on which 2019 Kia Niro trim level will best suit your unique needs.
Compare the 2019 Kia Niro FE vs LX - What is the difference?
At the start of the 2019 Kia Niro's line-up is, as we have already mentioned, the FE. This base trim level comes with the same hybrid powertrain and gasoline-powered 1.6-L 4-cylinder engine that is equipped on all of the higher trim levels. It does, however, give the best gas mileage for the entire line-up. This is far from being the only good thing about the well-equipped FE though.
While you only get four colors to choose from for the FE's body, there are some other exterior features that help this base trim stand out. The FE comes with a grille that is gloss black and surrounded by chrome trim, and the rocker rail cladding and fender are tinted black to match. The power side mirrors are painted the same color as the body, as are the door handles. The front windshield is sound-absorbing, and the rear gets privacy glass. Projector beam headlights and LED positioning lights come standard. The FE rides atop 16-inch alloy wheels and comes with tires and a tire mobility kit.
The LX trim level is similarly equipped on the outside, coming with the same 16-inch wheels and lights. The LX does offer a few additional external features. Among these are roof rails and LED combination lamps for the rear. Also, you can opt to equip LED daytime running lights and fog lights.
On the inside, the two trim levels also bear a strong resemblance to one another. Both the FE and LX come with the UVO eServices infotainment system, which features a 7-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, MP3 connectivity, and AM/FM radio. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard, as does a 6-speaker sound system. Bluetooth gives you hands-free connectivity, and there is also a rear-view camera to help you see what is behind the Niro. The steering wheel has quite a few controls mounted onto it for convenience, including those for volume and cruise control.
The LX, of course, offers a bit more than just those basics. It is equipped with a smart key with an engine immobilizer and push button start, a luggage board and tray for storage underneath the floor, and options for equipping multiple advanced driver aids, which cannot be added onto the FE. Of course, safety is an issue, and all vehicles in the line-up come with standard brake assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Compare the 2019 Niro LX vs EX Trims. What is the difference?
The EX is the third step up in the 2019 Kia Niro's line. This mid-level trim comes with basically everything that you can get on the LX, but it adds quite a few more features, inside and out. The exterior, for example, has upgraded side mirrors that are heated, power folding, and incorporate turn signals into them. There is a Smart Welcome system, and the LED lights that come as options on the LX are standard on the EX. Also, on the EX, you can choose to add high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights.
The interior incorporates a lot of upgraded and additional features as well. While the UVO eServices system with the 7-inch touchscreen comes standard, you do have the option of upgrading to a system with an 8-inch touchscreen and navigation. You can also opt for an 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with an integrated subwoofer. Blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert all come standard as well. Also, the EX trim adds a USB port to the rear, one-touch automatic up/down on both front windows, rear vents, and an automatically dimming rear-view mirror. Options for dual LED map lights, a wireless phone charger, and an 110-volt inverter are available.
The seats inside of the EX get upgraded to cloth and leather trim, and there is an option for having the seats fully clad in leather upholstery. The steering wheel and shift knob also get wrapped in leather. And, unlike on the lower trim levels, heating comes standard on the front seats. The interior accents are set in black high-gloss, and the door handles are made from satin chrome.
Compare the Niro EX vs S Touring - What is the difference?
Of course, if you want something a bit sportier than the EX, there is the S Touring trim. It used to be known as the Graphite Edition trim since it is clad in graphite-colored pieces. On the outside, there is a graphite radiator grille and black roof rails that help to distinguish the S Touring from the rest of the trim levels in the line-up. Other than that, this trim has almost everything that you find on the EX's exterior. Still, out of the whole line, the sporty S Touring is the easiest to spot.
Inside of the cabin, there are a few differences to note as well. UVO eServices with navigation and the 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, as does the 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Missing from this trim are the options for autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and smart cruise control. The wireless phone charger, dual LED map lights, and 110-volt inverter are also missing from this vehicle. This makes the fact that the S Touring slates above the EX, costs about $2,000 more, and bears the 'Touring' name a little confusing. One gets the impression that this vehicle should slate lower in the line-up than it does.
Another issue with the interior is that it sticks with the cloth and leather trim found on the EX but doesn't even offer the option of upgrading to leather. It does, however, have a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat with 2-way power lumbar support. Still, it loses the options for ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel, both of which can be equipped on the EX. Although it keeps the satin chrome door handles and high-gloss accents, the interior of the S Touring doesn't feel as luxurious as the EX and certainly not as much as the Touring.
Compare the Niro S Touring vs Touring Trims. What is the difference?
With that being said, we now arrive at the top of the 2019 Kia Niro line-up. The Touring trim has a modest starting MSRP of just over $32,000, but this trim level is stiff competition for some entry-level luxury SUVs and crossovers. It comes packed with all of the great specs and features that come on the lower trim levels and actually adds quite a bit more.
The Touring's exterior is pretty stunning to look at. The grille is a gloss black tone and is encased in chrome trim and a gloss surround. A power sunroof gets added to the design, as do the HID headlights that are optional on the EX. It also gets 18-inch alloy wheels and tires to match.
The inside is, of course, something to marvel at as well. All of the infotainment features that come on the EX and S Touring are present on the Touring. Naturally, though, the Touring takes technology a step further by including a standard front and rear parking assist system, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and smart cruise control.
Leather seating is the standard on the Touring trim, and the driver's seat gains an integrated memory system for recalling seat settings. Also, the front seats gain ventilation, and the steering wheel is heated. Overall, the cabin has a luxurious vibe that provides plenty of comfort during long rides.
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Which One Should You Choose?
If you're going to get the 2019 Kia Niro, there are two trim levels that really stand out: the mid-level EX and the line-topping Touring. While the other three trim levels are well-equipped, the EX offers the overall best value. And the Touring? It is the height of luxury for a vehicle in this price bracket.
Should your budget allow for it, nab the Touring trim. It gives you all the luxury without the mind-blowing cost. However, if you are looking to stay within a more restrictive budget, the EX is your best bet. It honestly feels like a slightly less luxurious version of the Touring since it is jam-packed with so many creature comforts.