2017 Kia Niro Kelly Pleskot
“This car can tackle Los Angeles’ small parking spots and high fuel prices, but it struggles with heavy rain.”
I have no right to whine about the occasional bout of rain that occurs here in California, considering much of the country was ravaged by bomb cyclones this past winter. Yet I’ll take the opportunity in this update to talk about an issue I encountered with the Niro’s windshield wipers during a rainy morning.
In California, the biggest threat you expect to encounter driving in the rain is other drivers panicking at the slightest hint of moisture in the air. But one morning on my way to work, an unusual deluge hit the freeway and left me with bigger concerns. In a heavy downpour that lasted about five minutes, I found the windshield wipers couldn’t clear rain from my view quickly enough, even on the fastest setting. I compared the speed of the Niro’s wipers to those on my personal car, and the latter won. The slow windshield wipers made me uncomfortable driving in a downpour, but the Niro seems to perform fine with more typical levels of rain.
One thing that irks me more and more as time goes by is the transmission. While creeping at low speeds in the parking lot, the car will stop abruptly. With a little gas, it lurches clumsily back up to speed. In my opinion, this trait spoils the drive experience much more than the car’s somewhat slow acceleration to 60 mph. Fortunately, you can put the Niro into S mode to make the car feel peppier overall.
Sitting inside the cabin, I find myself satisfied with the features offered on our Niro Touring, the top trim level. My favorites include heated and ventilated seats and front and rear parking sensors, which provide drivers with an accurate sense of exactly how far they can back up in any direction before hitting something. I’ve also been enjoying the car’s responsive voice control system, 8.0-inch touchscreen, and simple navigation entry. It’s not the newest infotainment system out there, but it gets the job done.
This Kia Niro’s six-speed dual clutch transmission is clunky at low speeds.