Choosing between a plug-in and a conventional hybrid car is often challenging. A hybrid is a part-time EV that runs on gas and electric power or both. A conventional hybrid runs on a combination of gas and electric power, switching between the two autonomously. You’ll get higher fuel efficiency but none of the benefits that come with a plug-in hybrid vehicle. This head-to-head between the 2023 Prius Prime vs. Kia Niro Hybrid might help you pick the right vehicle for you.
2023 Prius Prime Vs. Kia Niro Hybrid: Side-by-Side Comparison
|2023 Prius Prime||Kia Niro Hybrid|
|Year of release||2023||2023|
|Vehicle type||Plug-in hybrid||Hybrid|
|Range||Up to 640 miles||Up to 588 miles|
|Acceleration (0 to 60mph)||6.6 seconds||7.1 seconds|
|Number of seats||5||5|
|Cargo capacity||20.3 cu. ft.||22.8 cu. ft.|
2023 Prius Prime Vs. Kia Niro Hybrid: What’s the Difference?
Toyota and Kia are two top brands in the hybrid vehicle market. The former revolutionized the automotive industry by releasing the Toyota Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car in the world. The latest version, the Prime 2023, is now in its fifth generation. Prius Prime is a plug-in rather than a conventional hybrid car.
Kia Niro Hybrid (not to be confused with the namesake EV) debuted in 2016. While a new entry in the hybrid car market, this compact crossover impresses with excellent fuel economy and extras that makes it more attractive than Prius Prime.
The primary difference between the 2023 Prius Prime and Kia Niro Hybrid is the hybrid construction. Kia Niro is a conventional hybrid. Similar to the 2023 Prius, it runs on gas, but it features an electric motor that takes off some of the gas engine’s burden.
The electric motor helps enhance fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. However, the car never runs on electric power alone. On the bright side, you’ll never have to plug in the car to recharge the batteries. Instead, the fuel engine and a feature called regenerative braking will take care of this for you.
The 2023 Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid. This vehicle also features a gas engine and an electric motor, but the system uses the energy differently. When in hybrid mode, the car runs on electric power until the batteries goes flat, then it switches to gas. While running on gas, the fuel engine and regenerative braking recharge the batteries, just like in conventional hybrid vehicles.
However, you can choose whether to use the electric charge or run on gas alone. Activating the electric motor only turns your Prius Prime into a part-time EV. The result? A higher fuel economy and lower gas emissions than conventional hybrids.
Beyond auto-charging (via the fuel engine and regenerative braking), plug-in hybrid cars charge the batteries via a wall outlet at home or an EV charging station on the road, using their original cables. In the case of the 2023 Prius Prime, the vehicle’s solar roof also recharges the batteries using solar power whenever the car is parked, provided there’s enough sunlight.
Vehicle Class and Design
2023 Prius Prime and Kia Niro Hybrid are different hybrid vehicle types, but the differences don’t end here. They also belong to different vehicle classes, a detail that might make you prefer one over the other.
Kia Niro Hybrid is a compact crossover with a no-frills utilitarian design that doesn’t necessarily stand out. Perhaps its most exciting feature is the sunroof, which you can enjoy if you get an EX Touring or SX trim. The sunroof doesn’t come as optional on any other trim, which truly is a pity for those looking to customize the low-cost versions.
On the other hand, the 2023 Prius Prime is a sedan. However, Toyota managed to improve the ugly duckling design of the previous generations, transforming the new Prime into a sporty-elegant swan. Eye-catchy details include smooth curves and a seamless transition from the cabin to the rear area of the car.
Unlike the 2023 Prius, the Prime doesn’t come with a glass roof but a solar roof to recharge the car’s batteries. However, when the car is running, the smart design of the solar roof hides the electrodes, giving it an attractive, shiny appearance. This is also the longest, widest, and lowest Prius Prime to date.
If there’s one area where Prius Prime truly shines, it is performance. Toyota’s plug-in hybrid features an enhanced powertrain, outputting up to 220 horsepower. It can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.6 seconds. While not awe-inspiring as other EVs, including the Tesla Y, it’s a lot faster than the earlier generations of Prius and faster than Kia Niro Hybrid.
In fact, the Korean automaker equipped its Niro Hybrid with 139 horsepower. Acceleration capabilities are good. The car goes from zero to 60mph in 7.1 seconds. The top speed also pales in comparison to the 2023 Prius Prime. Kia manages up to 104 miles per hour, whereas Toyota can get you up to 116 miles per hour. This difference counts during takeovers and other situations where a speed boost is essential.
Fuel efficiency and the operational range are also different. The 2023 Prius Prime has a total range of 640 miles – give or take – on a full tank, including around 44 miles of electric range. Kia Niro Hybrid won’t take you as far, as it can only go up to 588 miles per full tank.
In terms of fuel economy, the Niro Hybrid promises 53 miles per gallon in the city and 54 miles per gallon on the highway. In real life, on a combined city/highway route, the fuel economy drops to around 39 miles per gallon. The 2023 Prius Prime promises around 54 miles per gallon combined, and it delivers. No doubt, it’s a solid choice if you’re looking for an economical car.
Toyota and Kia are both big on safety features, and the two vehicles aren’t that different in this aspect. The 2023 Prius Prime features multiple driver-assistance technologies, including automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Sensors and cameras can also aid with blind spot traffic detection and parking.
Similarly, Kia Niro Hybrid features blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist as standard. Adaptive cruise control is offered as an option, together with semi-autonomous driving mode. Other safety features include lane-departure warnings and parking sensors and cameras.
Part of different classes, the Kia Niro Hybrid and the 2023 Prius Prime offer different user experiences. As mentioned, the Niro Hybrid is a compact SUV. Its interior is not the most spacious, but it is big enough for four adults to sit comfortably or for two adults and up to three children on the rear bench.
Passengers have plenty of headroom. A redesigned dash and shift knob selector gives the interior an upscale touch. A selection of recycled or renewable materials makes the Niro Hybrid appealing to green living enthusiasts. Materials include natural fibers, such as fabrics made out of eucalyptus leaves. You’ll also get more cargo space than Prime, albeit the space is rather scarce for an SUV.
The infotainment center features an 8-inch touchscreen on the entry-level trim, which is upgraded to a 10.3-inch display on all but the base LX model. The operating system is the proprietary Android-based UVO, which makes it look different than your standard Android interface. It’s compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
On the inside, the new Prius Prime is as exciting as it is from the outside. Everything is redesigned for an improved user experience, except for the vehicle’s rear, which lacks some headroom. Cargo capacity is also no match for the Kia, but you’ll get to ride in a sleek car.
The cabin’s pièce-de-résistance is, without a doubt, the infotainment center. Similar to Kia Niro Hybrid, the 2023 Prius Prime features an 8-inch display on the entry-level trims, which is upgraded to a 12.3-inch on the premium versions of the car. The top-of-the-line XSE Premium features an equally premium audio system from JBL. This system provides crisper sounds and a more immersive audio quality compared to Kia’s Harman/Kardon setup.
When it comes down to it, price is the one thing that can truly make a difference between these hybrid cars. Kia Niro wins this round, with an MRSP starting at $26,590 for the base model. Niro Hybrid’s top-of-the-line trim, the SX Touring, has a starting price of $34,890, slightly higher than Prime’s.
As a plug-in hybrid, the 2023 Prius Prime comes with larger batteries and is more expensive than the Niro Hybrid. The cheapest trim will cost you around $32,350, but the starting MRSP is bumped to $39,170 for the XSE Premium trim. If you want electric-only power and don’t mind the difference, the Prius Prime could be the right choice for you. Otherwise, Kia might save you a buck.
2023 Prius Prime Vs. Kia Niro Hybrid: 5 Must-Known Facts
- The 2023 Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that runs on electric or gas power or a combination of both.
- Kia Niro Hybrid is a conventional hybrid vehicle. Its electric motor assists the fuel engine and increases fuel economy, but it doesn’t actually run on its own.
- Niro Hybrid offers improved passenger comfort and more cargo capacity. It is a better choice for families than the 2023 Prius Prime.
- Toyota Prius Prime has a more attractive look and is ideal for the city. It also delivers better fuel economy and a longer range.
- Both vehicles feature similar infotainment centers on the base models, but Prius Prime has top-of-the-range equipment.
2023 Prius Prime Vs. Kia Niro Hybrid: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Get?
Kia Niro Hybrid and the 2023 Prius Prime share some similarities but also have differences. When picking your future car, consider your budget and needs.
Niro Hybrid from Kia is the best choice for families, as it offers more passenger and cargo space, including ample headroom for the rear passengers. It is compact enough for the city yet spacious enough for road trips. A more affordable price tag makes it a better choice if you’re on a budget.
The 2023 Prius Prime is the ideal city car for singles, couples, and small families. While longer and wider than the previous Prime versions, it is lower. The headroom is compromised for the rear passengers. It also offers reduced cargo space. This car is faster and has a longer range than the Niro Hybrid. Not to mention that you can go up to 44 miles on electric power alone. If you want to test out an EV without giving up gas altogether, Prime is a fantastic choice.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Oasishifi/Shutterstock.com.