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Kia Niro and VW Atlas

| January 1, 2018


Kia Niro and VW Atlas

Kia Niro | STARTING PRICE: $23,000

The automaker Kia is well known for its willingness to innovate when it comes to automotive product development. One of the most recent examples of that penchant is the new Niro model. This compact hybrid breaks new ground on a number of fronts.

So what is the Niro? Kia describes it as an urban crossover hybrid. It is a purpose-built hybrid-only vehicle. It is offered in just one body style and is in the meaty part of the current landscape of popular vehicles… compact SUVs.

As is typical with Kia, the Niro offers certain key technologies that are rarely seen on competing vehicles. As an example, the Niro is offered with both heated and cooled seats along with a heated steering wheel. Advanced telematics and entertainment equipment are also available in the form of UVO3 with Apple CarPlay™2, Android Auto™3, a 7-inch touch screen and available Smart Cruise Control. Additionally, navigation and a Harman Kardon®4 premium audio system can also be ordered.

A segment-leading array of advanced driver assistance features are also available: Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist and Lane Departure Warning.

The Niro uses an interesting combination of technologies in its hybrid world. The basic hybrid model uses both an efficient 1.6 liter direct injection gas engine along with a battery driven electric motor. Rather than the traditional CVT continuously variable transmission, it uses automatically shifting 6-speed dual clutch technology. This application of technology is very unusual for hybrids, but because this setup has very little drive train slippage it increases fuel economy noticeably.

You just drive it like you would any other car in this class, except you’ll make fewer trips to the gas station. In fact, the EPA combined fuel economy rating is 50 miles per gallon… a very high number. A specially prepared yet totally stock Niro made a 3,715.4-mile trip from Los Angeles to New York and set a new best fuel economy record with an astounding 76.6 mpg!

But wait, there’s more… Kia has also developed a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro which will deliver even higher mileage than the standard hybrid and should have enough range in pure electric mode to dramatically reduce the need for gasoline for owners who do most of their driving in the city.

For its size the Niro is a roomy 4-passenger vehicle with space for a petite 5th passenger between the two back seat occupants. The cargo area is both sizeable and useful and, like most vehicles of this size which are primarily used in an urban setting, the cargo space is more than ample. In addition to the traditional cargo area covering, there is also a very useful storage bin hidden below the floor of the cargo area.

With the Niro, you get a fun, responsive small vehicle that looks great, feels sporty, hauls stuff and is a fuel-sipping hybrid tool.



VW Atlas | STARTING PRICE: $30,500

Volkswagen named its totally new SUV the Atlas. The word conjures visions of high mountains or large rocket engines… things that are big and powerful, and that’s exactly what VW intended.

For clarity, the Atlas, which is built in Tennessee, is in a class with the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. These are front wheel drive/all wheel drive cross over SUVs.

The Atlas, like others in its class, is ➝ powered by either a turbocharged 4 cylinder or a larger displacement V6 engine. The more popular 3.5 V6 produces 276 horsepower delivered through an 8-speed transmission to either a front wheel drive or VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. You can expect about 20 miles per gallon average real-world fuel economy with either engine. The V6 is required to get the 5,000 pound towing capacity in the Atlas.

Though the exterior dimensions of the Atlas are similar to the Pilot and Highlander, partly because of its boxy shape, the interior volume is larger. It measures 96.8 cubic feet compared with both the Pilot’s and Highlander’s 83 cubic feet. But because of the additional heft, the Atlas is not the sprinter in this pack. Still, it’s designed to comfortably handle tribes of up to seven and still have room for some cargo behind the rear seat.

The challenge with fully utilizing the space in any vehicle in this class is accessing the third row of seats without having to be a contortionist or a 10-year-old. It’s much easier in a minivan because the floor is lower and the interior volume is greater — Toyota Sienna’s 150 cubic feet vs. Atlas’ 96.8 — but no auto manufacturer has fully conquered this SUV spatial conundrum.

VW’s approach is intelligent second row seats that slide using a tip and roll movement, all while maintaining the shape of the seat so that buckled-in child seats can be safely left in place.

The Atlas is offered in three basic trim levels — S, SE and SEL —with prices ranging from $30,500 for the most basic SE to over $50,000 for a fully loaded V6 SEL with 4Motion.

The interior of the Atlas is designed to comfortably transport up to seven people plus their stuff. The interior is spacious with large windows and an available panoramic sun roof. The seating is comfortable and the interior is hospitable.

Across all three rows, an array of available inputs (12V, USB, auxiliary), cup holders, bottle holders, storage nets and cargo containers provide convenience for all passengers. The Atlas SEL Premium has a fully-digital instrument cluster and a massive 12.3-inch TFT display. Time spent inside the Atlas is very entertaining indeed.

Atlas is equipped with many driver assistance systems including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, High Beam headlamp control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring to name a few.

For those who like VW vehicles but need something larger, the Atlas may be for you.

For more information about these and other vehicles visit MyCarData.com.


Category: New Automobiles

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