LA Auto Show 2019

Refreshed 2020 Kia Niro gets exterior enhancements, high-tech additions

Kia has updated the Niro Hybrid and Niro PHEV for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

It feels like the Kia Niro was just introduced but here we are at mid cycle refresh. The enhanced 2020 Kia Niro Hybrid and PHEV see the addition of key exterior equipment and technology to help it competitive in the tough SUV market as more hybrids make their way to the market.

"It's difficult to improve on a winning formula," said Michael Cole, president, KMA, "but we're always striving to improve every product we sell and the enhanced 2020 Niro provides new owners the latest and greatest while retaining the value, utility and performance of the original Niro."

2020 Kia Niro Hybrid 2020 Kia Niro PHEV front face wheels lights Kia has given the Niro new headlights and grille.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Niro now features projector-type headlights and fog lamps. A new diamond-pattern grille brings its looks in line with the freshest Kia models. There are dual chevron-shaped LED daytime running lights.

The rear faux skid plate is wider and more pronounced in the 2020 model versus the 2019. Kia has added new 16- and 18-inch wheel designs.

2020 Kia Niro Hybrid 2020 Kia Niro PHEV back rear tailgate The back of the Niro features a faux skid plate.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The powertrain in unchanged. The 2020 Kia Niro Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor that work in tandem to get 50 mpg in the FE trim and 43 mpg in the Touring trim. The Niro PHEV is powered by the same engine and motor but also has a lithium-ion battery. The model achieves 105 MPGe. It has 26 miles of all-electric range.

2020 Kia Niro Hybrid 2020 Kia Niro PHEV dashboard screen wheel shifter The Kia Niro has a new standard 7-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia has given the cabin of the Niro a more significant upgrade with a new 7-inch instrument cluster with drive mode graphics. An 8-inch infotainment touch screen is standard but buyers can choose to upgrade to a 10.25-inch screen. There's also an available Harman Kardon premium audio system.

Drivers can utilize new optional paddle shifters. An electronic parking brake and mood lighting with six different colors are available.

2020 Kia Niro Hybrid 2020 Kia Niro PHEV paddle shifters Paddle shifters are available.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Pricing for the Niro Hybrid and Niro Plug-In have not yet available and will be announced closer to the on-sale date early in 2020. The 2019 Niro Hybrid started in the low $20,000s. The 2019 Niro Plug-In is priced closer to $30,000.

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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