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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The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a new all-electric addition to the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The newest member of the Hyundai family brings with it the prestige of also being the first of at least three all-electric vehciles that will wear the Ioniq name and be on-sale in the coming years. The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 battery electric vehicle (BEV) redefines the company's EV strategy, making models solely for EV purposes rather than modifying internal combustion engine cars and SUVs for EV power.

The car is built on Hyundai's dedicated BEV architecture called the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The new underpinnings allow the Ioniq 5 to be uniquely sized compared to Hyundai's other vehicles. It's six inches longer than the Tucson but four shorter than the Santa Fe. Its width is nearly the same as the Santa Fe, but it's four inches shorter. The CUV's wheelbase is four inches longer than the three-row Hyundai Palisade's.

The Ioniq is smaller than the Santa Fe but larger than the Tucson.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The exterior of the car features a clamshell hood that rests above unique daytime drumming lights. Small, pixel-like clusters are at the rear of the car as taillights.There are design nods to the 2022 Hyundai Tucson and Hyundai's '45' concept car in the company's exterior styling choices. The car is offered with aero-optimized 20-inch aerodynamic wheels and has a solar panel roof similar to the one on the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Hyundai will sell the two-row model in four configurations offering Standard Range or Long Range models equipped with rear- or all-wheel drive. The Standard Range RWD model has a 58-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack below the floor of the car. It paired with a 160-kilowatt motor that sits on the rear axle of the vehicle. Total power output is 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Hyundai says that this model gets from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds but it's quicker above 60 mph.

The Standard Range AWD model adds a motor to the front axle giving the car an output of 235 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque.

Which part of the work you're in will determine what the capacity is for the Ioniq 5 Long Range models. In North America, the larger 77.4 kilowatt-hour battery will be offered. Globally, a 72.6-koliwatt-hour battery pack will be sold in Long Range models. There, it is paired with the same motor setup as in the Standard Range RWD CUV to deliver about 300 miles of range per charge on the WLTP testing cycle.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The Long Range AWD model gets a more powerful front motor than the one offered in the similar Standard Range AWD setup allowing output to climb to 306 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. It can get from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The Ioniq 5 employs the latest charging technology. It can be plugged in using a standard J1772 combined charging system (CCS) port that will rapidly charge at up to 350 kilowatts. At that speed, the Ioniq 5 can charge from 10 to 80 percent in 18 minutes. Plugging in for five minutes can give up to 62 miles of range. Charging times for other speeds has not yet been released.

Like the Ford F-150 Hybrid, the Ioniq offers a power source that camping equipment, electric bicycles, computers, and tailgating equipment can be plugged into. There's a separate battery for that with an output of 3.6 kilowatts - about half as strong as the F-150's most powerful option, but 70 percent more than the standard 2.1 kilowatt unit in the truck.

Unlike many hybrids and EVs on the market today, Hyundai is giving its Ioniq 5 a towing rating estimated at over 3,500 pounds.

Hyundai has given the car a movable center island that can be maneuvered forward and aft about 5.6 inches. It paired with electronically adjustable front seats that are able to recline. Front seats are not as thick as they traditionally are, allowing rear seat passengers to have more legroom.

Many of its interior touchpoints - seats, headliner, door trim, floor and armrest - use eco-friendly, sustainably sourced materials, such as recycled PET bottles, plant-based (bio PET) yarns and natural wool yarns, eco-processed leather with plant-based extracts, and bio paint with plant extracts.

Customers can choose from nine exterior colors, while the interior is offered in three color schemes.

In front of the driver is a 12-inch, customizable digital gauge cluster and an augmented reality head-up display. The car's 12-inch infotainment screen can also be customized.

One of the highlights of the Ioniq 5's body style, aside from the option for more passenger space, is the impressive cargo space. It has slightly less than a Subaru Crosstrek when the seats are upright and slightly more when the 60/40 split-folding rear seat is folded flat. At the front of the car is small trunk that can fit a charging cord and little else.

Each Ioniq is equipped with Hyundai SmartSense, the company's advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). The car will be the first Hyundai model to offer Highway Driving Assist 2. It will also have forward collodion warning, blind spot warning and assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, driver attention warning, and automatic high beam headlights.

Look for the first deliveries of the Ioniq 5 to start this summer. Timing for U.S. deliveries is to-be-announced.

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A new grade of performance for the Lexus brand has debuted.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Remember the V8? In a world that's told it's hungry for electric cars, there's also still a large contingent of people who want their cars, trucks, and SUVs powered by a V8 engine. For them, Lexus has created the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, a model powered by a 472-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8.

Lexus has paired the V8 with the same eight-speed automatic transmission that's in the IS 300 and IS 350 RWD models. The drive mode selector allows for the driver to opt for Sport, Sport+, Eco, Comfort, or Custom drive modes. Drive mode adjustments effect the powertrain, chassis, and air conditioner.

The engine tucks nicely into the recently refreshed 2021 Lexus IS. It has a maximum output of 472 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 395 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. That power gets the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Lexus says that the engine achieves a manufacturer-estimated 24 mpg combined.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Despite being a monster of an engine, the curb weight of the new IS is just 143 pounds more than the traditional IS 350 F Sport.

It will come standard with the IS RWD F Sport's Dynamic Handling Package, which includes an adaptive variable suspension and Torsen limited slip differential. The car's engineers have added a Yamaha rear performance damper to the model and made brake cooling enhancements - the car now has 14-inch two-piece aluminum front rotors and 12.7-inch rear rotors.

The IS 500 has unique features that separate it from the rest of the IS lineup. This includes a throaty quad exhaust system with dual-stacked tailpipes, a raised hood (up two inches over the traditional IS), 19-inch split-10-spoke Enkel alloy wheels, a revised lower rear diffuser, black rear lip spoiler, and dark chrome window trim. There's also unique black badging on the sides to distinguish it from F models.

Inside the cabin is a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and sill plates with black F Sport Performance badging. There's also the IS F Sport accelerator pedal, brake pedal, and footrest. The driver's instrumentation meter has gotten a startup animation unique to the IS 500.

The Lexus keeps its Lexus Safety System+ 2.5, which includes front collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, bicyclist detection, emergency steering assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane trace assist, automatic high beam headlights, and road sign assist.

The IS 500 is exclusively for the North American market. The car's MSRP, options, and exterior and interior color schemes will be revealed ahead of the car's arrival at dealerships in the autumn.

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