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Kia's new Niro promises to offer Prius-fighting hybrid tech in a crossover package

In the midst of the Detroit Auto Show, Kia has published a pair of dark teaser images that preview a gasoline-electric crossover called Niro. The eco-friendly soft-roader will be presented to the public next month at the Chicago Auto Show.

Kia’s teaser shots suggests the Niro is a heavily toned-down version of the eponymous concept that was presented to the public at the 2013 edition of the Frankfurt Auto Show. It adopts sharp headlights, a rippled hood, and a slim rendition of Kia’s trademarked Tigernose grille, but it predictably ditches the concept’s sporty, two-door body style in favor of a more practical four-door setup. All told, the Niro’s front end shares more than a passing resemblance to the new Kia Sportage.

2017 Kia Niro teaser

WorldCarFans speculates the Niro will be equipped with the same hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains as the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq, a small hatchback aimed directly at the Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Volt. If that’s the case, the Niro will be powered by an Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 105 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 108 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The four-banger will work jointly with a 43-horsepower electric motor connected to a lithium-ion battery pack, and the drivetrain’s total output will be sent to the front wheels via a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission.

The plug-in Niro will be capable of driving on electricity alone for short distances. Hyundai will offer an all-electric version of the Ioniq, but whether Kia will launch a battery-powered Niro is up in the air at this point.

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Stay tuned, Kia will introduce the Niro online in the days leading up to this year’s Chicago show, which opens its doors to the press on February 11. The crossover will goo on sale later this year as a 2017 model.