Kia peeled back the covers on its newest crossover-hybrid vehicle, the 2017 Niro, at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto February 11, just hours after the car made its global debut at the Chicago auto show.

The Niro is what Kia is calling a “hybrid utility vehicle” or HUV, with the looks and functionality of a crossover or compact sport-ute; but with the drivetrain and efficiency of a hybrid electric car.

The 2017 Niro, due to hit dealerships early next year, is the first Kia to be built on the brand’s all-new eco-car platform; it’s driven by a gasoline 1.6-litre four-cylinder working with a transmission-mounted electric motor, which together deliver 146 horsepower.

That power is routed through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the front wheels, and is stored in a 1.56-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. A plug-in version of the car should arrive later in the model’s lifetime.

Further boosting efficiency is a Predictive Energy Control feature, which uses the car’s nav system to read the topography of the road ahead and ajust power delivery, if in cruise-control mode; and a ‘Coasting Guide’ which coaches drivers on when to brake or coast.

Kia calls the Niro’s athletic profile and overall style “atypical” among rivals in the hybrid segment; the car features the brand’s signature tiger-nose grille and low and long proportions.

The automaker is hoping to nearly triple the size of its global green car line-up by 2020, and wants to become a leader in the segment.

(Kia)