2019 Kia Niro Hybrid Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine, lighting, powertrain & lack of acceleration issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Hybrid vehicles seem to be taking over the road, with the 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid leading the pack. The automaker claims it provides “a new spin on hybrids,” but all it seems to offer is more defects. This model suffers from troubles with the engine, powertrain and exterior lighting. Of particular concern are complaints about lack of acceleration after stopping.

Click on other model years to view more problems: 2020   2020   2023

Problems with the Engine

While the engine in the Niro Hybrid might be slightly different than a gas-powered motor, it still needs to be reliable, but this model doesn’t prove that at all.

One Edmunds user states, “This car does not start under 10 degrees and Kia Niro Hybrid has no fix. Mine has broken down 3 times because of the cold and they told me others have done the same. Yet they will not refund or replacement the vehicle knowing it has a defect that causes reliability issues. Also it is hard to talk to Kia consumer affairs they just give you the run around. Plus I’ve had to pay out of pocket for rental and cab ride to get to work and they have not reimbursed the expenses even though I’m entitled to this through the contract. Avoid Kia I’d rather be driving a Yugo. Just avoid Kia they do not live up to their word I’m just trying to let you know so you will not have to go through what I’m dealing with.”

It turns out that Kia is fully aware of engine troubles. In fact, Service Bulletin #TSB_ENG212_R1, filed with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), talks about the need for a cylinder head replacement for the Kia Niro Hybrid because of a misfire situation. This is something that shouldn’t be occurring in newer vehicles, thereby proving that Kia has put a “new spin” on creating cars.

2019 Kia Niro Hybrid Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Fuel/propulsion System
Vehicle Speed Control
Air Bags
Exterior Lighting

Problems with the Powertrain

Additionally, the powertrain is just as important and can create trouble getting from Point A to Point B with defects.

Here are some comments from an Edmunds user. “I test drove the car at the dealer twice and it worked fine. Five days later, the shifting between electrical and gas engine modes is not working. Often, but not every time, when starting at the light intersection, the gas ending hits the clutch as if someone rear-ended the car.  The car often stalls on the highway. The needle goes into “power” mode, but the gas engine does not even start. Already 3 weeks at the dealer, they cannot fix the problem. Definitely, do not buy this model.”

With this situation, Kia chose to remain quiet instead. There are no communications about powertrain concerns, with hopes that people might just stop talking about them. The only thing that Kia has proven to do differently with the Kia Niro Hybrid is fail at the manufacturing. The company just can’t seem to get the basics down – leading people to believe that the automaker should stick to what they know instead.

2019 Niro Lack of Acceleration Issues

Filed under Powertrain and sometimes Engine, lack of acceleration problems appear to be on the increase for the 2019 Kia Niro.

An owner from Kentucky states in an NHTSA complaint: “There is a pause upon acceleration from a stop (unresponsive). Then the vehicle will lunge forward and make a loud noise. For both driver and passengers, it can be quite startling and feels as though the car has been hit from behind. This started happening in the fall of 2021, when the car was about two years old with about 18,000 miles. It has happened about a dozen times in the six months since first noticed. It seems that this may be a software issue related to the hybrid system – a lag in triggering which motor to use for acceleration.”

An owner from California has a similar complaint: “I don’t know what components are involved. When attempting to move forward from a stop the car does not respond immediately. Then there is clunk noise and a lurch forward. Sometimes when this happens it feels like the car has been hit from behind.

“The problem began about a year ago and has been into the dealer’s service center several times. I believe during one of those service visits a reset of something was done that seemed to resolve the issue for several months. The problem is intermittent.

“Dealer has been unable to reproduce the issue, but stated the last time the car was in for service that another customer with the same year and make was having the same symptoms and a tech that had been allowed to use the car for over a week did not experience the issue. No warning lights or codes are associated with the issue. A car that fails to move forward on a green light is in danger of being rear-ended placing the people in the vehicle and surrounding vehicles at risk of bodily injury.”

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Problems with the Exterior Lighting

There’s also a question regarding how well the exterior lighting works. As this system is needed for nighttime travel, any defect can lead to serious safety concerns.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The reverse lighting is inadequate for reverse camera in dark, which produces grainy backup camera image. The camera works fine in daylight. This may require proper lighting or camera that works well in dim light condition. Also, the camera is exposed to weather conditions, such as rain and snow.”

It turns out that Kia is failing miserably, creating this Kia Niro Hybrid vehicle on all levels. In fact, the NHTSA has an alert out on the Niro, which states there is trouble with the front passenger side during crash tests. It shows that the passenger dummy suffered from a higher chance of chest injury because of the defective structure. If Kia were to promote this Niro any further as creating a “new spin,” the company might have to get honest about how different it really is – causing people to become injured because of a lack of proper manufacturing.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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