2020 Kia Niro Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Collision avoidance & lane departure issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

There are some hybrid vehicles that truly make a lasting impression, such as the 2020 Kia Niro. The newer models claim to be “a hybrid packed with style.” However, the reason the 2020 is so talked about is because of the defects, such as the faulty forward collision avoidance and malfunctioning lane departure system.

Click on other model years to view more problems: 2019   2020   2023

Problems with the Forward Collision Avoidance

With advanced systems on board, drivers think they are well protected in the Niro, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Here’s one NHTSA complaint worth reading. “The Adaptive Cruise Control System is not working. It is available for inspection upon request. The cruise control system does not reset, but rather retains the last set point. When I start the car and touch the accelerator, the car assumes the last set speed setting. In my case that is 60mph. It does not matter what I do, the car accelerates to 60mph. I can “cancel” the setting”, tap on the brakes, or try to reset the system to a different speed. I am trying to get an appointment with the dealer for his evaluation. There have been no accidents on my part, but it is very scary that the car just takes off. there were no warnings, lamps, or messages on any of the car consoles. This is a significant failure, potentially life threatening.”

The problem comes in when an accident actually occurs because the NHTSA doesn’t have good things to say about the integrity. There’s a listed safety concern after seeing the results of the front barrier test. Plus, the front passenger side rating shows that there’s a higher chance of chest injury with certain impacts. So, this hybrid might be “packed with style,” but it surely can’t provide the safety to go with it, leading people in a lot of danger. But, hey, it looks good!

2020 Kia Niro Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Lane Departure: Assist
Air Bags
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Fuel/propulsion System
Service Brakes

Lane Departure System Problems

Another safety system that seems to be causing trouble is the lane departure technology.

Here’s an NHTSA complaint discussing the problems. “Driving in my 2020 Kia Niro EV EX in the right lane of a 2-lane northbound highway at 3PM on a weekday, clear-weather, I changed lanes into the left lane when all of the sudden the Lane Keeping Assist malfunctioned and startlingly and abruptly jerked me across the double yellow lines into oncoming southbound traffic. I tried to steer the car back into the northbound lanes but the steering wheel was frozen. The malfunctioning Lane Keeping Assist seemed to have completely taken control of the steering wheel. An oncoming southbound car hit me colliding with my front passenger hood, panel and front passenger wheel. Upon impact, my dashboard lit up with warning messages, as the collision sent my car sailing back into the northbound side of the highway crashing perpendicularly into the highway perimeter chainlink fence and parking post. My airbags did NOT deploy! That is 100% airbag failure in a front wheel collision in a front-wheel drive vehicle. Police report taken at site of the incident. My insurance was notified. Insurance advised me to report these mechanical malfunctions to the Kia dealership. I reported to Kia Van Nuys dealership who set up service diagnostics in the dealership Service center. However, Kia Van Nuys Service refused to diagnose the car telling me to ‘take the car to a body shop’ because they could not diagnose the mechanical/technical issue before body damage was repaired.”

What a terrible issue to deal with, but not something that seems to surprise Kia. Service Bulletin #TSB_ELE231_R3 talks about how the front view camera needs to be replaced in some cars to fix problems with the forward collision avoidance system, smart cruise control, lane keep assistance, lane departure warning and driver attention warning. In fact, this one little defect can lead to a lot of safety trouble, which seems to be what the Niro is becoming famous for.

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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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