As part of its parent company's push into hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicles, Kia will introduce what it calls a 'hybrid utility vehicle' at next month's Chicago Auto Show.

Today, at the more influential Detroit Auto Show, the Korean company released the images of that vehicle, to be known as two Kia Niro.

Its hybrid powertrain, Kia says, was exclusively designed just for the new utility vehicle.

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A "hybrid utility vehicle" would logically indicate a crossover or SUV that is only offered as a hybrid, unlike the old Ford Escape Hybrid, for which the hybrid was only one of several powertrains.

Like its sibling under the skin, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq, the Kia Niro is a dedicated design with no conventional gasoline alternative.

Kia Niro 'hybrid utility vehicle' teaser shot

Kia Niro 'hybrid utility vehicle' teaser shot

According to Kia, the Niro styling was a combined effort among Korean and U.S. designers. It provides the "practicality and aesthetic allure of a compact SUV, with a sleek, aerodynamic body and subtly sculptured surfaces."

Like other Kia SUVs, the Niro has raised haunches at the rear, along with high-mounted LED tallights.

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The window openings are relatively slim, especially toward the rear, giving it a muscular, athletic look.

The powertrain is likely to be a 1.6-liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine paired with a single electric motor between the engine and the Hyundai-Kia six-speed dual-clutch transmission, powering the front wheels.

Kia Trail'ster e-AWD hybrid concept at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Kia Trail'ster e-AWD hybrid concept at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

The Ioniq and Niro are both based on underpinnings from the next-generation Hyundai Elantra subcompact lineup.

They are part of a broad Hyundai offensive to become the company selling the second-largest number of low- or zero-emission vehicles by 2020, after hybrid leader Toyota.

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As a utility vehicle, it's possible that the Niro will offer all-wheel drive using a second electric motor on the rear axle, the setup shown last year in the Kia Trail'ster e-AWD Soul Hybrid Concept last year's Chicago Auto Show.

For all the latest news on cars and concepts in Detroit, see our Detroit Auto Show news page.


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