Almost a year after it was unveiled at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the 2017 Kia Niro hybrid is finally going on sale.

The Niro is Kia's first dedicated hybrid vehicle, and the Korean carmaker has taken an unusual tack in describing its new model.

Kia calls the Niro a crossover, but its relatively low ride height and lack of all-wheel drive make it more like a traditional wagon than a genuine utility vehicle.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Kia Niro hybrid: first drive report (Dec 2016)

Pricing for the 2017 Niro starts at $23,800, including a mandatory $895 destination charge.

That buys a base FE model, one of five trim levels available at launch.

The others are the higher-end LX, EX, and Touring, as well as a special Launch Edition to commemorate the start of production.

2017 Kia Niro

2017 Kia Niro

Standard equipment on the FE includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, 7.0-inch touchscreen display, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.

The FE model returns slightly better fuel economy than other Niro variants, at 52 mpg city, 49 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined.

That's compared to 51 city, 46 highway, and 49 mpg combined for the LX and EX models (the EPA does not break out fuel-economy ratings for the Launch Edition), and 46 city, 40 highway, and 43 mpg combined for the Touring.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Kia Niro preview (Jul 2016)

Starting at $24,095, the LX adds push-button start, roof rails, and LED rear combination lamps.

The EX model adds heated combination cloth-and-leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED headlights, fog lights, heated power-folding exterior mirrors, and a handful of driver-assistance features for $26,595.

The Launch Edition priced just below the top Touring model, at $28,895.

2017 Kia Niro

2017 Kia Niro

It's distinguished by model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels and a metallic grille. It also gets additional convenience features, including a 10-way power driver's seat, 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system, and 8-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The Touring trim level starts at $30,545, adding a power sunroof, park assist, seats that are both heated and ventilated, and a heated steering wheel.

All Niro models use the same powertrain, consisting of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, working with an electric motor and 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

MORE: Kia to boost hybrid, electric offerings, add fuel cell in 2020 (Oct 2016)

The gasoline engine and electric motor send a combined 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. You won't find all-wheel drive in this "crossover," at least not yet.

The standard hybrid Niro is set to go on sale soon, and will be followed by a plug-in hybrid model later in the year.

This version will use a larger, 8.9-kWh battery pack and a larger electric motor, and is expected to achieve an EPA-rated 25 or 26 miles of electric-only range.


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