Kia Niro What and How Much Can It Tow

Kia Niro: What and How Much Can It Tow?

The Kia Niro is a modern compact crossover SUV first made by the South Korean automaker back in 2016.

Even with the 1st-generation model, it’s still a fairly new piece of automotive technology partly thanks to its hybrid and EV (electric vehicle) capabilities.

Now with the 2nd-generation Kia Niro out that offers revamped versions of those capabilities, you’re even more spoiled for choices.

However, will the Kia Niro be up for the job when it comes to towing? And how much can it actually tow?

To find out the answer to these questions, we’ll first start by actually checking the Kia Niro’s towing capacity for its two generations.

What is the Kia Niro’s towing capacity?

The newest Kia Niro (2021) has a braked towing capacity of 2,866lbs (1300kg) and unbraked towing capacity of 1,653lbs (750kg).

The 1st-generation Kia Niro initially had no official towing capacity, but EUDM models later received an optional towing pack for braked towing up to 1300kg (750kg unbraked).

Production YearsEngineTowing Capacity
2021 to Present/2022 (2nd Generation)1.6L Smartstream I4 Hybrid (Niro)

Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Niro EV)

1,653lbs to 2,866lbs (750kg to 1,300kg)
2016 to Present/2022 (1st-Generation EUDM models only)1.6L Kappa II GDi I4 HEV/PHEV (Niro)

Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Niro EV/e-Niro)

1,653lbs to 2,866lbs (750kg to 1,300kg) with towing pack

As you can see above, the Kia Niro basically has identical towing capacities for both of its generations.

However, it’s important to note that we were only able to gather information about the towing capacity of 1st-generation Kia Niro models sold for the European market (EUDM).

Another thing worth talking about is that the 1st-generation models are only able to reach that kind of towing capacity if you avail of their “optional towing pack”.

This towing pack was made available for EUDM models in the fourth quarter of 2016, and we would generally not recommend trying to tow without it.

As for the 2nd-generation model, there are no qualms about its actual towing capacity, as Kia made it official for all models within the generation.

So whether you opt for its 1.6-liter hybrid or EV option, you can be confident that it has more than enough in its arsenal to tow up to the capacity indicated by Kia.

Can the Kia Niro tow a trailer?

Now, the next question is what can you actually tow given the Kia Niro’s towing capacity?

We know that there are tons of “towable” things out there that are usually towed by pickup trucks, big rigs, and even other SUVs.

For this part, we’ve added a table of different trailers and other related things to give you an idea of what the Kia Niro is capable of towing.

Though, we’ll give you a bit of a spoiler right away. There’s not really much that it can tow from the table below at all — unless the thing is empty.

Type of TrailerAverage Weight (Unloaded)Average Weight (Loaded)Kia Niro Generations That Can Tow It
Canoe/Kayak Trailer200 lbs400 lbs1st and 2nd generation
Jet Ski Trailer300 lbs1,800 lbs1st and 2nd generation
Motorcycle Trailer500 lbs2,400 lbs1st and 2nd generation
Fishing Boat Trailer600 lbs3,300 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Tow Dolly600 lbs4,000 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Small Utility Trailer (Open)700 lbs2,500 lbs1st and 2nd generation
Small Utility Trailer (Enclosed)1,000 lbs3,200 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Teardrop Trailer1,700 lbs2,400 lbs1st and 2nd generation
A-Frame Camper1,700 lbs2,900 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Car Trailer1,900 lbs9,000 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Large Boat Trailer2,200 lbs13,600 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Pop-Up Camper2,300 lbs3,400 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Large Utility Trailer (Enclosed)2,700 lbs7,100 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Small Travel Trailer2,800 lbs3,600 lbsUnloaded trailers only for both generations
Small Horse Trailer2,900 lbs7,200 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Large Flatbed Trailer3,000 lbs10,400 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Dump Trailer4,500 lbs16,900 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Large Travel Trailer6,700 lbs8,300 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Gooseneck Flatbed Trailer7,200 lbs23,200 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Large Livestock Trailer7,300 lbs18,700 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Toy Hauler7,600 lbs17,900 lbsCannot be towed by both generations
Fifth-Wheel Camper12,700 lbs18,700 lbsCannot be towed by both generations

Looking at the table above, you’ll notice how the only things that the Kia Niro can tow fully loaded are relatively small trailers that are already light when unloaded.

Such trailers include a canoe or kayak trailer, a jet ski trailer, a motorcycle trailer, an open small utility trailer, and a teardrop trailer.

There are still some other heavier trailers you can pull off trying to tow with the Kia Niro, just as long as they remain unloaded or just loaded to a certain point.

These include trailers like a fishing boat trailer, a tow dolly, an enclosed small utility trailer, an A-frame camper, a car trailer, a large boat trailer, and a pop-up camper.

When you start to tow trailers near the Kia Niro’s capacity, like the large utility trailer (2,700lbs) and small travel trailer (2,800lbs), then it starts to get tricky trying to load them with anything at all.

As you go further down the list, you start to see things that even bigger SUVs like the Lexus GX470 struggle to tow when just partially loaded.

You can forget about trying to tow bigger and heavier trailers like flatbed trailers, large travel trailers, gooseneck trailers, fifth-wheel campers, and the like when just using the Kia Niro.

At that point, you’re better off using actual tow rigs in the form of heavy-duty pickup trucks. 

Some of these include the Ford F-series Super Duty and Chevy Silverado HD. The higher the better, of course, so you should aim for at least a 2500/half-ton class truck.

Can the Kia Niro tow more than the competition?

As you can see in the table below, we have included a good mix of petrol, hybrid, and electric vehicles that are considered competitors of the Kia Niro.

While some of the entries have their own hybrid or electric counterparts, we decided not to include them as they do not have an official towing capacity from the manufacturers.

Not only have we included other Korean-made vehicles from Hyundai, but we’ve also added several Japanese and American-made ones for a better comparison.

We’ve also listed both the “braked” and “unbraked” towing capacities of each model just like we did with the Kia Niro.

To learn more about braked versus unbraked towing, we’ve dedicated a separate topic for that just right after this part below.

Vehicle ModelEngineUnbraked Towing CapacityBraked Towing Capacity
Hyundai Ioniq 5Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor1,653lbs (750kg)3,527lbs (1,600kg)
Hyundai Kona2.0L I4 Petrol1,322lbs (600kg)2,866lbs (1,300kg)
Honda CR-V Hybrid2.0L I4 Hybrid1,653lbs (750kg)1,653lbs (750kg)
Honda HR-V1.8L I4 Petrol1,653lbs (750kg)1,763lbs (800kg)
Subaru Crosstrek2.5L Boxer-4/H41,000lbs (453kg)1,500lbs (680kg)
Toyota Prius1.8L I4 Hybrid1,598lbs (725kg)1,598lbs (725kg)
Toyota RAV4 PHEV2.5L I4 Hybrid1,653lbs (750kg)3,637lbs (1,650kg)
Chevrolet Bolt EVPermanent Magnet Electric MotorN/A (750kg legal limit)2,000lbs (907kg)
Ford C-Max Hybrid (SE/Titanium)2.0L I4 Hybrid1,653lbs (750kg)2,600lb/3,300lb (1,200kg/1,500kg)

The Kia Niro ties the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s unbraked towing capacity like it does with several other vehicles on the list.

However, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 beats the Kia Niro by almost 700lbs when you add brakes into the equation.

Another Hyundai model, the Kona, ties the Kia Niro in both braked and unbraked towing capacity with its non-hybrid engine option.

Both the Honda CR-V Hybrid and HR-V can reach the 750kg legal unbraked towing limit just like the Kia Niro does.

However, the CR-V Hybrid cannot tow any higher than that, while the HR-V can still tow another 50kg more for its braked towing capacity. Regardless, it’s still nowhere near the Kia Niro’s limit.

The Subaru Crosstrek comes in last not in terms of its placement in the table, but in the battle for the best towing capacity among the Kia Niro’s competitors.

Not only does it have the least unbraked capacity, but its braked capacity isn’t even enough to reach the 750kg unbraked limit.

The Kia Niro outshines the Toyota Prius in both its unbraked and braked towing capacities, which are actually identical due to the Prius not necessarily being built for towing heavy loads.

The Toyota RAV4, specifically its Plug-In Hybrid option (PHEV), can reach the 750kg limit and also beats the Kia Niro’s braked towing capacity while it’s at it.

With a braked towing capacity of 1,650kg (3,637lbs), the RAV4 has the best towing capacity among all the competitors on the list.

Unfortunately, we cannot find any official unbraked towing capacity for the Chevrolet Bolt EV. But as a general reference, we can still apply the 750kg legal limit used in most places for it.

Other than that, its braked towing capacity limits it to about 2,000lbs, which is over 800lbs lighter than what the Kia Niro is capable of towing with a braked trailer.

The Ford C-Max Hybrid has two different braked towing capacities for its 2-liter hybrid engine option depending on the trim that you get.

The SE trim, with a 2,600lb braked towing capacity, slightly falls short of the Kia Niro. The Titanium trim, in contrast, can tow up to 3,300lbs and easily surpasses the Niro.

Towing Braked and Unbraked Trailers

After reading through the previous part, you’re probably curious as to what braked and unbraked towing actually is.

To simplify, the amount of weight that you can tow with your Kia Niro or any other vehicle will be dependent on whether your trailer has its own brakes or not.

As we’ve repeated a couple of times before, there is a 750kg (1,653lbs) legal limit implemented in most areas around the world for unbraked trailers.

Now, the actual limit may vary slightly, especially across different US states. We recommend taking a look at your area’s local towing regulations in this case.

As for how trailers that do come with brakes actually work, we will be taking a look at the three main types of brakes that you can find on them.

Electric Brakes

Electric Brakes

When it comes to having the quickest response time out of any kind of trailer braking system, electric brakes will work like a charm.

Electric trailer brake systems work by linking them to your car’s own braking system via wire connections and electromagnets on the trailer brakes themselves.

Despite requiring an additional brake controller inside the vehicle’s cabin, these kinds of brakes are actually the most simple in terms of installing and maintaining them.

Surge Brakes

Compared to electric brakes, surge brakes on trailers operate independently from your vehicle’s own braking system.

It mainly performs the act of braking by detecting your vehicle’s speed and applying the appropriate brake pressure on the trailer’s brakes.

The downside to this is that it isn’t as quick to react compared to an electric trailer brake system. This means that you should exercise more caution while braking your vehicle.

Emergency Brakes/Breakaway System

Unlike the first two kinds of brakes, emergency brakes are actually required to be installed on just about any braked trailer.

But rather than slowing down the trailer as you’re slowing down your vehicle, emergency brakes are designed to work in the event that your trailer suddenly gets disconnected from your vehicle.

This is why emergency trailer brakes are also called the “breakaway” system, which basically works by connecting a special cable from your trailer brakes to the back of your vehicle.

Emergency BrakesBreakaway System

If ever your trailer gets disconnected for whatever reason, the pin that’s attached to your trailer brakes gets pulled by the cable, thus applying brake pressure until the trailer comes to a halt.

It’s also important to note that, since the breakaway system runs on its own battery, disconnecting the pin will immediately consume power from the battery.

Thus, whenever an incident such as a trailer detachment happens, be sure to reattach the pin after you’ve already come to a safe and complete stop.

Which Kia models are good for towing?

Just in case you feel that the Kia Niro just doesn’t have enough towing capability for your needs but would still like to stick to a Kia anyway, then this part is for you.

Apart from the numerous competitors that we’ve enumerated above, Kia still provides us with some models that are more promising than the Niro when it comes to towing capability.

Although these Kia models are still not comparable to actual tow rigs, they are still able to put out respectable numbers enough for you to consider them.

Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento is part of the mid-crossover SUV segment, thus having slightly bigger dimensions compared to the compact crossover Kia Niro.

Its braked towing capacity is 3,500lbs (1,588kg) for the FWD (front-wheel drive) model and jumps up to 5,000lbs (2,268kg) for the AWD (all-wheel drive) model.

Do take note that these are the possible figures only if you choose the optional 3.3-liter V6 engine for the Kia Sorento.

Otherwise, the factory standard 2.4-liter engine for the Sorento can only tow up to 2,500lbs, which is less than that of the Kia Niro by a considerable amount. 

Kia Sedona/Carnival MPV

If you’re looking for something more from the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) class but with decent towing capabilities, then the Kia Sedona and Carnival should be in your sights.

Currently, only the US market uses the Sedona nameplate for the 4th-generation model, while the rest of the world sticks to the Carnival nameplate.

Regardless, this MPV from Kia is capable of towing up to 3,500lbs (1,588kg) with its 3.5-liter V6 engine, which ties it with the Sorento previously discussed. 

Kia Telluride

If you fancy an SUV that offers more power and modern features, then look no further than the Kia Telluride.

This is another one of Kia’s midsize crossover SUVs, and it’s able to tow up to 5,000lbs (2,268kg) with its own “Kia Telluride Tow Package”.

Also making this possible is a powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine under its hood and various modern assist features it has been equipped with.