Kia says its goal with the Niro is to provide a vehicle that doesn't behave or look like a typical gas-electric vehicle, and create a new segment by combining hybrid efficiency with a body that boasts crossover traits. The result is what the Korean automaker is calling a hybrid utility vehicle -- simply put, a small hybrid crossover. The Niro is based on a new dedicated eco-car platform, which will also underpin the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq, a Toyota Prius-fighting hatchback. The architecture uses high-strength steel in keys areas like the A- and B-pillars and roof rails, yielding a structure that is both strong and lightweight. In all, 53 percent of the Niro's bones are made from advanced high-strength steel.
First, the Explorer XLT gets a Sport Appearance Package, pictured above. It's basically an Explorer Sport without the twin-turbo V6. Instead, the XLT model with its naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 gets 20-inch wheels, a new grille, mirror caps, and a rear applique all done in Magnetic Gray. There's also a black roof rack, side cladding, and Explorer badge, with dark leather inside. The big win is the addition of Sync 3 for the 2017 Explorer. We hated the outdated MyFord Touch system in our review of the 2016 Explorer Sport, so we're really happy about this upgrade.
The second Explorer on display is a collaboration between Ford and BraunAbility for a wheelchair-accessible version of the popular crossover. It's available with base, XLT, or Limited versions of the Explorer, all powered by the aforementioned 3.5-liter V6. A sliding door moves to reveal a lighted ramp, and inside, the driver and passenger seats can be removed. An integrated key fob controls everything electronically, and Ford even offers a tow package on the BraunAbility MXV.