uncomfortable car seats on Kia niro

Discussion in 'Kia Niro' started by Tr200, Jan 16, 2020.

To remove this ad click here.

  1. Tr200

    Tr200 New Member

    I bought a 2019 Kia Niro EV, premium, with leather seats, and after a few months of relatively light driving, my lower back is killing me. The bottom cushion seems particularly soft. Has anyone else had this problem, and if so, is there a specific product you recommend as a fix? Otherwise, I just love this car
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. CanuckTom

    CanuckTom Member

    I have heard of dealers offering to bolster or shape seats for customers in the past you may want to approach the dealer and see if they'd be willing to offer you any solution - afterall the car costs near what a luxury car does..

    Even if it set you back a few shekels, it might be the best option.

    Otherwise, try a custom auto upholstery shop, I'm sure they can offer some help.
  4. niro525

    niro525 Member

    Move your seat so it cradles you. I had the same issue until I moved my seat forward and tilted the back forward. Currently, my seat is moved up so my feet are resting in a neutral position on the pedal and foot rest. My right foot is not hovering over the pedal. The back rest is leaning forward so my full back is resting flat on the seat while driving. My issue was I originally leaned forward while driving and that was too much strain on my low back. Lastly, there is the circular button on the side that adjusts the low back support. My current position seems a little high, but is much more comfortable.

    The Niro has one of the most comfy seats I've driven in.
    Ă“doligie likes this.
  5. I have the same problem! I was bummed because I have driven a LOT of Kias and never had this problem. One thing that has helped a lot, but not fixed the problem completely, is playing with the seat controls. One of the positions of the horizontal controller raises the front of the seat pan while lowering the back of it. Setting that to its extreme position helped. I feel like the lumbar support actually makes it worse.

    Do you happen to be somewhat tall? I am about 6'2" (6' 3" +30 years since then) with disproportionately long legs...like in many chairs change rolls out of pants pockets because my knees end up higher than my hips.

    It is interesting that you feel the seat pan has too much give. I might try putting something stiff or maybe just a thin pillow to raise my butt more to see what happens.
  6. By extreme position, I meant with the front of the seat pan as high as possible relative to the rear.
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. Tr200

    Tr200 New Member

    Thanks everyone! I will try your suggestions, much appreciated. I did put a thin cushion on the seat and it helped somewhat. I also got a memory foam wedge pillow, but that was too hard and raised me pretty high. I'm not that tall - 5'9". I'm trying to get over some profound disappointment that I spent so much for this car and that it's debilitating to drive.
  9. Let's see if we have other things in common and swap notes on what might be contributing to the problem.

    I tend to like to sit with the back closer to upright than many people do and also keep the seat close enough to the wheel so my arms are bent a fair amount while driving. Probably close to 90 degrees. How do you sit?

    I have noticed if I have the flat of my shoe against the left foot footrest, as opposed to having my heel a few inches back and only my toe resting it is more comfortable.

    I am starting to think that it is when my legs are asymmetrical and at least of them has sufficient load to engage my back a bit (so causing my back to work more on one side than the other) this causes the problem. I am still unsure of this hypothesis.
  10. Tr200

    Tr200 New Member

    After reading all of these posts, and watching videos of chiropractors giving advice to drivers about how to sit, I've started sitting more like you - upright back seat and closer to the wheel so my legs are close to 90 degrees. I've also started to tilt the bottom seat as far back (from the front) as it will go so that my lower back sinks into the seat. This has helped some, but the whole set up feels a bit extreme and unnatural to me. My intuition when all of this started was to tilt the bottom seat all the way forward, mistakenly thinking this would take the load off my lower back. This definitely made things worse. I'll try making my feet symmetrical as you suggest.

    A thin pillow also helped, but I would prefer not to use one. Because there are so many car break ins in Oakland, and they mostly occur when thieves see something in the car, I don't want to risk having my window broken because someone thinks my cushion is a backpack...and hiding it under the rear floor is a hassle.

    I have owned cars old and new and never had a problem with a seat before...Will report back when I find something that works!
  11. I have been sitting like that for driving for at least 2-3 years, maybe longer. It was not because of any back discomfort; more because it just seemed like a good idea (drawback: at my height in many cars I am close enough to the ceiling I can't see traffic lights if I am closer than 1-2 car lengths from the line!)

    Yet, never any lower back thing from driving and in general not much back discomfort at all. As soon as I had my premium trim Niro, kablooie! I made some adjustments and it improved but still not 100%. And if I had any doubts, I didn't drive much for about a week while I was ill between Xmas and New Years (wheeeee....) and my back felt just fine. I don't even drive that much and wonder what it will be like when I take my first long road trip. Anyway, I bet we have some sort of similar something in how we sit, or the shape of our backs since our heights seem to be pretty different. Try the foot position thing and see if that helps.

    When you used the wedge, did you have the thicker part at the rear or the front of the seat pan?
  12. To remove this ad click here.

  13. PlugItIn

    PlugItIn New Member

    Hi Tr200,

    I feel your pain. I bought a 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid Plug-In LX just 2 months ago, and already I've been having severe pain in my neck, shoulders, back, and hips. It's frustrating because I like a lot of things about the car, but the seat discomfort is extreme. I bought an angled seat cushion that helps fill in the downward slope, and I also added a lumbar support pillow to the back of the seat. Unfortunately both have not helped much. My next step is to go see someone who does custom upholstery jobs for car seats. If I can't get that to work, I'm seriously considering getting a different car, which is too bad.

    I'm not sure if it will be helpful, but here are the car cushions I bought online:



    If you find something that ends up working, feel free to share. Many thanks!
  14. and
    I have been paying close attention, trying to figure out wtf is different about simply how it feels to me to sit in this car vs other cars I have driven a lot. I think I may be onto something:
    It feels like the left footrest is thicker/taller relative to the accelerator, like I have to extend my right leg and foot more to work the pedal than I have space to extend my left foot if I use the footrest. I don't know for sure that is causing the problems the 3 of us have but it might be factor. Clearly there are other factors since not everyone who has a Niro has this problem, but if three of us, who have not had problems driving other vehicles do, something is up.

    PlugIt, did you see my tip about raising the front of the seat pan as much as possible relative to the back? That helped me some, but did not fix the problem entirely.

    I am going to experiment with avoiding the foot rest altogether and see what happens.
  15. wizziwig

    wizziwig Active Member

    What I notice on some recent cars I've driven including the Niro, is that my leg positions tends not to be symmetrical. It's like the seat is not centered/aligned relative to the pedals so my left leg ends up at a larger angle to the side than my right. Over a longer trip, this causes some fatigue to my left hip/thigh which is not at a neutral, straight ahead position like my right leg - my left hip/thigh is constantly pushing against the seat bottom side bolster. Luckily have not had any back issues and find the Niro seats a huge improvement over the tiny seats of the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
  16. PlugItIn

    PlugItIn New Member

    Hi David,

    I did see your tip about raising the front of the seat pan--unfortunately, I don't think I have that option on the base model Niro :/ I've been test-driving a lot of different cars lately and it seems to get a seat that is fully adjustable, one has to bump up to the premium trim. But I did take into consideration your suggestions on seat position. I drove from Silicon Valley up to Marin the other day, and I pulled my seat very close to the pedals and then lowered the back to just past 90 degrees, maybe 100. It helped a little bit. I'm always fidgeting and adjusting in this car, nothing feels comfortable for too long.

    Also, thought I should point out, I'm pretty short, 5'3", so it seems the seat discomfort is independent of height.

    In regard to the pedals, YES, I do think those contribute to the pain. For me, I notice my right leg feels very far to the right when on the gas pedal. Then to go over to the brake, I have to move my foot and leg over and up significantly (the brake sits far to the left and higher and closer to you than the gas). This means I'm using a lot of thigh muscle, and it puts strain on my hip and even side back muscles. It isn't a natural position. Usually when I get out of the car, I have pain from neck to hip exclusively on my right side.

    I also think the distance from the seat to the steering wheel (and the wheel angle) creates a constant pull in muscles.

    In addition to all this, I the seat shape is problematic (as we've already covered hahah). Somehow the combination of all of these factors seems to create discomfort.

    Keep me posted if you find anything else that helps. I'll do the same!
    niro525 likes this.
  17. niro525

    niro525 Member

    I am following everyone's detailed observations with great interest.
  18. I don't quite notice the seat shape as being off. To my inexpert observation it feels pretty much like every Kia I have driven* but I have not done a side by side comparison, so I could be wrong. What have you noticed about the seat shape that seems off?

    I did have some longer drives (a couple of one hour drives and one for nearly 2 hours) since I last posted and tried keeping my left foot off the footrest. Seems to have helped some, with my back just being uncomfortable but not hurting immensely. I will try driving a longer drive with my foot on it again and see what happens. Also, I think it is the slope of the footrest rather than how thick/tall it is off the floor, but it might be both. The slope is definitely steeper than in my old Prius . After that I will experiment with cushions and maybe with a more conventional seat position tilted further back from the wheel.

    It certainly is interesting that many folks do not notice a problem or have not complained about it, yet for a handful of us it is REALLY noticeable. I wonder what oddity there is between the three of us that makes us different. Our heights range from 5' 3" to 5' 9" to 6' 2" so it ain't a height thing!

    * I have been mostly renting cars for weeks at a time over the 9 months prior to my purchase, and a lot of times it was a Kia Optima or Soul. (I get a deal through work, so while expensive, not as bad as you might think)
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
    niro525 likes this.
  19. Tr200

    Tr200 New Member

    A few updates:

    - I tried a wedge cushion from amazon, with the high end abutting the back seat, and that definitely did not work. Made my back hurt more.
    - I tried tilting the bottom of the seat all the way back as others suggested. This ended up hurting my hips and was possibly a cause of a recent episode of bursitis. I had a cortisone injection, which helped.
    - I'm laying off the car completely for at least a week until my hips/back don't hurt anymore. When I start driving again, i will set the bottom seat level and see if that works. If I experience pain once i start driving, I will bring to dealer for advice/solution.
  20. Yikes. Let me know how it goes.

    I experimented some. I drove up to SF several times this week (So longer time in the car where I can start to feel an impact to my back if I am doing the wrong thing) and there is DEFINITELY a difference when I keep my left foot on the foot rest (harder on the back) vs. just letting it be on the floor next to the foot rest (easier) . I have been experimenting more with the seat, and feel like it is better in some positions, but I have yet to find one where using the foot rest is not a Bad Idea.
    jeff_h likes this.
  21. Today I drove my old Gen II Prius some when my son brought it to my place. There is DEFINITELY something different about how sitting in that feels.

    I am not crediting any of these with making the difference, but here are differences I noticed.

    • My foot on the left footrest is more even with the foot on the gas pedal in the Prius. In the Niro my right leg is a bit more extended
    • My knees end up a touch higher than my hips in the Prius. Not sure this is the case in the NIRO, though clearly this will depend on seat position.
    There is something else too, but not sure what it is. My lower back definitely is activated differently in the Prius. At some point I am going to do a side by side comparison, getting in and out of the Niro and another car and try to pin this down.
  22. Take note, you two. Maybe try this and see if it helps:

    I took a long drive today, about 230 miles round trip. I normally drive with my right heel resting to the left of the pedal and using that as a swivel point to put the ball of my foot on the accelerator or brakes needed. This means my knee is turned outward and the right leg is in a rather wide lotus position. So I decided to lotus up my left leg too, with the heel closer in to the seat than on the left side. I was expecting rather ugly back pain for such a long drive, but guess what? It was comfy! I am going to keep trying this and see how it plays out over time.

    Tr200 I do not know if your hip bursitis will stop you from being able to do this. I hope you can, or something else works for you.
  23. Update: The last 2-3 days I was in the car a LOT. like 3-4 hours a day. The position described above is a HUGE improvement over how I might have otherwise felt, but still not 100%. The discomfort may be qualititatively different, feel more diffuse and maybe different location, so it could be I traded one really bad position for something slightly bad in a different way. I would love to hear updates from

    What have you tried? PlugItIn, do you still have the vehicle?

Share This Page