Also remember that there is NEVER a totally free ride. The only way to charge the hybrid battery is by burning gasoline (unless you can lift your vehicle up to the top of hills with a helicopter and only coast downhills). The gasoline you burn to go up is supplemented by the "free" coasting down, that's why the MPG is averaged.
After 4 years of hybrid ownership, I have learned how to accelerate on downhils to help the vehicle get through the uphills using minimal gasoline, and I have learned on my commute where giving more gasoline doesn't really hurt overall MPG's. Driving with an Ultragauge with its instant feedback is by far the best way to learn these techniques.
Several other techniques that I have heard of with my Fusion Hybrid are "pulse and glide" and feathering at highway speeds to hit the point where no gasoline is being used to charge and only used to move the vehicle. Pulse and glide involves gently speeding up to 5 or so over the speed limit and coasting until 5 or so less than the speed limit. That works well as long as there isnt traffic to deal with Feathering involves finding the point where just enough gasoline is needed to keep moving but not so much that the battery keeps charging. This works best on longer trips at highway speeds, with the Fusion it took about 15 miles of constant speed and battery charging before it could be done. The Niro seems to be closer to 7 or 8 miles at speed.
Learning what works takes time and effort.
I never thought of that, accelerating downhill to use less gas uphill, but that isn't likely to happen in my area, downhill followed by up hill, not in the same trip, but good point. I said "free ride" earlier because my interpretation was/is that if you're coasting and it's showing it's in charge mode, NOT from the ICE, but just charging, no gas is being used, nor is any hybrid battery power being used (electric motor). If you have been through 4 years of hybrid ownership, was that Ford Fusion only or was there a Prius in there somewhere? Just curious because I was **** bent on getting a Prius but I started looking around, researching etc. Must note here that I was ALWAYS a manual transmission owner in the past and didn't like the idea of automatic in any form. The only time I had driven automatics was when renting a car during vacation. I endure the harsh winters of Northern NY (right on the Canadian border) and standards/manuals, to me, perform much better in most any snow storm. I have never driven a CVT, to my knowledge, (unless one of my vacation rentals was one), but from what I read about them they didn't sound like something that a manual transmission guy like me would take kindly to. I found the Niro by accident when surfing YouTube videos on hybrids, and that introduced me to DCT, which I thoroughly researched DCT vs CVT and was sold on the DCT "in theory". I am VERY pleased with it!!! However, although I have only owned the Niro since mid July in summer driving, and yes, tested out sport/manual mode, the true test will be in winter driving in a 6-8 inch snowfall, ok, 3 in. on the road after plowing, but I'm sure you get my point, wet, slushy, slippery conditions. I do plan to put 4 snow tires on the Niro (no studs) and will sacrifice the reported 1% drop in fuel economy for the added safety of snow tires. I assume that you now own a Niro from the sound of your post? How do you like it compared to the Fusion?