New to this. General hybrid driving questions - Kia Niro Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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New to this. General hybrid driving questions

Wife and I bought a 2019 Niro hybrid about a month ago, with fuel economy, range, price and utility as our matrix to choose a vehicle. Overall, we have been very happy with our choice. That said, this is our first experience with a hybrid. We also have an EV (Leaf) that I, in particular, enjoy driving.

So, I presumed that driving a hybrid would be the best of both worlds: step on the pedal and let the electric motors shoot the car forward, then the ICE kicks in at speed. But that's not what seems to be happening. In ECO mode, when starting from a standstill, the ICE revs and anemically gets the car rolling. In SPORT mode, same thing but with a bit more snap. Either way, I feel like the ICE is working way too hard to get the car moving through 1st and 2nd gear. Is this how it works, and am I needlessly concerned? Our MPG is as expected, 40-50 around the city.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 08:29 PM
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Lots of variables here. How fast the ICE kicks in depends on temperature (not a prob in CC usually), how fast and how far you depress the accelerator pedal, road grade, and the SOC (state of charge) level makes a big difference. When the SOC is over the half way mark on the display, I find it much less likely to use the ICE on starts. When it is below half way, you really have to touch lightly during a start, and it is almost impossible to get going without the ICE on even a slight grade.

But no, nothing to worry about. If you are driving normally in CC traffic, yes, the ICE will kick in early on most starts unless your battery is several marks above half full. Your feeling about working too hard has to do with how the accelerator pedal is mapped, not the ICE. Press faster and harder, or change into Sport mode, it will behave just like any other car - most cars pedals are mapped to respond more quickly to inputs, but the Niro is mapped for better efficiency.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 10:55 PM
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There's only one electric motor, and in all electric (EV) mode, it's not very fast off the starting blocks. This is not "your father's Oldsmobile" (if it was, it would have much better acceleration, but much worse fuel economy). It's also not an EV Leaf (if it was, it wouldn't have the refueling convenience and range of a conventional ICE powered car).



A few days ago I was driving my PHEV Niro in EV ECO mode, trying to exit a parking lot and make a left turn across four lanes of traffic on a busy city street that has a 45 MPH speed limit. I couldn't get a break for several minutes. When I finally did, it was a pretty narrow window of opportunity; the kind of situation that required me to drive a bit more aggressively than I usually do. So I floored it. I was simultaneously impressed and disappointed. Impressed at how the ICE started and began contributing power (from stone cold) in what was probably less than 1/2 second. Disappointed because I wanted a bit quicker acceleration than that.


The next time I'm in that situation, I plan to put it in Sport Mode while I'm still waiting for an opportunity to enter the busy street. I expect that I'll get better acceleration, and also probably put a bit less stress on the ICE.


Even though the Niro is good at starting and stopping the ICE on short notice, I have in mind that shutting down an ICE shortly after you've started it, while it's still very cold, isn't necessarily the best way to care for it. So when I do wind up adopting this strategy in the future, I plan to keep it in Sport Mode for a while after I've made that aggressive left turn successfully, in order to give it a chance to finish warming up and finish burning off any incompletely burned fuel. It might not be the best path to maximum fuel economy, but might be a good path to longer term engine longevity.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and re-assurance. Deltasmith, I have found myself a couple of times in that situation where I'm trying to cross the path of an oncoming car in ECO mode, and realizing I should have waited. I guess the Leaf has spoiled me that way.

yticolev, thanks for that info. I'll keep an eye on SOC from now on as well. I don't remember the ICE NOT turning on at startup, even when not yet moving, but I haven't taken notice of the SOC.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2018, 06:41 AM
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Sadly on more entry-level vehicles i think this is to be expected. My hope is that Genesis comes out with a GLA and BMW X2 rival, even something in a more cheaper segment that can provide better performance. Competing on value while delivering the latest in tech isn't easy.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2018, 12:25 PM
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yticolev, thanks for that info. I'll keep an eye on SOC from now on as well. I don't remember the ICE NOT turning on at startup, even when not yet moving, but I haven't taken notice of the SOC.
I look at the SOC and my average tank mpg and instant mpg constantly, and obsessively and compare modality behavior to temperature and driving conditions. I've learned a lot about the car's behavior, but there is still more to learn. When I'm at highway speeds, I don't try to game EV versus ICE modes (well almost never) - if you are on standard cruise control, you are not going to make a noticeable impact on mpg. At slow city speeds, keeping the car in EV as long as possible has a huge effect. I still keep an eye on the SOC and ideally manipulate it as low as possible just before I hit the interstate where the ICE is going to be running anyway and recharge the traction battery - ready for the next slow speed portion of the trip. On a long trip, such management is far less important. But on a normal local round trip, management does make a difference.

Crossing busy roads is a trip. When I first got the car it was scary until I figured out that if I simply time my start a half second early, I do fine. Sport mode takes off this half second, and probably a little more.

I have recently discovered that there is what I consider a brake design flaw (I'll be taking it up with Kia) that is contributing to this. Not just my car but appears to affect all Niros and Ioniqs. When you press the brake hard, during a panic stop (where I first observed it) or at a light, the brakes take half a second to release. Easy to test for yourself at a stop. Once you have stopped, press the brakes hard and release. It takes a half second for them to release and "crawl" to commence. Stop again with a light touch on the brakes, release and crawl is immediate.

So a workaround when crossing a busy road or turning into traffic is to release the brakes, re-engage lightly, then you are ready for a jack rabbit start, Sport or Eco mode. As it happens, this is not a scenario I experience frequently so I haven't learned to do this automatically. I have use Sport mode perhaps three times in 10 months and 14,000 miles, but the rest of the time if I need a quick start I simply time it a little earlier and floor it in Eco mode.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2018, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by yticolev View Post
I look at the SOC and my average tank mpg and instant mpg constantly, and obsessively and compare modality behavior to temperature and driving conditions. I've learned a lot about the car's behavior, but there is still more to learn. When I'm at highway speeds, I don't try to game EV versus ICE modes (well almost never) - if you are on standard cruise control, you are not going to make a noticeable impact on mpg. At slow city speeds, keeping the car in EV as long as possible has a huge effect. I still keep an eye on the SOC and ideally manipulate it as low as possible just before I hit the interstate where the ICE is going to be running anyway and recharge the traction battery - ready for the next slow speed portion of the trip. On a long trip, such management is far less important. But on a normal local round trip, management does make a difference.

Crossing busy roads is a trip. When I first got the car it was scary until I figured out that if I simply time my start a half second early, I do fine. Sport mode takes off this half second, and probably a little more.

I have recently discovered that there is what I consider a brake design flaw (I'll be taking it up with Kia) that is contributing to this. Not just my car but appears to affect all Niros and Ioniqs. When you press the brake hard, during a panic stop (where I first observed it) or at a light, the brakes take half a second to release. Easy to test for yourself at a stop. Once you have stopped, press the brakes hard and release. It takes a half second for them to release and "crawl" to commence. Stop again with a light touch on the brakes, release and crawl is immediate.

So a workaround when crossing a busy road or turning into traffic is to release the brakes, re-engage lightly, then you are ready for a jack rabbit start, Sport or Eco mode. As it happens, this is not a scenario I experience frequently so I haven't learned to do this automatically. I have use Sport mode perhaps three times in 10 months and 14,000 miles, but the rest of the time if I need a quick start I simply time it a little earlier and floor it in Eco mode.
I think I like the strategy of shifting into sport mode (starting the ICE) when I pull up to a stop and I expect to need a max power burst to re-enter cross traffic. I want my engine running a few seconds at least before I floor it. Get the oil in all the bearings and warmed at least a little.

I really try to avoid running the engine a few seconds at a time especially under heavy load. Can't be good for the engine.

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Last edited by charlesH; 11-26-2018 at 09:42 PM.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 09:44 AM
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Embrace the sport mode. It gives you that extra pep when you need it to avoid getting t-boned by oncoming traffic. On another note I would not call this an entry level vehicle. It's not a Nissan Versa or Mitsubishi Mirage. It's a solid car and I would considerate in the middle not entry.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 11:57 AM
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How about entry level hybrid? Might be a small step above a Prius C but still solidly entry level. Other hybrids are mid level with better safety systems.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 01:48 PM
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The only thing I found disconcerting, is the traction control on a slippery day. I t was snowing and I was making a left turn into traffic. The traction control activate and left me with almost no power to the wheels. I kept tapping the accelerator and eventually it started to move faster. I was a sitting duck for about 3 or 4 seconds. I didn't think about hitting the traction control switch to turn it off. That's one case where I would have preferred a spinning wheel. My old school muscle memory would have gotten me out of that situation a lot faster.

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