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.