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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #4
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Second or third negative report I've read about traction control.

Snowing here today as well and I was able to activate the ABS at low speed in a parking lot (deliberately). Didn't see an icon for ABS, but the EV logo flashed and the engine turned on, but remained in EV mode - the light stopped flashing immediately when I took my foot of the brake and the engine turned off a second later. Repeat, same thing happened.

Just happy to confirm that ABS worked. Next test in appropriate weather is to see if it still engages in light braking that is otherwise regen only.
 

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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.

That doesn't sound right. You might want to start a thread on that topic. As a former resident of New England, I can sympathize (I would be very upset if something like that happened to me, and I know exactly what you mean about "muscle memory"), but as a current resident of Southern CA, I don't expect to have many opportunities to challenge my Niro with icy roads. As I recall, the Toyota Tacoma that I had in Maine had traction control, and it never did anything like that, but I gave it plenty of opportunities and I spun the tires in snow on multiple occasions. I didn't care for the ABS system on that truck (was sure that my "muscle memory" for pumping the brakes would have been more effective than ABS) but I never had a situation come up where I felt like I might want to turn off the traction control.
 

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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.
There's three things to unpack here. The first is that you sure discounting the transmission type in how this vehicle operates. A dual clutch transmission is essentially a computer controlled manual transmission. A manual that does not have the brakes applied or a great engaged will roll. It is not a design glass to hold the brakes for an additional second or so, because it keeps the car from rolling. Seconds, that initial hesitation is because, just like a human controlled manual, it must slip the clutch to launch the vehicle. The dual clutch transmission is what allows the more normal driving feel and the better fuel economy, so those are expected performance behaviors. So third, your work around is the same as the work around in a manual for a jack rabbit start, which as I laid out, is what you're really driving.
 

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Lots of different topics in this thread.
1. The HEV version has a 43 HP electric motor. The PHEV version has a 60 HP electric motor. When comparing the HEV (43HP) take off with electric motor, it's basically just an assist to the gas engine unless you are really light on the gas pedal. In other words there is none of that supposed instant torque/snap a pure EV has. The PHEV is a bit better and stays in EV mode unless you hit it over about half throttle but yes the EV 'almost half throttle' acceleration is still that of a 1992 Geo Metro. Sport mode in the PHEV though is all rock star. It launches with both motors at full attention and the transmission ready to go. Very snappy indeed.
2. It is a well known fact on every vehicle with traction control that in snow you may need to shut it off in order to be able to get going at all. I live on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere and have had that 'feature' for a very long time on numerous vehicles and they are all the same that way. Kia makes it easy with a simple button to press to disengage. Wheel spin (and snow tires) are sometimes your friend. If you read Car and Driver at all this one feature will make/break a recommendation of their on handling in snow. Inability to disable is considered a negative. And recently the Subaru's have been catching a bunch of flack over this issue. They ain't what they used to be.
3. There is a designed half second pause between letting your foot off the brake and the car being willing to go. That is in principle a hill hold feature since it's really a manual transmission...it's in the manual. Some seem to indicate this happens on level ground.
4. The ABS is concerning to me. We had our first couple icy days and this car DOES NOT behave like every other car with ABS I have ever driven. Back when I had a 99 Chrysler minivan it was a bit disconcerting with the ABS because you hit the brake and it was solid but if you hit it really hard the abs kicked in and you got two freaky responses. 1. Your foot seemed to suddently break through a threshold and go way to far to the floor which combined with 2. which was an incredibly wild vibration/pulsing of the brake pedal. The natural reaction was to think your brakes failed and pull your foot off the brake. More recently my vehicles have all had very good feel/feedback on abs which always included: a. some kind of flashing indicator on the dash that indicated your abs had kicked. b. pedal feedback but consistent and less scary than the older vehicles. c. you could feel this play out in the steering wheel with a bit of 'hey it's slippery' feedback. My Niro the other day? Yeah...not so much. In several attempts on an icy road to see what it feels like (get to know your car and see how the road is today) I got an unsettling combination of events depending on just how slippery it was, how fast I was going, and how hard I hit the brake and none of it seemed to have a predictable pattern and none of it left you with any comfort.
1. Zero feedback on the wheel. The steering in the Niro is in general 'tight' but has no feeling. This just gets worse on ice. You cannot tell when your wheels break loose. At one point my vehicle was sliding to the shoulder of the road and the only way I could tell is that I could see the car not going the direction the nose was pointing.
2. Less than zero feedback on the brake pedal. None. Zero. No way to tell at all whether the wheels were still turning, sliding, or being pulsed by abs. Zippo.
3. No indicator on the dash that abs had engaged....at all. Now if you accelerate and the traction control kicks in to prevent spinning then there's a little slippery car looking symbol just like other cars, but no such indication on the engagement of abs.
4. Some sort of odd tango between electric mode and ice mode as already noted by others.
5. Never once did it feel unstable or losing control or give any indication of sliding or abs active...which should be a good thing....except in several of these trial attempts the car was obviously sliding and abs was not actually doing its job.

I'm not exactly sure why this happens this way. I'm sure being new to this game and also using the dual clutch (which I love) makes this whole thing a bit new/unique. What it seems to me to be is that the natural programmed reaction to letting the foot off the gas pedal and hitting the brake is that the ice shuts off (if it was on) and braking starts in regen but if hard enough uses regular brakes. But it almost seems like the electric regen is messing up the abs as in the regen amount, the physical brakes, the abs system can't all get on the same sheet of music. I think at some point the engine came back on and regen stopped and physical brakes took over 100% and then it started behaving but I was (in case you thought otherwiise) at least attempting to watch the road.

They have some more software updates to do before that all gets sorted out. Meanwhile I know to be a little extra cautious until I get used to/figure out whatever this new pattern/technology is doing.
 

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I've only tested ABS once (with a repeat) at 5 mph on snow. Felt like normal ABS but I did not observe an icon.
 

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After second winter outing, this time more on snow, it behaved more normal ABS. I think in my first situation it was extremely slippery and the mechanical brakes never actually engaged for much of it. It was just regen. I suspect then that on regen-only it didn't modulate on/off quickly which is what ABS does....it just pumps your brakes for you at a super fast rate. Perhaps the regen-only can't pick up sliding very well and in my case even small amounts of regen initiated sliding.....and the mechanical brakes didn't activate. I presume the dance between EV and not in this situation is the car flipping out of pure EV/regen mode just for that reason and engaging regular brakes, but that process is a bit untamed as of yet in the software.
 

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I need a better test, but it appeared that mechanical brakes were engaged even though regen would have been enough had the road been dry. Thinking it through, I'm not as concerned as I once was. Regulators would never allow ABS to only work during max braking. The wheel sensors detect a speed difference between wheels no matter what and respond appropriately with traction control or ABS (same system really).
 
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