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I've had my '20 PHEV a little over 2 weeks and just went for my first extended (about 100 miles) drive in the Texas Hill Country. It was fun, since the majority of my driving up to this point had been short trips in EV mode. I had 7 miles of EV left on the battery when I started, and the drive was mostly gentle to moderate hills with speeds in the 55-65 mph range. I just kept it in Auto mode, since I've noticed this seems to make the car very smart shifting between EV and HEV to maximize mileage. My mpg for the trip was 57.8 which made me quite happy. Over the course of the drive it appears I'd generated 10-12 miles of EV range, which I thought was pretty impressive for that many miles of driving. So I think for the 100 miles I drove maybe 17+ miles in EV.

I already knew ECO mode doesn't provide much zip, and that on hills it's difficult to maintain your speed without pushing the gas pedal down pretty far. But I found that Sport mode was just the ticket for the Hill Country, since it provided sufficient power and also kept the "Econometer" needle deeper in green territory since I could keep a lighter foot on the gas pedal. The trip also showed me the value of letting downhills be your MPG-e friend, since the car does a nice job of keeping its speed while regenerating the battery.

So am I correct that what seems to help maximize MPG-e once you've burned through your EV miles is:

1) Select AUTO mode to let the car figure out when to use EV or HEV, even with the tranny in Sport mode.
2) Coast whenever you can do so and still maintain your speed.
3) Drive in Sport mode in hilly terrain or anytime brisk acceleration is necessary, but otherwise keep it in ECO.

Any other MPG-e maximizing tips more seasoned PHEV drivers can share?

By the way, I LOVE this car! In addition to the awesome mileage it drives great, is quiet, and has a smooth, but firm ride and nice handling. Looks great too!
 

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Most of the active driving techniques are before the plug in miles are exhausted. If you restrict those EV miles to city only, or a bit on the highway as needed to arrive at your next charge with no plug in miles left. You know what your route is going to be, the Auto mode does not, so you should be able to beat its efficiency almost always. The exception might be if you have built in nav, and are traveling on mapped route.

Sport mode as you describe using it is a complete illusion. It remaps your pedal, that is pretty much it. You have the same power to climb hills in Eco mode, just with your foot in a different place as you note. Even better would be to use cruise control, then throttle position doesn't even come to your attention.
 

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Sport mode as you describe using it is a complete illusion. It remaps your pedal, that is pretty much it. You have the same power to climb hills in Eco mode, just with your foot in a different place as you note. Even better would be to use cruise control, then throttle position doesn't even come to your attention.
I can't agree. Besides the remapped throttle, there's no question it's peppier. Perhaps there's a difference between the HEV and PHEV in that regard. I don't know why there would be, though. But at least with my '19 PHEV, it's absolutely more responsive.

However, Sport mode comes with a MPG penalty. Mostly because Sport mode will use more power to charge the battery then Eco Hybrid mode, but also because the engine runs the vast majority of the time. Hybrid mode will hold the charge you have, and maybe add a mile or two. Sport mode is capable of completely charging the battery, at the cost of lower MPG. How much? I'm never compared the two modes long enough to get a realistic idea, but if I had to guess I'd say 5-7 MPG at freeway speeds.
 

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I can't agree. Besides the remapped throttle, there's no question it's peppier.
That's called a tautology. But it is all about perception, and "peppier" is an adverb about subjective perception. The engine, nor the motor produces any more power. But hey, it's "Sport Mode".
 

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When I was shopping for my Niro in 2018, I had read that it could make intelligent decisions about how to maintain the battery based on the course you'd laid in to the navigation system. Sadly, that has not been my experience in my PHEV.

When I 'm contemplating a road trip that will involve some hill climbing, I've learned that it works best if I deplete some of the charge (like maybe down from 26 miles to 18 miles EV range) and then force it into hybrid mode. Depleting the battery means that I have room to absorb charge from regenerative braking. Forcing it into Hybrid mode while I still have a substantial charge in the traction battery means that I can use both the ICE and the traction battery when climbing a steep grade. And that seems to work the best for me when I'm on a protracted climb.
 

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That's called a tautology. But it is all about perception, and "peppier" is an adverb about subjective perception. The engine, nor the motor produces any more power. But hey, it's "Sport Mode".
Yet the PHEV electric motor puts out 60HP vs the HEV’s 43HP. I’ve driven both, I own the PHEV, and imo the PHEV is more responsive regardless of mode.
 

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Yet the PHEV electric motor puts out 60HP vs the HEV’s 43HP. I’ve driven both, I own the PHEV, and imo the PHEV is more responsive regardless of mode.
True, but the total rated HP and torque is identical for the complete drivetrains as are the 0-60 times.

For the PHEV, I have no doubt that it feels peppier than the HEV especially in low speed city driving as it programmed to stay EV far longer. A completely different feel, and one that is noticed by all comparisons of EVs versus ICE cars of the same power rating. The algorithms of staying EV versus added engine power are completely different between the HEV and PHEV.

As to Sport Mode feeling peppier, I can add one point in support of this after giving it some more thought. The Niro and Gen4 Prius have a fuzzy logic throttle interface that tries to interpret pedal movement to gauge intent of driver. Unintended throttle movement happens on road irregularities (OK, bumps) and this reduces mpg significantly. So the fuzzy logic tries to smooth out unintended throttle movements. It is very possible that Sport reduces this effect making intended throttle movements more responsive.

The few times I've used Sport, yup, does feel more responsive. But I knew (or thought I knew) that it was just the throttle remapping doing that, as when I experimented in ECO, I could produce the same level of perceived responsiveness just with more throttle travel. Flooring the pedal should feel just the same in either mode. As a result, except for the personal enjoyment some seem to get from Sport, I don't see any point in using it in a hybrid as it can only detract from efficiency. Which is why we bought it right? But sure, if you enjoy it, go for it. You are still getting better efficiency than almost every other vehicle out there.
 

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True, but the total rated HP and torque is identical for the complete drivetrains as are the 0-60 times.

For the PHEV, I have no doubt that it feels peppier than the HEV especially in low speed city driving as it programmed to stay EV far longer. A completely different feel, and one that is noticed by all comparisons of EVs versus ICE cars of the same power rating. The algorithms of staying EV versus added engine power are completely different between the HEV and PHEV.

As to Sport Mode feeling peppier, I can add one point in support of this after giving it some more thought. The Niro and Gen4 Prius have a fuzzy logic throttle interface that tries to interpret pedal movement to gauge intent of driver. Unintended throttle movement happens on road irregularities (OK, bumps) and this reduces mpg significantly. So the fuzzy logic tries to smooth out unintended throttle movements. It is very possible that Sport reduces this effect making intended throttle movements more responsive.

The few times I've used Sport, yup, does feel more responsive. But I knew (or thought I knew) that it was just the throttle remapping doing that, as when I experimented in ECO, I could produce the same level of perceived responsiveness just with more throttle travel. Flooring the pedal should feel just the same in either mode. As a result, except for the personal enjoyment some seem to get from Sport, I don't see any point in using it in a hybrid as it can only detract from efficiency. Which is why we bought it right? But sure, if you enjoy it, go for it. You are still getting better efficiency than almost every other vehicle out there.
Sport mode increases the average rpm for a given velocity by using higher gear ratios, thus increasing HP which makes the car accelerate faster. The down side is of course lower gas mileage.

You can get higher gear ratios by flooring the gas pedal in normal mode but when you lift off the pedal the dct shifts up immediately. Sport mode maintains lower gearing, higher RPM/HP, thus quicker acceleration. It feels more responsive because it is.

Now I used to shift to sport before merging into traffic. I have have discovered, as you point out, that I can achieve a similar (not same) result with a more aggressive throttle.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the interesting perspectives. Regarding my feeling that Sport improves economy in hilly driving, that was based on the needle being closer to "CHARGE" in Sport mode vs. closer to "POWER" in ECO mode. So if Sport mode also better charges the battery which let me run in EV more as was the case on my trip, it would seem for hilly driving, using Sport on hills might yield MPG-e figures at least on par with those if I kept it in ECO the whole time, while also providing a more enjoyable experience from not feeling like I have to floor it to maintain speed on hills.
 

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Remember one thing more about Sport mode. You've put the transmission in manual mode, so it's completely possible that you're keeping the ICE in a more favorable range for performance. As noted, in Eco mode the transmission will stay in the highest gear possible that matches the demand being placed on the powertrain.
 

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Regarding my feeling that Sport improves economy in hilly driving, that was based on the needle being closer to "CHARGE" in Sport mode vs. closer to "POWER" in ECO mode.
I wouldn't trust any displayed values. For one thing, Power versus Charge is a relative indicator, and may have a different bias in Sport mode than Eco.
 

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When I was shopping for my Niro in 2018, I had read that it could make intelligent decisions about how to maintain the battery based on the course you'd laid in to the navigation system. Sadly, that has not been my experience in my PHEV.
Every once in a while I see "coast" on my display at the appropriate time. I stopped looking for it when it told me to coast UP a steep hill to my home several times.
 

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Every once in a while I see "coast" on my display at the appropriate time. I stopped looking for it when it told me to coast UP a steep hill to my home several times.
Yes, the "Coast" alert is something you can turn on via the console controls on the steering wheel. In my car, it only seems to work when I have navigation turned on. It isn't especially helpful, although there have been a few times when I was traveling on unfamiliar city streets in heavy traffic (so couldn't focus a lot on the navigation display) and it would ding to alert me that my turn was coming up. I've never had the experience of it telling me to coast when going up hill, but maybe that's just because of the routes I've driven. If it's telling you to coast uphill, then clearly the navigation system doesn't have terrain information and can't make intelligent decisions about how to run the car based on the terrain ahead.
 
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