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2023 Kia Niro PHEV EX
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pressing the EV button will allow you to select the plug-in hybrid mode:
  • EV mode – otherwise known as charge-depleting (CD), electric mode
  • HEV mode – otherwise known as charge-sustaining (CS) mode
  • AUTO mode – CD or CS mode automatically selected, depending on road conditions
  • EV+ mode – high-voltage battery used except when accelerator is pressed completely
1. Which mode(s) do you ever use? Under what conditions do you change the mode?
2. In AUTO mode, what are the "road conditions" that govern whether you are driving with gas vs. electric?

Personally, I generally leave my vehicle in EV mode to prioritize use of the high-voltage battery. However, wonder if there are situations where AUTO or EV+ mode might be better. Appreciate your thoughts!
 

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2022 Bolt EUV Premier
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Auto Mode would be the usual one to use. The car will run the engine based on how hard you're accelerating, how much charge the battery has (it will switch to hybrid mode around 16%), and unless you have the cold weather package will also run the engine to heat the cabin. EV+ Mode restricts the engine to only start if full throttle is applied, so you maximize your EV use. EV mode likely still uses the engine at less than full throttle, but I can't say at what percentage. You can also put the car in Sport Mode and the engine will charge the battery at the cost of lower MPG. EV+ is useful where you absolutely do not want the engine to start, such as within areas that ban ICE vehicles. I don't think there's any such area in the US, but some other countries do have restricted areas that ban the use of the ICE. HEV mode will try to keep your battery around the charge level it had when you engaged it, and as mentioned the car switches to it once the traction battery has been depleted to a specific level, and you can't take it out of that mode until the battery is charged again above the cutover point.

For myself, I would probably drive in EV or EV+ the vast majority of the time, simply to keep the engine off as much as possible. But if I am taking a long freeway trip, I always used EV mode to reach the freeway and the Hybrid mode on the freeway, saving my battery for EV mode at my destination.
 

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I have the '18 PHEV, so no EV+ for me, but in general I leave it in Auto as I find the computer hard to beat when it comes to efficiency. I've tried saving some EV range for the ends of trips where I have some low speed city driving at both ends seperated by long highway stretches but I often end up with a mile or so of EV range at the end which is just wasted gas.

I think for the vast majority of drivers letting the car do the thinking is the best route and will produce very good results with no real effort. But if like playing around with techniques and seeing just how much you can squeeze out of the NIro, rock on. I've done it and it can be fun to see if you can beat the Kia engineers at their own game. Spoiler alert, they are very very good at their jobs.
 

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2022 Niro PHEV EX Deep Cerulean Blue
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If I can do an outing with the total miles less than the battery range, I will select EV mode to avoid gas consumption. If the trip is going to be longer than the EV range I still will select EV mode, when the PHEV battery reads 0 miles the mode automatically switches to HEV mode.

Even in the EV mode if one mashes the accelerator the ICE will kick in until one eases off the accelerator. The ICE will also activate if the electric motor needs some assistance like going up a steep hill at 65-70 mph. Also in the EV mode for the 1st generation PHEVs the ICE will kick in when the heater is turned on. The 2nd gens have an electric heater.

I have a 2022 so no EV+ option.
 

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2023 Kia Niro PHEV EX
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
EV+ Mode restricts the engine to only start if full throttle is applied, so you maximize your EV use. EV mode likely still uses the engine at less than full throttle, but I can't say at what percentage.
I can validate that. While in EV mode, I turned out onto a highway and nearly floored the accelerator, and the ICE kicked in. It seems like you have to be very aggressive with the accelerator to activate the ICE.
 

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2022 Niro PHEV Ex Premium
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In my 2022 PHEV, AUTO and EV settings seem identical: both run in EV mode (even on the highway) until there is insufficient charge (i.e. 0 electric range), then they switch to HEV mode. Both use the ICE if hills or acceleration requires it.

I manually switch from EV to HEV on the highway with just enough km left for the final city driving I'm expecting. I suppose AUTO can't read my mind for that ...
 

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2021 Niro PHEV EX
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In my 2022 PHEV, AUTO and EV settings seem identical:
I'm still trying to figure that out too - same car as yours, just different Kia badges. Auto does seem to behave a little differently, and sometimes the same as EV, as you've found. On one drive I noticed it consistently running the ICE for stretches on a 55 mph highway, then turning it off when decelerating to 45 or slower. I expect it always runs the ICE at 70 mph and need to test that some more. Another drive... it ran the ICE occasionally - somewhere between EV and HEV, and still eventually ran down the EV range. There are virtually no hills where I live, and I use the regen paddles to good effect... usually very close to one-pedal driving.

Call it a consensus I've found here in other threads - Auto has at best limited utility. Better to manually switch EV-HEV according to what you know about your drive. I did some general research on this. Approximately below 45-50 mph EV appears to win for efficiency, and above that, ICE. I'm probably not alone in having longer trips >> EV range primarily be, one way, maybe 5-10 miles of in-town, stretch(es) of 55-70 mph highway, then another 5-10 mph in town. For those, flipping to HEV at the highway onramp and back to EV at the exit ramp seems to work reasonably well. Balance that with timing it to show 0 EV miles just before arriving home or elsewhere to charge.

I too would appreciate having any substantive info about Auto mode, being the owner's manual tells us nothing useful. E.g, does it "learn" over time - or really, just anything about the algorithm. That'd cure my curiosity as to whether it's even worth the bother.
 

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... I use the regen paddles to good effect....
...timing it to show 0 EV miles just before arriving home
Agreed ... especially on the 0 miles. That is important point to achieve an efficient trip.
Interestingly my '22 PHEV Ex Premium has no paddles.

Getting back to the main topic, here is what I think I understand: Once we are in HEV (CS) mode, the system tries to operate the ICE at its most efficient operating points (rpm and load), and to avoid operating at inefficient points on its performance curve. That is how a hybrid can be more efficient than full ICE car even on most highways. Variations in speed and hills provide that opportunity to operate the ICE most efficiently. But the system never knows when you might be choosing to stop and charge, and due to it avoiding gaining too much charge, it often needs the ICE when going from a stop back up to highway speed.

Setting aside integrated route planning, I think it would be better to have the AUTO mode mean the following: "I'm on a long trip, so please be more aggressive about charging when it is efficient to do so. And please keep at least enough charge to get me (gradually) back up to highway speed in EV mode." But it definitely does not do that. :-(
 

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2022 Niro PHEV EX Deep Cerulean Blue
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In the AUTO mode the vehicle will try to go as far as it can on the PHEV battery, once it is depleted it switches to the HEV with the HEV battery. The ICE does NOT recharge the PHEV battery--I have noticed that once I switch to HEV mode the battery range never increases more than a mile or two during a long trip.

The PHEV battery gets its charge from the wall plug. The smaller HEV battery (as well as the auxiliary battery) gets its charge from the ICE (just like a normal hybrid).
 

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The ICE does NOT recharge the PHEV battery
It will charge the battery if you switch to Sport mode, but that forces the engine to run the majority of the time, with the expected loss of fuel economy. Hybrid mode will attempt to maintain the state of battery charge at the time you switched to HEV. Of course, if it switched to HEV itself because of low battery charge, it's not going to charge enough to switch back to EV mode without using Sport and driving it for some distance.
 

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It will charge the battery if you switch to Sport mode, but that forces the engine to run the majority of the time, with the expected loss of fuel economy. Hybrid mode will attempt to maintain the state of battery charge at the time you switched to HEV. Of course, if it switched to HEV itself because of low battery charge, it's not going to charge enough to switch back to EV mode without using Sport and driving it for some distance.
That would make sense. The ICE probably does not generate as much energy as provided by AC wall electricity per unit time, so it makes better fuel efficiency sense for the system to just run as a regular HEV when the PHEV range goes to zero.
 

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In my 2022 PHEV, AUTO and EV settings seem identical: both run in EV mode (even on the highway) until there is insufficient charge (i.e. 0 electric range), then they switch to HEV mode. Both use the ICE if hills or acceleration requires it.

I manually switch from EV to HEV on the highway with just enough km left for the final city driving I'm expecting. I suppose A
UTO can't read my mind for that ...
Auto tries to get the best out of the battery. So EV at slow speeds and the ICE running more on highway than in EV mode.

I put mine in Auto when I know I will drive farther than the EV range before recharging.

Otherwise mine is in EV mode
 

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2021 Niro PHEV EX
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Auto tries to get the best out of the battery. So EV at slow speeds and the ICE running more on highway than in EV mode.
I agree if highway perhaps means >> 55 mph. Last night I drove a majority at 55, in Auto, and the ICE never started. Before heading home I realized the round trip was going to fit into EV range - about 30 miles total, so I flipped it back to EV to save gas (that around here is currently going up at an alarming rate). Perhaps Auto would have started the ICE on the way back. All I know for certain is Auto can do seemingly different things on exactly the same kind of driving. On another almost identical drive, it did run the ICE when reaching 55, approx. same battery SOC... go figure. More testing to be done. ;)
 

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Can be slower than that. Local round trip I make on back highway, hilly. Speeds 30 to 50 mph. In Auto mode I can do round trip before battery depletion but in EV mode the car will switch to HEV before I get home. Same round trip
 

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At what highway speed do you see this? At 100-105 km/h (62-65 mph) both AUTO and EV seem identical to me: no ICE until the battery is depleted and then it reverts to HEV.
A little lower in my '21. I drove a methodical Auto test last night with straight and level highway segments at 45, 55, 60, 65 and 70 mph plus stop and go in town. Flat ground, only "hills" were highway overpasses. Calm wind, dry pavement, temp 73F, HVAC off, tires 38 psi cold. Left the house with 100% HV charge. I used smart cruise control in and between all constant-speed segments, and manually accelerated from stops.

1. Below 45 mph - EV unless mashing the accelerator, and then when up to speed it often ran the ICE for 10-15 sec. The accelerator doesn't have to be pushed as hard to get it to start. Otherwise just like EV mode and depletes the HV battery as usual down to 17% or so.
2. At 45 almost always EV except: when taking off quickly from a stop, or just after exiting a higher-speed highway. Both those times it ran the ICE for 30-60 seconds, then turned it off.
3. 55 seems to be the approximate tipping point. I've had it stay EV for long stretches at 55, and other times run the ICE for at least several minutes. Up a mild hill, on comes the ICE.
4. 60, the ICE was continuously on except when going downhill.
5. 65-70 - seemed like ICE on no matter what

I expect going up hills the ICE will come on a lower speed, and conversely it'll go to EV at higher speeds when heading downhill. The decision appears to be all about the load on the engine - the ECO/NORM/POWER ranges. HEV has the EV/ICE line relatively low, Auto moves it up the curve a ways, and EV mode has it way up there.

This behavior is almost ideal for me on a trip of about 100-120 miles, arriving home just as it flips to HEV on its own. Last night's drive was 90 miles and indicated MPG was 87.0. Call it an "aggressive hybrid" that leverages the larger PHEV battery - assuming you have a variety of driving segments.
 
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