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Hey guys,

I am an extremely happy owner of a 2017 Kia Niro EX. I am getting fantastic mileage and am completely satisfied with the car. I just took a weekend trip and got 66.5 mpg for 250 miles of driving (I expect it to go higher as summer goes on).

That said, I am open to buying a 2020 Niro PHEV EX Premium, only if I get a good deal (looking around to see who can offer me a great deal, in these times). I had a few questions about how the PHEV works.

a) Does the larger battery (the one that can be charged by plugged in), also get charged while driving (like the one for a regular hybrid)?

b) If yes, suppose I don't charge the battery by plugging in, and only drive it, would I still get better mileage than the regular hybrid (because a bigger battery is getting charged, potentially saving more energy to be released)? If yes, is there a way to measure this mpg?

c) Is it worth installing a charger, if I buy the car? Or just an extension cord with the regular plug do just fine?

d) A more general question: I was looking at the EX premium trim because of the bigger screen size and driver's seat memory. Has anyone got this trim and found it worth it?

Thank you!
 

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a) It can be charged while driving, but that is a very inefficient way to do it. And it really defeats the purpose of having a plug. It will charge (slowly) when driven on the freeway in Sport mode, but don't expect to see 60 MPG while doing so. More likely 50 MPG or less. If you drive it in hybrid mode, it's more of a charge saver, in that it retains the charge at roughly the level you have when you enable the mode. It might go up a little, but it doesn't really charge much.

b) No, you'd get roughly the same MPG as the standard hybrid, perhaps a touch lower because you're carrying around the heavier battery but not really getting the benefit from it.

c) Depends on your driving habits. Charging from a standard outlet (extension cords are frowned upon, you should use an outlet that the standard cord can reach) takes about 5 1/2 hours if the battery is completely drained (that's about 16%, it never drains to zero). If you install a 220v EVSE, you can charge it in about 2+25. So if you make multiple short trips and can top off between trips, you might be able to spend the majority of your time in EV mode.

d) The 2020 has a larger screen than my 2019, so I can't say much about that. But from what I've seen published, they make good use of the screen size. And there's more to the EX Premium than those two features. Don't forget the heated steering wheel and the cooled seats. I also believe you need that trim for the LED headlights. For me, use they were all good reasons for the EX Premium trim.

If you aren't going to be plugging the car in, I suggest you might be just as happy with the standard Hybrid. But if you can plug in, it's fantastic how little gas you can use. While the pandemic has reduced the amount of driving I do, I've still gone 3 months since I filled the car (driven about 1100 miles in that time), and have over a 1/2 tank remaining. The biggest reason I've used as much gas as I have was for heat when it was colder. We're now back into warmer weather, and heat isn't needed. I'm currently showing 240 MPG on this tank, but it will drop when I go visit my Dad on Friday.

One other thing to consider, is that the federal tax credit can make up most of the price difference between the HEV and PHEV models. Of course, that's assuming you can qualify for the credit, or if you lease and negotiate the credit into the lease price as I did.
 

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a) Does the larger battery (the one that can be charged by plugged in), also get charged while driving (like the one for a regular hybrid)?

b) If yes, suppose I don't charge the battery by plugging in, and only drive it, would I still get better mileage than the regular hybrid (because a bigger battery is getting charged, potentially saving more energy to be released)? If yes, is there a way to measure this mpg?
Charging while driving is exactly like a regular hybrid in HEV mode, especially when plug in miles have all been used.

There are some rare circumstances where the PHEV larger battery can absorb more regen and actually lower costs. That involves a regular commute on a long hill where the smaller battery of an HEV cannot absorb all the regen energy and thus some potential regen energy is not recovered. That is a rare case that one might expect to encounter with enough driving.

For myself, with several long trips including mountain passes, two years and 36,000 miles, I have never experienced a truly full battery in my HEV (one time the display showed max but I hadn't lost regen so it wasn't really full). Have you? Thus even if it happens a couple times, it is not worth lugging around an extra 300 pounds full time weight and the consequent drop in mpg (if plug in miles are not used).

The same general principle applies to BEVs as well. You can get 400 miles of range, but if you never go over 200 miles on a charge, that larger battery just costs you efficiency.
 

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There is a federal tax credit. If you buy the car, you are eligible to get something depending on how much you paid in federal income taxes up to the max amount of the rebate. If you lease it, the dealer gets the credit, and can apply it to your cost of lease.
 

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does this mean the dealer gets the credit for vehicles they lease?
Not the dealer, the finance company. Usually a bank or credit arm of the manufacturer. But you can (and should) negotiate the value of the credit as a discount on the car. I did that with mine, using Kia Motor Finance.
 

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Unless you plug in the PHEV every day it's not worth getting it IMO. The fast charger plug has a special connector so it can't plug into a regular outlet. But it works with the dryer outlet if you have one of those. We've had a Ford PHEV for 5 years and used the regular charger cord for it. Charging overnight worked fine for us. Since I got a Kia PHEV we bought the fast charger plug and use the dryer plug for it (it works for the ford too). That lets us charge both cars at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys!

yeah, I do realize that if I plug-in, all my local commutes would potentially be gas free. I was curious if there's some additional benefits over a standard hybrid, but it doesn't seem like it.

so now it doesn't seem worthwhile to get a new car, maybe it's better to wait a few years. Given the gas mileage I get from my current car (I suspect it's an anti-lemon), most probably, the mileage from the new car would be much lower, and that would drive me into a rage!
 

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Unless you plug in the PHEV every day it's not worth getting it IMO. The fast charger plug has a special connector so it can't plug into a regular outlet. But it works with the dryer outlet if you have one of those. We've had a Ford PHEV for 5 years and used the regular charger cord for it. Charging overnight worked fine for us. Since I got a Kia PHEV we bought the fast charger plug and use the dryer plug for it (it works for the ford too). That lets us charge both cars at the same time.
Don't confuse terms. The PHEV does not support DC Fast Charging. You are referring to Level 2 AC charging, which the PHEV supports at 3.6 kW. That is certainly faster than using the 110v EVSE that comes with the car, as it reduces charge time from 5.5 hours to about 2.5 hours.

A Level 2 EVSE (it's not a charger, that's installed in the car itself) can be purchased with a multitude of different wall connections, as well as being hard wired. A very common connector is a NEMA 14-50, which is most often referred to as a dryer outlet. That connection is good for up to a 50 amp circuit. But the Niro PHEV's charger maxes out at 16 amps, so you don't need a 50 amp EVSE. There's also the NEMA 14-30, good for 30 amps, and NEMA 6-20, good for 20 amps, and enough for a Niro PHEV.

The first EVSE I bought was an inexpensive 16 amp unit from Amazon that was under $200. I had an unused 50 amp circuit in my breaker box, so I wired it myself. I now have a 40 amp Juice Box that my electrical provider offered me for free, and I paid 20% of the install. So I got a $500 EVSE and an $1100 installation for $200. But my car doesn't charge any faster with the new EVSE. I got it because of the low cost offer, and I'm now ready if I step up to an EV before I move from this house.
 

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Don't confuse terms. The PHEV does not support DC Fast Charging. You are referring to Level 2 AC charging, which the PHEV supports at 3.6 kW. That is certainly faster than using the 110v EVSE that comes with the car, as it reduces charge time from 5.5 hours to about 2.5 hours.

A Level 2 EVSE (it's not a charger, that's installed in the car itself) can be purchased with a multitude of different wall connections, as well as being hard wired. A very common connector is a NEMA 14-50, which is most often referred to as a dryer outlet. That connection is good for up to a 50 amp circuit. But the Niro PHEV's charger maxes out at 16 amps, so you don't need a 50 amp EVSE. There's also the NEMA 14-30, good for 30 amps, and NEMA 6-20, good for 20 amps, and enough for a Niro PHEV.

The first EVSE I bought was an inexpensive 16 amp unit from Amazon that was under $200. I had an unused 50 amp circuit in my breaker box, so I wired it myself. I now have a 40 amp Juice Box that my electrical provider offered me for free, and I paid 20% of the install. So I got a $500 EVSE and an $1100 installation for $200. But my car doesn't charge any faster with the new EVSE. I got it because of the low cost offer, and I'm now ready if I step up to an EV before I move from this house.
Now you got me confused. I thought when you have a plug in hybrid there's 2 choices for recharging. Regular 110v. or 220v. for a faster charge. Are you saying now there's 3 choice? 110v. and two different 220v?
 

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and that would drive me into a rage!
Mental health is more important than a new car. And financially, a new car can almost never be justified unless you are willing to drive it for a couple hundred thousand miles. Took me twenty years on my last car. So 18 years to go on my Niro!
 

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Now you got me confused. I thought when you have a plug in hybrid there's 2 choices for recharging. Regular 110v. or 220v. for a faster charge. Are you saying now there's 3 choice? 110v. and two different 220v?
no, you are correct that there are two choices for the phev. as ATC says in his post “The PHEV does not support DC Fast Charging.”. DC fast charging is available on most/all EVs, think tesla super charger, which will charge the much bigger battery in around 30(?) mins.
 

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Now you got me confused. I thought when you have a plug in hybrid there's 2 choices for recharging. Regular 110v. or 220v. for a faster charge. Are you saying now there's 3 choice? 110v. and two different 220v?
No, for the PHEV there are only two choices: Level 1 and Level 2 AC. Level 1 is 110/120v, using a typical outlet in a North American home. This is no more than 12 amps with the factory EVSE. Level 2 uses 220/240v AC. In the Niro PHEV, the on-board charger is a 3.6 kW unit, which is 16 amps. Because the voltage is doubled and the current is higher, it will charge more than twice the speed of the Level 1 charger. You can use higher powered EVSEs, such as the 40 amp JuiceBox I have, but it doesn't charge any faster. It's limited by the capability of the on-board charger.

The third level of charging is DC Fast Charging (DCFC). This is not supported by the Niro PHEV, but is is available with the Niro EV. As you can tell from the name, it uses DC rather than AC, and the actual charger is outboard of the car. It charges at a much higher voltage and current level than Level 1 or Level 2 charging, but the only PHEV I am aware of that supports it is the Mitsubishi Outlander. For most PHEVs, the battery simply isn't large enough to justify adding DCFC capability.
 

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FWIW I have a 2019 PHEV, I can get 32-33 miles on the battery, the display and all the literature says capacity is 26 miles. Obviously I get enough regeneration on my commute! I get mid to high 50s mg when driving purely in hybrid mode. I do this just so Im not wasting my oil changes!!!
 

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I think the EPA spec is for how far you can drive based on ordinary speeds and probably flat roads and no wind and temperate climate. Real world results go both ways, if they always exceeded EPA, then the testing algorithm would be incorrect.

Regen can never recapture anything but a small portion of slowing and downhill energy so I doubt it is taken into account. Obviously in the real world, hybrids do better than ICE only cars but that is a total design being better than the pieces. I'll remind you that certain ICE only cars got better mpg than the original Prius, in fact I've owned two of them: Datsun B210 +, and the Honda CRX HF. Both of those were rated over 50 mpg, and when I was willing to drive them 55 mph, they exceeded that (I think both weighed under 2,000 pounds).

But recovering even a small amount (I think the number is between 10 and 15% of lost energy) is of course worthwhile as long as cost and weight are not excessive. As they are not today.
 

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FWIW I have a 2019 PHEV, I can get 32-33 miles on the battery, the display and all the literature says capacity is 26 miles. Obviously I get enough regeneration on my commute! I get mid to high 50s mg when driving purely in hybrid mode. I do this just so Im not wasting my oil changes!!!
Yes, it's partially from regen, but the Kia is also just flat out pretty efficient in EV mode. And of course how you're driving it can make a huge difference. Straight freeway travel will likely be closer to the 24-26 mile estimate, while in-town with stop and go traffic exceeding 30 is no big deal. A steady, level 40 MPH drive would likely be the absolute tops for range. Don't forget that 26 mile estimate is with HVAC turned off, otherwise it's 24 miles.

I consider this similar to the EPA results with diesels. My 2014 Passat was rated at 42 MPG highway, yet I could reach 52 MPG without babying it at all. For the 2+ years I owned it, my overall MPG was around 38, with mostly city driving. Virtually all diesel cars come out similar. It seems that with EVs, the EPA numbers can be conservative. The new Porsche Taycan is another example. EPA rated for about 204 miles range, but multiple testers have gotten near 300 miles on a full charge. It seems that Tesla is one of the few that has more trouble reaching EPA range numbers.
 

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I have a 2019 PHEV EX Premium and bought almost all the options available. (Didn't get the sun roof.) I absolutely love it. I had an electrician put in a 220 outlet in my garage and have a level 2 charger from Clipper Creek. Rarely do I have to go to a gas station. Mostly have to use the gas engine when traveling out of town. Good tax incentives and even got a rebate from the state of Texas for $2,000.

The only thing I wanted that it didn't have was a power tailgate which would come in handy about now in the ear of curbside pickup.
 

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“it will charge (slowly) when driven on the freeway in Sport mode, but don't expect to see 60 MPG while doing so. More likely 50 MPG or less. If you drive it in hybrid mode, it's more of a charge saver, in that it retains the charge at roughly the level you have when you enable the mode. It might go up a little, but it doesn't really charge much.“
you really peaked my curiosity with this. so when i went out today on the highway i ran it in hybrid mode for 10 miles and gained no ev miles. but when i ran it in sport mode i gained 3 ev miles. why is that? only thing i can think of is that the ice is running more in sport mode than in hybrid mode which would account for the lower mpg, but if so, why is it running more?
 

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Sport mode changes the engine performance mapping in the computer, and also diverts more power back into the battery. I've heard (but unconfirmed) that Sport mode also takes the engine out of the Atkinson-cycle, which increases power and reduces efficiency. Driving in hybrid mode will add to the battery, but far slower than sport mode, as you noted.

Also, in Sport mode the engine runs pretty much all the time, other than at a stop. In Hybrid mode will still switch between EV and ICE power based on some unknown algorithm. When I'm at freeway speeds, I'll usually use Sport mode, simply to ensure I have some EV range available at my destination. When I'm driving far enough I know the ICE will be needed, I figure I'll go ahead and burn a little gas. Right now I haven't filled up for 3 months, so it might be getting a hair stale anyway. I'm driving to my parents tomorrow (about 120 miles round trip), so I'll burn off some of the older gas.
 
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