2017 Kia Niro CUV Sets GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Title for Lowest Fuel Consumption for a Hybrid Vehicle

Discussion in 'Kia' started by Carcus, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Hi Wayne,

    i’ve had a new Niro HEV for a few months now. It’s a french « premium » model which is the highest trim and comes with 18" inch alloys (should be equivalent to US Touring trim from what I understood.
    As far as fuel economy is concerned, i’m averaging 5.6L/100 which is 42 MPG after 5000 kms.
    I try to hypermile when I can of course (P&G, DWL..)
    I over-inflated tires to 3.2 bars (3.5 would be max sidewall for the Michelin).

    Can I expect a better result ? (I mean without shutting AC or heating down :))

    As as aside, from what I observed, what is killing good results are very short drives (where you can easily be under 30 MPG if less than 10 kilometers) and the vehicle not changing to the upper gear.
    This is rather common on highways where it happens to stay in 5th gear for loooong seconds for no reason before switching to 6th.
    Now i drive every highways section that has clean traffic in Sport manual mode forcing the car to remain in 6th Gear.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  2. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Hi Marc,

    You seem to be getting about equal to the average fuel economy for a sample of 10 2019 Niro with Touring trim on Fuelly. (dot com) Of course, you should be doing better since you're trying. :)

    You do have the disadvantage of the heavier premium trim level and 18" wheels.

    You've taken care of tire inflation.

    You've made good observations about short trips and the transmission's reluctance to go into 6th gear on the highway. Working on these two weaker areas should improve your average.

    Just curious, how fast do you typically drive on the highway? Are you on the unlimited Autobahn? If you're able to safely go slower, say below 100 kph, you may do better and the transmission may be able to shift to overdrive more easily. What's the terrain like? (as in elevations)

    Short trips are a challenge for almost all vehicles with an internal combustion engine. Less so for a plug-in hybrid. There are some articles in cleanmpg that describe techniques for dealing with city driving that may help. A lot has to do with traffic flow and minimizing the need to throw away the hard-earned momentum, or having to build up said momentum again after being forced to come to a full stop. I don't know if these are some of your challenges in the <10 km drives. I know my local city traffic lights pretty well and if I go away from the city, the country roads are ideal for good fuel economy.

    Good luck! I'm sure others, and of course Wayne, will chime in in due course. I just happen to be here first.
    xcel likes this.
  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Bill , you can't tell a European to slow down , lol. I suspect that the actual average trip length is not very high.
    This is a function of how much of your trip ( time or distance ) is spent with a less-than-fully warmed up engine.
    And of course there's how much engine-on time and how much gliding.
    I think Marc needs more practice with his Niro. Practice shows you where you can improve , and what you need to
    sacrifice to get the results you want.

    We don't see a lot of them around here. When I saw the first one , I thought " It's a station wagon ! "
    And we thought they were all gone.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Marc:

    I cannot add much more thtan what Bill and Edwin did. Those Top level trims wheels and tires are killing you for one. Short drives are murderous but not down in the 30 mpg range. When you begin to move, make sure there is a clear path and keep it rolling. I assume you are running light to light and that does not make a good segment. Tie the lights, let the rabbits run as they will trip them for you.

    If you are in seriously steep hill country, that will cream you as well. For example, if you have a 100 meter climb over just 2 kms, you are going to receive at best 20 mpg for that climb. While the downhill provides no fuel consumed and regen, the best you can do for the total climb and descent is 40 mpg. And this is behind the warmup hit you took when first launching.

    I despise the larger - in your case 18" - alloys the most and if I could do one thing for all vehicles, reduce those diameters back to the more std. 15" that provide a secondary benefit benefit of being far less costly to replace tires!

    Good Luck

    BillLin likes this.
  5. Hi Bill, Edwin, Wayne

    Thanks for your quick detailed feedback :)
    Regarding everyday terrain, it is mostly flat with little elevation if any.
    About the speed when on highway, it is around 70 mph most of the time with cruise control on (i plan to try CC with manual sport mode to see if the engine agrees to stay in 6th). I know CC is not the best option but i confess i choose confort over mpg (same for usage of AC or heating).
    I’m just trying here to make sure there are no tricks i may have missed.
    Btw, i tried using improved fuel octane 2 times but there was no real difference in the end.
    I live near the german border and i made the niro scream on unlimited highway when going to Frankfurt (betw 80 and up to 100 mph). Just as an aside, max speed which i haven’t tried must be 110 mph.
    Surprisingly, average over 200km of fast autobahn is an « acceptable » 34 mpg.
    But back to my story, i acknowledge that 18" tires are killing my fuel economy but i couldn’t do otherwise if i wanted the new stuff and security of the 2020 model that come only with the high end trim (and 18" tires, no downgrade option).

    As far as regen is concerned i use regen with steering wheel paddle a lot. Almost all the time i’m in lvl 1 unless i’m on the highway where i don’t use to glide a little if possible.

    An option to force EV mode would be great, sometimes when engine is cold it keeps charging the battery up to 3/4 and thus doesn’t want to run on pure EV until engine is warm. We then benefit from high SoC but harm on fuel economy is already made driving the first kilometers on thermal.

    Regarding acceleration , is it still advised to get up to speed quickly ?
    BillLin and xcel like this.
  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Marc:

    I think I found some of the problem.
    Always attempt to bring your speed up slowly in EV. Allow the recharge to occur at highway speeds, not when slogging around town.

    You already know speed kills FE so whenever you reach your pain threshold, back off. ;)

    I hope that helps.

    BillLin likes this.
  7. Thanks Wayne,

    sorry I was meaning accelerating with ICE.
    In EV i’m clearly building acceleration up verry slowly to avoid jumping out of EV and the thermal picking in.

    i meant for instance when the engine is cold in the first kilometers, ICE running, and i have to get onto the highway (say from 35 to 55 mph), was wondering if it was best to accelerate frankly or steadily.

    As for now i’m having the tires at 3.2 bars and max sidewall is 3.5, would you recommend to inflate them to that value (when cold) ?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
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  8. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Marc:

    Easy acceleration even with the ICE on in warmup phase. I would run max sidewall but that is me.

    Good Luck

    BillLin likes this.
  9. Thanks.

    I’ll inflate the tires to max sidewall before my next tank refill to see if i get any improvement (they are already over normal pressure).
    I’m aware that the tire size plays one of the greatest role regarding FE, could I mount 16" inch ? Do some US guys have 16" on the touring trim ?.
    In fact I may need to buy a separate set a winter tires as in Germany the law is to have winter tires on the highway when temp is below 7°C (if you have an accident without winter tires when you should, you are in a very bad situation).

    Anyway, heating+winter temps are clearly worse than the need of AC in summer (even on hot days). I guess the engine running cold over the first kilometers is a real pain in the b*** and kills FE. My work commute is just under 10km (50% city, 50% hwy) and I get around 42 mpg at best.
    For nonstop drives above 100km, the worst average was 29 mpg with 90% of high speed highway (+stuck in 5th gear problem, see my 1st post) and the best was 51 mpg on country roads in summer.
    My iFCD when driving at 55 mph (90km/h) is 43 mpg (measured by some apps)
    That’s why i’m so impressed (and jealous lol) with Wayne coast to coast challenge driving the Niro with a minimal aFCD of 75 mpg. That’s just insane.

    Btw, fuel quality does not seem to change much, tried cheap fuel and high quality and FE was the same. Also FE does not improve with the car getting more mileage (i’m over 5000km now) as it used to be the case with older cars.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  10. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Go to any tire sales web site to fit the correct alternative tire sizes for your vehicle.

    I used the tirerack (dot com) for starters and a 2019 Niro. They didn't have sizes for the 2020 model year. For the Touring, they show 225/45-18. Equivalent size in a 16" is 205/60-16. Using https://tiresize.com/calculator/, I see that the 16" equivalent has a .3" smaller diameter and requires an additional 9 revolutions per mile. This will affect your gearing ever so slightly. You could compensate in the opposite direction with a 205/65-16 though that was not recommended.

    I think the 205/60-16 should work well as a winter tire size if you're going to get another set of wheels/tires anyway for winter.

    re: winter heating - If you can delay using the cabin heat a little bit, that would help your car engine warm up more quickly. Your Touring trim's heated steering wheel and front seat should help you tolerate those conditions until the engine warms up.

    Do you have any means to preheat your engine block before your first cold start?
    xcel likes this.
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Marc:

    It is too bad you did not live in the States. I still have (2) Kia Niro LX alloys with 205/60R16 Michelin Energy Saver A/S' installed. The same used during the Guinness World Records setting drive. Those things roll like the wind blows!

    BillLin likes this.
  12. Thanks Bill and Wayne for the input.
    Yes , I think that 205/60R16 are the way to go.
    About the need for additional revolutions, it is because of the car weight ? So I can’t just get a new tire/wheel combo and put them on?
    About the heating, you mean shutting the heating completely down (=turning off air control altogether I guess) and just relying on steering wheel + seat warming. I guess I could try even if it can be unpleasant to sit in a 8°C car (temp in my building garage).
    However if I drive in the city at low speeds the engine takes awhile to heat up, so i’m not it’ll help but can surely try.

    Wayne : As much as I enjoy the states it’s not enough to settle there and get a new life, even for a Niro :D

    It’s a trade-in, the full equipment of the highest trim, versus +1L over 100km on FE.
    When I do the maths one liter more per 100km per tank is 8L more each refill which is 12€ (say 13$). At 2 refills per months it is about 25 bucks per month of « wasted » fuel.

    What could help would be for the Niro to switch gear sooner, I feel it stays too long in intermediate gears.
    My father has a gasoline VW Polo (no hybrid, about 100PS). It also has DSG gearbox but with 7 gear and the car is already in 6 or 7 at 45 mph

    Anyway the tips I read here are great so i’m still improving.
    Is the button « driver-only » for AC/heating worth it ? Do you use it ?
    xcel likes this.
  13. Happy New Year everyone :)

    I also wish there could be a mode for Auto Regen or Full Free Wheel on the steering paddles. Even with no regen activated with the paddles and letting the Niro glide on flat terrain i have 2 squares of regen showing and the car looses speed.
    The new Niro shows precisely (with squares instead of a SoC needle) how much you’re recharging and how much you’re pressing the gas pedal.
    For instance to keep a glide at steady speed i can only apply 2 squares (sometimes works until 3) acceleration pressure on gas pedal. If it goes to 4 squares the ICE always kicks in
    xcel likes this.
  14. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Happy New Year to you and all as well!

    Agreed, many of us wish the glide option comes with every car. I may be wrong, but I believe the people who achieve higher efficiency in hybrids for steady state driving do so without using the EV part of the drive train. It gets complicated on when the EV helps and when it doesn't. Absolute speed is one. Whether you pulse and glide with varying speed is another. Basically, unless you have a very efficient way to recoup the battery level loss by using the EV, this scenario results in a net loss of efficiency. The hybrid does make it easier to improve overall efficiency, for example on a slight down grade where you can coast and not lose too much speed. This can be done with the engine not running and the car would be in a nice glide.

    It is purely a matter of a slight difference in tire diameter. Variations occur with tire pressure as well, which is one basis for TPMS (tire pressure...) warning systems. The difference is minor enough that you don't need to worry about it, as long as you have the same tire size on all wheels. Don't mix and match the 16" and 18" wheels later.

    Yes, I mean completely off, or no heat requested from the heater core. You can set the heat to off and use a tiny bit of flow through ventilation to keep from fogging up. This is a way of life for EV drivers looking for more winter efficiency. Just dress warmly and use the low power electric heaters provided with your car. I do this for entire drives with my Bolt EV, but if it is too uncomfortable, you can just do it for the time it takes for your car engine to build up sufficient heat to run efficiently. If you ask for cabin heat right away, the small engine has to warm itself up while attempting to heat a large void. Like filling a bucket with a large hole in it. In my unheated garage, we preheat my wife's Prius Prime by running the heat pump heater in the car. This can be done with or without being plugged in for charging.

    You're sure there's no problem with the DCT transmission in your car, right? Do you have a feel for what speeds and power demands are involved when you think it should find the 6th gear and it doesn't? Does car warmup have any effect?
    xcel likes this.
  15. Yes.
    Absolute speed is king but in my case even at « low » out of city speeds like 50-55 mph i’m getting 43mpg at the best.
    As we’ve seen it is mainly due to the tires (and overweight of the car’s highest trim). I’ll try to set max sidewall inflation, it may help a little.
    Regarding the trim, in France there are four versions 1 to 4, 1 being the « poorest » equipment and 4 the hightest. 1 & 2 run on 16inch tires and 3 & 4 come with 18inch. So to get 16inch I should have bought n°2 which is lacking the latest techy stuff (you can’t really add those as options).
    So don’t get me wrong I absolutely love my Niro and in the end i’m happy I chose the highest design vs being a true hypermiler :D.
    I’m just trying to squeeze the most of every drop , :).

    I’ll see if I really need winter tires (temps are getting milder these days) and if so I may get 16inch.

    I’m not really that guy ready to freeze to save a liter or two but if it’s bearable i might try to rely only the steering wheel and seat heater the next time i’m out of my garage for a ride. I can’t preheat the car (only the Niro EV has this option i think)

    My DCT has no problems i’m pretty sure, i guess it’s the way the Niro calculates all this stuff and is programmed to switch gear slower than other cars. It could be specific to hybrids. Regarding power demands when I feel it doesn’t up gear soon enough i’m not asking power.
    Let’s say for instance i’m on the highway at 65mph steady and now going uphill, the engine will switch down to 5th gear if it can’t cope (even when trying to DWL), sometimes down to 4th when the hill is steep and lasts a while. Then when arriving uphill, the Niro sometimes needs loooong seconds (like 10-20sec) to return to 6th gear even when the hill is passed and going downhill.
    Anyway, I solved the problem by now driving on highway in manual sport as I said to have it stay in 6th
    xcel likes this.
  16. litesong

    litesong litesong

    If your wheel wells are large, put taller tires on your 18inch wheels. If your present tires, at all bulge on the wheels, try less tread width, too. Our Hyundai Accent & two Elantras, handle tires 1.5 to 2 inches greater diameter than OE small tires. I started using used tires, too. They gave me the ability to use considerably larger diameter tires that really filled the wheel wells. If they turned out to be too large, I wasn't out much money. My experiments with large tires worked perfectly. My used tires were never too big. But they really filled the wheel wells & lowered my RPMs by 8+%. Tho tires were bigger than normal, the lower rpms in top gear really helped raise MPG. If you could successfully use large tires like me, you could lower rpms at 100 MPH by 400.
    xcel likes this.
  17. Hi @litesong , thank you for the advice.
    Should I feel the need to change tires, i think i’d rather buy a set of 16", winter or all season as discussed earlier. In fact i’m not so much of a highway user guy, i use fast highways only when driving to the Frankfurt airport once in a while and when visiting family about once per month.
    But your observation is worth keeping in mind, by taller you mean 225/55R18 instead of the /45R18 ?
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  18. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I don't know how big your present tires are compared to your wheel wells. But the diameter difference between the tires you mention is 6.5%. That should be a good beginning. Me, I'm an experimenter & love full wheel wells. So I would try a 215x60x18 tire(used tire, of course), but your wheel wells might NOT take it or your rim may not like any reduction in tread width. If you did get 16 inch wheels (lots of good used alloys), a 215x70x16 tire might fit your wheel wells very nicely.
    I've got lots of used tires to use on my cars: 225x45x18, 215x35x18, 225x55x17, 225x50x17, 215x55x17, 205x70x15, 215x60x16, 215x55x16, 205x65x15, 195x60x15, 185x70x14, 185x65x14, 175x70x14, etc. I've paid as little as $10 to $20 for name brand spare, never used & never mounted tires..... even got good free name brand used tires with lots of tread. People just got no more room in their garages for tires & are downsizing.
    But, your wheel wells are different from mine, so use your good judgement. Also, I'm a featherfooter, no racing or 80MPH to 100MPH stuff.
    You said, "i’m not so much of a highway user guy." Now, I love to drive in top gear, but slowly. You don't need a highway for big tires. You just need to drive country roads & wider open faster city streets to take advantage of top gear & big tires.
    P.S. One fault of using tall tires to fill wheel wells, is that you can't use snow chains. If you need tire chains in the winter, you'll also need a set of smaller diameter snow tires.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
    Marc Schmittbuhl and xcel like this.
  19. I'm getting back to this message because now I hope you're right but it doesn't seem like so...

    Let me explain myself.
    I witnessed a very odd, strange and partly unacceptable behavior of the Niro regarding the DCT. A part from not switching soon (and switly) enough to higher gear with is indeed a pain, I had a problem with the car's power when driving back from Frankfurt to Strasbourg (high speed highway).
    Sorry i'm not dealing about FE or hypermiling stuff for a second but as Wayne is around and knows well how the Niro works he may shed some light on this.
    So i'm getting on the highway departing from the airport (my Soc is 3/4 full) , i'm switching to sport manual mode and 6th to avoid the Niro messing weirdly with lower gears sometimes (see previous posts), i'm driving let's say at about 90 mph for a while, it drains the battery (which is normal) down to 2 last pips but at some time there is NO MORE POWER left to accelerate and i'm stuck at 75 mph with the right foot completely to the floor, full throttle ! The Niro wants me to get back to 5th gear (even 4th gear) ! This is nonsense.
    To me it was pretty obvious that I could use the ICE engine only to get at least to 90 mph (the vehicle has 100 horsepower!). But it seems that the engine is VERY dependent of the electric counterpart and needs to recharge the battery at some point to get more juice. That would explain why in Eco drive it sometimes gets (and stays) in 5th gear with no reason.
    That is insane.
    That would mean that you can't drive at a steady 80 mph (limited french highway speeds) for long without accepting that regularly the Niro will switch back to 5th gear (with increased rpmp, more noise, and of course very bad FE) to recharge the battery.
    Is this specific to the Niro, or to hybrids ? All the automatic cars i've been driving for the last 20 years have always remained in the last highest gear when driving above 55 mph.

    I'm aware this has no relation with hypermiling (sorry about that) and in the US you seldom if never drive at such speeds but just wanted to let you know. I guess this only occurs when driving over 75 mph for some time. Eco or Manual Sport mode has no effect in the end.

    I talked to Kia to check that out end of January but from what they already explained it is normal... they can't reprogram the car or change DCT's behavior. So at that point just drive in Eco and let the engine do its thing and if you want to minimize that problem keep the Niro below 70 mph.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  20. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Hi Marc,

    You need not justify your car option selections. I think we all understand and make choices that are not always about efficiency. Higher option levels often come with worse efficiency, but that's the only way to get certain comfort and safety items. At CleanMPG, everyone helps regardless of vehicle type. ('coal rollers' need not apply)

    Your description of the Niro's high speed 'issues' feel like you have hit the limits of the small, designed for fuel efficiency engine combined with DCT programming that is tuned for optimal 'normal' speed driving. I'm sure the wheel/tire drag and the taller cross section of the Niro also dominate in that speed realm above 75 mph. Though we're not talking about efficiency, that plays a big role in the amount of power it takes to overcome the drag forces. The presence of the hybrid battery and the car's need to dip into it is working against your desire to drive at the constant high speed. So, unfortunately, wrong vehicle choice for that occasional high-speed airport run.

    The earlier suggestion regarding taller tires (bigger diameter than stock) may help with gearing, but will likely work against you in the POWER domain if you don't have enough power now.

    Just my gut feel...

    I don't have experience with driving at such sustained high speeds. All hybrid cars do rely on the small battery and electric motor to provide some instantaneous boost, for example for accelerating from a stand-still or for passing another vehicle. At some point, the battery wants to be 'paid' back for its borrowed energy. That only exacerbates the power deficit at high speeds.


    p.s. this other thread touches on some issues with the efficiency at normal highway speeds

    Kia Niro not coming close to highway MPG expectations
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