New Owner Review

Discussion in 'Kia Niro' started by TheHellYouSay, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    The WA State sales tax relief (~$2500) kicked in on 8/1 so I went for that and the $7,500 fed tax savings. I cannot resist a good deal so I was all in. I also had a very large desire to stick it to Big Oil. The less I give those bloodsuckers, the better. And the concept of lower TCO, no oil changes, timing belts, etc., made it a very attractive car to "buy and hold" which has always been my strategy since I bought my 1986 Subaru new.

    I have owned a lot of cars over the past 45 years, probably somewhere between 15 and 30, I'd have to sit down and count. Some good, some bad, but each was unique in it's own way. I had taken a test drive in an old beat up Nissan Leaf, and was ready to buy a Leaf Plus due to lower cost, but stumbled upon Niros and Konas. Even though I live near Seattle where the temps are usually moderate, I felt that active battery management would be advantageous.

    At first, I wasn't sure what to think about the regenerative braking. It felt odd. If an ICE does that kind of behavior, you pull it off the road and make sure something isn't about to seize up. Then the quietness is also jarring. When it slows down without braking and you don't hear the engine humming, instinctively, my heart sort of flutters. I also worry that with aggressive regenerative braking that some folks might think I'm coasting and just ride right over my bumper.

    On the other side of the coin, the acceleration is breathtaking. I am trying to sort of "break it in" old school for the first 500 miles, but still, the torque is there and I could see how an idiot who abused it could wind up doing donuts down the freeway. Living in an area with bad traffic though, I see some advantages in the power that it can put to the wheels in very short order. And the hell of it is, to slow down and take a slot in the next lane, just let off the gas and it will GENERATE juice. That is just too cool.

    I'm on Day 3 and I've got some of the stuff like Android Auto and Bluetooth set up, got a lot of the buttons figured out now. I've been driving in ECO pretty much the whole time, although I did let my son drive it for 3 or 4 miles and he wasn't interested in ECO mode. The car was sold to me with 18 miles on it. The dash said that it was fully charged with 278 miles of range, although I knew very well that it was only rated at 239 miles. After 100 miles (118 on the clock) the car "said" that I had 192 miles left, for a depletion of 86 miles. I was averaging around 4.5 to 4.6 Kw/mi. I am down around 167 today, still maintaining a significant portion of the surplus I was enjoying in the first 100 miles. I should note that I've been very stingy with AC and heater, trying to leave them off as much as possible.

    It is a fun car to drive, no doubt about that. I'm very worried about getting a speeding ticket because I like to get where I'm going and without the noise of an engine, and the transmission lurching to shift gears, it's all a meaningless blissful number. I used to know I was going 35 MPH because there were 3 shifts.

    I currently own a 2005 Tundra and a 2009 Hylander Limited, so I have become spoiled by heated and powered seats, as well as rear view mirrors that auto adjust to lighting conditions. Not having those features is ok since they just suck juice and have potential for breakage, but I'm just saying that it's too bad that at least one of those three couldn't be included for such a premium price. It feels very solid in terms of driving, but obviously KIA has found ways to recoup some of the weight given over to the batteries, so doors and tailgates don't exactly feel Toyota-tough, but the car is quite a bit smaller than my others.

    I'm not sure I'll use Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot warnings and all of that as a commuter car, but on the open road, sure, that could be handy. I am dying to try the adaptive cruise control, but no road trips yet.

    I know these things have probably been addressed a hundred times, but I have some questions.

    1. Is there any downside whatsoever to using regenerative braking to it's fullest? I have fooled with the setting a bit and gotten mine into Auto Mode (adapts for hills, etc.) and it starts up at Level 2. I move it to 3 almost immediately because I don't mind the slowing effect and it is supposedly saving me money, but I can't get the idea out of my mind that I'm wearing "something" down? Should I be saving this Eco Aggressive behavior for when I am out on a road trip?

    2. Charging? I already know that 80% is recommended for a stopping point on charging, unless you need that extra capacity. I did buy a ClipperCreek charger for fast charging, but they have free outlets at work for getting a trickle charge. I drive about 20 miles a day, so I don't think I'll need to charge that often, but in terms of getting best use out of the batteries, and in the interest of a "break-in" period if such a thing exists for EVs, is there any advantage or disadvantage to trickle charging vs. fast charging? Would a mix be ok? Sucking down free miles from my employer was also on that list of reasons to buy an EV.

    3. I am pretty new to the car, and this is related to the Auto Regeneration feature. I just discovered this last night on one of the menus. It was NOT turned on by default, so I'm wondering why? Most of the other defaults looked fine, but having to turn this on made me wonder if there was a cost to it? So far, I like driving the car better with it on.

    Thanks in advance, hope to be a member here for a long time!

    Domenick likes this.
  2. Robert Lewis

    Robert Lewis Member

    Nice write-up. It's always interesting to see the EV experience through someone's eyes that is completely new to it. Here are a couple comments:

    Your brake lights come on automatically, even if you are not touching the brake pedal, when the car reaches a certain level of g-force when decelerating. So, the people behind you will know you're slowing down.

    On your question 1 - there is no downside from a wear perspective. Most people find that their brake pads in an EV can last 100,000+ miles because they are being used so little. So, that's a nice upside! However, counter to our initial thoughts on this, it's not the most efficient way to drive an EV. I tend to try to strike a nice medium. Level 2 seems to provide enough for initial slowdown (when coming to a stop), and then I hold the left paddle down to come to a complete stop. However, if you don't need to stop and you take your foot off the accelerator, you lose a lot of forward momentum if you're in the highest setting. Regenerative braking is not 100% efficient - meaning that it will take more energy to get back up to speed than you recouped by the regenerative braking system. So, when you don't need to stop - coasting is actually the most efficient way to drive.

    On your question 2 - Newer EVs are really good about managing the battery. Just plug in when you want, and you don't need to worry. The car never actually reaches a full 100% of charge (even though it tells you that), nor does it ever get to 0%. There is a small buffer both at the high and low end that is not available to the driver to protect the battery. However, if you're not driving a ton of miles every day, then you probably don't need to charge everyday. I find that I'm charging once, maximum twice, per week.

    On your question 3 - I'm not familiar with that feature, and I did a search in the manual and couldn't find it mentioned. Can you describe where in the menus on the car this is found?
  3. Lektrons

    Lektrons Member

    Wow, you wrote a book. Glad your enjoying it, I have about 8k kms on mine and I'll address the auto regenerate mode. It does mention it in the manual page 6___19 on mine. Although I did discover it by accident, if you hold the right paddle for three seconds it goes from auto to levels 1,2,3. I see no reason why not just leave it in auto. It works with the front radar to determine how much regen you need based on the vehicle in front of you combined with speed. You can always override by pulling the left paddle for more regen.
  4. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Thank you for this information. Despite the fact that I'm Scotch/Welsh and try to save money whenever I can, and therefore yearn to be a hyper-miler, but I don't like to piss people off. If they think that I am driving with 2 feet (i.e. riding the brakes), then it could piss them off. I know it does that to me. Based on what I've learned from your post, it seems that it might be better to back off and go with Level 2 instead of riding around at Level 3 all the time. I'm sure I'll figure it out over time. My commute (home) is about 3 miles of 35 - 45 stop-and-go, followed by a 5 minute idle at a metered on-ramp, then a 2 mile burst of 55+, then the last leg is about 35-40 MPH for another 5 miles. In other words, it's pretty varied. I think that the paddles are pretty cool for being to quickly adjust "on the fly" so I can experiment, but for just driving back and forth to work, it probably doesn't matter. I think the other poster helped me find the information about Auto Regeneration (#3).

    What I really want to know is how to maximize the miles when traveling over mountain passes. We want to drive across WA state and that means an elevation gain of ~4,500' and then a drop to around ~1,000' going east and vice versa going west. On the downside of a mountain pass on a 3 lane highway, would it make sense to maximize regeneration? We would like to get away with a short charge in Ellensburg then be able to make it to Spokane.
  5. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Thank you as well. I had them holding the vehicle while I was on vacation, so I downloaded the manual, but got bogged down in the safety features. Like seat belts and head rests. Booooring! I need to read section 6. RTFM!
    Lektrons likes this.
  6. Robert Lewis

    Robert Lewis Member

    The best approach I've found is to use cruise control - so that you are not using any more energy than needed going up, and the car automatically limits your speed to what you want on the way down, and puts the residual energy back into the battery. Just don't start the downhill leg with a full battery, as there won't be anywhere to put that residual energy on the downhill leg.
  7. MartyDow

    MartyDow Active Member

    You can charge on AC to 100% as much as you want with the 110v/12a trickle charger that comes with the car, or a 240v/32a charger you buy aftermarket. But you should generally limit DC fast charging to around 80%, beyond which charge rates drop significantly to protect the battery, and you are presumably on a road trip when time and distance are of the essence. You can get from 10% to 80% in about an hour at any DC fast charger. Be aware that if you charge at an Electrify America charger over 50 kw, you may pay double for your juice, for reasons that are discussed elsewhere...
  8. SkookumPete

    SkookumPete Well-Known Member

    The level of regen is only one part of the equation in determining how much you slow down. If you're using 2 or 3, most likely you're modulating with the accelerator anyway to come to more gradual stops. If at 1 or 2, you probably use the brake pedal to apply more regen as needed. IMHO there is no right or wrong way to use the system as far as efficiency is concerned.
  9. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Yeah, I think you're right. I'm still playing and learning. I set my wife up to drive in Normal mode with 1 on the regen rate. I later drove the car with the same parameters and found that having less drag was more pleasant and I upped my miles per kWh from 4.5 to ~5. I am still puzzled why the Auto mode was turned off by default? I can see with it on that the car is reacting to upcoming stopped traffic and hills, so it's a Good Thing IMO.
  10. SkookumPete

    SkookumPete Well-Known Member

    Auto regen is brilliant, but I suspect it's not on by default because it might be a bit baffling for new drivers.
  11. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Just a few more observations for anyone who meanders through my ramblings. Now I have aboue 1,750 miles on the car and a lot of hours. I love all the stats that are available, like the history of trips. I was looking through it to find the best miles/kWh and saw that it was just a week ago. I have gone back to driving in Eco most of the time. I know I can always switch to Normal and Sport if I want/need to, but I am now addicted to the auto regen. In the traffic patterns that I drive in, stop and go mostly, with occasional bursts of speed(ing), the Eco works well because it really is pretty close to 1 pedal driving. I was looking closely at the history and since it's uphill to work, and I often have to take longer alternate routes, in a hurry, cooler temps, etc., I will usually only get 3.3 to 3.8 mi/kWh, but coming home, downhill, more leisurely pace, I will get up to 6.1 mi/kWh. As it starts to turn a lot colder up north (freezing!) it will be interesting to see how I do. I really do love all the numbers and the logging and so on.

    I still think a lot about charging. Sure don't want to hurt those very expensive batteries. In 7 weeks, I think I have charged to 100% only 2 times - first time the car (nothing turned on) said I had a 300 mile range. The next time it was 296. In either case, it's way above the 239 EPA number and doesn't seem like it's a Guess-o-meter either, like the Leafs apparently were at first. I tend to be late a lot, so I find myself really pushing it pretty hard on the freeway too, so watching the miles left drop slower than the actual milepost distances is a nice feeling. I have charged at home with my ClipperCreek Level 2 charger 3x, maybe four. The rest of the time I charge it for 10 hours at work and manage to stay ahead. Probably 90% of the time the batteries are staying between 30% and 80% charged, showing between 90 and 210 miles of range. For whatever reason, and again, it is downhill on the way home from work, but the car really seems to like that trickle charge. Driving it immediately after that slow charge the car always seems to give me those "free miles" where maybe 2 or 3 miles go by before the range meter drops by 1 mile. I have found no reason to believe that slow charging is easier on the batteries, but as long as a have free juice, I will undoubtedly save the expense and the wear and tear on my Level 2 charger.

    As far as features, I still miss heated seats and electric seat adjustments. The blind side warning can be annoying when you know that you're doing a tight lane change and it beeps at you, but it's super easy to turn it off. The rear view mirror is my biggest complaint. I know if you get the Premium package they put the HomeLink stuff and auto dimming on it, but both my Toyotas have that auto-dim rear view mirror and it's pretty nice. My other cars have a compass direction displayed, not the Niro EV though. Either of those features, even a decent rear view mirror without HomeLink, would not cost Kia that much and it would make it such a more pleasant experience. Safer too probably. I guess you give up all that common sense as a trade-off for the gizmos, like auto sensing cruise control and collision warning/avoidance systems.

    I did drive my Tundra ICE for 2 days in a row and it really took me awhile to get used to the accelerator again. Just such a different feel to it and how the vehicle reacts. Push too hard on the gas pedal and there is nothing smooth about it, the truck simply lurches forward, whereas the electric car accelerates more like a slingshot, steady and fast.
  12. Case

    Case New Member

    If you push the 'MAP' button, you can get a compass view on the right.
  13. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    I think because I don't have the Premium model, I probably don't have a map button. I don't have nav systems in either of my Toyotas, but they both have the compass direction. The Highlander shows direction on the rear view mirror, my Tundra has it displayed (with temperature) on a small LED. It's a little thing I guess, compared to Adaptive Cruise Control and Back Up Warnings and so on, but I really appreciate that small touch.
  14. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Just hit 5K and I still love the car. No ticking noises when coasting at low speeds. I am learning how to use the regen in a lot of creative ways, like to ease into a corner, brakeless. Still amazed by how linear the acceleration and deceleration are compared to a gasser. Did a bit of grinding with the dremel tool to keep the charging door from sticking, so that seems to be working better now. I drive in Eco mode now like 98% of the time, sometimes slipping back to Normal for road trips, and Sport mode once in awhile just freak people out. I am now charging almost wholly through the trickle charger, I've a wood working project I'm finishing up in the garage. At work I will charge in 10 hour intervals, but if I can't get the spot, then I end up charging for about 36 hours on a weekend. Trying to stay within 30% and 70% SOC most of the time, never let the charge level get into single digits yet, knock on wood. Mileage varies greatly depending on how much I use the heater, but soon that won't be an issue for another 6 months or so. I do like the way that the sensors work with the auto regen. It's almost like it's done some self-tuning or something - that feature is awesome. It might even allow me to keep driving longer if I keep it until I'm in my 70's and 80's!
    niro525 likes this.
  15. hobbit

    hobbit Active Member

    "Auto regen" is apparently not without certain risks; there are some
    other threads about scary experiences with it and being way too
    close to other traffic.

    Give regen 0 a whirl in your tests. Be assured that normal use of the
    brake pedal brings in regen first, and none of the energy-wasting
    hydraulics unless/until needed, and has the upside that your brake
    lights *reliably* go on to signal people behind you. I enjoy the
    freewheeling glide that 0 gives, as it's the best use of the momentum
    you just worked for ... and then fine-grained modulation of regen
    with the brake pedal feels more in-control than relying on some
    fixed level that is insensitive to the real-world motion dynamics.
    [In my Kona, btw, but basically the same sled.]

    "Rubber-band" one-pedal driving actually wastes more energy.

    jeff_h likes this.
  16. TheHellYouSay

    TheHellYouSay Member

    Thank you for this suggestion. When I first got the car, I would waver between almost no regen (never did zero though) and heavy regen because I really didn't like that drag and I did like the way the car rolled so easily because it wasn't dragging a heavy transmission along too. It'll be interesting to see which way my miles/kwh go. We're past slick road season here, and I did like the regen 2 for driving on potentially icy roads.

    I also wasn't (fully) aware of how the brakes worked in conjunction with regen. I'm cheap so I would like to not have to do a brake job until 60K or better assuming I drive this car as gently as I normally drive my other cars.
  17. Gosub

    Gosub New Member

    With auto regen turned you never have true zero regen, even at a setting of 0. To get zero regen you need to turn the auto function off, then set to 0. You'll then feel the true freewheeling ability of the Niro. Freewheeling is gaining miles/kms without expending any energy.

    Regeneration, while a great thing, is slightly wasteful on a long journey. As was stated previously, it's not 100% efficient. I read somewhere that the efficiency figure is somewhere around 60%. Coasting at true zero regen is the most efficient way of driving. I use auto regen in traffic as that's where it shines.

    There's an issue with rear brake discs rusting due to lack of use. Every so often I'll slip it into neutral on a downhill section and use the brakes to hold the speed down. This cleans rust off the disc surface.
  18. I have noticed worse kwh/mi on auto regen vs. working the sure the brakes defer to regen first, before hydraulics. That would explain why the paddles are dead when the foot is on the break. Does not feel the same though. I will run a test going down a BIG hill a couple of times.
  19. ITown

    ITown Member

    I'm not a fan of the auto-regen because it doesn't seem to work properly on slopes. My commute includes a stop sign at the bottom of a hill, and when I had the car on auto-regen, the car would not brake appropriately when approaching the car in front of me. It generated a lot of unnecessary anxiety. I just keep the car on level 1 regen most of the time, and use the brake pedal to slow down more aggressively. As long as you don't slam on the brakes, you don't have to worry about wearing out your brake pads because the regen is prioritized even when using the brake pedal.

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