Long Term Updates
Long Term Updates
Date: January 2019
It’s a new era around here, when we get really excited about a hybrid. We haven’t had a plug-in among our long-term fleet in quite some time, and having just spent a year with a non-plug-in Kia Niro Hybrid, we’re now able to better grasp the advantages of its plug-in variant, this 2019 Kia Niro PHEV.
GREG CARLOSS: Despite sharing the Niro name, this Plug-in version does differ in its driving characteristics -- albeit slightly. It feels like it jumps off the line quicker even though the on-paper output is the same. We’re glad we still have an actual geared transmission like in the standard Niro Hybrid, but we’re just as happy to drive on battery power alone.
Rated for 26-miles of EV driving, we’re already seeing the benefits, off to a good 61.7 miles-per-gallon average over our first 1,300-miles. Quite an improvement over the 43.7 miles-per-gallon average of our Niro Hybrid.
Date: February 2019
The current fuel mileage champ in our fleet is this 2019 Kia Niro PHEV.
“The Niro Plug-In really shines as a short trip commuter and errand runner. We’re able to keep it plugged in at our offices, and when it’s time to head to lunch there’s usually enough EV range for a round trip without touching a drop of gas. But even when the engine kicks in, several on our staff have noted the refined manner in which it does so.”
Even with all those short hikes, we’ve covered over 3,500 miles in just two months. And, rather than declining, fuel economy actually snuck up a bit, to an even 62.0 miles-per-gallon. Proof that keeping a PHEV’s battery topped off can make a big difference in when you have to do the same to the gas tank.
Date: April 2019
It’s taken us 3-months and 5,200-miles, but we’ve actually seen a dip in the fuel economy of our 2019 Kia Niro PHEV. Our average now sits at 57.5 miles-per-gallon, down from 62 even.
We’ll attribute that to the very cold temperatures that we experienced as winter worked its way out of the mid-Atlantic. Something any buyer of an electrified car should consider.
Still, fuel economy remains impressive. Plus, all our staff agrees that even though it shares the same 1.6-liter I4 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission of the regular Niro, this plug-in hybrid feels more refined in every way.
Seats are more than adequately comfortable, and the ride is sporty enough to actually be entertaining. And regardless of whether the four-cylinder is running or not, that driving experience is very much the same.
In fact, most of our log book comments revolve around this Niro PHEV being “just so normal”; and indeed plugging-in will be the new normal for most cars sooner rather than later. We just hope they are all drive like the Kia Niro PHEV.
Date: May 2019
Warmer weather has finally reached the Mid-Atlantic; and appropriately enough, fuel mileage in our 2019 Kia Niro PHEV is back on the upswing, currently sitting at an impressive 58.1 miles-per-gallon.
"The Niro plug-in has reached workhorse status here at MotorWeek, and that's actually a high compliment. That means it's comfortable, versatile and spacious enough for our crews to use it almost daily. Not to mention, we aren't wasting as much time filling up the tank.."
Some may scoff at its measly 1.6-liter hybrid powertrain; but hey, if it’s good enough for F1, it’s good enough for us. And we’ve gotten no complaints about power delivery over these first 5-months and 8,000-miles.
One recent weekend getaway, only required 1.6-gallons of gas; thanks to some timely charging. Plan your trips right, and this Niro PHEV can be quite a frugal flier.
Date: July 2019
The theory behind vehicles like our 2019 Kia Niro PHEV, is fairly simple; EV when you need it, hybrid when you don’t.
Well, after collecting 9,300-miles of data, and analyzing it for 6-months; we conclude that it’s more than just a valid proposition, but a very flexible and even entertaining way to get around.
"What I like about the Niro PHEV is that I can just bump the shifter into sport mode and use all available power for merging on to highways or pulling out onto busy roads. It takes a lot of the stress out of getting up to speed quickly. Then, when I am up to speed, I can bump the shifter back over and cruise in hybrid or even all-electric mode."
Our current average sits at 57.9 miles-per-gallon, and since it can be easily charged overnight from a regular 120-volt household outlet, there’s no need to pay for a Level 2 charger.
Date: August 2019
Another month has passed with our long-term 2019 Kia Niro PHEV. But, it was a busy one, with a quick trip to the Midwest adding almost 3,000-miles to its odo for a total of just over 12,000 miles.
"At this point we feel comfortable with how the Niro Plug-In drives. We've gotten used to its regenerative braking feel how the hybrid system reacts in most situations. Now, we're working on strategies to get the most out of the all-electric range. Some use it all at once by keeping the car in full EV, others like to spread it out by going in and out of hybrid mode. Either way, it's nice to have options."
With so many new highway miles, as well as working its 1.6-liter I4-based powertrain overtime to get over Western Maryland’s mountains, fuel economy has dropped. Still our average of 56.4 miles-per-gallon is commendable for any model with such a roomy interior. We just wish the gas tank held more than 11.4 gallons.
Our year-long test is far from over, but already the Niro PHEV has proved to be one of the most perfectly practical small cars we’ve driven.
Date: September 2019
We’ve just cleared the 15,000-mile mark with our Kia Niro PHEV. That’s the time when wear-and-tear starts to become evident, and minor annoyances become major concerns.
Not so with this little plug-in Niro. The only stumble so far, was a complete UVO shutdown when trying to engage Apple CarPlay. Admittedly, our long-terms have a lot more smartphone pairings than the average car; and it was an isolated incident that has not re-occurred.
"We've really put this Niro PHEV through its paces as a daily driver and even in the summer heat it's been up to the task. The AC is working overtime, but all-electric range is still in the mid to high twenties on a full charge. And you might not think it, but those quiet EV miles are relaxing after a long day at the office."
Keeping trips short, and recharging often, has boosted our overall fuel economy to 58.7 miles-per-gallon.
One thing we’ve come to appreciate, is a very accurate battery gauge. If it says there’s 24-miles of battery range, we generally achieve at least 24-miles. Unlike some plug-ins that have an optimistic number that falls rapidly as soon as you start driving.
Date: November 2019
Spending a year with any long termer is all about learning new things that we don’t discover in our initial road tests. But sometimes, things we already knew just get reinforced.
Like this 2019 Kia Niro PHEV; our time with it is quickly coming to an end, but recent outings have reminded us how spacious and practical this plug-in is for both cargo and people; yet it drives nimble and is easy to handle.
“The Niro plug-in has seen its fair share of weekend adventures since joining our long term fleet. Not necessarily because it’s the most exciting thing to drive, but it excels as a utility vehicle. Its long haul comfort still shines and short trips are mostly gasoline-free.”
We’re closing in on 18,000-miles in 11-months; and mileage has stayed fairly consistent, now at an impressive 59.6 miles-per-gallon.
Date: December 2019
We had a year to explore plug-in benefits with this 2019 Kia Niro PHEV and compare it to the regular Niro Hybrid, we had in our long term fleet the year before.
Well, time flies while driving efficiently, and now the Niro PHEV is also leaving. So, what did we learn over 19-thousand-miles of plug-in driving?
Obviously, the key is to lay down as many miles as you can without the engine firing up; making full use of the Niro PHEV's 26-miles of EV range. Sounds simple enough, but some of our staffers were more diligent about plugging in than others. Still, we averaged a great 60.2 miles-per-gallon for the year; which is 38% better than the Niro Hybrid’s 43.7 miles-per-gallon.
The Kia Niro PHEV is a great little car; offering true crossover utility, along with the ability to live the plug-in lifestyle without making a full commitment to it.