Discussion in 'Kia' started by Carcus, Dec 15, 2016.
Wow Wayne. Just wow is all I can say. Great articles and I'm looking forward to more!
I added some operational details to the above first drive post providing insight as to what the Niro Hybrid Drivetrain is doing from my perspective when you get to drive one for yourself in the very near future.
This is one darned nice station wagon.
Thanks Wayne. I love your detailed write ups of the things that really matter to me. Most auto journalists completely overlook this stuff. Please let us know some of the hypermiling techniques you and Bob used to get the big mpg numbers. I'm interested in what speeds you found best on the highways. Also, Kia and Hyundai both heavily promoted ECO-DAS (Coasting Glide and Predictive Energy Control on the Kia side, I think) where you program your destination into the GPS and the battery charge/discharge algorithms fine tune the charging/discharging to the terrain on your route. It's supposed to be good for some extra FE. The system seems to be a no-show on the Ioniqs that guys are driving in Europe. Was that the case for your Niro as well?
Hi Mike S.:
Definitely take a good long look at this one.
James, Bill, Carcus, Thunderstruck, and FordFamily, thanks.
Edwin, pretty darn nice compact CUV from behind the wheel too.
Jay, keep speeds down between the limits, truck climbing lanes at no less than 25 mph w/ e-flashers for the steep mountain ascents, DWL in all CAPS at all times, and run with the wind if possible. With its 0.29 Cd and a lot of frontal area given the taller CUV stance, wind reduces her efficiency capability significantly. And do not run over tumble weeds at all costs. You will read more about that last one later.
Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT
Crossing the NM border with the large and clean high res 7” display leading the way. The Sony a6300 w/ a 19mm Sigma prime lens produces beautiful bokeh.
The Niro Hybrid in LX trim did not have NAVI so there was no terrain predictive functions available to us. We used (2) Garmin supplied DriveSmart 70LMT (retails at $349.99) and another Garmin Drive 50LMT (retails at $169.99) as a backup for GPS Navigation. I used Garmin's BaseCamp to create the base routes and favorited the numerous waypoints including pre-planned fuel stops so if we drove an alternate, we could change the route or add to it on the fly. We needed the gpx files to convert to kml files for Guinness World Records adjudication which is why we had two units up and running for the entire drive just in case one were to die on route. You do not know how nice it was to have one centrally located on the lower windscreen, large 7” screen NAVI and (2) NAVI units displaying not just the mandatory Trip A cumulative and Trip B – Fuel station to Fuel Station distances but Speed, Speed Limits of the road we were on, Elevation, Direction, Distance to the next waypoint, and distance to the final destination. We muted the 5” placed on the lower windscreen on the far passenger side so we did not hear stereo with each spoken turn by turn direction.
Garmin Drive 50
Trip A/B both reset to 0.0 miles from the launch Shell in downtown LA.
Since I knew where the highest peak elevations were thanks to plenty of pre-research or on-the-fly lookups of a given drive route(s), bury the SoC with a full let off of the accelerator pedal with heavy regen until the ICE shuts down and gently reapply prior to the crest to maintain EV and let it build naturally on the subsequent descent. When it gets real cold, get off the Interstate if possible and slow down to suburban speeds to make up for it. Again if possible. Colder temperatures below the high 50s knock the Niro back like it does any other automobile.
In search of a Shell near LA City Hall
Part of the GWR requirements was to have two station attendants available at the launch in lieu of a local Politician and Police Chief to document the following:
Witness the full top off
Fuel door shut
Fuel tank seal applied
Sign said seal
Sign, date, add location, and add a signature to the Master Log
Initial a number of seen activities
Sign, date, add location, and add a signature to a Witness Statement
Write out a specific witness statement in their own writing
Sign, date, add location, and add their signature to the Witness Log
The above covers just an initial refuel. Subsequent refuels added another layer of complexity with verifying the previous tank seal signatures are the same, watching the seal being removed, document the gallons added, receipts and signatures of said gallons added, etc.
In other words, a station attendant(s) is required to do more than just watch all of this all the while we are snapping pics of all of the above plus videoing on two smartphones for backup just in case. The documentation is overwhelming but completely understandable given what we are trying to do without Guinness being onsite for the initial and each of the subsequent refueling other than the last one in downtown NY City with a Guinness World Record adjudicator in attendance.
While this was not needed for initial drive testing, I still had to make sure the station we planned on launching from had at least two attendants on duty on the expected launch date and at the specified time. Of the four stations within 2 miles of LA City Hall, the final selection came down to a Shell at 900 N. Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.
Another box checked.
And the initial short 152.2 mile calibration? aFCD x 1.003 = actual mpgUS. Another relief as the first drive results were as real as real could be.
Now for a somewhat tougher efficiency test. A drive from that downtown Los Angeles Shell at 287' ASL, drive around LA City Hall, route to the I-10, climb up and over San Bernardino Mountain range peak at just over 2,650', and descend back down to the desert floor. At what distance out from LA was the Niro going to allow us to achieve that minimum 74.3 mpg target to occur? My early estimate was that it was going to be within 100 miles of Phoenix – about 275 miles out – before the Niro would breach that minimum GWR efficiency target.
The first climb test begins...
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
Ready for an essential efficiency drive test of its life despite having just 160 miles on its ticker.
Displays are reset and she’s ready to Rrrruuuummmmbbbblllleeee!!!!
Downtown LA and Ready for Battle
Efficiency in reasonably heavy traffic was one of the Niro’s strong points as we discovered during the first drive. Using Google Maps typical traffic function, I launched in late afternoon to mimic a similar condition as the first drive.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid at LA City Hall
Is it a 2017 Kia Niro in front of LA City Hall where Dragnet officer Joe Friday worked or is it LA City Hall with a 2017 Kia Niro parked in front?
From the Dragnet opening monologue:
And Jack Webb in his classic staccato:
Unfortunately the traffic was worse than expected with two accidents bringing the 10 to a standstill for over 3 miles in two different locations. The Niro trudged through only slightly behind the first drives results after 35 miles at 86 mpg indicated before the start of the San Bernardino Mountain range ascent began in earnest. Temperatures were incredibly good with a range from 75 down to 66 degrees F. A blessing for an efficiency test but maybe making it a bit too easy given what we would face on the road in early December.
By the time I reached the summit at just over 2,650’ ASL, the Niro was sporting an excellent 68.6 mpg result. Jesus H. Christ, this thing is climbing just short of Guinness World Record territory! The real question remaining was how far do I have to travel before she breaches the 74.3 mpg minimum target given the 2,600+ ft drop ahead? The answer to that question was: Not that far.
First stop after a successful mountain ascent and descent test was a McDonald’s in Rancho Mirage, Calif. IIRC.
By the time I reached the first exit below the launch elevation at 287’ ASL prior to the desert floor in Indio on the back side of the range, I was shaking my head thinking this is going to be the easiest Guinness World Record drive in history.
Now onto Phoenix for the night, up to almost Flagstaff for another set of climb tests in colder temperatures and rain, back down to Phoenix to take the I8 towards San Diego, and the monster of a climb called the Laguna Mountain Range beginning at 50' below sea level just outside of El Centro, Calif. and peaking at just over 4,200' in one steady monster of an ascent.
Boy was I wrong about the easy part... To be written in a future installment of "As the Automobile Wheel Turns."
Keep the story going! Love it. Also the numbers are just amazing. Us mere mortals might not be able to attain numbers like that, but good job!
I have to move back to San Diego at some point. These cold temperatures are killing me!
This thing will DWL you the stratosphere. And I couldn't believe how quiet the cabin was, even when the engine was going full bore to charge the battery and move the vehicle. But somehow the battery charging at the highest rate didn't happen all too often - most the time it was just a barely perceptible pleasant purr.
What is DWL? I can google it and find that it means "driving with load" but I don't understand what that means as far as driving technique exactly.
DWL or "Drive with Load" works like this. Instead of a set speed via CC or using the speedometer, you set LOD via Scan Gauge or the iFCD and let speed droop within reason for traffic conditions on the ascents - overpasses, small hills, etc. - and let it glide - ICE Off - up to the PSL on the downhills. This technique works especially fantastic with the Niro as it extends EV range and pure glides like few other vehicles I have driven.
In search of challenging weather conditions and the perfect ascent...
As we continue the pre-planning, I am searching for more challenging conditions while also looking for a more scenic backdrop in which to shoot the all-new 2017 Kia Niro. This was all under NDA and I was not sure this drive was a go or not just yet so even the pics could have been buried forever under a sea of legal morass. Fortunately that was not the case.
It was raining on and off again for the ascent from Phoenix up towards Flagstaff but it was the backdrops I was after. Unfortunately with rain, a heavy overcast usually comes with it.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid in Sedona
Darn it, I forgot to close that back window. Anyone know why it is open vs. the front passenger side?
My favorite for the hero shot.
To bad about the heavy gray overcast.
Just playing with the LG G4 w/ some bokeh shots to the best of my ability. I mean the LG's ability while demoing the Niro's off-road capability.
While there, I may as well fill up the Niro with some non-ethanol laced fuel. It smelled like raw gasoline we knew as children. As in really pungent! Only one of two stations still selling it in all of AZ IIRC?
Later that evening, rain and colder temperatures down in the upper 40s/low 50s were predicted across much of the Mojave on the 8 heading back towards San Diego. On the 8 is a particularly tough ascent over the Laguna Mountain Range heading into San Diego. Where the Niro and I were humbled.
The very steep minus 50’ elevation where I reset the aFCD to 4,200 ft elevation ascent -- 4,000 ft in just 11 miles -- with a tough 10 mph headwind, light to heavy rain, and high 40/low 50 degree temps from just south of El Centro, Calif. just prior to the Crestwood Summit with the rain starting back up again about 2 miles down all the way back to San Diego was a real bear.
The Niro reached the 4,200’ ASL summit sporting a 42.6 mpg result and just 69 mpg after the entire 100 mile ascent/descent.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Pre-drive Testing - Crestwood Summit
Even with a tripod at the lowest height, the winds were shaking the LG G4 so the time lapse shots were poor at best.
Can I spell and say humbled? Why yes I can.
It would take another 25 miles of reasonably flat terrain to break above the 74.3 mpg target after a climb in better conditions. In other words, nothing about this drive was going to be easy.
Remember how I picked up the Niro with just 5 miles on the odometer? Miles are piling on fast now.
After that test, I made sure we would not be climbing anything like that on our traversing of the Continent and was now well aware of what wind and rain plus hyper steep ascents can do to the Niro’s maximum effort capability.
The following morning, I sent Kia PR the 1,200 mile preliminary test drive data you have all seen above and stated that yes, the Niro could complete an early winter crossing of the US Continent from LA to NY at the minimum Guinness World Record required 74.3 mpg. That is if I was careful with drive timing to avoid the highest winds, low temperatures, and poor weather to the best of my planning capability in order to create as large a buffer as possible before turning North up the Eastern Seaboard. You know, the kind of things many of us do on a daily basis anyway. Ok, maybe some of us.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
What 1,200+ miles of testing in a Niro looks like on the Garmin. A long weekend excursion.
With the above, I created a somewhat near final timing schedule, setup a launch and day by day schedule, GWR inspection requirement scheduling, GWR Adjudication scheduling, near final routing, began weather prediction and forecasting to match the launch and day by day schedule, signed a cost plus contract with Kia, purchased Bob's flight(s), asked Shell for station and fuel support, ScanGauge for a ScanGauge, and Garmin for the two required personal GPS Navi units, all so that we could begin the Niro Transcontinental Lowest Fuel Consumption Guinness World Records final planning and implementation in earnest.
Like all well planned projects with specific goals, you just know there is going to be a miscue ahead. And oh boy did we run into one... Coming in a future installment of "As the Automobile Wheel Turns."
Oh man, that sounded like a Great Trip! I am really loving the looks of the Niro! I really hope that it sells well, but if it doesn't that just means that some of us might be able to pick them up with some very heavy discounts.
I just found out that I made my last rank earlier this month which means at least two more moves for us. The current pickings have us going South meaning we are not going to need AWD. Hmmmm.....
It looks like you might be visiting your local Kia dealership in short order.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
A final shot along the Pacific at sunset before she receives her stickers...
After 1,200 miles of testing, a pre-GWR drive alignment was in order. Only a minor tweak to all four corners.
A San Diego area Firestone dealer aligning the Niro.
Check off another one of the hundreds of boxes that still needed to be completed.
A fresh oil change with my own Quaker State 0W-20 Ultimate Durability while visiting the local Kia dealership – Weseloh Kia of Carlsbad – to replace the break-in factory oil. This is always a good practice for the highest efficiency.
I had Kia source two full sized spares with the OEM mounted and balanced Michelin Energy Saver AS tires to carry along for the drive. Another long story... Wouldn’t you know it, one full sized mounted and balanced spare fits into a well where a mini-spare for other markets usually resides.
The Niro arrives with an inflator kit so I purchased a 2-ton jack and lug wrench – you can image the weight and bulk of that beast – from Walmart just in case I could not source an OEM Forte or Sportage tire change kit with jack. While at Weseloh Kia of Carlsbad for the oil change, one of the guys had a complete kit out of a totaled Forte which he sold to me for practically nothing just for this GWR Attempt. I pulled it apart, placed it under a static Niro they had on the show floor and it worked like a charm. Better yet, the foam kit mount fit within the wheel that was in the well cutout and under the protective cover. Hot damn were we lucky on that one. Just totally awesome luck! Or was that awesome Kia design? The world may never know.
Next up was the GWR required mechanical inspection. GWRs is a bit vague on this point so the owner of Hi-Tech Auto Services in San Diego made sure the emissions controls were intact and that the Niro was basically roadworthy.
GWR Mechanical Inspection complete. Another box checked.
Although there seemed to be ample time for planning, there was not enough time to design and install a full wrap which we will hopefully see on the Niro in the future. In lieu of that, a quick install of some theme, safety and sponsor decals were created and installed. I will not bother with all of the details of this but it was another ordeal given the short period of time in which it had to be completed.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid receives stickers!
She's ready to roll!
LA on the driver side front door.
NY on the passenger side front door.
LA to NY on the hood.
Sponsored by Shell and ScanGauge prominently displayed on each rear quarter.
I did not receive Garmin logo installation permission in time to include their logo on the car.
A mandatory addition of my own are safety graphics to each side of the lower rear fascia.
And finally a number of GWR required vinyl tank seals.
Almost ready… Almost.
While I am waiting for Bob to arrive and the last minute vehicle loan approvals and scheduling within Kia Corporate itself, I took the Niro down to the Pacific Coast for a few last shots.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid on the Pacific
Surfers catching waves down the bluff in the background.
This shot describes California to a tee. A surfer with his friends still out on the water, the Niro Hybrid CUV
at the ready, and tandem bicyclists checking out the Niro as they walk/ride by.
Last shot before the real action begins. Almost.
At this point, there is a holdup and I am cycling the Kia LA Press Fleet Handlers pretty hard with the Forte' loan. Can you pick it up from here, not pick it up etc. as Kia PR and I are working out the last minute details. Back to Kia HQ the Niro goes until details are finalized.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid
Parked at Kia NA HQ in Irvine, Calif. for just a few more days.
I flew Bob into LAX early-week to drive to the Shell in downtown LA to begin the top off, documentation frenzy, and afterwards meet up with a photographer near LA City Hall before heading to the CA/AZ border on the 10. I picked Bob up at LAX in the Forte instead and we spent the next few days on hold. The weather conditions across the route were such that approximately 3+ mpg was left on the table.
We received a go ahead for a Friday launch. Unfortunately Friday's weather conditions saw 20 to 30 mph crosswinds out of the North from LA all the way to New Mexico. The next weather window would be Sunday morning. Except the Shell only has one employee on site for a 09:00 am launch. Whoops. A few calls from some Shell and LA Regional fuel distributors had us beginning the top off fill and documentation with two station employees at 11:00 am. And so the GWR attempt begins.
2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Transcontinental GWR Attempt
At the 900 N. Hill Street – Los Angeles, Calif. Shell in Chinatown - Asian themed canopy's make complete sense - in preps for the first top off fill!
That surfer/biker shot was great Wayne.
It sure was great to finally get going!
Loved the shot with the surfers. That part of California is beautiful, jealous you get to live it
Congrats, Wayne & Bob!
Look forward to seeing this baby and reading all about your journey.
And I see it will have an optional tow package for 2860 lb tow rating. That's about the same as an Outback!
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