Our drive started in the evening, after work, with my wife and daughter and all our stuff for a 10 day road trip packed in back. I removed our roof racks (since we won’t be using them for anything on this trip), and estimate that we have approximately 600 pounds of people and stuff onboard. We left home with a full tank of gas and a full charge on the battery with the total estimated range showing as 455 miles (a few ounces of gas away from the EPA rated combined range of 460 miles) on a hot Pacific Northwest summer evening (it was 91 degrees Farenheight today, according to my watch, and about 88 when we hit the road). As per usual, I drove 6 miles from my house in Eco + EV mode to use up some of the battery capacity, (10% to be precise, which leaves plenty of “space” to capture additional charge from braking or coasting). Note that this is the default mode the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid (PHEV) starts in every time. I then pressed the EV/HEV mode button between the front seats to switch the vehicle into standard Hybrid mode (which runs the gas engine to maintain the state of charge the hybrid battery is at at the time the mode is selected) as I accelerate up a long hill on Interstate 5 heading south.
Over the next 93 miles, I switched back and forth between HEV and EV settings (while never leaving the default Eco mode), driving on battery only for 6 - 21 miles at a time when traffic conditions were slower on the freeway (20-60 MPH) or generally downhill/flat. We had the windows up the entire time with the AC running and rarely used cruise control (since traffic kept speeding up and slowing down). Our average speed was just about 50 MPH. By doing this, when we pulled into our first stop for the night (at my brother’s house) we had achieved 45.2 miles of our 99 mile total drive on battery power! This is the farthest I have ever gone on a single charge and what impresses me is that most of that distance was driven on the freeway (though as I mentioned, our average speed was only about 50 MPH and I very selectively used the battery when I was going slower, coasting, or otherwise able to maintain speed with minimal pressure on the accelerator). Note that this is 13.2 miles further than the EPA estimated range on a full charge (or over 42% better than the EPA estimate). My combined fuel economy (battery and gas) for the 99 mile drive was 60.8 MPG. Again, quite impressive considering the size and approximately 5,100 pound weight (including all the cargo in that figure). Note that this drive was to the same destination from a previous drive I have written about when I tested the use of Sport mode for part of the way, but today I drove an additional 39 miles due to a late breaking COVID case that forced us to alter plans (we were going to stay with my wife’s parents). On that drive in October last year, I got a worse MPG figure (56.1) and happened to use Sport mode for part of the drive. Other details factored in to influence that figure though (temperature, rain, studless snow tires, etc.), but for comparison tomorrow I plan to drive the first 99 miles of the next leg of our trip toggling between Sport mode and the Eco + EV mode. Those 99 miles will be slightly less hilly than the first 99 miles we covered today, though with a higher speed limit (70 MPH) most of that distance. I will be heading out on day 2 with a fully charged battery thanks to my brother’s willingness to let me use his 12 amp, 110V garage outlet overnight. I anticipate that after 99 miles of Sport mode toggling I will see a MPG figure of somewhere between 58 and 63, based on my recent testing.
What do you think of this new record? Is it more of a fluke than anything? Will I do better, or worse than I estimate on the first 99 miles of my drive tomorrow? Please leave your questions, guesses and comments below.
Images courtesy of Justin Hart.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on https://www.torquenews.com/kia for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.