Does Using Active Eco Improve Fuel Economy? - 2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte: Does Using Active Eco Improve Fuel Economy?

March 28, 2014

2014 Kia Forte

The past few days I've been driving our 2014 Kia Forte with its "Active Eco" mode turned on. This mode, which you activate by pushing a button on the dash to the left of the steering wheel, adjusts certain aspects of the car to potentially improve fuel economy.

According to Kia, Eco mode "adjusts the torque map, shift schedule, torque filtering, and idle rpm speed, to maximize fuel efficiency." What does this mean from the driver seat? Basically, with Eco on, our Forte feels duller and less responsive. The transmission upshifts sooner and the gas pedal is less responsive to your foot. In Eco mode, it's like the car is slightly groggy after waking up from a nap.

This isn't necessarily all that bad. It's not a huge change in the car's personality, and I've honestly gotten used to driving with Active Eco activated.

It makes sense that using Eco can improve efficiency slightly. Much of what it does mimics more efficient driver behavior, and as demonstrated years ago in our We Test the Tips Part II article, changing your driving style has the biggest impact on fuel economy, more so than any other tip or trick you can try. But that's assuming you don't try to outdrive what the Eco mode is doing in order to avoid those more sluggish responses.

One issue, though, is the difficulty in determining how much of a boost you're getting. Any improvement is going to be undoubtedly small, and that's going to be very hard to pick up in the normal ebbs and flows of the Forte's fuel economy.

For what it's worth, I did notice an improvement on our Forte's fuel economy by about 2 mpg. But I also know I was driving more conservatively overall during that period. Part of that was because of Active Eco, and part of it was because I didn't want to ruin what it was trying to do. Still, from that standpoint, it was a success.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 15,054 miles


  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    I tried driving conservatively but found out it wasn't worth it. For two weeks, I shifted early, accelerated slowly, very smooth driving. 25mpg. When I drive how I want to drive: 23mpg. I fuelup once every 2.5 weeks. I saved $1.10 by gimping my driving. Totally not worth it.

  • I tried going conservatively too but found it still cost me the same since I was riding the bus. Totally not worth it.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    There are other benefits to driving conservatively other than the 8% decrease in fuel consumption noted by my fellow commenter, yellowbal. It's safer. It lowers your stress level. It reduces wear-and-tear and maintenance costs. And it's better for the environment. And, if you drive more than 150 miles per month like yellowbal, your out of pocket costs will be reduced that much more. For example, if you drive 2,000 miles a month and see the same fuel economy increase as yellowbal, you'd save about $25. I'm not in that much of a hurry to throw my money away.

  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    If you drive 2,000 miles a month, you're spending much more per month in fuel, have higher commuting stress, and it's worse for the environment.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Sadly, some people are not blessed with a job near their home, or a job with minimal travel. For those in that boat, it doesn't make sense to work yourself into a lather for a couple hours every day. That just makes you irritable at work, irritable at home, and irritable on your commute. There's way too much anger in this world without another person adding to it. Zen, my friend. With the added benefit of better fuel economy. :)

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    This really makes me miss the old Honda VTEC engines, since they already have this eco-mode nonsense built in without you needing to do anything, like pushing a green or blue button. If you drive normally you get great fuel economy, but when you engage the big cam lobes the car suddenly takes on a different personality. It was automatic and it worked really well. Why does a car need a button to improve fuel economy? @greenpony: You could also try moving closer to work. That's safer, less stressful, improves fuel economy and reduces wear and tear. And it's better for the environment. I think most people would agree that they love cars, but they don't love commuting; an eco-button doesn't make it better.

  • @greenpony I agree with your sentiment, but in my case driving conservatively did NOT decrease my stress fact, it may have increased it. It's complicated to explain, but the simplistic version is that driving slowly meant I was spending more t

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    In many parts of the country the housing market is recovering, so that people are now able to consider moving closer to their jobs if needed. In those same places the job market is also recovering -- and in some areas it is booming. The great state of Illinois is not one of those places. The state is bankrupt, homes are worth 60% of what they were ten years ago, and taxes are increasing. Not to mention that Illinois has the most corrupt political machine in the country. And actually, moving closer to work usually doesn't IMPROVE fuel economy; shorter trips allow less time for the engine to reach full operating temperature, thereby burning more fuel per distance traveled. But it should reduce fuel econsumption.

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