2014 Kia Forte: Does Using Active Eco Improve Fuel Economy?
March 28, 2014
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