electronic brain surgery since 2001

Kia Ceed

For nearly two and half years I'm driving a Kia Ceed. Time to do a little review.

First of all this is a company car, so gift horse and all that… The Ceed is a much bigger car than what I would have gotten myself. But its also much nicer than what I would have gotten.

Note: I'm writing about the 2020 model here. Newer models are probably slightly better in every regard.

Plugin Hybrid

Before the opportunity arose to get a company car, I was eyeing the Renault Zoe or similar full electric small cars. The Ceed is not fully electric, but a PHEV - a Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

It has a normal internal combustion engine (ICE) plus an electric motor with a battery that can be charged externally from the grid (older hybrids only charge from braking).

People argue a lot about how much sense PHEVs make. For me and my wife it makes total sense for now (we might want to go fully electric some day). Most of our car trips are rather short and can easily be done fully electric. We do have the ability to charge the car on our own property. And the ICE makes longer trips to visit our parents or for vacations easy and convenient.

The Ceed has a 8.9kWh battery that officially should translate into a range of 60km. Of course that heavily depends on how fast and aggressive you drive. Realistically the electric range is more between 40 and 50km on a full charge.

Personally I wish the battery was a bit bigger, let's say with an official range of 100km. There are a few regular trips I make where it is just slightly not big enough.

The car comes with a simple charging cable that plugs into a wall socket and charges at 10A using this method. It takes about 4h to fully charge this way. To charge from a Type2 charger you need to buy an additional cable. We nearly exclusively charge at home so we haven't bothered.

BTW. the Ceed has three modes: electric, auto and hybrid which can be selected by the push of a button. Whenever you start the car, it will automatically switch back to electric, where the ICE is only turned on when you go over 120km/h or if you need a lot of power immediately (like when flooring the gas pedal). If your battery runs low (somewhere around 20 to 15%) the car switches to hybrid, where it will automatically decide between the electric motor, the ICE or both. After 2.5 years I still have no clear idea what the auto mode does, so I never use it.

Of course the car does recuperation when braking, turning some of the kinetic energy back into electricity. Unfortunately, you can't tune the recuperation level and it's rather weak, so one-pedal-driving as you might know it from pure electric vehicles is not really an option.

Space and Cargo

Despite having to sacrifice some room for the battery, the trunk is large and has a couple of nifty storage pockets in the floor. This is where the charging cable, and other accessories can be placed without being in the way for the real cargo.

However there is no room for a spare tire. It only comes with a tire kit (I assume it's some glue aerosol and a battery powered compressor - I haven't needed/opened it).

The rear bench seats can be folded down either in 1/3rd, 2/3rd or full configuration.

One extra I asked for is a trailer hitch since the car is rated for towing. The hitch can easily be attached by some kind of plugin/slide mechanism so you can remove it when you don't need it. And to be honest: I haven't needed it so far. Everything I bought at the hardware store, I was able to fit inside the car. That includes full OSB sheets.

The Ceed also has roof rails by default. So that's another option to transport larger stuff (that I haven't used yet).

High Tech

The “Spirit Edition” I drive is the medium tier of the Ceed, with many optional features included.

That includes a lot of creature comforts like heated seats in the front and back, a heated steering wheel and an electrically adjustable driver seat with two memory positions, so me and my wife get the perfect seating position with the push of a button. Of course the car has an AC. The only thing I miss here are heated side mirrors.

But more importantly the car has all kinds of safety features:

  • A radar based collision detection will beep and vibrate the steering wheel if you are approaching an obstacle too fast. And if you don't react, it will brake for you.
  • LEDs in the side mirrors warn about vehicles (or bicyclists) in your blind spot. If you use the turn indicator while there's something in your blind spot, a beeping noise will warn you additionally.
  • When going backwards you have a rear view camera (that also shows the path your vehicle will go depending on your current steering position). Beeping proximity sensors will warn you about hitting obstacles. Side traffic sensors will warn you if there is anything approaching from the left or right. The latter is especially useful when backing out of the drive way.
  • Lane assist will vibrate the steering wheel when crossing lane markers. On the highway the car automatically steers to keep you in lane (see also self-driving below)
  • Presence detection will warn you if you let go of the steering wheel for too long (I never tried what happens if you ignore the warning, I assume the car will auto brake at some point)
  • Speed limit reader. A camera detects speed limit signs and shows the current limit in the dashboard. It's not a 100% accurate but is still a huge help.

I absolutely love all these features and wish they were available to all drivers.

There are only two things I miss:

  • Front beepers. When parking, the front of the vehicle is not easily assessed, so proximity sensors towards the front would be helpful
  • Tiredness detection. The car says it has that. It has never ever warned me once. I have no clue how it is supposed to work. I had rental cars that used a driver facing camera to monitor eye movement and that worked great. The Ceed failed to recognize when I was so tired, that I had to pull over on the Autobahn to get some shuteye.

The car also features some self-driving capabilities. Basically it is a more clever cruise control. You set a desired speed and the car uses all the features above to drive and steer. It will brake when the car in front of you brakes and it will speed up again when the car moves on. This is actually quite useful in a stop-and-go situation. I tried it a couple of times – it works, but I find it too scary to use it much. Especially with the lane detection not always being 100% accurate.

Finally there is the large 20 inch touch screen that provides all the entertainment options (Digital Radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto, etc) as well as the navigation system.

The car comes with 7 years of cellular internet access included. So the builtin navigation system is actually good. It is up-to-date, includes current traffic situation, fuel prices and knows about nearby electric chargers. Routing is calculated online (with a fallback to local if no connection is available) which means you can enter destinations as you would do on Google Maps. Enter “mcdonalds” and it will show the nearby Mc'Donalds locations. The same is of course true for tourist attractions, hotel names or whatever else you want to navigate to.

The App

Thanks to the mobile connection the car is always connected to the Internet. Using the Kia App “Uvo” you can get notifications about the charging process, you can check the door lock status and lock the car from afar if you forgot. And the car's builtin GPS allows you to see where you parked on a map.

You can also send navigation items to the car in advance, so when you enter the car, it already knows about your destination. Unfortunately this feature is a bit unreliable in my experience.

And of course there is also a HomeAssistant integration.


In case you can't tell yet: I love this car. But there are some things that could be improved (I mentioned a few things above already).

The biggest grievance I have with the car is heating. The Ceed does not have electric heating. Whenever you turn on the heat, the combustion engine starts up to use its heat to warm up the interior. This is mind boggling stupid and inefficient. I really don't understand why the heat pump of the AC can't be used in reverse instead.

The wipers are automatic using a rain sensor. That's great. The sensitivity of the sensor can even be tuned. Unfortunately even turned to the highest setting, the wipers are always just one level too slow. Then when you give in, and switch to manual wiper speed, it's immediately too fast.

The brake pads squeak. I had them looked at during the last inspection, but the squeak came back a couple of weeks later. I assume this is mostly because they don't get enough use because of recuperative braking.

The car does not trust you to understand electric energy. There is no way to see how much electric power is used in Watts or Watt-Hours. All you know about the electric part of the car is the battery level in percent. This is probably intentional to make the combustion engine look more efficient which brings us to the next section.


The current odometer shows 36,311km driven.

Unfortunately it seems all the efficiency stats have been reset during the last software update, so I can only see the statistics for the last 6,311km for which the car claims a fuel usage of 3.6l/100km (65mpg for our American friends).

Luckily I also have all the gas station receipts. So I know that I bought 2,116 liters of gas. Which comes down to exactly the same number over the entire lifespan.

However, that excellent sounding number is only fossil fuel. But I did not drive all of that 36 thousand kilometers with fossil fuel alone! So that 3.6l efficiency number is true but also a blatant lie at the same time.

Unfortunately the car doesn't tell how many kilometers I drove electrically. So we have to do some estimations here. I put about 2,116kWh into the car at home. We plugged in occasionally elsewhere, which I did not track. But that was so rare that we can ignore it.

If we take the battery size of 8.9KWh and assume we only ever use 8KWh of it, 2116kWh are about 264 charges. We said earlier a distance of 45km is a rough range for a full charge, so these 2116kWh should have gotten us roughly 11,900km. There's probably all kind of losses I didn't account for, so let's say 10,000km.

That brings the actual efficiency of the ICE to about 5l/100km (47mpg) which seems to be in line with cars of that class? 10 out 36 thousand kilometers being short range drives feels about right.

I paid 2,093.38 EUR for gas and about 725 EUR for electricity over the last 2,5 years. So assuming our estimations above are correct, electric driving is only marginally cheaper than fossil fuel. With 7.96EUR/100km for gas and 7.26EUR/100km for electricity. Which is kinda surprising (keeping in mind that electricity prices hiked, while gas prices where subsidized last year). Of course all that changes with the recent addition of solar panels to our roof.


Cars are shit and we should have less of them. I should drive less.

I also love driving and I love this car.

review, kia, car
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