PLX Devices Kiwi Review

by Tim Fulton on September 25, 2008

The PLX Devices Kiwi is undoubtedly a cute gadget. It has a nice color display, easy navigation, and installation is incredibly easy. However, is it really for ecodrivers?

Let’s go over the negatives I found first. I have a few major disagreements with how the Kiwi operates from an ecodriver’s standpoint.

The first will be that it rates engine loading opposite what actually gives best fuel economy. If you are a regular reader at EcoModder you should know that higher engine loads result in improved brake specific fuel consumption (amount of fuel burned per horsepower produced) which increases fuel economy. However, the further your press your gas pedal down, the lower your Kiwi’s acceleration rating drops. I can understand why they did this. Who wants to promote people punching the throttle at every stoplight? However, it’s really not the most efficient way to drive.

My second beef with the Kiwi would be its smooth rating. The smooth rating, from what I can tell, basically teaches you that the most efficient way to drive is to never move the gas pedal from where it is. If you have to push the pedal down further to climb a hill or if you take your foot off the pedal while going down a hill your smoothness rating drops. Again, if you are an ecodriver, you know that high engine loads going up the hill, then coasting down in neutral is a far more efficient driving style.

The next thing on the list is critical for some ecodrivers. The Kiwi can not handle engine off at all. It can’t handle engine off coasting or just turning the engine off at a long light. When you turn the engine off, the Kiwi always brings up a summary page listing how far you traveled, how much gas you used, how much gas you saved, etc. Once you key back on, or bump start, the Kiwi has to reboot. In order to get it up and running again, you have to press a button to get past their disclaimer, and another button to get past their tip that they give you each time it starts up. This takes a few seconds to do, and you really do not want to be doing it if you are using any pulse and glide.

With all the aforementioned issues with the Kiwi, I am absolutely sure that it would still help the large majority of normal drivers out there use less gas. The techniques it teaches you are good low level ecodriving techniques. Most drivers out there don’t even have a clue as to how bad of a driver they actually are. The Kiwi would definitely help them out. I also have no doubt that the Kiwi can backup its claims of up to 30% improvement in fuel economy to the normal driver.

The Kiwi does have some pretty neat features too. On top of being a cool looking device, the color screen is quite nice, and the navigation is logical and easy. The Kiwi score would be fun to have challenges with. Who can get the highest score amongst you and your friends?  Or you could post your score online to see how you stack up against others. Of course it also doubles as an engine code reader which can come in quite handy.

The short of it all is that the Kiwi would be a great tool for most normal drivers out there. For us ecodrivers, we’ll stick with what we know best and use a Scangauge II or mpguino.

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