Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

How do you get best mileage?

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Posted by Carol Grosser on April 19, 2014, 1:32 pm
I am in love with my recently purchased Prius C.  My Toyota 4Runner lost it
s transmission at 180,000 and the amazing sales force put me in a Prius, a  
car that I have wanted since they were first announced, but thought I could
 never afford.  The salesman said I would spend less on payments than the g
asoline I bought with the 4Runner.  He was almost right, but I have to spen
d about $00/mo more for gas and the full auto ins coverage takes a lot mor
e than basic liability.  

My question to the salesman was how to get the best mileage and he said alw
ays drive it in the ecomode setting.  When I tried to set the cruise contro
l while it was in the setting it wouldn't set, so I guess I can't use cruis
e control and ecomode?  

When riding a bicycle, I noticed that I worked the hardest on long stretche
s of flat terrain.  Since I live in a state where the speed limit for a lot
 of the area I travel is 80 mph, I was worried about attaining that speed i
n the Prius, but it handles that speed quite well.  I noticed the mpg regis
ter goes up on the long stretches of flat terrain and goes down on numerous
 and fairly steep hill climbs and descents.  I have noticed when I try to m
aintain a steady foot on the gas pedal, I get below the speed limit up the  
hill, but accelerate past most other vehicles and of course 4wheelers on th
e down side.  So I have decided if a law were passed only allowing Prius-ty
pe vehicles on the road and a traffic lane built about the distance from th
e freeway as access roads are now where 4wheelers and Hummers have to run,  
our energy problems would be solved if no speed limit would be posted for t
he smaller, lighter vehicles like Prius.  Couldn't highways be designed to  
equal the forces to descend and climb?  At any rate, my Prius, because of i
ts lighter weight could easily go far over the speed limit on the descents,
 hence speed limits should be eliminated with fewer traffic injuries becaus
e of the smaller vehicles.  

I spent my life in old American cars--all I could afford and spent my life  
sitting on the side of the road and constantly broke trying to repair the f
requent breakdowns.  I bought my first Toyota car and never bought another  
American made vehicle.  The first Camry only needed a battery replaced, as  
did the next Toyota, the 4Runner, only needing a new battery (with regular  
maintenance) until the transmission expired and that was probably my fault  
because it was rated to haul 5,000 pounds and I loaded a 5,000-pound stock  
trailer and then loaded several thousand pounds of cattle!  But it ran 7 ye
ars after that overload.  Its transmission died at 180,000 miles.  So I am  
more than grateful to the Japanese for their genius in car building.  

But anyways, back to my topic.  Since there is the stupid speed limit, do t
he rest of you concur that I should stay in ecomode, cruise up to the speed
 limit on descent and, in many inclines, go down to the 60s mph on climbs?

Posted by rjdriver on April 19, 2014, 9:24 pm
On 4/19/2014 9:32 AM, Carol Grosser wrote:

do the rest of you concur that I should stay in ecomode....?

Carol,  I hear you about Japanese reliability. Have been driving Hondas  
my whole life. Lost a little faith in them with the 2003 Accord, so  
started looking at Toyota.

Had been following the development of the C from it's first appearance  
at the car shows, and through it's debut in Japan as the Aqua.  Bought a  
black level 3 in April 2012.   There were some compromises made to save  
weight, mainly effecting road noise, and ride on bad pavement.  But  
after a few test drives, I felt they were worth it to get a hybrid at  
that price, and with all the electronic goodies that I did NOT have in  
the Accord.

Now, on to maximizing miles per gallon.  If you drive the Prius like you  
drove all your other cars, you will never do better than the EPA  
ratings, and might do worse.  With a little adjustment in your driving  
habits, and attention to the ECO Score gauge on the upper dash, you can  
easily get over 50 on the highway and in the 60s and 70s off the highway.

ECO MODE:  Yes.  Leave it on all the time.  It modulates the amount of  
pressure needed on the gas pedal to get a certain response from the  
engines(s).  You'll get used to it after a while and wont notice any  
difference.  It also adjusts the use of the air conditioner to save on  
electricity use and keep the battery charged more.  The AC in the C is  
totally electric.  It doesn't put any burden on the gas engine at all.  
Leaving it on all the time, in ECO mode, is fine. It will come on when  
needed based on where you set the temperature dial.

EV MODE:  Don't bother.  Waste of a button,  that if eliminated could  
have allowed the front cup holder to not be such a stretch to reach.  
The car will go into EV mode on it's own whenever it feels it can.  
Everything is masterfully controlled by a computer.

DRIVING HABITS:  I used to drive at 80 or better on the highway.  Now I  
keep it under 70.  70-72 mph seems to be the tipping point for keeping  
MPG over 50.  Don't tail gate.  It's a gas waster.  One car length gap  
for each 10mph in speed.

If you are normally a left lane driver on the highway, you will no  
longer be welcomed there all the time if going for maximum gas mileage.  
  You might find the next lane to the right more comfortable (and less  
stressful).  I used to drive there, and it took speeds of 90 or better  
to get me out of it.  But now I have been Priusized (Borg joke for Star  
Trek fans).  Keep the ECO line as low as possible.

Off the highway, keep in mind that momentum is your best friend.  Don't  
stop or slow down unless you have to. The C handles quite well.  You can  
go around corners faster than you think.  Push the car a little more  
than you normally would and you'll see where the limits are.

When you see a situation up ahead where it is almost a certainty you  
will have to stop (red light, stop sign, backed up traffic), begin  
slowing down sooner than you normally would. That old habit most of us  
have of keeping our foot on the gas right up to the point where if we  
don't start braking right there we wont be able to comfortably stop in  
time, has to go away.  The C comes with low rolling resistance tires.  
It coasts much better than cars without them.

Train your eyes to regularly glance at the ECO line and try to keep it  
as low as possible in all situations. Start slower from stops. You'll  
learn where the limits are there, for not annoying those behind you too  
much.  As long as you get up to the speed of the other traffic in the  
lane you are in, most other drivers will be forgiving if it takes you a  
little longer to get there.  Go with the flow, but do it gently.

CRUISE CONTROL:  Only us it on trips where the road is always perfectly  
flat.  CC wastes gas trying to keep a steady speed up hills.  Watch the  
ECO Score line. Try to stay out of the Power zone unless you really need  
it.  Drop a few mph on uphill stretches and gain as much speed as  
possible on downhills. That goes for off the highway as well.  With a  
little practice, you will be able to do much better than the CC on your own.

Good luck with your C.  It's not really meant to be highway cruiser. But  
I think you might be truly amazed at the MPG you can get at speeds  
between 25 and 50 mph.  That's the sweet spot for this car.  I average  
60 mpg on my 40 mile commute each day, but its the 20 miles of it that  
are *off* the highway that make it possible.  That's in warm weather.  
MPG *does* drop in cold weather. More than for non hybrids.


Posted by Elmo P. Shagnasty on April 19, 2014, 11:11 pm

Posted by bwilson4web on May 19, 2014, 7:25 am
 On Saturday, April 19, 2014 8:32:42 AM UTC-5, Carol Grosser wrote:

 bought with the  

 gas and the  

Full disclosure, we only have a 2003 Prius (1.5L) and 2010 (1.8L) so I don'
t have direct, Prius c experience to share. But there are some things that  
work on both Prius that may apply:

1) Use the tire rated, maximum sidewall pressure - look at the tires and st
art using that pressure and refill it every 60 days. Tires leak air and rai
sing the tire pressure reduces the rolling drag a measurable amount. My exp
erience has been that resetting the tire pressure warning level after fully
 inflating the tires works great. The steering and handling will be more pr
ecise but you will feel potholes and gravel. Some experimentation trading o
ff noise, comfort, mileage, and handling makes a lot of sense. Harbor Freig
ht sells nice, air pumps that run off of the 12V 'cigarette' lighter and ma
kes it easier to top off the tires every 60 days.

2) Use slower traffic as a pacing vehicle - moving company semitrailer truc
ks and those towing trailers are great candidates. Many truck drivers have  
to pay for the fuel they burn and have learned how to put that money in the
ir pockets yet meet their schedules. So go up a hill in the truck climbing  
lane following one at a safe distance and otherwise stay well behind becaus
e you don't want to be surprised by road debris.

BTW, I use cruise control all the time, including city driving. If you 'pat
' the stalk up, you'll get +1 mph per up pat and -1 mph per down pat. I can
 'stack' three pats in each direction and wait for the car to reach the tar
get speed. The advantage of cruise control is it keeps from 'fretting' the  
accelerator for smoother speed control. But driving on cruise control is no
t for everyone nor is using slower traffic as a pacing vehicle.

Now your Prius c is a compact car much like our 2003 but with 10 years of t
echnical advances. The engine has cooled, exhaust recirculation which signi
ficantly improves high power efficiencies. The transmission is much improve
d and I suspect the handling. But you really have a terrific little car.

One last suggestion, try starting the car when you first get in before even
 buckling up and checking the mirrors and setting the radio/audio. It takes
 a little over a minute for the initial warm-up to complete enough that the
 engine tunes the mixture. Don't be in a hurry to pull out but make startin
g 'first' and do all of the other drive prep while the engine gets to auto-
tuning, mixture mode.

Bob Wilson

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