Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Initial impressions

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Posted by Paul Missman on September 16, 2005, 3:03 am

I picked up my Prius at the dealer today, and drove it 107 miles with an
average MPG of 46.0, including driving over a 2500 foot mountain and back on
I-64.  I really liked the vehicle's performance.  The displays teach you how
to drive it for best MPG pretty quickly.  The car got about 25 MPG going up
the mountain at 65 MPH.  For highway driving, I think the cruise control
probably gets better MPG than I could, and with no effort on my part.

I really appreciate the lack of a multi-gear-ratio transmission.  Power
transfer from primarily electric to primarily gas and from discharging to
charging is undetectable without watching the display.  The computer does a
great job of matching up the electric vs gas engine power curves for smooth
acceleration and deceleration.

I didn't do any hard driving, so as to push the tire grip limits or activate
the ABS or traction control systems.  That said, I did have fun driving the
vehicle tonight.  I'll try some more challenging roads sometime later.

The steering is quite responsive, and well designed.  It takes a bit of
getting used to, not to wander back and forth on the highway, if you are
coming from a larger car with more play in the steering.

The car certainly does have a blind spot to the left rear.  I was coming off
a ramp, after dark, onto the highway, and the car which was to my left rear,
which I'm sure had its headlights on the whole time, just jumped out of
nowhere.  It was as though it snuck up with its headlights off, and then
suddenly turned them on just as it came up to my left rear.  You do have to
watch your mirrors and stay alert.

I enjoyed the A/C system's ability to maintain a set temperature.  Coming
from a car with manual controls, and having to adjust the A/C-heat balance
fairly often, this is great.

I haven't used the radio a lot, but I enjoyed the performance of the CD
player.  It is not in the same ballpark as my home stereo, but it was not in
any way disappointing.  I was not playing any heavy duty rock tonight, so I
don't know how it performs when pushed hard.  It did fine with the vocals,
jazz, and small classical stuff I played tonight.  I found it worthwile to
adjust the front/rear and left/right balance with a familiar recording to
get a good soundstage from the drivers position.  It did, however, sound
quite good before I made this adjustment.

Don't read the owner's manual if you are tired.  It isn't a manual so much
as a large novel.  This car has more modes just to unlock and lock the doors
and to signal you to every possible situation pertaining thereto than any
car you have ever seen.  It would have been far better to select these modes
from the color display in the car than to push combinations of door buttons
and key fob switches to change between opening modes, listening for beep
codes from the car to figure out what you just did.

All in all, it is a beautiful vehicle, and it impressed me with its
comforts, its handling, and its seeming stability, given its size and
weight.  I'd recommend it to any average driver for average driving without
reservation, as long as I thought they could handle the idea of a computer
controlled car with no classic transmission.


Posted by Paul Missman on September 16, 2005, 4:48 am

I had one other comment, and one question:

I drive 107 miles tonight at an average of 46 MPG.  This should a bit over 2
gallons of gas.  However, the gas guage still indicates full.  So, for you
guys that have been driving one for awhile - How linear is that gas guage?
Does it stay near full for a long time, and then suddenly plunge towards

The comment was this:

With all the fancy technology that went into this car, you'd think there
would be an alarm to keep you from engaging the transmission with the park
brake on.  Nope.  I pulled proudly away from the house tonight with the
brake drums screaming.  With those electric motors delivering great torque
at low RPM, you sure can drag those brakes!


Posted by Michelle Steiner on September 16, 2005, 6:58 am

Not very.

Yes, but when it hits three bars or less, it stays on a bar for a longer
time than with the middle bars.

Stop Mad Cowboy Disease:  Impeach the son of a Bush.

Posted by richard schumacher on September 16, 2005, 1:52 pm

Many report something like that.  The gas gauge is not very linear,
perhaps an effect of the bladder used inside the tank.  The owner's
manual recommends not getting below 1/4 tank to avoid any chance of
exposing the fuel pump.  When the last gauge pip starts flashing that's
your final warning, and you should get gas immediately because you may
run out at any time.  Driving on battery only after running out of gas
is very hard on the battery, and it won't take you more than about a
mile anyway.

There is a brake warning light on the console.

Posted by richard schumacher on September 16, 2005, 1:46 pm

It helps to use the Car Talk method for adjusting all the rear-view

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