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OT: Plug in hybrid review.

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  • OT: Plug in hybrid review.

    This last Sunday I traded in my 17 year old Prius on a newer model. Someone asked for a review after I had a few miles on it. Here you go.

    THE CAR: 2017 Prius Prime Advanced. Advanced is the trim level, like a ford XL or a Chevy LTZ. In this instance, the 2017 Advanced has features that will be more widely available on the following year models. It's a PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

    MILES DRIVEN: 662.

    MPG: On one tank of gas, 53 mpg in mixed city, commute traffic (15 miles stop and go) and about 500 miles of high speed freeway driving (65 to 80 MPH)

    OVERALL RATING: 5 out of 5.

    PREJUDICE: Of course I'm prejudiced. I just spent $25K on a car. Of course I bought the best there is!

    Background: I bought the car because I am making monthly 1000 mile trips to take care of my mom who lives in Oregon. My 2002 Prius was needing paint, a brake job (it's first) and the valves were getting noisy so it probably needed some adjusting. The Kelly Blue Book listed it's resale at about $500. The quote for new paint was $3000. I'm 65, so I rationalized that I'd need at least one more car before they jerk my license. Might as well buy it now.

    Experience. First I'll address the elephant in the room. It's designed with the average driver in mind. The average person drives less than 25 miles a day. That would be 5 cross city trips for me. The Prime will drive 25 miles on one charge without using any gasoline. When the battery is depleted it will switch to hybrid gas mode. That's where it will use the gas engine to turn the wheels while simultaneously charging the battery. When the battery reaches a certain point it will kill the engine and run on battery power for a few miles. Then the cycle repeats. The transition from one mode to the next is seamless. You don't know what your source of power is without looking at the displays.

    Now that that's out of the way... The first few days I drove around town, and then a few runs on the local highway to get used to it. My first trip in the car took me from the San Francisco bay area to southern Oregon. I filled the tank on Sunday, and again after I arrived at my destination in Oregon. It has an 11.3 gallon tank.

    IMPRESSIONS: I'd given up on buying a new Prius after the introduction of the 2009 model. It's visibility was terrible and the styling looked odd to me. Huge window pillars concealed airbags but at the expense of blocking your view. Enter the Prius Prime. It was developed at the same time that they were building the standard 2015 models. The forward visibility is much better and the rear "back up camera" quite nicely makes up for the obstructed view out the split hatchback window. The visibility turns out to be quite good, especially after you remove the rear head cushions.

    This model comes with all the TSS-P features. That acronym stands for Toyota Safety Sense- with Pedestrian feature. This is a package that includes an 11 inch screen on the dashboard for the navigation system. It also has:

    * adaptive cruise control, that can be used in stop and go driving as well as the open road.
    * SONAR sensors to let you know if you are about to scrape a fender on the car next to you as you park.
    * Lane keeping mode, where it tracks the dotted lines (and shoulders) and warns you when you cross a line. It then gently turns the wheel to get you back in the lane.
    * Blind spot monitoring tells you when you are about to run into that idiot camping in your blind spot.
    * IPA (not the beer) is Intelligent Parking Assist. Yep, it can parallel park for you. I found it interesting that it parallel parks the same way I do. As it backs in behind a car it uses a camera to align your car with the one in front of it. This works fine if the other car parked well. It's not so good if the other car has scrubbed it's tires against the curb because you scrub yours too.
    * Accident avoidance comes into play when a car pulls our in front of you without matching the flow of traffic. If you are about to hit the car, it will apply the brakes and slow you down.

    All of these things worked quite well. It even had a feature I did not expect. As I was testing the lane keeping mode I let the car drift from side to side several time. After 4 or 5 corrections a message popped up say (paraphrased) "You are too tired to drive. Please rest before continuing."

    Comfort: Several things tend to spoil a long drive. Driver fatigue, overheated cabin and hard seats. The Prius Prime did great in all three areas. The car tracked well and took little effort to keep the car centered in the lane. The seats have an artificial suede like leather that does not burn your skin like real leather. My butt never got sore despite 9 hours of driving. The AC is driven off the traction battery, so it ran consistently no matter what state the engine was in. The engine could be stopped or racing like a banshee and the AC just chugged along keeping the black interior quite comfortable. Weather varied from outside temperatures of 45 degrees to 88 during the trip. It was comfortable the whole time.

    Acceleration: People often look at 0-60 times as the measure of acceleration, but the reality is that most freeway on-ramps require briskly going from 25 to 60sih as you come off a sweeping turn. The 1.8 liter engine coupled with the 76kW of electric drive gets you up to the flow of traffic before the merge. 0-60 in hybrid more is 9.9 seconds. In pure electric it's 12.2 seconds. Remember, that's 0-60. Shave off about 3.5 seconds if you are going from 30 to 65.
    Disclaimer: I spent 17 years with a car that did 0-60 in 12.6 seconds and never had a problem merging onto a highway. Analysis revealed that if it was so busy that I HAD to merge in only one spot, the traffic was so thick that it was moving slowly. If it was moving at 65 or 70 MPH there were always multiple places that I could merge into safely. You don't always have to outrace the guy next to you when merging. There's no disgrace in slipping in behind his car.

    Acceleration downside: One of the best parts about my old Prius was it's extremely consistent acceleration. When I hit the gas I knew exactly how long it would take to clear the intersection. The prime has a subtly different acceleration profile when on pure EV mode. I'll have to get used to that.

    Style: The Prime has different styling than the mainstream Prius. I find it much more attractive than the 2015 models.

    Handling: I forgot to set my phone to track the G forces as I ran through the curves of the northern California mountains. I'll try to remember on the tip home. I never felt like the car was close to breaking loose, even when taking a 50 MPH curve at 70. Yeah, you are not supposed to do that, but it's a new car, so I should get a break for that, right? In a few months I'll let you know how it handles in driving rain and snow. After all, I'll be in Oregon, so it's sure to have SOME bad weather.

    Charging: The car came with a 110V charger. It plugs into any 15 amp 120V socket and will charge the car at the rate of 20 percent charge per hour. A trip across town and back (10 miles) will require about 2 hours to top off the battery. Charging is as simple as uncoiling an extension cord and plugging it in. It locks in place so no one can steal it. A 220V charger is available to do a full charge in only 2 hours. The charger is only $175. The car can also charge from any type2 public charger.

    Forgetting to charge it: It's no biggie. The gas engine will kick in and get you where you want to go.

    Range: 660 miles. I drove all the way from Silicon Valley to 120 miles north of the Oregon border. I had 2 gallons left in the tank and 7 miles of EV range available from the battery.

    FAKE NEWS: A lot of folks say the Prius is behind the times on creature comforts. I'm not so sure. The car has internet connectivity, satellite radio, a huge screen, remote door locks, remote A/C. It reads my text messages to me along with incoming emails.

    BIG SCREEN FLAW: I really like the big screen for navigation. You can see a wide area even when you are focused in tightly. Downside is that when the sun is shining through the rear passenger window it casts a lot of glare on the screen. After 10 am the sun is high enough that it's no longer a problem.

    More to come in the weeks ahead. I have over 1000 pages of owner's manual to read. The 40 page "Quick guide" pamphlet only covered charging, using the windshield wipers, cruise control and one or two other things.


    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

  • #2
    I like that the 2020 Prius LE has a tight turning diameter, 33.5 ft curb-to-curb. I make so many U-turns in my explorations of Phoenix that I would benefit from this. My 2015 Forester does it in 34.8 feet, but newer Foresters require 35.4 feet, which is too much. I will consider a Prius for my next car -- I drive to the SF Bay Area twice a year and need to get more mpg.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

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    • #3
      I had a 1989 civic hatch that got 50mpg routinely. Glad to see we've come so far and get such better mileage now days.
      Andy

      Comment


      • #4
        nice review Dan, glad you like your new car!

        vpt - yeah, but it was also the crumple zone if you were in a pile up between two cars. I had an old Mitsubishi Lancer like that, small enough that I could wind down all the windows from the drivers seat.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by aostling View Post
          I like that the 2020 Prius LE has a tight turning diameter, 33.5 ft curb-to-curb. I make so many U-turns in my explorations of Phoenix that I would benefit from this. My 2015 Forester does it in 34.8 feet, but newer Foresters require 35.4 feet, which is too much. I will consider a Prius for my next car -- I drive to the SF Bay Area twice a year and need to get more mpg.
          Curbs don't matter in my GMC 4x4. It turns where it turns.

          On a side note, My brother gave me a sticker that says; "Don't follow me, You won't make it!"

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you Dan, good review.
            I've been looking at various new cars, light trucks lately and have considered the Toyota Prius line as a likely candidate partly based on your past experience with you last model.
            Like you this may qualify as my last new car. Lifetime warranties are beginning to be less of a drawing card these days.LOL
            This will give me a bit more insight into a possible future purchase.
            Thanks again.
            Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
            Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

            Location: British Columbia

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm glad that some of you found it helpful. It's Soooo hard to do a review without getting a "best thing since sliced bread" mindset. Keep in mind that many of the "smart" features are going to be standard on all cars in the future. Especially the pedestrian and collision avoidance.
              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by vpt View Post
                I had a 1989 civic hatch that got 50mpg routinely. Glad to see we've come so far and get such better mileage now days.
                Yes, we have come a long way. Honestly, I'm amazed that a 1989 civic was able to get 50MPG while climbing mountain ranges at 70+ with the air conditioning on. That's just 'Fantastic'.

                At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by danlb View Post
                  The Prime will drive 25 miles on one charge without using any gasoline. When the battery is depleted it will switch to hybrid gas mode. That's where it will use the gas engine to turn the wheels while simultaneously charging the battery. When the battery reaches a certain point it will kill the engine and run on battery power for a few miles. Then the cycle repeats. The transition from one mode to the next is seamless. You don't know what your source of power is without looking at the displays.

                  ...

                  Acceleration: People often look at 0-60 times as the measure of acceleration, but the reality is that most freeway on-ramps require briskly going from 25 to 60sih as you come off a sweeping turn. The 1.8 liter engine coupled with the 76kW of electric drive gets you up to the flow of traffic before the merge. 0-60 in hybrid more is 9.9 seconds. In pure electric it's 12.2 seconds. Remember, that's 0-60. Shave off about 3.5 seconds if you are going from 30 to 65.
                  If the battery is fully charged and you mash the pedal, will it switch to hybrid mode to maximize acceleration?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by danlb View Post
                    I'm glad that some of you found it helpful. It's Soooo hard to do a review without getting a "best thing since sliced bread" mindset. Keep in mind that many of the "smart" features are going to be standard on all cars in the future. Especially the pedestrian and collision avoidance.
                    Yes, hard to plunk down 20-50 grand on a new vehicle and have to admit to yourself and the world that, yup I bought a turkey.

                    Not only this but a vehicle choice is a highly subjective decision, at times more so than objective.
                    Often times one man's turkey is another man's dream car. Probably the biggest single purchase outside of a home that many folks will make so research is key to making a wise decision.

                    The car lots are full of low mileage 1 or 2 year old cars that are the result of pairing the wrong car to a buyer. Expensive to say the least when you make an ill-informed purchase choice on a new car and have to bail out of it in a year. Often times nothing wrong with the car, just not right for the original buyer.
                    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                    Location: British Columbia

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A ;ot of extras for not a very high price as these things go. Prius is still the clear leader in making hybrids work. Neigbor had one, but traded for a non-hybrid when cost-to-repair exceeded value . Not sure why not a new/newer one, made no sense to me to go non-hybrid after she was happy with the Prius..
                      1601

                      Keep eye on ball.
                      Hashim Khan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess the 53mpg would be even better with proper sized gallons and my average commute speed of 30. I could do with double the battery size though. Somebody at work with a Leaf has apparently found a power socket in the multi-storey car park provided they can park within range of their extension lead.
                        I do two 500 mile trips a month on top of the commute and the last 20 has a few up and down hills which kills the mpg. A bit of recharging on the downs would probably work well.
                        Can you tell it you are near home and can stop the engine early? A gps and bit of AI that worked out the optimum point would be possible.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tomato coupe View Post

                          If the battery is fully charged and you mash the pedal, will it switch to hybrid mode to maximize acceleration?
                          I've read that it will go to hybrid mode when the power demands exceed the capabilities of the electric only. I've not witnessed it. I suspect that means that it will switch when you exceed the 80 something MPH that is the max when in the EV mode.
                          At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Baz View Post
                            I guess the 53mpg would be even better with proper sized gallons and my average commute speed of 30. I could do with double the battery size though. Somebody at work with a Leaf has apparently found a power socket in the multi-storey car park provided they can park within range of their extension lead.
                            I do two 500 mile trips a month on top of the commute and the last 20 has a few up and down hills which kills the mpg. A bit of recharging on the downs would probably work well.
                            Can you tell it you are near home and can stop the engine early? A gps and bit of AI that worked out the optimum point would be possible.
                            I've found (using the 2002 prius) that up and down hills do not impact Toyota Hybrid mileage much. I used to go over a 1000 foot pass every day. The traffic would slow to a crawl and back up 5 miles or so. I'd hold my MPG in the stop and go, but lose a few MPG going up the actual grade. However, the MPG lost going up was almost always completely recovered by not using the engine at all on the downhill side.

                            It would be nice to have a bit more EV range, but most non commuters seldom drive more than 10 miles in a day. Commuters, of course, have very wildly different commutes.

                            I was quite surprised to see that the regenerative braking is much more efficient than the older cars had. If I can trust the dashboard, I get 1 mile of range from slowing from 50 to 20 on a 6% downhill grade. As an experiment I got in the truck lane and rode my brakes coming down into Ashland Or on I-5. I built up almost 30% EV charge.

                            Can you stop the engine early? Yes. Just press the EV button.
                            At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Willy View Post
                              The car lots are full of low mileage 1 or 2 year old cars that are the result of pairing the wrong car to a buyer. Expensive to say the least when you make an ill-informed purchase choice on a new car and have to bail out of it in a year. Often times nothing wrong with the car, just not right for the original buyer.
                              I was counting on that. The Prius is rated 133 MPGe. I expect some folks are quite disappointed to get only 70 or so in their daily 60 mile commute. They trade in early. I got a huge discount on mine because the previous owner did not drive it much. **

                              The MPGe is ONLY so you can compare the efficiency of apples to oranges.

                              If you want to really optimize the cost/benefits you need to match the car to your commute as well as your energy sources, price of the car, maintenance, etc. Sometimes a hybrid or EV is not the best option, especially if you would be perfectly happy driving a 2 year old Honda Fit with no air conditioning on a 3 mile commute.

                              Dan
                              ** The car has a history of how much the car was driven, and in this case it goes back to the day that the car was purchased. I could see that there were months when he hardly went anywhere.
                              Last edited by danlb; 10-25-2019, 09:41 PM.
                              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

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