By on September 2, 2012

Public beta tests are common in the computer world where a group of fanatics pound your beta to death and help you find the problems. In the automotive world this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent on dressing future cars in swirly vinyl. The Prius plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to large corporations, Zipcar fleets and, of course the press. Even TTAC was allowed to drive one for a week. What does that have to do with the final product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, Plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let’s find out.

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There is little to distinguish the Plug-in from the “normal” Prius save the charging door on the right rear quarter panel and (if you’re in California) and the green HOV access stickers. The lack of distinctiveness is either a benefit or a drawback depending on how loud you want to proclaim your “greenness.” The lack of differentiation made financial sense for Toyota as the Prius is rumored to be redesigned for the 2015 model year. Compared to the beta car, Toyota relocated the charging port to the rear meaning I had to back into parking spots to use some public charging stations. Ever wondered why the LEAF’s port is in the nose? Now you know.

Because the Prius’ chassis was designed for a large battery, no changes to the passenger compartment were required. The cargo area is a different story. The regular Prius operates in EV mode up to 42MPH with a range of two miles if you are extremely gentle on the throttle. The plug-in’s range is 11-15 miles thanks to a bigger battery. Toyota achieved the capacity increase by using denser lithium-ion batteries (instead of nickel hydride) and converting the spare tire area into a battery compartment. The result is an increase in capacity from 1.3kWh to 4.4kWh at the cost of the spare and the jack. The beta car used a 5.2kWh battery pack that was segmented into one 1.2kWh pack and two 2kWh packs. The reason for the change was the three pack arrangement wasn’t as efficient and the beta testers complained there was no way to regenerate power back into the dual 2kWh packs once they were exhausted.

A 3.1kWh jump doesn’t sound like much until you understand how the Prius uses the battery. To preserve the life of the battery, a regular Prius will never fully discharge or charge the battery (batteries “wear” faster when their charge state is at either extreme), reducing the usable capacity to around 0.6kWh. For plug-in duty, Toyota expanded this usable capacity to somewhere around 4.2kWh. In comparison, the Volt’s usable capacity is around 12.9kWh and the 2013 Accord plug-in is 6kWh.

Under the hood you will find the same 1.8L, 98HP engine and “power splitting device” as a regular Prius. The engine and electric motors even put out the same combined 134HP. I know what Prius owners are thinking: Hang on, if it’s the same drivetrain, why is my Prius limited to 42MPH in EV mode? You won’t find the answer under the hood, it’s the battery and the software. The Prius’ traction motor (MG2) is the motor connected to the wheels and depending on how you look at the way the transaxle works (great link for tech-heads at eahart.com), MG2 is doing most of the work when you’re moving forward. That’s why MG2 is an 81HP motor. The “problem” with the regular Prius is the discharge rate. The 1.4kWh NiMH battery can deliver only 36HP peak and 27HP of continuous power. The plug-in’s larger batter on the other hand is capable of delivering 51HP of continuous power. If your power demands exceed the neighborhood of 51HP, then the engine turns on to make up the difference up to 134. This new battery pack has another benefit: greater regeneration capacity. On my daily commute I go over a 2,200ft mountain pass, a regular Prius’ battery would be full around 1,700ft. Because the plug-in was able to regenerate all the way down, I gained 7 miles of EV range to make up for the extra gas it took to get me up the hill in the first place.

The Prius isn’t an EV, and it’s not trying to be a “Toyota Volt” either. Yet, it’s more than just a CARB compliance car as well. Unlike the Volt, Fisker, or even the new Accord Hybrid, the Prius can’t live without its engine. Even for short drives. If you floor the car, the engine comes on, and while the beta car had a slick heat-pump to heat the cabin, the production car uses engine heat like a regular Prius. Instead, the Prius plug-in is a new type of car where locomotion blends two different fuel sources trading a portion of the gasoline you pay $4.35 a gallon for in California for electricity at $0.10-$0.15 per kWh. The coming Ford plug-in hybrids operate in essentially the same way.

Let’s look at these numbers in terms of a commute. I drive 106 miles a day, and my commute involves city, highway and rural mountain roads. Starting with fuel economy without charging: the Volt averaged 33MPG, the Prius averaged 50 and the Prius plug-in averaged 52. (Credit the greater ability to regenerate for the improved figure.) With charging on both ends of my commute, the Volt averaged 40MPG, and the Prius plug-in averaged 72MPG.

According to our calculations, if your commute is under 27 miles total, or 27 miles each way with charging on either end at $0.15/kWh, the Volt is the cheaper vehicle to run. The more expensive the electricity, the better the Prius’s proposition. Even at $4.35 a gallon gasoline. My average rate at home is $0.27/kWh due to my agricultural rate which bumps the operational cost of the Volt higher than the Prius plug-in at anything over a 1-mile distance. Check your rates before you plug-in.

On the road, the plug-in behaves just like a regular Prius thanks to gaining only 150lbs. As you would expect, the low rolling resistance tires deliver moderate road noise and precious little grip. The steering is numb a bit over-boosted, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. Is that a problem? Not in my mind. The Prius’ mission is efficiency and not driving pleasure.

When in EV mode, exceeding 3/4 throttle will cause the engine to start, something I still think is a pity. Still, the plug-in is perfectly capable of tacking mountainous terrain in pure EV mode. At speeds above about 50MPH you have to be more gentle on the throttle in order to prevent the engine from kicking in and at 62 the engine starts no matter how ginger you are. If it’s a cold day outside and you’re using the cabin heater, the Prius’ engine will turn on immediately and run to keep the cabin warm. Unlike a regular Prius , if you are in EV mode,  the engine will be essentially idling and generating a small amount of power as long as you keep your speed under 62.

Although the battery and motor are likely capable of speeds greater than 62MPH, the system’s design requires the engine to be spinning. This means that in “EV mode” above 62MPH, the EV battery provides the majority of the energy while the engine essentially idles. In this operation, we were easily getting 180 MPG while on a level freeway traveling 70MPH for 9-10 miles.

With a starting price of $32,000, or $40,285 if you prefer your hybrid fully-loaded, the Prius plug-in has a limited market in mind. You either need to want the latest in Prius tech, or be willing to pay $8,000 to use the HOV lanes for a few years. While I do believe it would be possible to eventually save money vs a regular Prius, it will take an eternity and some serious number crunching. On my commute it would take 300,000 miles for the plug-in to break even with a $24,000 Prius. If your commute is 24 miles a day, then the break even drops to 130,000 miles. But at 24 miles a day, it would take you 20 years. Still, there is that HOV lane to consider. On my route the HOV stickers would cut my daily travel by 30 minutes or  11 hours a month. How much is that worth to you? If your answer isn’t: $8,000, then click on over to our Prius C review. While the Prius plug-in may make sense for a select few, the Toyota’s beta program still succeeded in several ways. Toyota implemented some major changes to the battery systems as a result of the feedback and gained a non-stop flow of reviews in the process. If only Bentley could do the same.

 

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and fuel for this review.

Fuel economy average over 583miles: 65

Percent of time in EV mode: 20%

Performance statistics as tested:

0-30: 3.4 seconds

0-60: 10.0 seconds

¼ Mile: 17sec @ 79 MPH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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171 Comments on “Review: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    ant

    how hard would it be to give us a button to turn off the electric power steering boost, and have the car steering act like it did back in the olden days with manual steering?

    • 0 avatar
      65corvair

      Manual steeting is so nice once underway. Never did figure out how to open the circuit for the steering on my Fiesta. I did for the traction control. (In deep snow).

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      What if your commute required having the AC on full — how would that affect MPG? How well does the AC work?

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        I’m sure the AC affects mpg somewhat, but it doesn’t seem to be very much. I haven’t been able to see a difference in mileage I get during AC and no-AC times of year in Florida.

        The AC works well, at least well enough for me. When the car is in “eco” mode, in addition to desensitizing the throttle, it runs the AC in economy mode. In very hot weather, the AC can seem weak when you use eco mode, but in “normal” drive mode, the AC seem to have about the same power to cool the car as other cars.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        We now have a regular Prius and it would behave the same way, vis-a-vis A/C…

        While moving constantly, the A/C would hit mileage just about the same as in a regular car, there’s going to be an extra few hp needed from the engine from time to time to run the A/C compressor.

        However, when standing still or in heavy traffic, the electric A/C in the Prius makes a huge difference. In a regular gasser, you must run the engine all the time to keep the A/C going, which is very inefficient. In the Prius, the electric A/C runs as necessary of the main battery and the engine runs periodically to recharge the battery. Far less time spent with the engine idling means very little fuel wasted.

        Sitting in a hot parking lot for an hour or in barely moving Chicago traffic for another hour, the A/C kept the Prius comfortable. I looked at the fuel economy for each leg of a trip legs where we ran into these situations and fuel economy remained over 50mpg on both of those legs (we’re getting 52 mpg most of the time).

        I believe the Fusion hybrid has a similar arrangement with electric A/C.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Kixstart – I just sat in the parking lot with my 3 week old, in 90 degree temps, with the AC running nice and cold in our Prius while my wife was in the super market. Engine kicked on a time or two, but certainly a lot more efficient than most other vehicles. It is a clever car with no alternator, no serpentine belt, no starter, and using the brakes to recover energy otherwise lost to friction and heat.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Prius still makes me yawn.

    • 0 avatar

      We are not the intended audience. It’s a wonderful car for people who hate cars.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        You Prius haters don’t have a clue when you say Prius drivers “hate cars.” The Prius is the ultimate practical vehicle. It gets the best mpg of anything sold in the U.S., and has lots of room for its size. A Prius is easy for someone who likes cars to love, because it works so well for its intended purpose.

        Prius owners, it so happens, also like more “enthusiast” oriented cars. Including myself, Prius owners I know also have Ferraris, a Boxter, a Miata, a MINI Cooper, and other so-called enthusiast cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        I know 2 Prius owners.

        One hates “regular” cars with a passion and lambastes me for owning a rear wheel drive German sedan that isn’t as fuel efficient as his hybrid car.

        The other one uses a Prius as his commuter car. He has a BMW M6 for a weekend fun car.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        I like cars and I like driving but the Prius works very well for what I *need*, so I very much like my Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        “You Prius haters don’t have a clue when you say Prius drivers “hate cars.” The Prius is the ultimate practical vehicle. It gets the best mpg of anything sold in the U.S., and has lots of room for its size. A Prius is easy for someone who likes cars to love, because it works so well for its intended purpose.”

        – A Volt accomplishes many of the same things (even more so for commuting purposes on EV alone) and drives more like a real car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Have to say they Hybrid Synergy Drive is an impressive drive-train, but the Prius itself is an exercise in smug and arrogance. This was done on purpose by a marketing department determined to set it apart from everything else on the road and give its owners a sense of moral/environmental superiority and it worked well.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I say pure BS to the car hater comment. I drive a hybrid (Altima) and I surely love cars. Getting ready to pull the trigger on a new fun ride and spend the last five days with a friend’s six speed Camaro SS convertible loving every minute of that ripping V8. But will that fun car be the commuter? No. It is just not practical for slugging it out in 80 miles of traffic and yes it will use too much gas. I don’t understand why saving money, resources, and enjoying driving is considered so mutually exclusive. I think part of the problem is the manufactures themselves and how they tune their cars. My Altima needed service and I received a Prius as a loaner. The Prius delivered 50 MPG as opposed to my Altima’s 34. While the Altima is no 3 series, if far, far outhandled the Prius. Not even in the same league. Alex, I disagree wholeheartedly that allowing the Prius to be a boring handler is ok. There are those of us who want to save gas and enjoy the drive. it would cost Toyota next to nothing to offer a suspension package to add some enjoyment to the car. Maybe the tires have to be a compromise but please, Toyota, control that horrid lean and wallowy ride…. These guys think so http://priuschat.com/threads/suspension-upgrades-trd-sportivo-touring.39653/

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @28-cars-later:

        Arrogance is in the eye of the beholder, in this case.

        The Prius was designed by a wind tunnel on the outside. And by a sci-fi geek on the inside. Neither of these are particularly smug.

        Also, the smug and the green halo only lasts about as long as the new car smell. Then you’re left with a practical little car that uses half the gas of most.family cars.

        There’s been no competition in the segment for a decade, so once the Prius set your standards for what a car should be, there was exactly one real car on the market. That’s changing, since the Ford C-Max appears to be a real car by Prius standards – and since the Cuze diesel may be a worthwhile competitors. And, of course, the Volt and the LEAF are high-end niche cars. A little competition in the segment will help to erase the “why are you driving THAT?” puzzlement that you’re mistaking for smug – when a particular car really is twice as good for your needs as the average vehicles on the road, its hard not to be a little puzzled when someone who looks like they’re doing the same thing shows up with a different tool. It’s easy to forget that small differences in lifestyle can mke a big differences.in car choices

        Anyway, you should get over yourself and remember that, while you may not see eye to eye with a Prius owner, that they are essentially helping to keep gas prices down for you.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Golden – the Plus Performance package brings sticky tires, lighter weight forged wheels, new suspension, and a cd lowering aero kit to the Prius liftback. I’m fairly sure that the suspension bits can be bought seperately as dealer accessories. That won’t fix the torsion beam rear suspension, but it helps. FWIW, the v actually handles pretty decent. The longer wheelbase keeps it a little more composed and it is sprung a bit stiffer. The steering is still numb, but it certainly isn’t a weird or annoying car to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        I just bought a Prius last month for my wife, to replace her Explorer. This is a significant improvement over the Explorer in every “car guy” way including comfort, performance, handling, and of course economy. It’s a great car for what it is and a surprisingly good freeway cruiser… I know because I drove it home over 300 miles after purchasing it from an out of state dealer getting 52 mpg at 70+.

        We don’t hate cars. Our other cars are an MX5 and an LS400. The Prius is excellent for what it is… Very well engineered and practical. And I can always take the MX5 when the weathers good.

      • 0 avatar
        danup

        It’s funny that the Prius is so often lambasted for its owners’ perceived smugness when nearly every sports car—sorry, Real Car—is owned at least in part for the exact same reason: To look cool to other people in your demographic.

        The guy who drives a Ferrari around my neighborhood is in it For The Smug way more than eight out of ten people who drive Priuses because they like technology, the environment, and cars they don’t have to think about.

      • 0 avatar
        cwerdna

        I love cars. I own an 06 Prius as my only car. I used to have an 04 Nissan 350Z alongside it. I also had a 255 hp Nissan Maxima before the Prius. I used to think that I could never buy another car with less than 200 hp. Well, I have and I still like it.

        Its handling and performance are admittedly, nothing to write home about.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The Prius makes me yawn, too, and I’m an enthusiastic Prius owner and follower of Prius technical boards.

      I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Prius is for people who hate cars, but it *is* way more fun to own than it is to actually drive it. It drives like an everyday appliance. My enthusiasm for it comes from the clever technology under the hood, as well as the way it’s steadfastly served my family from even before my family existed. It’s one of those “good life choice” cars, not one of those “it’ll put a smile on your face before you even turn the key” machines.

      The Prius has pretty much eclipsed the Honda Civic as the appliance-of-choice in my town, and because it’s a great little car that’s the next step in terms of efficiency, reliability, and it’s also a “grownup” car without being ostentatious. (Keep in mind that I live in a midwestern college town.) But, driving it makes me yawn, too!

      On the other hand, the Prius has more than enough power for anything that I would actually do with passengers in the car – and it does it on half of the gasoline of my Escape so it’s usually our first-choice vehicle. If you were driving 12 hours across the prairie (and then returning a few days later), and someone handed you $100 to take the Prius and leave the other car, would you take the deal? This is basically what happens when my wife and I pick which car to take on the a roadtrip. Two or three times a year, I take the $100.

  • avatar

    How are they in Winter Conditions ie Snow covered roads?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Perfectly fine with appropriate winter tires. Which are NOT the tires they come with.

      I have to agree with PrincipalDan – YAWN. If I had a commute long enough that mileage mattered, I would want something FAR more interesting to spend the time in.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        I’d consider a Prius for a long commute even if they are freakin’ boring and miserable to drive, as long as I had something fun to blast around on weekends in the garage as well.

        For an only car with a long commute? I’d have to go with a VW Jetta or Golf TDI with a stick shift.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The Prius is a front wheel drive car with a good traction control system and ABS. It’s a commuter car, not a Jeep.

      I’ve found it to be quite adequate in the snows we get in Illinois. Other than the ground clearance, the Prius is much better than my RWD 5-speed Ranger was in the snow. I have an AWD Escape now, and both cars get us to work when it’s 0F and blowing snow — I can’t really compare the Prius or the Escape because they’re both more than up to the task of getting us to work in the winter.

      The Prius’s efficiency isn’t as good on a 0F morning as it is in warm weather, but that’s true of any vehicle on a short trip — if you’re driving around town, a lot of the fuel is going to go to warming up the engine block from 0F, no matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving. But the Prius has the big MPG display on the dasboard, so you see the effect in realtime.

      While I don’t know what your situation requires of a snow vehicle, I can comfortably say that the Prius is at least as good as any other modern front wheel drive commuter car in the snow. The only problem I’ve had with it, though, is that the TCS on the 2nd-gen Prius is so aggressive that the car will stand still rather than spin the wheels on ice — it hasn’t been much of a problem for me, but it is an important criticism of the car’s all-weather performance (Toyota has made it easier to temporarily disable the TCS in newer variants of the Prius). Even so, my guess is that the Prius is better than most front wheel drive cars in the snow — because of the TCS/ABS, because of the precise low-speed control, and because of the smoothness of the “CVT”.

      On the other hand, if you actually need 8″ of ground clearance to get through your snow, then the Prius probably isn’t the winter-car for you. But if you’re a Midwestern city dweller, it’s more than up to the task.

      • 0 avatar
        Nutella

        My experience of the Prius I don’t own in winter is vastly different. My brother is a proud owner of a Prius after owning typical FWD german vehicles.
        All this is based on European winters, specifically in the Ardennes part of Belgium and the Eifel (Germany). That means very curvy, hilly and narrow roads. The last 2 winters, the Prius has been a disaster, possibly by far the worst FWD winter vehicle in the family, even fitted with the mandatory snow tires.
        First, there is much less ground clearance that a normal FWD, second CVT type transmission are the enemy of winter driving because most of them do the opposite of what they supposed to do once you accelerate (keep the lower gear too long) unless they have a winter mode (not the case of the Prius). Then the electric powertrain has way too much torque, making it even worse. His car basically get stuck whenever he has to start moving after stopping on a hill.It’s so bad, he had to abandon the car at christmas time 2 miles away from my home to make it on time for our family dinner. Of course, once you are moving, you are afflicted with all the typical shortcomings of a Toyota in the winter. The steering and suspension convey absolutely nothing of what type of surface youu are driving on ( Is it icy ? soft or hard snow ? etc) Another issue is also the sensitivity to lateral wind (we are windmill country here) which combined with the typical uncommunicative chassis make it for a tiring drive on a dark winter morning commute.
        Then the drop of efficiency of the hybrid powertain is much larger in comparison to a normal gasoline, diesel car in sub zero temp.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Nutella:

        My guess is that your brother is hamfisting the Prius. It’s a fingertips vehicle in all conditions, especially in the snow. If you try to drive it like a RWD German sedan, it will turn in to a hockey puck.

        One of the gotchas of the Prius TCS is that it seems to defy the laws of physics with really good control up to a certain point, and then you find yourself out of control with much less warning than you do in, say, a RWD American pickup truck. If you keep the Prius inside the TCS envelope, it does really remarkably well.

        It doesn’t sound like the Prius is the car for you or your brother. But, in any case, if you want good results, you do have to drive it like a fingertips FWD small car – and not a sports-sedan. The car is what it is: practical, reliable, efficient. It ain’t no BMW, though, which is one of the things I like about it.

      • 0 avatar
        JKC

        I’ve had the same winter experience with a 2005 Prius, also shod with snow tires. (Michelin X-Ice, for those interested.) On level ground it’s OK, but it was unable to climb a snowy hill my Focus handled with ease. My sense was that the traction control kicked in too early and shut down all forward momentum. The car could not climb the hill.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @JKC:

        The Prius enthusiast community has the same problem that you do with the aggressive TCS stopping the car on steep/slippery hills. I’ve made it happen with the 2nd-gen, but it’s never been a big problem for me personally — since I’m an energy-management driver who learned to drive in the Appalachian mountains. But the TCS-stall does seem to be the Prius’ biggest problem on slippery roads.

        I can’t speak about the 3rd-gen Prius directly, but my wife accidentally disabled the TCS during our test-drive of the Prius V (derived from the 3rd-gen Prius). She held the brake pedal to the floor at a stoplight, and the TCS-disabled light came up on the dashboard. In other words, Toyota has realized that there’s a problem — but I personally don’t care for their particular solution. I’d would very much a “temporarily disable the TCS” button on the shifter. But, if you get into a TCS-stall situation with a 3rd-gen Prius, try holding down the brake pedal.

        Anyway, we’re so delighted with our 2nd-gen Prius that the newer Prius can barely compete with it. :-) But it does have a few quirks, and it’s not always the right tool for the job.

      • 0 avatar
        JKC

        @Luke42: I’ll have to try the hold-the-brakes method to see if that defeats the traction control. I don’t drive the Prius much at all (it’s my mother’s, and I take it out to exercise it in the winter.) I will say this about the car: it’s gone 110Kmi with minimal maintenance and has been trouble-free, ridiculously economical transportation for my mother and her husband. The Prius may not set an enthusiast’s heart alight, but it sure gets its job done.

    • 0 avatar

      Beter questions:

      #1. How munch range do you lose when the LiIon battery is cold?

      #2. For $40,500 why not buy 2 Elantras or Cruzes and save the leftover money for gas?

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “#2. For $40,500 why not buy 2 Elantras or Cruzes and save the leftover money for gas?”

        The $24k base Prius will be the biggest competition for this car.

        Also, if you really want to get awesome mileage and can live with a 10 second 0-60 time…the Prius C starts at $18.9k.

  • avatar
    stephenjmcn

    The panel fit in that front fender picture is awful.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It is undoubtedly impressive technology and Toyota seems to have made is reliable also but for me the Prius still has that “enthusiasts only” feel about it. From the weird interior, the odd break feel, the near dangerous no-grip tires and the up-front costs, ownership still isn’t anywhere that of a normal car. The plug in Prius really doesn’t advance that cause – its just another tech geek vehicle that makes no financial sense and is simply designed for wealthier and more dedicated green enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Au contraire. It’s a wildly popular car in my town, and seems to have largely replaced the Civorolla and Camcord — because it does the same thing for those people, but better. I think it depends on where you live, though. I live in small a college town that’s as dense as a lot of big cities

      It seems to me that it’s the performance-enthusiasts who avoid the Prius, and for good reason. If you want to drive fast, corner at high speed, or enjoy a spirited ride, the Prius is really just not the right tool for the job.

      But that could be different depending on where you live. What region of the country do you live in? And how dense is it?

      P.S. I do agree that plugin vehicles are currently niche vehicles for green enthusiasts. Just like hybrids were when they were first introduced over a decade ago.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      ” the up-front costs, ownership still isn’t anywhere that of a normal car.”

      My local Toyota dealer is the same as the Ford and Honda dealer. Most of the Prii they stock are “2″ trim level cars with an MSRP of about $25K. Most of their Focii are higher than that. Yes, you can order a Focus and get “what you need” for less, but by the time you get a Focus hatch similarly equipped, the price difference isn’t that great.

      The difference is gas mileage depends a lot on the nature of your driving. In heavy traffic, the Prius will get at least 50% better mpg than a Focus. In highway driving, the difference will be smaller. Yes, the Focus is more fun to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        But the Prius still gets fantastic mileage on the highway. The benefit of the hybrid system is less than it is in heavy traffic, but it’s still a 50MPG car on the highway (even with less advantage from the HSD), and the Focus just isn’t a 50MPG car.

        The World Focus looks great and gets pretty good mileage, and I see why someone would want to own one! But I wanted point out that “less of an MPG advantage” is not “less MPG”.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    There is a $2500 federal tax credit and a $7500 state tax credit that the PiP gets that the regular Prius models do not. That almost had me canceling my order for a Prius v. Ultimately, I decided that space was more important.

    This “great car for people who hate cars” meme needs to stop. I love cars and my other two cars are an SUV that I actually take off road (trip in 2 weeks!) and a supercharged MINI cooper with a 6MT and LSD. Those cars frankly aren’t very good at getting my wife and 3 week old infant around. The Prius station wagon is a fantastic car for a small family. I’m an engineer and I totally geek out over the way the HSD works.

    Great post Alex. Very cool information on how the car works differently from the reg models.

  • avatar
    kokomokid

    This report confirms what I have thought since I first heard about the Prius Plug-in. The main advantage of the Plug-in over a regular Prius, is that the bigger battery provides extra energy storage for long downhill grades, and would provide extra “boost” for long uphill runs. It would never pay for itself over a regular Prius, at least a ~$24K “2″ trim level Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Yup, it’s a niche product for relatively well-off green-geeks. Like me.

      At least for now. The hope, of course, is that if guys like me buy cars like this, that the prices will come down in the long run and we’ll all benefit. And, in the meantime, I’d get to play with a geeky new toy. It’s certainly not a deal for everyone, but there are enough people who will take this deal to make this car worth selling.

      P.S. In terms of niche cars, the Volt is currently outselling the Corvette. My guess is that there’s a lot of pent-up demand in the upscale-green-geek niche, but that GM has been selling Corvettes for a half century and has already filled the Corvette’s niche pretty well.

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    There aren’t many scenarios that enable the PiP to beat the Volt’s mileage costs, but the combination of high electricity rates and a long commute with mountain driving is one of them. I have a 52 mile round trip commute in stop-and-go Los Angeles; I plug in at home. I get between 40 and 50 miles a charge. I use under a gallon a week in my Volt driving 300-350 miles and my EV rate electricity cost is .07 cents per kw. And my car isn’t boring.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      If most of your driving is within electric-only range, the Volt will beat a Prius, plug-in or regular, in operating costs. As you go beyond the electric range of the Volt, the operating costs quickly favor the Prius, because it gets a lot better mpg when running on gas.

      Yes, the Volt is sportier driving than a Prius, and the way it “feels” running on electric power is cool. Also, I thought the transition to gas power was surprisingly transparent when I drove one.

      In the end, a Volt wouldn’t be for me. It costs too much to buy, I’d rather run my car on gas than coal, which I’d be doing in Indiana, and enough of my driving is on longer trips, that the Prius’ operating costs are lower.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I’d rather pay Americans for coal-fired electricity than Saudis or Venezuelans for devil piss. But you’re right, the Volt use case is pretty limited/niche. For those in that niche, however, it’s pretty great.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “I’d rather pay Americans for coal-fired electricity than Saudis or Venezuelans for devil piss”

        I agree but shhhh don’t say that too loud else you will incur the ire of globalists and enviro-nazis.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @28-cars-later: I’m the liberal that Limbaugh warned you about, but Noisewater has a good point!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      $0.27/kWh? Xenu H. Cthulhu!! How does your utility generate power, by burning babies?

      27mi of electric range in a Volt? That’s pretty poor, so I assume you go uphill both ways in 40F weather. I get 35mi range or thereabout in 100F Texas summer, 27mi range in 40F Texas winter, and 40+mi range the other 4 months. I also pay $0.11/kWh during summer peak when I charge at home, and $25/6 months of unlimited public charging. My blended costs run about $0.02/mi as I charge using the public charger 5 days a week and at home on weekends.

      Just ticked over 11k mi, and my costs to date apart from power and insurance have been for a tire that ate a big hunk o’metal (tow covered by OnStar, but tire & labor not warranteed), a tire rotation at 7500mi that included a free top-up of fuel, and approximately 30gal of premium gas.. Hell, I should drive it empty by 15k then get the tire rotation and fillup, I’d just about break even!

      ps: that PiP J1772 socket location is asinine. You basically have to back it in to every parking space. They should have put it in the front somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Oddly enough, I do back in whenever I have the choice because I think it’s safer. Of course, I might be wrong…

        But for 95% of the population, I agree that plugging in the tail is not a win.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        “I’d rather pay Americans for coal-fired electricity than Saudis or Venezuelans for devil piss. ”
        Not being a climate change denier, I’d rather burn the oil at about 50 mpg, but I understand your point.

        If you you really fit the Volt demographic, those who do almost all their driving within electric range, you could do 5% or so of your driving outside electric range and never buy gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        According to this (info’s a few hours stale, but otherwise accurate):

        http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/792

        I’ve got 11161mi on the clock, of which 10014 were on electric, 1147 on gas. That puts me at nearly 90% electric. The use case fits pretty well so far!

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Or, you could buy a motorcycle and use the Hov lane. Even a fully loaded BMW 1200 (in various guises) is half the price. Admittedly no snow tires, so….

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      If my wife would allow it, I’d have a motorcycle instead of the MCS. As it stands, my fun has to come on 4 wheels if it is motorized. She has no problem with the 4 bicycles. I just can’t mix two wheels and a motor.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Broadly available beta test cars. Remedy the glitches before Consumer Reports pans the car and kills sales. What a concept!

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      They can’t do that with too many cars. The advantage of the Prius PHV is that it’s 95% Prius Classic. They could modify a few to get a big beta fleet going but to do something like this with tne next generation Malibu or Camry would be impossible. They only seemed to have tweaked things that don’t really change the manufacturing process.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The value of expensive EV (or EV-like hybrids) like the PIP or Volt is predicated on one thing, and one thing only: oil price. Should the price of oil take a sharp upward trajectory (for whatever reason), EV owners who paid a big premium for the highest fuel mileage vehicles will suddenly all be financial geniuses. As far as the vehicles themselves go, most of them are all relatively competent (if being less than a scintilating driving experience).

    If the price of oil remains relatively stable, well, coughing up big-bucks for an expensive EV won’t be viewed as quite as smart a move.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      In the long run, oil prices can only go up.

      The argument is simple: Oil is really useful. There’s only so much oil in the world. When you burn it, there’s less of it. Therefore, it becomes more valuable.

      The short and medium term predictions are beyond my capability. There are more alternatives than you’d think (coal to liquids, etc), and more demand fluctuations coming (my Indian co-workers are getting wealthier and increasing their standard of living fast). So I don’t know how prices are going to go in the short and medium terms.

      But, we know how this story is going to end: gasoline will be very very expensive before I retire. We may be running our cars on CNG or electricity or synthetic gasoline by then, but it ain’t going to be as cheap as it is today.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have to agree on all points, even the last two major economic crisis (prior to 08), the 2001 Dot Com burst and the 1997 ASEAN crisis, caused oil to drop but it eventually recovered. Only an extremely significant geopolitical event could reverse the trend.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Have you driven a Volt or Leaf? All that silent torque at 0rpm is fun. The LRR tires? Not so much. Can’t wait to fix _that_ problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Indeed. I was surprised by how well the Volt’s smoothness and classy interior justified the pricetag. On the other hand, I was already sold on the EV part.of the car, so YMMV. The Volt is one of the few cars that I actually aspire to own, rather than kinda wanting to pick one up used in a few years.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    As long as a Prius is being reviewed (even if it’s a plug-in), there’s two other things that come to mind:

    - The central “gauges”. This is not an issue. I have more difficulty switching back and forth between the Prius’ transponder-enabled push-button ignition and our regular key-start cars. The latter is trending in all new cars, anyway.

    - The console with storage underneath. It looks weird but you quickly find ways to use it. The dual glovebox is really handy (we keep frequently used items in the top box and less-often wanted items below).

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    It seems this car is a regular Prius with a bigger battery and a revised software load to better take advantage of it. How can that possibly cost an extra $8K? It seems to me this should be a $2 or $3k option box on a regular Prius.

  • avatar

    $40,000!!!

    I could get a V6 Dodge Charger fully loaded for $30,000 and actually spend less to maintain it, fuel it – as well as do less environmental damage to the ecosystem over the same financing period as this small piece of crap.

    God I HATE EV’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      How do you figure that a V6 Dodge Charger will get better fuel mileage than a Toyota Prius in any kind of normal driving conditions?

      The plug-in Prius is overpriced but for most people who just need a reliable car to get from point A to point B and don’t care that it’s boring to drive, the regular Prius at $24k and up is a fine car.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      The $32K Prius plug-in is as well equipped as a $30K Charger.

      Also, how do you figure the Charger would cost less to maintain? The Prius has 10,000 mile or once a year oil changes. Other than tire rotation, that’s it for routine maintenance. As far as longer term maintenance, the brakes never wear out, because most of the braking is of the regenerative variety. Also, Priuses are very reliable. I only have about 50K miles on mine, with no problems, but I have two friends with near 200K miles, and no problems. Yes, they still have the original “big” battery.

      Don’t get me wrong on the Charger. It is a good car, and a good value for what it is, but as far as cost of ownership, even the pricey plug-in Prius would be cheaper, in base form, and a regular Prius would be much cheaper. Also, the Prius is a much more practical hatchback. Sadly, the very useful Magnum wagon went away.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Also, for $30k, there are far better conventional sedans than a Charger. The Camry SE V6 comes to mind. I don’t know why a mediocre design that’s a rental fleet darling is being used as a benchmark against a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Sam: ” I don’t know why a mediocre design that’s a rental fleet darling is being used as a benchmark against a Prius.”

        I can’t relate, either. But Bigtruck is extraordinarily concerned about whether a vehicle is “wimpy”. Your are left to draw your own conclusions about the caliber of the man, so to speak.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether I got a brand new Charger – Base $25,500- loaded -$28,000~30,000 or an older used one, the money I save not financing a $40,000 as tested Prius could go to pay for fuel and maintenance.

      I’d have a nearly-300HP full sized car which drives like a car’s supposed to drive.

      Don’t have to worry about “range anxiety”.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        A $32K Prius plug in has nav, auto temp, “smart key,” and is generally well equipped. A ~$25K regular Prius has features a base Charger SE does not.

        A Prius and a Charger are obviously very different cars, but if the Prius required more energy to make than a Charger, it would cost more. As we all know, energy isn’t free, and the energy used in manufacturing is included in the price of a $25K Prius, the same as it’s included in the price of a $25K Charger. Also, the cost of recycling/disposing of batteries is included in the price of a Prius. Toyota takes responsibility for this.

        No Prius has “range anxiety,” as long as you don’t run it out of gas. I typically get a range of over 500 miles per tank with my “regular” Prius, and the plug-in would have even more range.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        bigtrucks says:
        An EV will ALWAYS be less efficient than an internal combustion vehicle because:

        Not really…

        Internal combustion engines used in cars are about 20% efficient. Even the most efficient IC engines, the huge oil burners used in ships, are only 50 some per cent efficient.

        Modern electric motors, on the other hand, are 85-90% efficient, and the loss in the power grid and the charge-discharge cycle of batteries doesn’t result in nearly enough loss to make up for the low efficiency of an ICE.

        Yes, I agree completely that pure EV’s in their present form won’t do road trips, and they are certainly niche vehicles, but that isn’t because they are less efficient than conventional ICE powered cars.

        Of course, none of this has anything to do with the topic of this article, plug in hybrids, which are both efficient, and capable of doing any type of road trip.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @bigtrucks: “Whether I got a brand new Charger – Base $25,500- loaded -$28,000~30,000 or an older used one, the money I save not financing a $40,000 as tested Prius could go to pay for fuel and maintenance.”

        Funny you should mention $25k. For that, you can get a regular Prius, which is likely more reliable AND more way efficient than the Charger. Under these criteria, the regular Prius seems like a clear winner.

        “I’d have a nearly-300HP full sized car which drives like a car’s supposed to drive.”

        And what does that get you? I mean, practically speaking? Greater fuel costs? Sub-Toyota reliability?

        “Don’t have to worry about “range anxiety”.”

        You don’t have to worry about that with any Prius variant, since they’re all primarily gasoline powered cars that typically have 10-gallon gas tanks (which will take you over 400 miles before the low-fuel indicator).

        The only car you have to worry about that with is a pure EV like the LEAF.

        The Prius is NOT an EV. I’m an enthusiastic Prius owner, and it’s a very clever vehicle – but the non-Plugin version gets ALL of its energy through the gas-tank filler neck, so it’s powered by gasoline just like everything else. The Plugin Prius supplements the gasoline with a few KWH of electricity, which is a good thing, but it’s not anywhere near being a real EV because you have to fetcher the gas pedal to keep it from burning gas. It’s a clever innovative efficient and reliable car, but if you think the Prius is an EV, you’ve been misinformed…

        The LEAF, now that’s an EV. The Volt can be either, depending on the situation. The plugin Prius really is a gasoline/EV hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……Modern electric motors, on the other hand, are 85-90% efficient, and the loss in the power grid and the charge-discharge cycle of batteries doesn’t result in nearly enough loss to make up for the low efficiency of an ICE…..

        Or is it? While BigTruck often takes a sledgehammer view, he has a legitimate question regarding pure EVs. What about well to wheel efficiency analysis? Yes, motors are way more efficient, which is why they don’t have elaborate means to dissipate heat. Transmission of electricity is not too bad either. But the 800 gorilla is the production of electricity. Modern power plants are somewhere between 30 to 40 (at the very best) efficient if they are of the fuel or nuclear variety. Does the energy used (and lost) in the extraction, production, delivery, burning of gasoline stack up against oil/coal/gas production, electrical generation, delivery, conversion to motion in a car? I’m not so sure which wins. Of course, if it is hydro-electric generation, renewable, or nuclear, the tipping point likely changes…just something to ponder….

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        Golden2husky,

        Take a look at: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php

        It gives a good idea of carbon emissions for an EV vs other cars, based on the fuel used to generate the electricity.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Here’s an interesting way to look at efficiency, which comes from the airplane world where weight is critical:

        A gas engine burns 14 pounds of air for every pound of gas, meaning that it doesn’t have to carry all material it needs to make energy…it takes most of it from the surrounding atmosphere. A battery, OTOH, has to carry all the materials it needs to make energy.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll say it again: no one actually wants to show how much it costs total to:

        Produce the electricity to drive an electric car VS. the energy required to drive a gasoline powered car.

        America has NO SHORTAGE of ELECTRICITY. We don’t import electricity and electricity can be created locally.

        The problem is our energy needs grow every single day exponentially and we have no way to create it without polluting the air. Creating laws to tax “producers of CO2″ is simply a way to raise taxes (among other things the government does to raise taxes without saying it). It’s politics. The earth itself could release more CO2 than we ever could simply by volcanic eruptions and it could spill more oil than we ever could simply via earthquakes. The “greeners” act like oil spill fissures don’t happen! Maybe they just don’t have a background in Geophysics/Geology to know any better.

        When all is said and done, there’s nothing “green” about an EV. There’s nothing “green” about an I.C.E”

        Human’s very existence is destructive to the ecosystem. Our entire existence is built around use of energy to work to sell consumable goods so people can consume and those people do so in a wasteful manner.

        When everyone rushes out to Walmart or BBY to buy a new iPhone5, how much CO2 will they produce.

        I’m not worried about the Earth. Eventually it will “shake us off like a bad case of fleas”. We’ll be dead long before the radiation inside the earth ceases, plate tectonics stop and the Earth freezes over.

        The law of Entropy: all things must end.

        No exceptions.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      btsr,

      Oh. In other words, you didn’t know. Well, thanks for the opinion, anyway.

      Most of the Prius is 100% pure car. Tires, sheetmetal, frame, dashboard, windows, seats… About 250lbs is the li-ion traction battery.

      Manufacturing the first 2900 lbs of Prius will be identical to building the first 2900 lbs of the Charger.

      The last 250 lbs of the Prius, the battery, would have to be the environmental equivalent of building the last 1000 lbs fo the Charger or worse.

      Doesn’t seem likely. By the way, at about 100 kilos, only approximately 12 kilos of the 4.4kwh battery is actually lithium. Google “how much lithium in a lithium ion battery” and you get a good resource.

      • 0 avatar

        Where are you getting these figures?

        Please express all energy data in Joules please.

        Provide sources.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        You can google the mass of the battery (I might be off by 25 kilos or so). You can use Edmunds for the mass of the cars. Youc an google for the amount actual lithium in the battery as I described.

        I don’t have any intention to look anything else up or convert anything into joules or any other units for your convenience.

        You are free to do a common-sense consideration of what goes into manuufacturing the car or not. That’s up to you.

      • 0 avatar

        An EV will ALWAYS be less efficient than an internal combustion vehicle because:

        #1 Electricity in some way already requires fossil fuels to be used to produce it.
        #2 transmitting electricity results in energy loss through heat. By the way – those cables are covered in RUBBER which is made from…you guessed it…PETROLEUM.
        #3 In very cold/very hot weather, batteries, regardless their construction lose efficiency.

        Which would you prefer to drive through a desert? An I.C.E V6/I4 or an EV?

        My logic is undeniable.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @bigtruck: “My logic is undeniable.”

        Not quite. You missed the other half of the equation. Gasoline engines need to be a) portable and b) run at partial throttle. In practice, this pretty much cancels out the advantages you cite.

        Turns out that, in the worst case, driving a LEAF is about the same as driving a Prius — BUT ONLY IF you live in an area that is 100% coal powered. If you live somewhere with, say, a lot of hydro power (the Pacific Northwest, for instance), driving the LEAF is way better.

        Since you’re demanding that other people do your homework for you, here’s a nice summary of the argument:
        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php
        If you type in your zip-code, it will find the electrical generation mix for your city and you can use that to calculate whether an EV would give you Prius-like emissions, or better. Of course, Prius-like emissions are way better than your 700hp truck, or a Dodge Charge, so if lifetime vehicle emissions are your Primary concern, then everything worse than the Prius is off the table.

        And here’s a report that summarizes answers to the the questions you posed above:
        http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/559.pdf
        It’s 60 pages, and does its best to summarize the answers to the questions you posed. Several of the arguments refer to arguments made in papers that were referenced in the bibliography. Welcome to science!

      • 0 avatar

        LUKE 42

        And this rebutts everything you just sent me:

        http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/13/electric-cars-not-so-green-after-all/

        http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/19232-why-electric-cars-are-inefficient-polluters.html

        Welcome to Google Search!

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Re: hotair, you might want to link to a site that doesn’t have such an obvious agenda next time. My head was itching for a tinfoil hat.

        Your 2nd link says the batteries have to be replaced every two or three years. Nah, no lying there to try to set some foundation for his article.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/electric-cars-may-not-be-so-green-after-all-says-british-study/story-e6frg8y6-1226073103576

        Is this article as easily dismissed?

    • 0 avatar
      cwerdna

      The vast majority of the a car’s energy consumption is in its operation. See studies at http://www.pacinst.org/topics/integrity_of_science/case_studies/hummer_vs_prius.pdf.

      Besides the Charger being hundreds of pounds heavier, is EPA rated at a poor 23 mpg combined vs. 50 for the PiP per http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=31777&id=31780&id=31767&id=32484.

      Over 150K miles, the Charger would’ve consumed 3521 more gallons of gasoline. That extra fuel would’ve weighed 22186 lbs and burning it would’ve emitted an extra 70434 pounds of CO2. The extra gasoline must come from oil that must be explored for, drilled for, pumped, shipped via pipeline, tanker, etc., refined (yet more energy needed), then shipped to a gas station and carried as dead weight in a car.

      The li-ion battery pack in the PiP only weighs 168 lbs, BTW.

      • 0 avatar

        cwerdna

        Even with every single statement about CO2 emissions, you still can’t prove that an Electric car that travels the same distance as an ICE vehicle like the Charger would save any energy.

        The only way your argument works is if you quote the cost of electricity at the plug, without counting EVER SINGLE JOULE of energy that went into getting it to that plug.

        The argument for EV’s is a manifest folly simply because the entire infrastructure in America is designed already around petroleum. Upgrading the infrastructure by building charging stations, batteries, etc only costs MORE energy. Even if you could build massive solar panels and other renewable energy sources to get electricity, those things are so inefficient, you’d use more energy than you’d be able to gain over time through maintenance and transportation of materials.

        Unless cold fusion or Quantum Singularities become a reality, the EV is always going to be a niche vehicle.

        PERIOD.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        For the joules obsessed:

        1 kilowatt hour = 3,600,000 joules
        1 horsepower hour = 2,684,519.5 joules
        1 magaton = 4 184 000 000 000 000 joules

        None of this has much to do with the topic we are discussing. The best published info, as Luke42 has previously posted, is at:

        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php

        …and if you think this is a “political” web site of the Obama administration, it was there in pretty much the same form when GWB was pres.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        To get “Well to wheel” info for your area, based on the fuel source used to generate your electricity, use:

        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php#wheel

  • avatar

    The footage of you driving looks exactly like when George Jetson drives (flies).

    There’s an up/down motion and it’s hilarious!

  • avatar
    stroker49

    With a gas price of 8,50 USD/Gallon here in Europe it is strange that you donät see more of Prii here. I consider to sell my STS -05 (22MPG) and buy a used Prius.
    But the diesels are selling like hot cakes, now also in Sweden. Same MPG but at a lower price.

    • 0 avatar
      Oelmotor

      Stroker49, I agree with your comments, especially in regards to fuel prices.

      When the “Euro 6″ emission standards smack us, we will be shipping plenty of used diesels to Russia or Africa.

      Most Europeans despise the Prius body design, view the technology with suspicion and most prefer the European cars.

      My next car could be a used Prius or the Yaris hybrid. I am tired of visiting the “glass palaces” (dealers) run by the Germans.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Europeans like to have cars with good driving dynamics. Prius really doesn’t have any, while diesels tend to have them. I’d be curious to see how well EVs and EREVs do over there, as the driving dynamics compare with diesels while requiring less fuel. I also think that it’ll be fun watching the various tax authorities try to get road tax from them.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The typical diesel in Europe is as sluggish as a Prius or worse.. the tax breaks on diesel compared to gasoline are breathtaking, also the Prius is not available with a stick and that is a big no-no in Europe.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m getting inconclusive results from these Prius reviews – or perhaps I just don’t see it…

    I haven’t read anywhere if the Prius is comfortable on a long commute. Fuel efficient – yes, I like, but is it easy to live with?

    My new Impala doesn’t quite get the mpgs of my old one, but it’ll sure make you smile when you step on it! It’s very comfortable, too.

    So, the Chevy Volt gets worse mileage in gas mode? Does it take that much fuel to run the generator that drives the wheels?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The Prius is fairly comfortable, if you get the power front seats. I have an hour long commute each way and had no complaints about the seats at all.

      Yes, the Volt’s mileage is that much worse when the battery is depleted, that’s mostly because Engine -> Generator > Power control unit > Motor just isn’t the most efficient path for energy. Even a 1980s 3 speed auto is more efficient than that path.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        That doesn’t seem right. I didn’t think both electric motors were 134 hp motors, which is what you’d need to maintain good performance. The engine must drive the wheels directly, in which case you won’t get the conversion losses.

        Edit: Error on my part… I thought you were referring to the Prius (it’s a Prius review).

        The Volt does generally do what Alex Dykes describes but it will go into direct drive mode under some conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        The motor is also not terribly optimized for its application, and mileage in charge-sustaining mode is pretty poor, so if you don’t fit the use case for Volt it’s not a good idea to get one.

        Hopefully GM will have a better answer for CS mode, that’s mechanically simpler and more efficient at static load, such as a turbine or gas-powered fuel cell, rather than some off-the-shelf motor bunged in.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Folks the Volt is not that bad on the highway once the battery is discharged.. its rated 40mph and that is better than the equivalent Cruze (38mpg) or Verano (33mpg). Its not as good as a Prius but its 500lbs (IIRC) heavier, handles better and is more powerful.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      I take my Prius on two 1100 mile road trips a year, and find it to be comfortable. I’m 5’10″ and 150 pounds. Maybe people of other sizes would find it less comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I’m also 5’10″, 180 lbs. I’m also 61.5 years old, too, so the comfort factor is vital on my 100-mile R/T, 2 hours-a-day commuting. Yes, I did check out a Buick LaCrosse and loved it, but the price was too high and the visibility was worse than the Impala I just bought.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I’ve driven a Prius (friend’s) and an Impala (rental). The Impala isn’t more exciting to drive than a Prius. Both fall pretty well into the appliance category. Yeah, the Impala’s faster in a straight line, but the Prius murders it in fuel mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Well, truth be told, I didn’t buy the Impala to carve corners! I’m a cruiser, have never been a hard driver. The Impala is an appliance, but one I really like.

        True confession: I briefly considered a Camry!

        …I said BRIEFLY!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @Zackman: “I haven’t read anywhere if the Prius is comfortable on a long commute.”

      The Prius is pretty much a normal small car in terms of comfort (once you get past the whiz-bang dashboard). You really should just sit in it and see if it’s comfortable for you.

      What I can tell you is that I’ve sat in Prius for 12 hours at a time traveling across long stretches of the USA, and it was fine — my biggest complaint after a trip like that is that a) there was a chip in the windshield after 140k of having rocks thrown at it (since fixed), and b) the fingertips steering can feel a little touchy after that long in the saddle (fixed in the 3rd generation Prius) . It’s not as comfortable as my 2001 Jetta GLS was (when it ran), and my wife and I disagree on whether my Escape is more or less comfortable than the Prius.

      So, I’d say there’s nothing wrong with the comfort of the Prius, but I have no idea about whether it’s *right* for you, the best way to find out would probably to rent one for a weekend and take it on a roadtrip.

      Another good car for a long highway commute: a Volkswagen TDI. Just make sure it’s under warranty and there are several VW dealers around your way to work. The Fusion hybrid might also be a good choice as comfortable high-MPG cars go.

      There are several cars that are coming out that might be of interest, too: The Ford C-Max (a 47MPG Focus-based hybrid wagon/crossover/thingy), the Chevy Cruze diesel, and the Mazda 6 SKYACTIVE-D diesel. So, over the next couple of years, you’ll have a lot of options with a lot of difference seats to choose from.

      Also, the Volt was a surprisingly comfortable car. Its poor highway MPGs (after that 37 mile of electric range is used up) probably make it the wrong tool for your particular needs but, in the right situations, it is a green car with nice seats…

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        Great summary of high mpg cars. I considered a TDI Golf or Jetta TDI wagon before buying my Prius, but VW’s iffy reliability record and that expensive110K mile timing belt replacement changed my mind. The VW’s are nice cars, though.

        My Prius, which I find comfortable, even for 10-12 hour days, is a third generation 2010. A friend makes a trip a year, and sometimes two trips from the Seattle area to central Indiana in a second generation Prius, and has no complaints about the comfort.

        FWIW, I also find my 2010 MINI comfortable on the highway, except for being kind of noisy. I’m probably less particular than some people about comfort, even though I’m no kid. That screen name is a nickname I had in the navy many years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      I had no comfort problems driving a Prius with the leather seats on a 350 mile road trip, and that’s saying something considering that my normal DD is an LS400.

      I have heard complaints about the cloth seats though.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Unfortunately, for TA’s (Transportation Appliances) like Prius, in any versions, there are optimum performance conditions that should be met and really aren’t. For me, these specs apply to ANY car, not just sports or sporty cars, and are meant for safety, handling, and driving ease. (Sports/sporty cars have even more demanding criteria.)

    From Road&Track**, Car and Driver, and other sources, here are some summaries from my history with cars in this current era. Other folks, may, of course, come up with other numbers, if they wish. At least, these are the target numbers I look for in a car purchase, regardless of what gas mileage it may or may not get:

    1) Acceleration:
    0-60 mph: MAX TIME = 8 seconds or less; Prius C = 10.6 sec = FAIL

    2) Deceleration (Braking):
    60-0 mph: MAX STOPPING DIST = 120 ft or less; Prius C = 128 ft = FAIL
    80-0 mph: MAX STOPPING DIST = 220 ft or less; Prius C = 231 ft = FAIL

    3) Road Holding:
    200-ft Skid Pad: MINIMUM GRIP or more = 0.85 g’s; Prius C = 0.81 = FAIL

    4) Handling:
    700-ft Slalom: MINIMUM SPEED or faster = 65 mph; Prius C = 64.1 = FAIL

    I should note that some other cars with FWD and conventional ICE architecture may also fail; and that the failures above are not confined to all EV’s or all Hybrids. I don’t have test data for Fisker Karma or Tesla Atlantic, but I estimate they would PASS all categories above.

    **Road&Track, September 2012, Vol. 64, #1, page 115.

    —————–

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Aren’t we the automotive connoisseur… lol

      You’re out of your damn mind if you think those criteria must be met for safety, handling, or driving ease. They’re more likely arbitrary requirements for your ego. If nothing else, that BMW badge looks great on you. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Well, Quentin, I am sorry you feel that way. But those are my criteria.
        Tell me, which ones would you choose?

        Perhaps someday, there will be minimum performance requirements for a car, as there are for gas milage, pollution, and air bags. Did you ever think that avoiding an accident in the first place is one of the safest things you can do?

        And yes, I am old enough and experienced enough with cars to consider myself something like a connoisseur, although I would not use that term.

        BTW: Do you drive one of these Prius things?

        ————–

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I do have one. A ’12 Prius v Five. It is a fantastic car for what I want it to do: carry myself, my wife, and our newborn and all the newborn stuff safely, reliably*, and efficiently. The car isn’t a corner carver but it is composed and predictable. It is very easy to drive and I’ve never had an issue getting up to speed on an onramp.

        I have an ’05 Mini Cooper S w/ a 6MT and LSD as our “fun” car (which, btw, fails your braking criteria) and a ’10 4Runner for our winter hauler because my parents live 220 miles away in the mountains where ground clearance and 4WD are very nice things to have when visiting. It works out nicely for my camping and offroading trips, too. It also fails most of your criteria other than 0-60.

        I’ve completed deer and distracted driver avoidance maneuvers in all 3 vehicles with no problem. If you’re driving fast enough that you need such high limits for defensive driving, you’re not defensive driving.

        * Reliably is precisely why a VW Jetta SW TDI failed my criteria. My 07 GTI was such a nightmare in the 3 years I owned it from new that I’ve sworn off VW.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Quentin,

        Again, what performance criteria would you propose? This is not so simple, is it?

        In this state, deer are all over the place, and the herd is almost unmanageable. Even coming around a blind corner at 50 mph, I had encountered 3 of them standing in the road (not walking, or rushing, but standing!). It was dark. The ONLY solution was good brakes and a REALLY short stopping distance.

        You mentioned: “Reliably is precisely why a VW Jetta SW TDI failed my criteria. My 07 GTI was such a nightmare in the 3 years I owned it from new that I’ve sworn off VW.”
        Yes, that was my son’s exact experience too: IF VW thinks they can be the world’s largest car manufacture by 2018, they have a lot to clean up first.

        ———

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I live in WV, which has a completely crazy deer population. I’ve hit 3 in my 14 years of driving. The first 2 were due to me being a young and inattentive driver. The most recent was actually in the town where I live. It hopped up out of a yard that was well below the road grade and the GTI plastered it despite hitting the brakes hard enough I felt as if I were looking down at the road from how the car dove forward. It was only a 45 zone!

        When I visit my parents, which requires me to drive through an absolutely crazy deer area late in the evening (if I leave on a Friday night for the weekend), I just keep the high beams on as much as possible, keep alert, and slow down. Regardless, hitting whitetail deer has little to do with my criteria for safety. They generally don’t take lives.

        People slowing the hell down and realizing that ridiculous driving maneuvers don’t really save time would do a lot more for vehicle safety than braking, acceleration, and handling standards. The market will sort out what is too poor at those things because people won’t buy them.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “Even coming around a blind corner at 50 mph, I had encountered 3 of them standing in the road (not walking, or rushing, but standing!). It was dark. The ONLY solution was good brakes and a REALLY short stopping distance.”

        Ever consider the solution of slowing down for a blind corner? smh.

      • 0 avatar
        vaujot

        “Ever consider the solution of slowing down for a blind corner? smh.”

        Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. If you cannot stop your car in the area that you can see, you are going too fast.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Dan and vaujot,

        You’re both absolutely right. I should have been going MUCH slower, as it tuned out.
        I was in the process of slowing down in the Z4, from my usual 60, but the curve wrapped tighter with more edge overgrowth than I remembered….. and “bingo’… bambi all over the place!

        ———–

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Here are some other cars that are generally known as decent, frugal front drivers that fail your criteria:

      12 Fiat 500 Abarth: 60-0, 80-0 fail
      12 Fit Sport: 0-60, 60-0, 80-0, and skidpad fail
      12 Mazda 3: 0-60, 60-0, 80-0, and skidpad fail

      If I cared to look hard enough, I’m sure I could find that you couldn’t safely operate any car under $23k due to braking distances. Since sports cars are held to an even higher standard, you might be shelling out $35k minimum.

      http://www.roadandtrack.com/tests/comparison/the-best-fun-frugal-and-relatively-fast-cars

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Quentin,

        Yup. That’s what I said: “I should note that some other cars with FWD and conventional ICE architecture may also fail”.

        What you have documented is that there are a lot of substandard vehicles (in my view) on American roads these days, and they are not confined to hybrids, as I suggested.

        Try driving in Rome at 5:00PM on a Friday night, and you’ll see what I mean.

        ————

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Last time I was in Rome I didn’t bother driving… nor did I drive in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, or London. Public transportation is plenty adequate in large European cities. I did drive in Scotland because we drove across the whole of Scotland east to west.*

        Maybe I’ll finally be able to convince my wife that I *need* a BRZ. Our MCS doesn’t meet the braking criteria, and thus is “substandard” for American roads. The BRZ does meet your criteria and won’t someone think of the children?!

        * Why do I get the feeling that this whole Rome nonsense was another e-dick measuring challenge?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Quentin…

        Yes, by all means convince your wife that you are in desperate need of a BRZ (or FR-S)!

        The Rome example was chosen only because it was the most frightening driving experience of my life, with high speeds, close quarters, tight turns, rapid and frequent stops, blasting surges of acceleration, rude behavior, disregard for rights of others, and people passing me even on the sidewalk (yes, sidewalk) to my right!

        Would a Prius survive in those conditions”? Hardly. Or we could ask how may get sold in Italy…

        —————–

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I fully intend on swapping the MINI for a BRZ or FR-S next year. The little one needs to be a lot closer to a front facing seat before I can make the jump.

        My recollection of cars in Italy were mostly Fiat shitboxes that were definitely not performance machines. italians do drive like maniacs, though. I fondly recall a Fiat Punto (maybe?) hitting the bus I was on in Amalfi and the irate driver screaming at the bus driver. I was shocked that the bus could even navigate those cliff roads. The more shocking part was the Fiat driver being 100% aware that busses went up and down the coast all day and he still drove like that. Get something wrong and you’re looking at a 100′ drop into the Med!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      NMGOM, we’re talking a totally different ballgame here. I know more than a few people who own a first-edition Prius, not this plug-in variety, and unequivocally, they LOVE their Prius, in spite of it not meeting your criteria.

      It should be noted that these people I know who currently own a Prius are in their sixties, seventies, and one is 83. Not exactly your age group if I could hazard a guess.

      It should also be noted that their Prius is their third or fourth vehicle since the owners also usually own a truck and at least one primary family car like a Camry or Accord, or SUV/CUV. Several own a luxury sedan like a Jaguar, Mercedes E-class, or Lexus LS460.

      People love the Prius and no matter how good or how bad this plug-in version is determined to be, the Prius will continue to be a hot seller. There is very little controversy with a Prius, unlike with its competitors.

      But there are always people like myself who would never be a candidate for anything other than an internal combustion engine vehicle, so the Hybrids, PHEV and pure EVs are reserved for those who have dedicated themselves to making this fad work.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        highdesertcat,

        Thanks for your reply. Yeah, I have a few neighbors that own them, even as sole vehicles.

        Since part of the trend for increases in both performance and fuel mileage is to get cars to be lighter, this whole hybrid concept goes the other way, and makes little sense in the long term: batteries are heavy, and two entire propulsion systems must be carried about. And some 4 and 3-cylinder turbo-diesel ICE’s are getting roughly the same mileage WHILE preserving decent performance numbers.

        You mentioned: “It should be noted that these people I know who currently own a Prius are in their sixties, seventies, and one is 83. Not exactly your age group if I could hazard a guess.”

        Actually, I am 70. (^_^)…

        BTW, highdesertcat, something I meant to say earlier: Thank you for your service to our country.

        ———-

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Like the upcoming 3 cylinder Ecoboost Focus that gets 50mpg… like the Prius… making the 0-60 sprint in a swift 12.5 seconds?

        http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/hatchbacks/1202_2012_ford_focus_ecoboost_european_spec_first_drive/

        It is simple physics: super efficient cars will be super slow. These turbo diesel 3s and 4s you are also 10 to 12 second 0-60 cars.

        “batteries are heavy, and two entire propulsion systems must be carried about”

        First, batteries are getting lighter and lighter by the generation. Many hybrids actually focus on weight reduction. For example, my Prius v has the same passenger space and same cargo space as a 2013 Escape 2.5 FWD. My v undercuts the Escape by 324lbs. Second, the “two entire propulsion systems” is untrue on a true parallel hybrid. A full parallel hybrid doesn’t have a transmission. Instead, it has 1 planetary gear set attached to the engine and two electric motors. These motors work together to both power the car, recover energy, AND control the gear ratio. Here is a picture. http://www.familycar.com/RoadTests/ToyotaPrius/Images/THS-Diagram.jpg This 2nd propulsion system is basically just a really smart transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Quentin…

        Your 12:24 AM comment got cut off at the right edge, at least as seen in my TTAC comment field.
        Did you compose in Word(r) and then do a “cut&paste” into TTAC Comments? (Derek Kreindler says that’s a “no-no”.)

        I did receive your info by email, though, and checked the diagram. It is neat, but, of course, does not show the battery! (^_^)…

        The “Engine of the Year” Ford Eco-boost 3-cylinder may not be performance oriented. I was thinking of what happens when BMW or VW re-do that: the Europeans will hardly tolerate 0-60 mph in more than 10 sec.

        Or, you may be entirely right: we are entering a new era of robotic, economical appliances that are self-driving and slower than molasses in January, but nobody cares because they can sit back and read the “NY Times” while getting fatter and less adept at living. And, of course, when a deer appears, the car will attempt to stop…sort of….but we’ll have 47 air bags to protect both the occupants and the deer, so that’s all taken care off with huge insurance premiums…(^_^)..

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        NMGOM, it was my privilege to serve my country. It goes back to my dad being a Post-War immigrant from Portugal in 1945 and my mom being born in Pre-War Germany and immigrating to Massachusetts with her parents before WWII started.

        They were not Jews but they could see what was happening in Germany during the 1930′s. They were grateful for America taking them in as “refugees” and instilled that sense of service in me.

        I am surprised at your vintage! I wish more seasoned and mature people would visit this board and share their knowledge, like Paul Niedermeyer did through his articles. His articles brought back so many memories.

        But having said that, I will be leaving the boards as well. Starting Tuesday I have a new gig. I will be teaching one undergraduate- and one graduate-level college class for the next ten weeks.

        I don’t think I’ll have much time left to peruse ttac since I’ll teach from 5pm-10pm four nights a week and have lots of class work to do during the day. I’ve got all my lesson plans written but that’s only half of the prep I’ve got to do.

        As to my comment about the article, I wanted to state that anything from Prius will be welcomed, even a plug in. I don’t think they can do wrong because they initially filled the niche with the original Prius and now are just expanding the line as more and more people become interested in eco-centric vehicles, like plug-ins.

        But it wouldn’t be for me. My electrical power is unreliable and I keep three power generators operational. I recently blew the engine in one of my Ingersoll-Rand generators during a black-out, which left me with only one other 40KW unit, and my Kubota Diesel for my RV. I have since invested in a 15KW Generac, and boy, is it ever LOUD!

        With electrical power like that, it’s ICE all the way for me.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        highdesertcat…

        Good luck with your new teaching job!
        I’m sure your contributions will be missed by many at TTAC….

        ————

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..I have since invested in a 15KW Generac, and boy, is it ever LOUD!….

        Didn’t we have this discussion before about Genrac? Not to worry; it won’t be loud for too long! LOL…

        Your commentary will be missed…enjoy your endeavors…

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      Those numbers are apparently a guideline for “enthusiasts,” or some such thing.

      Essentially all SUV’s and pickups would fail all of these criteria, except acceleration, and there are a lot of people driving them. As far as acceleration, 0-60 in 13 seconds is adequate for any normal driving. I had a VW TDI several years with such acceleration, and it was plenty fast enough. The big trucks do 0-60 in about a minute, and they make decent time getting where they are going.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      NMGOM Says:
      ” the Europeans will hardly tolerate 0-60 mph in more than 10 sec.”

      You don’t seem to have a clue about the cars in Europe. Some of the best selling cars are Golf/Focus size diesels, with 1.6 liter diesels instead of the 2.0 TDI we get here. Also, in the “luxury” category, are the E-Class and 5- and 7-series BMW’s with 4 cylinder diesels. The car I rented in ’08 was a Citroen C4 with a 1.6 diesel. Those are the cars in Europe, and a LOT of them are slower than 10 seconds 0-60.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        I spent 2 years in Germany, kokomokid, with many trips to Italy and France; and yes, I do know how Europeans drive, and what their car preferences are. To the main point: a Prius would not be one of their primary eco-choices by any stretch of the imagination.

        And the vast majority of their beloved diesels are not as slow as you might think (especially in Germany), but I’m sure you can find exceptions. Acceleration in traffic is NOT only a function of the engine: it is also a function of torque that can be provided be gearing in the transmission and differential (obviously).

        Their driving may best be described as “zippy”….and you had better be “on it” when the light changes green, because, unlike in America, an entire city-block worth of cars is looking at the light and WILL MOVE; they are not primarily studying the car in front of them** or playing with their hair or using their iphones (^_^)…

        ——-

        ** They EXPECT the car in front of them to be GONE! That is why goofy Americans cause so many accidents in Germany — we just have a far more laid back driving style in cities. But even on the Autobahn, if you pass one of those German “land trains” (multiple in-tandum semi’s) with even a medium powered car, and you see that flash of 6 Lucas lights breathing down your neck, you had better move over FAST, right NOW, — because that Ferrari (or whatever) is expecting no one to be there we he gets there…at 120+ mph.

        ——–

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        @NMGOM,
        Check out a European car site, like the UK VW site, and you can see the car companies’ own claim for acceleration times. Most of the power trains available in, for example, a Golf, are slower than 10 seconds. Check out:

        http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/golf-vi/which-model/engines/acceleration/

        The times listed are 0-62 MPH, the close approximation of 0-100 KPH, but the times for most Golf variants are over 11 seconds.

        Priuses sell poorly in Europe because there are a bizillion diesel cars available that cost less, and get very good mpg, and on fuel that costs less than petrol most places.

        Americans cause a lot of crashes in Europe because they can’t read the road signs and are lost, but most importantly, they don’t know how to drive. In Europe, especially in Germany, you need to know the concept of “keep right except to pass,” as you allude, or in the UK, it’s keep left. Many Americans don’t understand that.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        The European focus on CO2 rather than NOx makes diesel a good choice in Europe as well. The US regulates NOx a lot more than Europe does and thus it is more difficult for diesels to grab a foothold in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @NMGOM:
      1) Acceleration:
      2.6 second difference? Pull up a stop watch and count off 2.6 seconds. It’s not that much. Just start accelerating 2.6 seconds sooner.
      2) Deceleration: 8ft difference. Let’s see, at 60 mph.. I think 88 ft per second uh, just apply the brake about 900 milliseconds sooner in the Prius and you’ll stop at the same point:)
      3) 3) Road Holding:
      Does .4 gs difference really make a difference. I doubt you could even perceive the difference.
      4) Handling:
      .9 mph difference? Again, you can’t perceive the difference.

      Just buy what you want and don’t worry about trying to justify the purchase with statistics. If someone wants to know why you bought a particular car, just tell them you got it because you wanted it. It’s all the justification you need. Performance deficiencies in particular cars can usually be overcome with improved driving skills. Faster cars can get you into more trouble than they avoid.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Well, mcs, we all have to draw the line in the sand somewhere, don’t we?
        I drew mine.
        You can draw yours. (^_^)…

        ———-

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        kokomokid….

        Thanks for the website link on VW diesels. Good information.
        But, of course, this applies to VW only.
        And it is true that VW is still the largest seller of cars in Germany, so using 12 sec instead of 10 may make sense nowadays for VW diesels in Germany, with people still readily buying them regardless.
        http://www.best-selling-cars.com/germany/2012-first-half-best-selling-car-brands-and-makes-in-germany/

        When I was there (first in the late 1960′s, and then again, 1980′s), before the surge in this diesel era, these was no way an “acceptable” car for the Germans would spend a leisurely 10 sec or more getting from 0 to 60 mph.

        Nonetheless, my criterion for here remains 8 sec (Max) for any car to get from 0-60 mph before I’d buy it.

        ——–

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        Your memory of German 0-60 times from the 60s and 80s seems to be rather selective. The VW type 3 sold in large numbers and had 0-60 times of about 18 seconds. Heck, even the BMW 1802 had 0-60 of about 11 seconds. Not to mention there were large numbers of low powered Citroens and Renaults on the road as well.

        The list of cars that could do 0-60 in 8 seconds in the 60s was a pretty short list in Germany, and not that much longer in the 80s. BMW E30s with four cylinders couldn’t do it, for example.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        @NMGOM
        You say “When I was there (first in the late 1960′s, and then again, 1980′s), before the surge in this diesel era, these was no way an “acceptable” car for the Germans would spend a leisurely 10 sec or more getting from 0 to 60 mph.”

        Come on. You can’t be serious. I was in the U.S. Navy in Scotland and had a U.S. spec VW beetle, 0-60 in about 15 seconds. I took a month of leave and toured the continent, and drove on the autobahn in Germany. My 1584cc U.S. spec beetle was a little slower top speed than the “local” 1500′s, and a little faster than the 1300′s. It was quite a bit faster than the 1200, which there were a lot of. Running flat out in my ’70 U.S. spec beetle, I was passing more cars than were passing me. Yes, there were some fast cars, 911′s, big Benzes with big engines, etc. but not that many of them.
        Not even 10% of the cars in Germany at the time would have done 0-60 in under 10 seconds.

        Moving on to the 80′s. I have an ’86 VW Golf Cabriolet with the 90 hp1.8 and close ratio 5-speed, the same power train used in the U.S. GTi in ’83 and ’84. It would do 0-60 in 11 seconds or so, if you abuse it with power shifts. Even in the 80′s, well under half of the cars in Europe would do 0-60 in under 10 seconds, probably well under a quarter of them.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Kevin and kokomokid…

        Sorry guys, but the whole corridor between Stuttgart and Heidelberg, over to Mannheim up to Darmstadt and Frankfurt was loaded with really fast cars that were common, and they weren’t all stock VW’s! Mercedes and Porsches were notable, as well as Alpha Romeo, if I remember properly. And the new generation of Audi’s was just out in the late 60′s. All were fast, and could accelerate easily to 60mph in less than 10 sec. We don’t even need to talk about the big Citroëns and the Ferraris that the wealthy in that corridor drove.

        But modifying and enhancing VW Beetles to give upgraded performance was common, as was the phrase, “Bis Hundert unter Zehn” (To 100 under Ten). So among the tuning and mod crowd, 10 seconds was a precious goal for reaching 100 km/hr.

        I lived in a small farming community, Hedesheim, at the time, and even there the local “Esso” gas station ran a lucrative side business of modifying the “Kaefer” (Beetle) to get upwards of 100HP, and those, which were all over the place, easily met the 10-sec target. I don’t know what the easy mods were (other than sometimes a Judson supercharger) but I asked several of my apartment neighbors how it was going; they always said, “Die Ventille dauern nicht!” (The valves don’t last!)

        But, Kevin, you are also right: I have perhaps selectively remembered those driving days in both era’s, and getting honked at CONTINUALLY because I couldn’t move my stock Bug (1960′s) nor my Opel Kadett E (1980′s — “Car of the Year”, my foot!) out of the way, especially in taking off from red-lights-turned-green.

        Well, this whole thing is getting way off topic and nitpicking: the original points were:
        1) Based on my experience, I have established performance criteria, at least for myself, for what any CAR should be able to do: no, not an enthusiast car, nor a sports car, nor a race car, nor a PU, nor an SUV –just an ordinary sedan or coupe or convertible. If you don’t like my criteria, that’s OK: select your own.
        2) The current Prius (with “C” version used as an example) simply does not meet those criteria. That is not to say that some other EV’s or Hybrids cannot: in fact, I know the Fisker Karma can: I just don’t have that data.
        3) Therefore, I personally CANNOT buy the Prius. For me, it is an appliance, a mere utility device for getting from A-to-B, that’s all. Gee, it even comes in white, like my washing machine. Except washing machines are honest, and don’t pretend to save the planet. You already have other links from BIgTrucks and CJinSD that discuss this fraud:
        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/electric-cars-may-not-be-so-green-after-all-says-british-study/story-e6frg8y6-1226073103576
        http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/13/electric-cars-not-so-green-after-all/

        One more thought before I leave this topic: REAL fuel consumption is NOT measured in miles per gallon; it is measured in dollars per month. If I had a Bugatti Veyron that got 8 mpg (at 230 mph), but only drove it 500 miles every year….who cares? Most so-called gas-guzzling super cars are not really meant to be driven in—they are meant to be seen in (^_^)…

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        Yes, NMGOM, there were fast cars in Germany in the 60′s and 80′s, but they made up a very small percentage of the fleet.

        As far as the stereotype for BMW drivers where I am, especially for 3 series, it is quickly becoming that of a young women wearing a gold Rolex, driving slowly in the left lane while texting. That’s sad, because a 3 series is a great car, but the stereotype is valid.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      As a fellow BMW owner…way to perpetuate stereotypes about us.

      The measurements that you listed as pass/fail don’t matter to most of the American car buying public.

      Proof? The standard Prius sells 140k units in the US market per year – way more than any single BMW model line. Even the 3-series.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Sam,

        Not all stereotypes are inaccurate or unfruitful. If BMW owners have the rep of caring about performance, then that is both true and good. I care. No sloppy cars for me.

        What you have documented is that many Americans don’t really know or care about real driving. But don’t be discouraged: Norbert Reithoffer’s (CEO, BMW) recent survey discovered that 80% of Germans (!) did not know which wheels did the propulsion in BMW cars!

        ————

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Let’s be realistic here – if the 3-series cost the same as a Prius it would probably outsell it 2:1. If the Prius cost as much as a 3-series they would probably sell in Volt numbers. You can buy a pair of average Prii for the cost of the average 3-series. Even with subvented leases, most people simply can’t afford a BMW. Or a Volt.

        I think the Prius is a perfectly fine transportation module for those whose primary desire is to get from place to place without thinking too much about how they are doing it. And as I have said before, they are THE perfect tool to be driving if you have a long stop-and-go commute. However, if I was in that situation, I would move. I like to DRIVE, thus I drive a 3-series.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I actually read this whole subthread . . . and I’m glad I did because I learned that you have 7 years on me.

      Therefore, as we both know and remember, there was a day when a sub 10 second to 60 car was considered at least moderately fast and that 0.8gs cornering force was sports car territory. At that time, speed limits in the United States were what they are today. What’s more, today, there are far more 4-lane highways today than there were then. Yet, it’s on two lanes, where you really want to have prodigious acceleration capability, to safely pass a slow moving vehicle. 4-lanes are designed by highway engineers to have sufficiently long acceleration lanes for even most trucks to safely reach the speed of the traffic and merge.

      As far as cornering forces, go, for anyone but a professional driver, if you’re pulling .8 g’s in your car on a public street, you’re about to crash.

      I give you brakes. The unbalanced drum brakes of the cars of our youth still send shivers up my spine. At best, they were good for one or two decent stops from 70 mph. Typically, the rear wheels would lock up, even on dry pavement, putting the car into a terminal spin. AFAIC, you can’t have brakes–or tires– that are “too good.” Money spent on them is well-spent.

      But, with all due respect, the rest of your criteria are for hot doggers, not average joes, driving in the U.S. No question, driving my Honda Pilot (8.5 sec. to 60) isn’t nearly as fun as my Z3 (5.7 sec), but I don’t feel dangerously slow doing it. The brakes on the other hand . . . well, the less said the better.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        DC Bruce….

        Thank you for your thoughtful response. I had actually hoped to leave this topic, but it keeps coming back…and quite valuably here.

        You are indeed pointing out that I did a lousy job at explaining WHY those specs were important to me. Namely: knowing the limiting behavior of a vehicle shows what its comfort-zone behavior is. That is, for example, one would not actually drive a car at its limit of 0.85 g’s, but one would know that it could easily handle a quick avoidance maneuver at 0.75 g’s and likely not run into trouble. Or one would not necessarily NEED to accelerate up that on-ramp to 60 mph in 8 seconds, but could do so comfortably without overtaxing the car in 10 seconds, if traffic conditions merit that.

        With regard to brakes: I fully agree, — there can never be “too much” brakes, and the shorter the stopping distance, the better, as my deer-in-the-night incident above shows. For the relatively cheap cost, they are worth every dime! (Now, a different story with carbon ceramics… they are very expensive, and have not to date done as well with cold-stopping in cold-weather situations…perhaps that will change.)

        One other thing you point out, given our age: the bar is continually being raised! What was acceptable performance 10 or 20 years ago, may be seen as inadequate now. I used to have a 1974 Dodge PU with a 225ci slant six and home-made camper. The vehicle would take “all afternoon” to accelerate to 60 mph, but I didn’t mind back then, and neither did other drivers (sort of). Jump forward to the 1990s: I was told by a cop once, who was busily giving me a ticket for driving too SLOWY, that that vehicle would actually be banned in California…

        My, how times do change. Soon it may be expected that all vehicles accelerate at 1.0 g; corner at 1.0 g; and stop at 1.0 g to have their traction circle really be a circle (not a squashed ellipse).

        ———-

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    For some reason, I feel that the constant face-lifts that these Priuse’s get each year don’t really mold well with their “green” image. I guess because it promotes unnecessary consumerism, which is wasteful.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Really?!?

      I know a lot of Prius owners, and none of them have ever sold a Prius, much less traded one in for one with newer styling.

      I’m sure someone somewhere has traded a Prius in for the styling, but if you cared about automotive styling, you probably wouldn’t have bought a Prius in the fist place. And they’re so little trouble to own that you could easily spend a decade waiting for something to break so you’d have an excuse to sell it.

      Granted I don’t have a lot of data, but my experience with Prius owners suggests that they’re less likely than most to trade in a car just for the hell of it. Also, you have likely failed to consider that *someone* will drive the car for the duration of its service-life, even if the original owner doesn’t — so from a systemic perspective, people trading cars around doesn’t really matter much.

      • 0 avatar
        Ron B.

        in my town the biggest buyer of prius are taxi companies. Your firends will never sell a prius because no one is stupid enough to buy a second hand one. A decade without trouble ?
        ha ha yeah right!. Read the prius owners forums to see that they’re just another toyota with the usual toyota problems and they wear just the same as any old camry.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “they wear just the same as any old camry.”

        Meaning they’re incredibly freakin’ reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Well I don’t know any Prius owners, I’ll just have to take your word on it.

        I will say that I’ve ridden in a Prius cab, it wasn’t that bad apart from bottoming out a few times.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Meaning they’re incredibly freakin’ reliable.”

        Talk to us when the error prone 07s turn 10.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      Huh? The only way you can tell the different years of 2nd. and 3rd. generation Prius apart, is that they occasionally add a new color and drop a color, or change the interior a little.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    “As you would expect, the low rolling resistance tires deliver moderate road noise and precious little grip. The steering is numb a bit over-boosted, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. Is that a problem? Not in my mind. The Prius’ mission is efficiency and not driving pleasure.”

    Next time you review a Prius (or any other hybrid or “eco” special), how about a simple experiment:
    Swap in a decent set of performance tires and see if the improved driving experience is worth a slight hit on MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I’m leaning strongly towards doing that myself, but I can’t bring myself to do it while there’s still tread in the Goodyear LRRs that came with the car. I’d much prefer a quieter, stickier set of Michelins.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      “Swap in a decent set of performance tires and see if the improved driving experience is worth a slight hit on MPG.”

      I’ll probably do that when I need tires, but I wish there was good information on how much difference tires really make in mpg. People post stuff about it on message boards, the the claims are all over the map, from it not making any difference at all, to a huge hit, like 20%.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        LRR tires make enough of a difference to pay for themselves completely over their life.. assuming you are not a canyon carver that wears them out in 20k miles. Then again, truly sticky tires wont last much past 20k either.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Nearly every argument I read complaining about the fact that electricity isn’t completely clean (no argument… but the environmental impact varies widely) seems to compare it with the fuel efficiency of the ICE car for gasoline. However, to me that is N apples to oranges argument.

    It seems to me that a life cycle argument about coal burning and electric line transmition losses should be compared to the life cycle costs of getting oil refined and transported to your local station where electricity is then used to pump it into your tank.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    prius is japanese for the “emporers new clothes”. There is nothing green about any prius. The process to build every part of them requires vast amounts of carbon to be produced (or emitted if the correct term is used) and plugging one in to the mains simply means that somewhere a few more tons of coal are being burned to create heat,to boil water to create steam in order to spin a turbine to drive a generator to feed power to the grid.
    And the throught of that process alone makes me think of the carbon released in those proccesses.
    if the dupes who buy these visual horrors really want to be green,try walking or borrowing a bycycle (dont buy one because the carbon foot print of a bycycle equals that of a prius) .
    my point is ?
    forget all this green carbon bull. Live life now because it’s short and those who spout carbon this or that are simply out to make a buck by milking your gullibilty.

    I think.

  • avatar
    raph

    Different strokes for different folks, I just like to think of the Prius as a different kind of performance vehicle except when they are hyper-mileing in the left lane (then again I reserve the same kind of hate for anybody in the left lane that is moving slower than traffic in the right lane – especially when they pass a sign that says ”slower traffic to the right”)

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Those sneaky marketing folks at Toyota. The image of the Prius’s has shifted from being owned by woolly-headed greenies and wine snob effetes to mainstream acceptance. Decent cars being sold at decent prices and owners of Prius’s won’t spend much on gas or maintenance. The blandest car company on earth has made hybrids acceptable.

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      Mainstream acceptance would dilute its appeal to the drivers who own it as means of exhibiting their self-righteousness. IMO this thing represents sheer marketing brilliance. Small cars have traditionally been tough to sell in the US. Toyota marketers found a way to tap into a group who eagerly pay a premium for the opportunity to put their self-righteousness on display every time they get behind the wheel of an otherwise bland and unappealing vehicle. Absolutely brilliant!

      As a likely unintentional byproduct these churl machines drivers are saving gas, helping to lower the cost for the cognoscenti to enjoy our splendidly huge battlecruisers.

      One simple request. As you Prius drivers trundle (ie gradually decelerate) up hills, put on your thinking caps and consider giving other drivers a break by pulling over to let us pass. Don’t think of it as humiliation, think of it as another opportunity to “do the right thing”. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself when you arrive in the far right lane.

      • 0 avatar
        kokomokid

        It wasn’t Toyota marketers that did anything special to make the Prius successful. It is Toyota DESIGNERS. They made a car with the passenger room of other cars its size, much better cargo utility that most other cars sold in the U.S., and it uses a lot less gas. It uses about half as much gas as other cars its size in urban driving with heavy traffic.

        By the way, StatDolphin, it is mostly drivers of BIG SUV’s blocking the passing lane in the hilly parts of Tennessee when I make my twice a year trips between FL and IN. It is not Prius drivers.

  • avatar
    BlackDynamiteOnline

    The Volt is a “higher concept” than the Prius. It can be a true EV car for most people, covering 35-40 miles on one charge. It is on the right path, but it is not ready to walk that path most righteously. Why?

    The reasons why the Prius is a better choice is because the Prius is in it’s 3rd generation. It is optimized to be the fuel efficient car that it is. It is noticeably roomier, for people and cargo. It is much lighter. It is much less expensive. And it is much more efficient overall.

    The Volt is not a very efficient car once the electric motor is exhausted. So it is a efficient car only in sometimes. The Plug-In Prius is a more efficient Prius. It is either extremely efficient with battery power, or the most efficient gas car on the road without battery power.

    It NEVER reverts into a 3800-lb inefficient 4 cylinder car after 35 miles.

    The Prius is a better car, a better value, and is always efficient. Is it as good as an EV? No. Does it accelerate or handle as well? No. But it does everything else better.

    And there is no severe drop off in value when the battery dies. You aren’t going to turn into a pumpkin in 10 miles….
    BD


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