1. Offline

    mtngal New Member

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    Location:
    Southern California
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    For the past two days I've been reading here and elsewhere about the Prius. We have an unusual commute and what I've been reading leads me to think that the Prius might not work for us financially.

    There's 3 totally different types of vehicles we are thinking about, the particular Prius I want being the most advanced and most expensive. I'd really like one if I can save enough on gas monthly to compensate for the higher acquisition cost.

    My commute is almost all highway - there's 3 stop signs and probably no more than 5 traffic lights. That's good news as far as I can figure out for good mpg. We are used to driving no more than 65 mph on the freeways, to keep our expenses down and can get EPA MPG or better numbers on what we currently own. Also good news, I think. The majority of the commute (about 50 miles of it) is full speed, not a lot of stop and go or slow and go traffic.

    However, 25 miles can be very slow and go. That's not so good. But the really bad news is that the commute goes between sea level and 6,000 feet elevation. For those that are familiar with Southern California - we drive the Sepulveda Pass, Neuhall Pass and the Grapevine every day (75 miles one-way). We also make frequent trips to see relatives in Vegas, so in winter I'll be driving in below freezing weather and in summer it can be over 100F.

    Right now we drive a 2007 Honda Fit (259,000 miles) and can consistently get 34-37 mpg, have even gotten over 40 mpg on some trips to Vegas. Replacing it with another Fit is definitely a possibility but there's a few things that the particular Prius model I'm looking at offers that the Fit doesn't (a quieter cabin, for one). I figure that if I can get a consistent 46 mpg with the Prius (Prius 3 with solar roof/nav package) I'd break even money-wise and have a car with more features. However, if that's out of range (and I could see how it might be) I'll get another Fit because our budget would be too strained and the Fit is acceptable to us.

    So what kind of milage could I expect to get on a relatively consistent basis, given my unusual, extreme commute? Is there something I haven't thought about that could influence our decision one way or the other? The various threads I've read helped convince my other half that battery life won't be a concern for a car we'll probably keep 5 years/250-300k miles.

    Thanks very much in advance for any experiences/information you can give me.
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    macman408 Devil's Advocate General

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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    I don't know the area, but I feel like you ought to be able to get 46 mpg fairly regularly. Take a look at individuals' reported MPG on the 2010 and 2011 Prius from the EPA. The 2010 currently has 149 reports; 33 of which (22%) are below 46 mpg; the other 78% are better than 46. The average is 49 mpg, and the range is 35-74 mpg.

    Maybe you can get some estimates from a PriusChatter who regularly drives in that area; as for me, yes, climbing mountain passes takes a LOT of gas. But in general, going back down the other side (or returning the way I came) tends to even it out fairly well.

    Also, I feel like if you're not happy with the mileage in a Prius, there are a lot more things that can be done to improve it than in some other car. For example, grill blocking can make a big difference (I actually still have mine in, because I have yet to drive during a particularly warm period), as can increasing tire pressure. Also, learning how to do pulse and glide can get benefits, though you might prefer to just drive the car normally. Probably the best thing you can do though is to look further ahead than you're used to, and anticipate stopping or slowing much earlier. Once you see a need to slow, start coasting immediately, or braking moderately if you have to.
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    cproaudio Speedlock Overrider

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    I travel from the valley to LA a lot. The highest point is not 6,000' It's more like 4144' Fraizer Park is the highest point between Gorman and Fraizer Park. Traveling south bound from the bottom of the grapevine to the Gorman and Fraizer Park peak would return about 20-25mpg. You're covering about 2800' in about 12 miles. At freeway speed, that can hurt your MPG. Look at it this way, from the Gorman/fraizer park peak to Valencia, you can easily average 80-100mpg for 41 miles. I would say that the mountain range actually improves your overall MPG. I've taken my Prius to Vegas once. I averaged about 55mpg round trip. This is during winter time in January 2011. The Prius is great on the freeway. 65MPH would definitely return at least 55mpg.

    You mentioned that you want the top of the line, most expensive Prius but then mentioned that you want a Prius Three with solar roof/nav package. That's not the top of the line. The top of the line Prius is the Prius V/Five With Advance Technology Package. It costs just above $34,000. With that much freeway drivinig, you'll appreciate the Advance Tech Pack. It includes radar cruise control and lane keep assist/lane departure warning. With those 2 activated, the Prius practically drives itself. You just gotta hold the steering wheel. Currently there's no other car on the market that can get better mileage and range than a Prius city or freeway except for the Volt but that's debatable.
  4. Online

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    If you're budget is so strained that you have calculated you have to get at least 46 mpg out of a car then you seriously need to consider your circumstances - whatever car you get!

    Sure the Prius should be able to get 46 mpg most of the time (depending on your driving) but if gas goes up again any benefit of this will be wiped out and your budget will be in trouble.

    A Prius can and has been run to high mileages as can be seen from the following link; just run it past the commercial and watch (CTV British Columbia - Hybrids prove very reliable - CTV News)

    Now you knowwhy I've got a Prius as a cab! :)
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    DrScooter New Member

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    Location:
    St.Louis
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    I'm fairly new to the Prius and have a Prius II that I replaced my Honda Civic LX (2007). I did pretty well MPG wise on my Honda of about 27 City and 37 Highway rather consistently, had some 50,000 miles and checked my MPG's every fill-up. Clearly my commute is different but I run about 19 miles each way with about 14 of that highway. I work an overnight so my normal commute in is "free flow" while the morning often has a moderate "rush-hour" lag.

    In my Civic I would average about 31 MPG's very consistently. While so far with the Prius I get 46 running the same route. Now the Prius is very new with less than 2,000 miles and I have not repeated this enough times to be really sure but seemingly I get about 15 MPG more with the Prius. :cool:
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    Insight-I Owner 2006 Insight-I MT + 2011 Prius

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    Model:
    Two
    Here's an idea: why not rent a Prius for a week and see how it does over your daily commute?? Then you would know.

    The solar roof/nav package is $3730. That would buy a lot of gas. So why worry about a few mpg either way? I manage without nav at the moment but if it becomes a problem I'll just buy a Garmin ($100-ish I think). Solar roof is nice for keeping the car cool when parked in the sun but I'd either (a) find a place to park out of the sun, or (b) tint the windows, crack them open, and get a shade for the front window (total cost probably around $600??).

    [edit] I forgot about the $1000 upcharge from the Two to the Three, so that makes $4730. Yes I know lots of goodies are involved, but if you're running a cost analysis this is a big cost.
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    mtngal New Member

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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    Thanks for all the information so far, does anyone else have experience with any parts of my commute?

    The reason I want the nav package is that I want the iPod interface - since our commute is so long we listen to audiobooks a lot and I think it would be easier to operate the iPod from the radio instead of the 'Pod itself (unless there's two people in the car) - that's on our "must-have" list of features. Otherwise, I have a handheld Garmin that works well enough for the majority of my nav needs (a talking system rather than beeps would be nice though). The solar roof is a luxury that I think would be really nice to have, especially since I do spend more time in Vegas than I like, and figured if I could make the numbers work where the amount I save in gas with the Prius would offset the amount extra I paid for the car over a new Fit, I could justify getting the extra bells and whistles.

    cproaudio - Thanks very much for your real-world experience. We actually do live very close to 6,000 feet (at least according to my Garmin's barometer and the topo maps I've seen) - the one road into the various mountain communities west of Interstate 5 climbs another 1500 - 1800 feet in about 8-10 miles, after it leaves the freeway at the Tejon Pass (a beautiful mountain area). It's good to know that what I'd make up on the downside of the mountain will most likely work like the other cars I've owned - it more than makes up for what you lose going up it (the reason I get such great gas mileage with normal cars). That eases my mind a lot, since I wasn't sure that the Prius would work the same way.

    The solar roof is negotiable, getting window tinting is another option. I'm really trying to have my cake and eat it too, if I can get the budget to work, and was most concerned about whether the mountain climbing would lower my mpg rating too much.
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    Caug1 New Member

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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Which ever package you get, make sure to get 15'' wheels.
    and defiantly rent the thing for a couple of days.
    I drive in mass 75 miles round trip with one passenger in the car all the time. 25 % traffic 3 days out of 5 also 50% medium hills with speeds are 60 and up for 75%. use cruise control 50%.
    Use ECO mode with a/c.
    I am getting 50 to 52 mpg and 500 miles pet tank per week @$37.00
    trying to save up for ZO6. thats my reason for Prius.
    c
  9. Offline

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Although I live in Norcal, I drive to Chatsworth quite often and I find that the key to good mpg over the grapevine is keeping your speed at 65mph or lower. When I race uphill at 75mph+ my mpg drops into the low 40s.

    I also recommend sticking with the 15" wheels. The tires are cheaper and you have many choices for low rolling resistance tires. They are much more economical than the 17s.
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    mtngal New Member

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    2011 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    Thanks for the advice on the wheels - I hadn't thought about the differences and I'll be sure to look out for upgraded wheels not being on whatever I buy. I'll most likely keep low rolling resistance tires on it, not bothering with snow tires in the winter (have a Wrangler for snow days and off-roading). Now I wonder if the solar roof is really worth the huge extra cost. It sounds really neat, potentially quite useful, but I'm wondering if its more gimmick than actually useful. And since I don't actually LIVE in Vegas, and L.A. isn't as hot most of the time, perhaps it's not worth the extra cost over the Package 3 with just the nav system.

    How much driving differences is there between the Gen II and Gen III? I've driven (and ridden a lot) in my sister's 2004 or 5 Prius and a lot of my assumptions (i.e., cabin noise, seat comfort, etc.) is based on comparing her Prius to my Fit. I don't want to use her mpg figures since she has very different driving conditions and has completely different driving habits than I do.

    Renting for a week is a good idea.
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    Insight-I Owner 2006 Insight-I MT + 2011 Prius

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    Model:
    Two
    Still a lot of $$$: it costs $1900 for the iPod/JBL/Nav system, plus another $1000 to step up to the Three, so $2900. Yikes!! If all you want is an iPod-capable audio, you could get a nice aftermarket installation for a LOT less than that I would think.

    When I got my Insight-I I thought I absolutely HAD to have a new Alpine system with iPod hookup and better speakers. Now I find I don't use it that much. Partly having too much fun driving the thing. Plus distraction from the stereo lowers my mpg a bit; not that I have to grip the wheel all the time but my thoughts drift off with the music or news.
  12. Offline

    mtngal New Member

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    2011 Prius
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    IV
    LOL! I just had to laugh at your comment about the Alpine system - today my other half bought a new Alpine head and XM receiver so we could add an iPod to the Wrangler. It's been driving us nuts that the old Alpine head we had in it didn't even have an Aux jack. Whenever it snowed this winter we couldn't listen to the iPod and it always seemed to be a really exciting part of whatever book we were listening to. And I like the looks of the OEM nav system.

    Today I did some figuring - if we get an overall average of 46 mpg and keep it for 5 years (not unusual for us), either package would be overall cheaper than a Fit, the Three without the solar roof rather significantly. So now it's time to go rent one for a couple of days/a week to actually see what we would get.
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    Insight-I Owner 2006 Insight-I MT + 2011 Prius

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  14. Offline

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    At highway speeds (65mph) I'd expect fuel economy in the high 40's. Sitting in stop & go traffic is a killer. Sooner or later you'll discharge the traction battery causing the gas engine to run just enough to charge the battery a bit. I find this to be very irritating when sitting in the line for the Lincoln Tunnel. However, whatever you get out of a Prius will still be higher than other vehicles.

    Your Prius experience is in a Gen2. It is a different car. Based on my experience in a Gen3 it is easier to get the Gen2's fuel economy but I've had to work harder to beat it (& then by not much).

    The Gen3 is a bigger, more efficient car. Whether or not the differences are better are mostly a matter of taste. There are a number of things I didn't like at first but if given the choice between the generations I won't go back.

    The options add weight. They may or may not add functionality but they aren't going to improve fuel economy. From my POV you are looking at the middle of the lineup. I find most of the avionics in the AT package useful and they make longer drives possible. (I've gone overnight Charleston, SC to Washington DC after working a full day.) The NAV unit compared to my old Garmin is about equally retarded. I now listen almost exclusively to my files on a USB drive plugged into the armrest. I like the brighter LED headlights. The fog lights are useless. I miss the map pockets in the doors.

    Rent a Prius for a week or so to see how it performs on your route & how you fit in the car. If you aren't comfortable any car isn't worth it.
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    rebenson Member

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    Location:
    Suburb of Chicago
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    I have 2010 Prius with solar roof option.. I had my 1st sun roof on my last car and though I liked it, did not think I would go that option (something about paying extra to have a whole in my roof...) I was leaning toward the IV option, no GPS ( i have a gps) But I really liked the large screen and now my GPS is in a drawer and used when someone else needs to borrow it. I am very pleased with the way the car remains cool when parked in sun (I ALWAYS park in shade if available). The remote a/c is rarely used but you might use it... I'm just spoiled at not having to use a key to open my door, I am "perturbed" when i have to pull my key fob out...

    I am from Chicago area and my biggest concern was the gps screen surviving severe winters (and last year was a reall killer). No problems and brother in law has had one in his cars with no issues.

    One big difference you will find is that the better mileage will come with outstanding space. We have always had at least one larger car (prius replaced a 2002 Mercury Sable). I would say my useable space far exceeds that car and Prius has a much smaller footprint. Don't know your other options, but the Prius should not have any issues with the highway driving or the hills. Switch off of eco if you run into issues or switch to Power (i've used it once but have shown my wife and a son who has borrowed it to pick up some large purchases).. I also have some pictures I took of a dresser i hauled in the Prius (got over 50MPG in stop and go traffic hauling the dresser in the rain..)

    Feel free to contact me if any additional questions...
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    TheSpoils Member

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    II
    That's strange, last weekend I made a trip from exit 98 GSP to exit 140 and got 59.8 mpg using CC set at 68mph. From Rt 22 (exit 140) to downtown Newark, without reset, it went up to 64MPG. During winter I get 52 MPG for that same trip.
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    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    It really depends on your conditions, attention to details when it comes to efficient driving, and wheel/tire setup. Even at freeway speeds one can take advantage of tiny hills (10-40ft) to glide for a short period and boost MPG. I cruised at 65mpg during my commute today and still pulled off 55mpg. I didn't do any pulse and gliding. i just paid attention to the road and adjusted my foot for efficiency. :)

    I'm sure a lot of folks could do much better but there are also those who just set the cruise control and end up with a bit lower MPG.

    Attached Files:

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    revhigh MPG Enthusiast

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    I use the cruise control religiously. It's one of the best CC's I've ever had in any car. I don't doubt that I could eke out a little more MPG's using strict PNG, but to be honest ... I just can't get into it. It's too much like work. Don't get me wrong ... I have a ScanGuage and drive for efficiency, but on a wide open highway, I just LOVE the CC. On a 220 mile trip from PA to MD, which is 95% highway, I go 55 in 55's and 65 in 65's, and I getaround 56 MPG with constant AC usage in the summer, and 57-58 MPG in non-summer months when AC isn't needed. I can live with that, and I don't have to constantly fiddle with the throttle just to get another 2 MPG.

    I can see people doing that just as a game and I do it myself ... just not on such a long trip.

    If you haven't tried the CC on these cars you should .... it is excellent.

    REV
  19. Offline

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Rev, I use CC just about every day but I turn it off when I encounter any kind of upslope. The CC is just too aggressive when going up hill. I find I can modulate the throttle better and keep the revs down during those occasions. Otherwise I totally agree with you. When I hit those long stretches of highway I hit CC.

    Ohh and I hate that you GenIII people get so much bettr MPG on the freeway. :p
  20. Offline

    mtngal New Member

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    2011 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    I'd have to experiment with the cruise control - on the Wrangler I can't get better mileage driving myself than what I get from the cruise going up the Grapevine, so always use it. It doesn't make much difference with the Fit. I'll have to try it both ways.

    I've also discovered that renting a Prius might be a bigger deal than I thought it would be - one place we called said "we'll add you to our list" and another quoted us a rate of over $700 for a week. I think I found a place that's more reasonable, but it surprised me that even with rentals the car commands a premium.

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