Consumer Reports on the Jetta Hybrid & Prius Plug-in

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by 100 mph, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. 100 mph

    100 mph Junior Member

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    Consumer Reports seems to really like the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. On the other hand, the Toyota Prius Plug-in doesn't fare quite as well:

    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid & Toyota Prius Plug-in

    One delivers economical fun, the other underdelivers

    Consumer Reports magazine: August 2013

    If you’re eyeing a hybrid as a way to stretch your fuel dollars, your choice has gotten a lot more complicated in recent years. Roughly 25 conventional hybrids are now on the market, with more showing up regularly. They include the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid, one of the most engaging hybrids we’ve driven.

    In addition, a new wave of plug-in hybrids can further cut your driving costs if they fit your driving habits. But even these models vary significantly. For example, the Chevrolet Volt, the first plug-in hybrid, runs entirely on electricity until the battery becomes depleted and a small gas engine kicks in. We averaged about 35 miles in electric mode, which would let many people commute gas-free by charging every night.

    The Toyota Prius Plug-in operates differently. With a full charge it runs on electric power for a limited number of miles under most driving conditions, but it isn’t gas-free. Heavier acceleration, hills, and hot or cold ambient temperatures typically cause the gas engine to kick in even when the car is in electric mode. We got about 12 miles in the electric mode, during which we measured the equivalent of 67 mpg. But in normal hybrid mode, fuel economy dropped to 43 mpg, one less than the regular Prius.

    The Plug-In starts around $32,000, about $5,000 more than a similarly equipped Prius, before a $2,500 federal tax rebate. The Advanced trim we bought was $40,510, prompting one tester to sum it up as “too little, too late, and for too much money.”

    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid | Toyota Prius Plugin - Consumer Reports Road Tests
     
  2. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    "The Advanced trim we bought was $40,510, prompting one tester to sum it up as “too little, too late, and for too much money.”

    OUCH!

    I'm not a subscriber and couldn't read the entire article, so which one "under delivers"? Is the above quote a good hint? And why is the subject line about the Jetta but the first few paragraphs about the Volt? :confused:
     
  3. -1-

    -1- Don

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    :)I didn't pay MSRP for my 2012 Prius Plug In Advance. Other than limited EV range, I'm satisfied with my choice.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    gee, what a surprise. 43mpg in hv? not even possible. volt? don't even mention whatever they call non electric hybrid mode mpg's.
     
  5. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    CR is known for being really hard on MPG, driving rough... quite unlike most owners.

    As for the MPG measured with plug-supplied electricity, that number is almost meaningless. Compared to what? Driven how far? Plugged how often? My own results vary dramatically from day to day.

    It's unfortunate that the reality of reviews don't actually tell you much. We're the ones that have to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle.
     
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  6. JimPHL

    JimPHL Member

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    I'm with you Bisco. 43 mpg is embarrassingly low for a test. Maybe they are going through some obstacle course, heavy accelerating/braking cycles, and wet pavement. It just seems extraordinarily low to be representative of normal driving. Then again, I'm not convinced we here are normal :)

    I recall my all time worst was in that range with a cold car, cold temps, freezing rain, and about a 5 mile trip. I was appalled, but it was righ back to spectacular the next trip. Bisco, did you see anything below 50 mpg in the Boston winter? I was impressed on the few snowy days we had in Philly this winter, with both the handling and the efficiency.
     
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  7. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    This is my data, from the colder half of the year here in Minnesota:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There's no possible way they can convey expectations seeing how much the real-world results vary.

    Notice that there's no pattern at all.
     
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  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    no pattern, but man that's low! i have never gotten less than 60 in winter i think. i'll have to go back and look at the chart.

    jim, i got 59mpg from jan. - may, but no, i don't drive it hard. still think 43 is unrealistic.
     
  9. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    One must look at the FE CR achieved in the regular Prius. It was also embarrassingly low. I am not surprised they only got 43mpg out of the PIP. It's a heavier car which means aggressive driving will result in lower FE than the regular Prius.

    Regardless, the article casts an unfavorable light on the PPI which is not fair.
     
  10. JimPHL

    JimPHL Member

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    John...very slick, how do you get your trip data?
     
  11. rdgrimes

    rdgrimes Senior Member

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    One interesting tidbit from the CR article that I didn't know was the way the EPA measures highway mileage, compared to the way CR and most humans measure highway mileage. The EPA apparently only runs cars under 60 MPH, and further uses an average of different speeds to calculate their highway mileage. CR runs them at 65 MPH steady and uses only that data to calculate.
     
  12. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    I grew up in Massachusetts. It was a warm & pleasant experience compared to the harsh reality of winter here in Minnesota.

    Each night, I write down the data. When I refill the tank, I enter the numbers into a spreadsheet.
     
  13. artracer

    artracer Junior Member

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    The Prius plug-in "under delivers"
    "And why is the subject line about the Jetta but the first few paragraphs about the Volt?"
    The article focuses on the Jetta & Prius but mentions other options like the Volt.
     
  14. 100 mph

    100 mph Junior Member

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    For those without access to the Consumer Reports online site, here's the full article...

    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid & Toyota Prius Plug-in

    One delivers economical fun, the other underdelivers

    Consumer Reports magazine: August 2013

    [​IMG]Prius Plug-In review
    [​IMG]Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 2013 quick take


    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (Road-test score: 79) | More test findings | Toyota Prius Plug-in (Road-test score: 71) | More test findings


    [​IMG]


    If you’re eyeing a hybrid as a way to stretch your fuel dollars, your choice has gotten a lot more complicated in recent years. Roughly 25 conventional hybrids are now on the market, with more showing up regularly. They include the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid, one of the most engaging hybrids we’ve driven.

    In addition, a new wave of plug-in hybrids can further cut your driving costs if they fit your driving habits. But even these models vary significantly. For example, the Chevrolet Volt, the first plug-in hybrid, runs entirely on electricity until the battery becomes depleted and a small gas engine kicks in. We averaged about 35 miles in electric mode, which would let many people commute gas-free by charging every night.

    The Toyota Prius Plug-in operates differently. With a full charge it runs on electric power for a limited number of miles under most driving conditions, but it isn’t gas-free. Heavier acceleration, hills, and hot or cold ambient temperatures typically cause the gas engine to kick in even when the car is in electric mode. We got about 12 miles in the electric mode, during which we measured the equivalent of 67 mpg. But in normal hybrid mode, fuel economy dropped to 43 mpg, one less than the regular Prius.

    The Plug-In starts around $32,000, about $5,000 more than a similarly equipped Prius, before a $2,500 federal tax rebate. The Advanced trim we bought was $40,510, prompting one tester to sum it up as “too little, too late, and for too much money.”

    Still, the Prius Plug-in is practical and efficient, and with its excellent reliability, we recommend it. Although the Jetta Hybrid’s test score was higher, it’s too new for us to have reliability data, so we can’t recommend it.

    Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (Road-test score: 79)

    [​IMG]
    The Jetta Hybrid may not be the most efficient gas/electric car we’ve tested, but it is one of the most enjoyable and engaging to drive. Its thrifty 37 mpg overall is the same as we measured in the Ford C-Max Hybrid, but it’s not quite up to the Toyota Prius’ 44 or the Honda Civic Hybrid’s 40. Still, it’s a nicer all-around car to drive than the Prius or Civic, with responsive handling, a comfortable ride, a quiet interior, and a spacious rear seat with generous leg room.

    But the Jetta has drawbacks. Its regenerative braking system results in a touchy brake pedal. The battery pack eats into the trunk space. Premium fuel is required, which cuts into the cost savings. And our $28,055 Jetta Hybrid SE lacks some features we expect for that price, such as a full-power driver’s seat and heated front seats.

    If you’re comparing this model with the diesel-powered Jetta TDI, here’s the scoop. The Hybrid gets 3 mpg more than the TDI’s 34 overall and is nicer to drive. The TDI costs about $3,000 less and has a roomier trunk.

    For about the same price as the Jetta Hybrid, you could get a roomier midsized car, such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid (39 mpg overall), Toyota Camry Hybrid (38), or the diesel-powered Volkswagen Passat TDI (37).

    [​IMG]


    High-tech showcase. The Jetta Hybrid sports a lot of cutting-edge technology. Its electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and it’s coupled with a 1.4-liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine and a smooth seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

    To save fuel, the Jetta easily runs on electric power alone up to about 35 mph and shuts off the gas engine when coasting. The start/stop system turns off the engine when the car comes to a stop, but it restarts with a slight shudder.

    The transmission’s operation feels more “natural” than that of the continuously variable transmissions used in other hybrids. But when starting on an incline, it may let the car roll back a bit, which is disconcerting.

    The Hybrid rides very comfortably and handles better than any Jetta sedan we’ve tested, except for the GLI sporty version. When pushed to its handling limits, the Hybrid was well balanced and posted a commendable speed through our avoidance maneuver.

    Noise is kept to a minimum in the hushed, well-isolated cabin.

    The interior is fairly basic, with leatherette seats that are cold in the winter and sticky in the summer; real leather isn’t available. But the cabin offers generous head, leg, and foot room. The wide front seats provide good support and include a manual lumbar adjustment. Some drivers felt that the telescoping steering wheel took more fiddling than usual to get the correct position.

    Gauges are big and legible, and controls are simple. SE and higher trims use a touch-screen radio with a large display, big onscreen buttons, and easy-to-read letters. It also includes a colorful energy-flow diagram. There are separate knobs for volume and tuning.

    Pairing a phone via Bluetooth is overly complicated, and voice commands weren’t always recognized.  “Aux” and  “media in” jacks let you connect a smart phone or music player. You can also play media through an SD card slot. We think it’s worth the $1,995 upgrade to get an SE version for the touch-screen radio and USB interface, among other upgrades.

    Highs
    Fuel economy, quietness, ride, transmission, roomy rear seat

    Lows
    Touchy brake pedal, requires premium fuel, small trunk, can roll back on hills

    Trim line
    SE

    Drivetrain
    170-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with electric motor; seven-speed automated manual transmission; front-wheel drive

    Major options
    None

    Tested price
    $28,055

    More test findings

    Braking
    Performance was sound, but the brake pedal is very touchy, especially at lower speeds and in stop-and-go traffic

    Headlights
    Low-beam lights provide only fair levels of forward and side illumination. Brightness and reach are modest. High beams improve intensity and illuminate far forward

    Access
    Large front doors provide easy access to the front seats. Rear access is fairly good despite a tall sill

    Visibility
    Very good, thanks to the generous glass area and thin windshield pillars. Rear roof pillars and head restraints intrude somewhat into rear visibility. A backup camera is available only on the SEL Premium

    Cabin storage
    Moderate, with a medium-sized bin between the front seats. The glove box is cooled

    Head restraints
    The center-rear head restraint must be raised to provide adequate protection

    Child seats
    To install some forward-facing seats, the rear head restraint may need to be removed, which requires a special tool

    Toyota Prius Plug-in (Road-test score: 71)

    [​IMG]


    The Toyota Prius, at 44 mpg overall, has been our Top Pick in green cars for 10 straight years because it combines excellent gas mileage with a roomy, versatile interior and excellent reliability. The new Plug-in model, with a larger battery, is intended to crank up the efficiency another notch by letting the car run on electric power more of the time. It does that for a short distance, but unlike the Chevrolet Volt, it doesn’t operate as a pure-electric car. Even in its  “electric” mode, the gasoline engine can kick in if you apply more than a light touch on the accelerator or if you’re climbing a moderate grade.

    With a full charge, which takes about 3.5 hours through a common household outlet or  1.5 hours on a 240-volt connector, we’ve been able to drive the Prius Plug-in only about 12 miles before it reverts to normal hybrid operation. In the EV mode, we got the equivalent of 67 mpg, counting both the electric energy and gasoline. But when the car reverts to normal hybrid operation, gas mileage dropped to 43 mpg overall, still excellent but slightly less than the regular Prius because of the extra battery weight.

    That extra weight, along with the use of different tires, may have also accounted for differences in handling performance, which helped drag down the Plug-in’s test score from a 79 to a 71.

    Overall, the token increase in efficiency isn’t worth the higher price. If you want a car that truly benefits from plug-in capability, consider a Chevrolet Volt or Ford C-Max Energi, which are nicer cars that let you drive gas-free for longer distances.

    [​IMG]


    Not much flash. Overall, the Prius Plug-in is very similar to the regular Prius. It rides well enough, but underlying firmness is notable. It handles soundly but isn’t particularly agile. The steering is responsive but devoid of feedback, and some testers likened it to a video game.

    At the mid-$20,000 price of a regular Prius, we’re willing to put up with the car’s fairly basic interior. But when you hit the $40,000 tag of our Plug-in Advanced, the interior quality is unbecoming. On the plus side, interior components are well assembled and most panels fit together nicely.

    Drivers will find ample room. A power seat is welcome, but the steering wheel didn’t telescope far enough out for most people. The rear seat is very accommodating.

    Digital displays mounted high on the dash are fairly large and easy to read. And an optional heads-up display can show speed and other info on the windshield.Most controls are straightforward. But some onscreen buttons are small and crammed together. The electronic shifter takes some getting used to. The touch screen shows a colorful power-flow diagram.

    Pairing a phone via Bluetooth is simple, and you can operate an iPhone or iPod with buttons on the steering wheel. When Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is connected with a compatible smart phone, it lets you use apps such as iHeartRadio, Open Table, Pandora, and others; some features are locked out when the car is moving to reduce distraction.

    Voice commands are convenient for using navigation, phone functions, and SiriusXM Travel Link, which lets you check gas prices, weather, traffic information, and more. The navigation system can also guide you to charging stations.

    Highs
    Fuel economy, rear seat, access, reliability

    Lows
    No true electric-only propulsion, agility, fit and finish, rear visibility

    Trim line
    Plug-in Advanced

    Drivetrain
    134-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with electric motor; continuously variable transmission; front-wheel drive

    Major options
    None

    Tested price $40,510
    More test findings

    Braking
    Short stopping distances and a normal pedal feel from the regenerative braking system

    Headlights
    Standard LED low beams are super-white and bright but do not illuminate far enough ahead to give drivers enough time to react

    Access
    Large door openings, high seats, and shallow sills make access to the front seats very easy. Assist grips are mounted above each door

    Visibility
    Thick pillars limit the view all around, and a horizontal bar divides the rear window. A backup camera is standard

    Cabin storage
    Moderate, including two glove boxes and a large, shallow bin under the center console

    Head restraints
    Active front restraints move forward in a rear collision
    to reduce head travel and whiplash injury. The rear-center restraint must be fully raised
     
  15. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Maybe it wasn't so unfair after all. They pretty much summed up my thoughts on the PPI. lol
     
  16. wick1ert

    wick1ert Senior Member

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    I had the same thought lol. I get ticked off at myself if I accelerate too hard in EV mode and it kicks on the engine. Not so much that I may have needed to accelerate that way, but that the engine then has to go through the entire warm up period before it'll shut off again. That said, I can't complain about my 215 MPG number on the dash right now :D
     
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  17. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Nice!

    You're a beast, bro!
     
  18. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    cr is beginning to sound like road and track. i wonder if they hired new car testers? how many mags do we need telling us about accelleration, handling and braking?
     
  19. css28

    css28 Senior Member

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    They probably wanted to counter their reputation as a toaster and washing machine authority.
     
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  20. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Those important aspects weren't the main focus and were only mentioned in a couple of sentences for each vehicle.

    Jetta: The Hybrid rides very comfortably and handles better than any Jetta sedan we’ve tested, except for the GLI sporty version. When pushed to its handling limits, the Hybrid was well balanced and posted a commendable speed through our avoidance maneuver.

    PIP: It rides well enough, but underlying firmness is notable. It handles soundly but isn’t particularly agile. The steering is responsive but devoid of feedback, and some testers likened it to a video game.

    I can certainly understand how these aspects wouldn't be as important for inner city/urban drivers putting around in EV mode but many folks live and drive among hills, mountains, and curves. Some of us even speed up for curves! (y)
     
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