Prius Trip Report

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by kimgh, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. kimgh

    kimgh Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    I got back last night from a LONG trip in my new Prius. My wife and I drove 2,171 miles from San Jose, CA, through Oregon to Tacoma and Kirkland in WA, and then to Nampa, ID and finally back home. We drove over several mountain passes: the Siskiyous, Snoqualmie (WA), Owyhees (in ID), Blue Mountains (OR), and finally the granddaddy: Donner in CA. And there were numerous other passes. For example, Highway 95 from McDermitt to Winnemucca in Northern Nevada has a couple of ridges. We did this starting on Aug 9 and arriving back home on Aug 20. But there were only four days of concentrated driving interspersed with a bit of city driving here and there.

    The Prius performed flawlessly over all of it. I was worried when we were approaching Donner that the SOC of the battery was persistently low (do not know why: the heat and AC, the altitude, what?). I monitored the SOC over the entire pass, and, while it once got to one pink bar, the system took power from the battery when it had to while returning charge every chance it got. And we got over the mountain in pretty good shape. I never felt like I couldn't maintain speed or accelerate up to speed when necessary. So I am very impressed with the performance of the car on this trip. BTW: on the way down, I finally saw all green bars! First time ever for that for me.

    The real test will be climbing Donner from the West, since that's a rise from sea level to 7000+ feet, where the Eastbound trip starts at about 5000 feet and goes to 7300.

    I got a chance to use the Fastrak transponder over the Benicia bridge, and that worked OK, and let me bypass a bunch of traffic waiting to hand-pay the toll. So hurray for Fastrak and HOV lane stickers!

    Even though I pretty much know this whole route, I used the Nav guidance throughout. It mostly did what I hoped, and gave me a chance to learn a bit more about how it works. I am a longtime Garmin GPS user, and so I've had to reduce some of my expectations and unlearn some things to use this Nav system effectively. But I also had my Garmin 60C along for capturing the tracklog of the whole trip, and fell back on it a time or two for finding restaurants.

    It galls me that finding a place to eat while moving is virtually impossible. We did succeed in finding a place for lunch in Prosser, WA that I would never have found on my own using the Nav, but we had to be parked to do it.

    On our approach into the Bay Area on 80, we heard about two messes slowing things down through Fairfield, so I used the detour feature to re-set the guidance to take us on I-5 to 205 to 580 to 680, which is a route I've used often and know well. And I was impressed at how slickly the detour feature worked. But there also was a problem: for some reason, the system was insisting on taking us in on 880 instead of 680. This is not optimal even if by some conceivable notion it is shorter (but I'm pretty sure it was not). I had a terrible time convincing it that I wanted to stay on 680, and finally suspended the guidance altogether.

    Another issue with the Nav is that the estimate of the arrival time appears to be based on the overall average speed for the entire trip, rather than a moving average. So if you have to go 55 for 100's of miles on the first portion of the trip and can then go 75 (through NV), you get a pretty conservative estimate of your arrival time. A moving average would be better. At least I wish I had a choice of those two methods; I could then bracket the arrival time pretty accurately.

    While on this trip, I kept track of the other Prii I saw, whether on the road or in town. My final count is 28, but one or two of them might have been double counted by seeing them twice. Anyway, if I saw any of you, consider yourself waved at!

    So, the final mileage was: 49.8 MPG for the whole trip (I reset the mileage tally at the beginning and then didn't touch it until arriving at home). I also calculated it from the miles traveled (2172.1) and the total gas used (42.471 gal) and got 49.96 mpg, which I consider amazingly close, so I think I can trust the car's tally. I'm very happy that I achieved just 1 mpg lower than the EPA estimate for highway driving without any special effort to stretch things. I drove the limit (and sometimes a little more for passing on hills) whether the limit was 55 or 75, and the car just kept on cranking and saving the gas. I would have used over 2 times the amount in the Jeep Grand Cherokee that the Prius displaced. So I'm definitely a happy camper!

    All in all, a fun trip that confirmed all over again to me what a great car this is.
     
  2. RichBoy

    RichBoy New Member

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    nice report !
     
  3. Autosmiler

    Autosmiler New Member

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    Cool report! I had a similar experience driving 1,831 miles from Chicago to central Arizona. Except I don't have Nav, so I have no comments on that. I did comment on the aerodynamics (http://priuschat.com/index.php?showtopic=23010&hl=aerodynamics)

    But I agree, I LOVED driving the Prius on this road trip, and was constantly impressed by its performance. The trunk, backseats, and passenger seat were all full of my stuff (I was moving), so I was concerned about driving through the mountains with such a heavy load. Of course, there was never a problem. I also kept myself entertained by trying out whether using cruise control would increase my MPG (it was about the same), and other things I read on Priuschat.
     
  4. Rancid13

    Rancid13 Cool Chick with a Black Prius

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Los Alamitos, Orange County, CA
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Great report! I've had some experience with driving the Prius over various Southern and Northern California mountain passes and will have the chance to do so again this weekend for a trip from SoCal to Mammoth. I look forward to the long drive up, especially the portion going up the Sherwin Grade (a 20-25 mile, 3000 or 4000 foot climb) again, just north of Bishop. Coming down that grade (I had to go into "B" mode for a good while to keep my speed in check) was the only time I've seen full green bars on the energy screen too. :D Never saw it before and haven't seen it since.

    For future reference, if you're in need of finding food on the road using the navigation and don't want to have to pull over in order to program it, try the voice recognition button on the steering wheel. Press it and say "show restaurants" and little restaurant icons will pop up on the Navi screen. You (or preferably, your passenger) can tap on each icon to see the restaurant names, what type of cuisine they serve, and also look ahead on the map to see what sort of eats are in upcoming small towns. Usually Mexican restaurants will have a little Mexican flag icon, American restaurants will have an American flag icon, and so on for easy cuisine-type recognition. The pickins might be few and far between when you're on the road seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but hopefully that will help for the next trip. :)
     
  5. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Awesome! Thanks for the report.

    Tomorrow I will be home from a similar but abbreviated trip. Davis, CA to Central Oregon and back. Several trips up and down the Mt. Shasta summits, and several trips up to Crater Lake. Over to the coast, back through Mt. Shasta... and tomorrow we return home to the flat lands. For the whole trip we were over-loaded and had a Yakima cargo box on the roof. Total avg mpg so far (and I'm still at altitude) is 44.7. Not bad at all considering the extra drag of the cargo box...and the heavy load over all the passes. We also did the speed limit or a bit over. The car worked perfectly for us as well.

    I saw all green bars MANY times, but never less than two purple bars. The part that ticked me off is that as I came over the top of a big pass with low battery and read a sign that says 7% grade for the next 10 miles... the dang car would run the ICE to charge the battery while I coasted down this huge hill - until it was about half charged. Sigh. Half way down the hill, I'm at full green bars, and just wasting energy the rest of the time. Wish I could think for the car sometimes and force the ICE off in those situations.

    The thing that impressed me the most is how much power this thing has up steep hills. Wow. As long as there is battery power, the thing can really move. The part that least impressed me is how I couldn't trust the stupid fuel gage (at one point I lost two of the last three bars in just 20 miles total, while the next time it took 70 miles for them both to go away)... and the fact that I had to keep stopping at gas stations!
     
  6. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw New Member

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  7. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Mountain passes are groovy (if you don't get ticked off at the battery being almost full when you get to the top!) But watch that guess gage. Frustrating when you are somewhere unfamiliar and don't know where the next gas station will be. I could have four gallons left with three pips showing, or 1.5. You spin the wheel and take your chances.
     
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