Suitability of Prius - hills and high mileage

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by NotEvenNewbie, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. NotEvenNewbie

    NotEvenNewbie New Member

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    Just car shopping and looking for some info from owners on the suitability of Prius for high mileage and hills.
    We do about 40,000km (25,000 miles) a year. Commute is 70km each way (44 miles). The journey is hilly and twisty to start (climb from sea level to 555m (1820 feet) and back down to sea level in 16km (10 miles). This takes about 20 mins. The next 50 minutes drive is a highway (we are in New Zealand so not multi lane straight road) There is a 100km/60mph speed limit. Can go at this speed most of the time. Following this there is 10 mins in light city traffic.
    From reading forums Prius main advantage is around town - slow with stops and starts. Just wondering how the Prius would behave on this sort of route and torturous mileage. Would love to hear from high mileage owners about fuel efficiency and maintenance. We would be looking at a 2007-2010 vehicle if we go this route.
     
  2. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    Prius is a great car for putting on a lot of miles. Wow you got a trip, sounds like hmm Wellington to Auckland? No that's too far. But I am going with Wellington as the starting point.

    But anyway the mountain issue is probably going to reduce your MPG potential, and possibly stress your battery. What's going to happen is your battery will lose charge on the way up, so your engine will be straining (but it can handle it, just sounds bad) and on the way down your battery will fill up, so you need to manage that...what happens is when the battery fills up you now are relying on the real brakes to slow the car instead of the elec regen braking (you can go into engine breaking mode B on the transmission). Bottom line is you might want to try it with a rental to see how it performs for your specific drive. We have some mountain drivers here if they don't chime in we'll fetch them for you.
     
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  3. Radiohound

    Radiohound Junior Member

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    I'm pretty new here, but we have a similar hill over here on the way to Santa Cruz. I start at about 350 feet, climb to 1350, then back to sea level. I got pretty good mileage on a 2008 Prius with that trip, about 56 mpg on the gauge. I didn't notice the battery getting full on my descent and the friction brakes cutting in. Maybe I was lucky and it got full at the bottom of the descent. In general, engines run very efficiently at 70 to 80% power. And the Prius is the bomb when it comes to coasting. So if there are stretches where this is possible, I would think that this would be a pretty good match.
     
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  4. NotEvenNewbie

    NotEvenNewbie New Member

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    Thanks for this info guys.
    wjtracy: Commute is from Akaroa to Christchurch. Thanks for offerring to call in the mountain drivers for me :)
    Radiohound: 56mpg sounds impressive. If we got anything near that we would be very happy. Is your hill a straight one or twisty and would this make much difference?
     
  5. Radiohound

    Radiohound Junior Member

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    Our hill is pretty twisty, but at the bottom there are nice, low angle slopes that are straight for almost 3 miles. So almost 10% of the trip each way can be coasted without applying the brakes. But might not matter so much, even if you are applying the brake a lot, you are still coasting. If the battery can absorb it, that is one of the best features of the prius, super low break wear. Since almost all braking is done regenerative.
     
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  6. Bob-blehead

    Bob-blehead Junior Member

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    I can tell you that you will have no problems with the climbs. The CVT allows the engine to work at optimal efficiency. Last summer, I was impressed with the Prius as we saw a few of them wiz past us in our Camry on the twisty climbs through Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Seeing those cars pass us is what sold me on the Prius. And I can tell you that we had no problems with our Prius V on a recent trip through the Smokey Mountains on our way to Florida last month. Perhaps on a REALLY steep climb, there might be an issue, but I've yet to find something that steep yet. Good luck in your search!
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    tell the dealer you want to test drive your commute, and reset trip a or b to see average mpg. keep in mind, the readout is optimistic by 5% or so.
     
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  8. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    The Prius has a huge advantage in town, but it also has many other similarly huge advantages all over the place from maintenance to smoothness, power delivery, and many other aspects.

    My GenII Prius (2006) is our "mountain goat". To get from the main city to where our house is there is close to a 2000ft vertical difference. So everyday it went up that hill and down the hill 4+ times. We also drive it as the primary car for skiing since the skis fit in the back perfectly with the hatch closed and all of our stuff. This is about 300miles round trip, all of which are through the Rocky Mountains. We go up and down over and over and over between around 6000ft (~1820m) above sea level to over 11.5Kft (~3500m) above sea level with grades in the 6%, 8% and up to 9.4% range.

    Essentially this is the worst case scenario for a motor vehicle. Without fail, I see broken jeeps, SUV's, cars, trucks, and everything inbetween at the side of the road with smoking brakes, steaming engines, and other mechanical failures.

    The Prius takes it like a champ every time which is almost every weekend in the winter and a few in the summer.

    The regenerative braking in the Prius means that even when you need to apply the brakes a lot of that energy is going into the battery and not just into heat. After a constant 2-3 hours of driving in harsh conditions the wheels are NEVER hot. I walk past some cars in the lot and I can feel the heat of their brakes on my legs even through my jeans and snow pants.

    The planetary gear in the Prius gives maximum power at any speed. This means when I am climbing an 8% grade I can punch it and pass vehicles that are slowing down. It is also common to see the "ka-chunk" of other large vehicle's transmissions. They are obviously flooring it and loosing speed so when that gear changes in their tranny the whole vehicle visible shakes and jolts a bit. Never happens in the Prius since there is no tranny to switch gears.

    Another awesome feature is that after parking in -30C weather for a day the (aux) battery is super cold soaked. Most of the big vehicles have trouble starting up, slowly trying to turn the engine over as the battery is frozen. In the Prius the battery only flips a couple relays and works down to way past normal levels of being dead. Once those are flipped you now have a power-house of energy under the rear seats that starts the engine and keeps everything working. I have often had to jump much larger vehicles with my Prius.

    As for your speed limits, most of our passes have speeds limits of 65mph. So we are going up and down 8%+ grades at 80mph in the Prius as is normal here. On the "flat" highway which does a 5000ft to 7000ft to 6000ft to 9000ft to 7000ft over 60 miles the average speed is in the 80mph to 100mph range. The Prius is generally in the left lane cruising with the crowd at 100mph to 105mph.

    On winter tires (Michelin X-ICE3) I am averaging 47mpg on my 130K mile Prius with those driving conditions and styles. There is no other car in the world you will get that from.

    Normal day on one of the passes on the continental divide:
    [​IMG]

    And rather "good" road conditions on another pass (Loveland, not my photo)
    [​IMG]

    But it is worth it:
    [​IMG]

    I tried to find a drive recorded in the Prius with similar specs to you, a multi-thousand foot climb at 60-ish mph. But quote frankly that is so slow that it is hard to find around here. I believe this day last year was during a snow storm so traffic had slowed some.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. NotEvenNewbie

    NotEvenNewbie New Member

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    2K1Toaster: Thanks so much for this very comprehensive information. Sounds like it could work well for us. I will follow Bisco's suggestion and see about getting one to try on our route.
     
  10. NotEvenNewbie

    NotEvenNewbie New Member

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    Thanks for all your help. I will have to change my username to "newbienow" as one came up for sale nearby and we got to test it on the hills this morning and have agreed to purchase. All the info you gave was really useful and much appreciated.
     
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  11. Radiohound

    Radiohound Junior Member

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    Congrats! I think you will like it.
     
  12. Bob-blehead

    Bob-blehead Junior Member

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    (y) Excellent! Welcome to the "family!"
     
  13. CaliforniaBear

    CaliforniaBear Clearwater Blue Metallic

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    Consider the Plug-in. I find there is about a 10 mpg advantage (62 vs 52) even if you don't plug in. The reason is the amount of gas to go up the hills is almost the same as the non-plug-in but the larger battery holds much more energy from downhill braking for use in the flat part of the trip.
     
  14. Crystal S

    Crystal S Junior Member

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    I am new here... but I live in Colorado also and drive up and down Monument Hill 5 days a week on my commute to Denver and back. My 2008 Prius actually passes a lot of vehicles going up the hill. I have noticed some draw back lately, where it feels like I'm taking my foot off the gas pedal and putting back on it... which I am not. It only does it in the morning going uphill, even if I warm up the car before leaving the house.
     
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