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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In: Quick Drive Report Page 2

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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

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Range

The main benefit of the Prius Plug-In is its extended EV range over that of the regular car. The EPA quotes a combined EV and gas range of 11 miles.

Our test route was around fifty pecent city and rural roads, and fifty percent highway. 11 miles seems fairly accurate, as we managed around 12 miles of electric range with only a couple of brief bursts from the gasoline engine during harder acceleration.

Once up to speed on the highway, the gasoline engine kicked in, at which point the car essentially becomes a regular Prius. The average journey consumption started to tumble, though with the original figure being so high, the computer was still showing 104 mpg by the time we stopped, despite ten miles of gasoline-only running.

EPA range is 540 miles, with a 95 MPGe electric figure. In regular hybrid running, the Prius Plug-In gets a figure of 50 mpg combined. Toyota says charging from a 230-volt outlet will take around 90 minutes.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

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Prius Plug-In or Chevy Volt?

Here, opinions will be divided, and your choice may depend very much on how you intend to use the car.

That's because, when calculating your savings, several factors need to be taken into consideration. Luckily, we've covered the math involved before.

Put simply, over low mileages--below around 16 miles per day--the Prius is cheaper to run, thanks to its electric range and greater efficiency. Between 16 and 65 miles, the Volt wins out. It has the greater electric range, so you spend less time burning gas.

Over 65 miles, the Prius Plug-In once again takes the lead. When both cars are running on gas, the Prius is more efficient--50 mpg combined plays the Volt's 37 mpg combined.

Personal preference comes into it too, and one buyer we spoke to chose the Toyota because he preferred the styling, the space, and the extra efficiency once the EV range had been depleted.

For certain buyers though, the Prius Plug-In will make a lot of sense. At $32,000 it's a significant extra investment over the base $24,000 Prius, though the Plug-In is more comparable with high-end Prius models in terms of equipment.

Otherwise, it's as good a car as any Prius--just even greener than before.

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Comments (16)
  1. Just wanted to mention that the 2013 volt electric efficiency is rated at 98 mpge which is slightly more than the 95 mpge of the Plugin Prius, although I imagine it is hard to notice such differences in real world driving.
     
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  2. The 2012 Volt is 94 mpge, or slightly worse than the PiP. However...

    I still don't understand the 95 mpge (blended mode) rating of the PiP. I wonder if you could run the PiP on electricity alone what the mpge rating would be. But in any case, it shows the weakness of the "blended" mode used in the PiP.
     
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  3. For my clarification, the blended mode is the mode it is supposed to be using only grid electricity for the first 11 miles or so, but there is a small amount of gas that is used also, correct? Does anyone know if the Ford cmax energi has that same limitation during its electric miles?
     
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  4. Using the EPA numbers, there are
    0.0947gallons/11 miles (electrical equivalent gals.)
    0.0220gallons/11 miles (gasoline)
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    0.1167gallons/11 miles (electric and gasoline).

    It is this last number that translates to 95 MPGe. So by these numbers, 19% of the energy (gallons if you must) comes from the gasoline. Not insignificant even during the first 11 miles.

    If you could exclude the gasoline (and you can't) PiP would be 116 MPGe. So I think if the Prius could avoid using the gasoline, the number would be somewhere between 95 and 116 MPGe.
     
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  5. the math may need to be redone as the 2013 Volt has slightly better range on battery then the 2011/12 model.
     
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  6. I tend the disagree with the assessment that PiP is more economical than the Volt at mileage less than 16 miles. As discussed above, there is some gas used in those miles. 19% of 11 miles is about 2 miles and you pay the price of gasoline for those 2 miles as opposed to electricity, whereas the Volt would only use electricity. That is besides the 98 mpge of the 2013 volt which on its face is more efficient. You also have to assume that you don't push the gas pedal too hard or go to highway speeds in those first few miles in the PiP and fire up the ICE, in which the PiP would definitely be less economical.
     
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  7. I suspect you are right. We are still coming to grips with this whole "blended mode" system in the PiP. So it is important to know that the 11 mile range is NOT all electric.
     
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  8. Well, I think those comparison are "best case" situation. Can Pip stay in electric? Yes. But it requires special attention.

    Yesterday I was driving home in my Volt. Cruising on the hwy at about 76mph with very littel traffic on any lanes.. Coming up to a light blue Prius Plugin cruising in the Middel Lane (out of the 3 lanes) with no traffic around it. I got curious and slowed down to behind that car and see how fast it was going. Guess what? EXACT 62mph!!!
     
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  9. Well, what we are getting at is that the PiP CANNOT stay electric even in the best of circumstances, and even if you are careful. It burns a little gas in the blended mode in those first 11 miles. That and the other limitations were a bit of a disappointment to me when I was looking at possible plugins to buy.

    Additionally, in the above scenario where the PiP is more economical than the Volt in mileage above some number of miles in the 70's, at that mileage, the PiP is hardly better than a regular Prius.

    The one benefit I see is in very short trips, like to the store, where maybe you keep the ICE from coming on. I always hated that in my Prius because those short trips give you the worst mileage.
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  10. Personally I see the PiP as a vehicle that someone that has already decided to buy a Prius might consider. If you know that you are going to buy a Prius, the plug-in Prius is slightly greener and a good choice if the purchase price is not a significant concern.

    Other than that, I don't really get the PiP.
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  11. It does depend very much on the conditions. I can imagine it being more difficult in the U.S, but in 11-12 miles of driving here in the U.K. the only two times the engine kicked in where when I deliberately booted the gas away from the lights.

    Had I pulled away marginally more gently, I've no doubt that the engine wouldn't have kicked in at all in the city/rural mix on the test.

    Naturally, it's one of those "your mileage may vary" situations.
     
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  12. Whoops, grammar error. Obviously I meant "were when I", not "where when I".
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  13. For me the 0-60mph with 11 seconds is NOT acceptable.
     
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  14. We know. You've mentioned. Multiple times. Duly noted.
     
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  15. Well, if you want "plug-in" cars to go "mainstream", then they got to do better than that...

    The "old and slow" image of Prius will NOT help the cause.
     
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  16. Done, 2011 Prius 9.7 seconds 0-60.
    http://www.zeroto60times.com/Toyota-0-60-mph-Times.html
     
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