2012 Toyota Prius V
2012 Toyota Prius VEnlarge Photo
A few quirks
While anyone with a driving license should feel at home in a hybrid car, there are a few differences which may catch out first-time hybrid owners.
First, because the car’s on-board computer controls when the engine is used, the engine may unexpectedly turn on or off while the car is switched on.
That’s because hybrids switch off the engine when it is not needed. For all hybrids, that means the engine may switch off at stop lights and when braking, provided the engine has warmed up.
It’s important to remember however, that your car hasn’t stalled. In fact, because hybrid cars use computers to control the engine, it’s generally impossible to stall them.
Second, in full hybrids, the electric motor may also be used to get the car moving when you lift your foot off the brake.
To begin with, the lack of engine noise can make it feel as if the car is rolling on its own. However, car is under full control, and as soon as sufficient speed has built up -- provided you haven’t selected the car’s “electric only” mode -- the gasoline engine will automatically start when the car needs it.
Finally, in hybrids with CVT transmissions, you may find that the engine speed seems disconnected from the car’s speed.
When accelerating, that often means the engine roars at first, slowing down as you reach your desired speed.
2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3
2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3Enlarge Photo
That’s because unlike an electric motor, in a gasoline engine, maximum power is delivered when the engine is spinning at several thousand rpm.
And because hybrids with CVT transmissions are programmed to give the best possible efficiency, the on-board computer will run the engine at the best speed to yield the best mix of power and efficiency for any given situation.
Take a test drive
As with any new car, becoming familiar with a hybrid car can vary from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on how easily you adjust to different cars.
While any hybrid car is likely to be more fuel efficient than a standard gas car, it will likely take you a few weeks of driving, learning how to best drive it, before you’re maximizing gas mileage.
Did you recently make the switch from regular gasoline to hybrid?
What tips do you have for others considering the switch to hybrid?
Let us know your tips and thoughts in the Comments below.