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Extended electric-only driving range has been a long time coming to hybrid cars but with the arrival of the Vauxhall Ampera and now Toyota’s Prius Plug-in the breed may finally shake off the reputation of vehicles that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car The mains attraction: Toyota' …

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Happy

Re: @Stacy pedant alert...

Eek!!!

Pinking is detonation, and it can rip the tops of the pistons and p destroy the valves if you leave an engine doing it for long enough! Modern cars don't generally have this issue as combustion is very tightly controlled by the ECU, but it's something that you need to be careful off when you have to set the car yourself - an old classic for example. I don't worry about it with the V70, but my Spitfire gets tuned regularly to ensure the timing hasn't crept out.

And not, not all combustion is not the same as exploding. When petrol burns it expands quickly and puts pressure on the piton head to push it down, expanding all the time to keep the force on the piston throughout the stroke. When it pinks, explodes, there is an instant force on the top of the piston. This force is initially far greater and hotter causing both too much force on the bearings, piston rings etc and also causing hotspots due to the greater, more localised heat. Once the explosion has ended there is no longer force on the piston head to finish the stroke causing an imbalance in the engine - putting even more atypical stress on the components.

If left untreated (timing change, using a different fuel, getting the compression ration checked etc) then you will do serious damage to the engine.

If they make a V70 plug-in maybe it would be something that I would consider

You're right, electric motors have instant, 100% torque. And yet most modern cars using them suck when comparing them to petrol engines. Same for motorbikes. At present they just can't produce the instant bang of power from the battery packs that petrol engines can do from a petrol tank. Battery technology is just not there yet. It'll get there, and I'll be happy when it does. But it's not there yet - if it was then more cars would be electric (and the ones that are available would have *much* better performance ;p)

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Re: @Stacy pedant alert...

Stacy,

I don't even know where to begin replying to that but you need to a) understand what an explosion is and b) appreciate that detonation also affect rotary engines that don't have any pistons.

You also need to appreciate that battery tech does exactly what you talk of now, it's ready, just not required.

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Bronze badge
Holmes

when the future arrives, only one thing is inevitable - NEW TAXES!

Right now this car is tax-efficient. There's also the London Congestion Charge to consider. Exemption can be a big money earner.

Electric and hybrid cars are taking big leaps forward that almost mirror Moore's law.

The improvements in petrol/diesel cars performances are only incremental by comparison.

However, anyone who has the expectation of a low tax electrical future on the road will be very disappointed.

Once 'leccy becomes the norm, the govt will need to top up its coffers as it does now - by taxing powered mobility big-time. Motorists are somehow a soft and inelastic target. And it will need to raise more revenue that ever since govt just cannot bring itself to shrink.

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The problem is weight

They keep making cars which are supposed to be more fuel-efficient, and to do this they keep coming up with more and more efficient engines, and even technologies such as electric motors, but they keep moving the bar further and further away by making the cars more and more heavy and bulky. It seems almost like McDonalds claiming it is interested in people's health by introducing salads to their menus.

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Re: The problem is weight

Doesn't help when most of the weight gain is due to the battery.

Which seems slightly circular and self-defeating.

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So my old Saab 93ss TTid diesel with hirsch performance upgrade is 200bhp/430Nm and does 72+Mpg on a run.

I know which one I want.

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VW Golf Twin Drive

I'm waiting for the VW Golf Twin Drive next year. 50km/31 mile range, and a diesel engine instead of petrol.

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Re: VW Golf Twin Drive

Intermittant usage of a diesel engine with mandatory DPF?

Good luck with that. I wouldn't spend my money, the motoring forums are already drowning in tales of expensive DPF issues. Good idea if you're commuting on a motorway, a right bloody disaster for stop/start urban use.

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Re: VW Golf Twin Drive @TeeCee

"Intermittant usage of a diesel engine with mandatory DPF?"

DPFs are not mandatory. Just one of the few ways of making dirty engines appear to be clean at the tailpipe. It is possible to make a cleaner engine that doesn't require one.

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Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

I sense engine creep, the Prius started with a 1.5L engine, now has 1.8L? Damn Americans and their quest for more power... other than those two items and the price, not bad.

;)

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Re: Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

"I sense engine creep, the Prius started with a 1.5L engine, now has 1.8L? Damn Americans and their quest for more power... other than those two items and the price, not bad."

Toyota swapped from a 1.5litre engine to a 1.8 when the 3rd gen Prius was released. Running a large engine at lower revs proved to be more efficient than the smaller power plant at higher revs for the same output.

The 1.8 is used in Prius, Prius+, Plug-in Prius, Auris Hybrid and Lexus CT200h. The smaller 1.5 is now in the Yaris hybrid.

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Re: Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

85 Chevy Sprint (Geo Metro precursor) 1.0L 3cylinder carburetored engine w/5speed manual transmission 45 city/51 hwy mpg - I guarantee you it was a higher-reving engine. AC and that's about it. Very light car.

Point is that the Prius needs a larger engine to pull it around in a manner suitable to the average driver - that feeling you could get out and push faster - with all the power -sucking accessories running. It could get better mileage, but customers demand a little power, so we get a trade-off. No one is going to buy a gutless wonder that cannot get out of it's own way.

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Pointless

What is the point in using fossil fuels to generate electricity which is inefficient and then using that to charge a battery which is inefficient. Why not just use the fossil fuel to drive the bloody car?

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Re: Pointless

It does drive the car directly. It also runs the engine at the most efficient revolutions required to move the vehicle as requested, squirreling excess power away in the battery or topping up with electric as appropriate.

It also scavenges energy on the overrun that your conventional vehicle chucks away as frictional losses in the engine.

That's why. Less fuel to do the same job.

Electrics and PHEVs have another trick up their sleeves. Your power station is an order of magnitude more efficient than your car's engine at turning fossil fuels into electricity. Even with all the losses thereafter getting it to your wheels, it still wins.

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@TeeCee - Re: Pointless

"Electrics and PHEVs have another trick up their sleeves. Your power station is an order of magnitude more efficient than your car's engine at turning fossil fuels into electricity. Even with all the losses thereafter getting it to your wheels, it still wins."

Depends how you measure efficiency. If you measure in terms of CO2 output, EV/PHV is not significantly better.

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Anonymous Coward

Thank you Reg for the mileage comment

Thank you Reg for the comment on the "138MPG" comment. That's like saying "My Grand Marquis will get 99MPG*" (* if I start out at the top of Pikes Peak and drive to Colorado Springs....). My attitude is MPG should mean "If I have n gallons of fuel, I can drive n*MPG miles before needing to refuel, for n >= 5 gal". This crap of quoting "mileage" that has nothing to do with that simple equation makes me want to pull a Saw on the person saying it - "I want to play a game. You have been poisoned. The antidote is 400 miles away. Here's your car, and 3 gallons of fuel. If you attempt to refuel the car it will explode. All you have to do is get more than 133 MPG and you will live."

The other question in my mind is "why do the automakers not look at something like a single-spindle turbine generator" such as the Capstone turbine. Sure, you cannot mechanically drive the wheels with it, but that's the point: make something that JUST charges the batteries, and ditch all the complexity of tying anything other than an electric motor to the wheels. You can simplify the transmission (as electrics have a much wider power band than reciprocating engines), you need much less cooling system, much less lubrication system - and simplifying a car means lightening the car.

As for the comments about "Americans don't like diesels" - WRONG. The state of California's Air Resource Board does not like diesels. They also have a large number of other requirements that prevent Californians from having the sorts of high efficiency vehicles you get over there, and since California is such a significant market, they force the rest of US to follow their rules. Add to that the various other requirements about what a US car has to be able to do - the kinds of collisions it is required to enable its occupants to survive, unbelted - and you see why these higher efficiency vehicles don't do as well here.

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Re: Thank you Reg for the mileage comment

David,

That "pull a Saw" idea is the funniest thing I've read in ages. Captures pretty well how I feel, if you need help arranging it...count me in :-D

As for the turbine generator idea, maybe it will work one day. The closest thing to that in production is the Ampera/Volt but the charging power from its engine is insufficient to supply enough charge in the most demanding of situations. So, instead, it has to connect directly to the wheels sometimes. Until battery charging is somehow made more efficient, this will always be the case.

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"Officially the Plug-in returns 134.5mph "

That's not bad for an electro-slug! Think I'll stick to my RX-8 though

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The other big elephant in the room

"How does all this equate to economy and CO2 emissions? Officially the Plug-in returns 134.5mpg and emits 49g/km in plug-in mode and 76.4mpg and 85g/km in hybrid mode. "

Does that include the CO2 emitted by the power station in charging the car ?

Grid electricity generates about 525 g of CO2 for every Kwh generated. If the Toyota takes an average of 2 Kw for that 2 hour charge, that is 4 Kwh, or 2100 g of CO2. I don't know how these cars work but if you use all that charge in driving 15 miles (24 Km), you just "emitted" an extra 2100/24 = 87.5g /Km of CO2 at the power station, as well as the 49g that came out of your tailpipe.

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Re: The other big elephant in the room

Indeed Jim, I touched on this above. In real terms, these are arguably less efficient than their non-plug predecessors.

Also, 525g CO2 is an average for power generation. The effective footprint for EVs is much higher, as all the low emissions output is already allocated to existing electricity users. Over 800g CO2/kWh for coal sourced power.

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Americans don't like Diesels?

"... that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels."

I have owned two highly smogged modern diesels newer than my 2007 Prius and I say the systems necessary to tame a diesel ARE MORE COMPLEX than a Toyota Prius. 2008 Ford F-250 Powerstroke. 2009 M-B ML320 Bluetec.

Plus there is the problem of diesel availability. Its at plenty of pumps in the USA but there is only so much diesel available to the world. Europe EXPORTS gasoline and imports diesel to make up for the shortfall. Europe can not get enough diesel out of a barrel of crude that they find it prudent to make gasoline they don't need and export it so as to be able to buy more crude to make diesel.

I do believe we would have been better off had government put resources behind biodiesel many years ago rather than ethanol. Also think we would be better off with simpler diesels running on cleaner fuel than with the current complexity.

The epitome of stupidity is the use of a DPF to convert carbon soot C2 into CO2. I don't doubt large particulates are a problem in dense populations but if CO2 is a problem then I fail to see the wisdom in burning more fuel to turn relatively harmless C2 into CO2.

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I bought one of the first ones delivered to California and my only complaint revolves around the new audio/nav system. Rather than the 12 hard keys in the previous model, this one has far fewer and everything is on a very sloggy menu system with multiple levels before you can get to the function that you want. I have to take my eyes off the road much more often to get the same work done than I did with the previous generation.

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Well,

lots of FUD and ignorance here but all I can say is that a cost of £5K, £10/year road tax, 50mpg whilst pottering around town and a large, relatively luxurious car with lots of equipment makes for a compelling package in our Mk1 Prius. Would definitely have another.

Nice to drive too.

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Go

Not there yet...

Battery technology- and by extension, all energy storage technology - is simply not there yet. We piddle around with this battery tech, that battery tech, but what do we get ? A few more kilometers more per charge ? Pathetic ! What we need our government to do is - Create a government run, government financed think tank, with the best minds from around the world. They would have (near) unlimited funding to experiment with new technologies for energy capture and storage. Supercaps, fusion, lightning storage, maybe even something we haven't dreamed of - yet. We may even find a new Nikola Tesla out there somewhere, if we bother to look.

Wherever they come up with, it's must be better than MY idea - Placing "bumper car" electric overhead grids over every road, and installing a pantograph or some power contact pole to reach the overhead grid on every vehicle. Then all vehicles could draw power from the overhead grid. Small batteries could power cars for short periods off-grid (driveways, parking lots, etc). Your odometer would be checked monthly, and the electric used would be billed accordingly. I would never have to change oil, or touch gas pump handles ever again.

In the meantime, I am buying a regular Prius, 50 MPG. And NO - I - AM - NOT - RIDING - A - MOPED - EVER !!! I'm not quite ready to die yet. Too much beer out there that needs drinking !

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Anonymous Coward

Why review it now?

It has been available since January...

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Coat

USB

Can you charge it over USB?

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Anonymous Coward

Prius drivers

Are mostly posers in my experience.

What really winds me up is how many Priuses I see hairing down the motorway at 90-100mph (top speed). Thus completely negating any positive effects that the car's "green" credentials might bring.

In fact, it's worse than almost any other option if they're going to use it like that! Flogging that little petrol engine at 6000rpm is burning lots of fuel and producing lots of emissions. They would have been much better off with a Diesel.

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WTF?

Re: Prius drivers

Seriously? Posing in a Prius? Where do you live?

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"Indeed, that’s exactly what I did on a trip to Wakefield"

From where ?

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no one has pointed out

The biggest problem with this car.

My god is it UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love the concept of electric cars. I have built two electric motorcycles and am working on my design for a car.

But I could never drive anything this fugly.

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Bronze badge

Jewelry

Nothing more, nothing less. Its like watches. In watches anything over about $40 or so is just status symbol jewelry. Sure you can buy a nice $multi thousand Rolex, but does it keep better time than the nice $30 or so (prices have gone up a bit since I last got a watch) simple Seiko (add about $10 for the nice Twist-o-flax watchband I like).

Sure you can avoid silly (thankfully we don't have them here [yet] in sunny California) congestion charges, but other than that, what's the point. Given the fact that silly plug in funny stuff doesn't work for long drives (it is about 300+ miles from the bay area to the LA area), and vacations are even a bit more (I plan a trip over 1000 miles this summer), they really don't make sense.

Of course what do I know. my Mom (bless her 94 years!) has an older Prius that she likes simply because she doesn't like going to the gas (petrol) station that much. My dad was always amazed at the fancy display that showed what energy was going where that was in the middle of the dashboard. My take (having driven it a couple of times) is that the silly one button start-stop thingy is a terrible user interface (kinda like Windows shutdown being under the 'Start' button.

Such is life.

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32 freaking GRAND

Are you f**king kidding me?

Pile of shit.

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Anonymous Coward

I tried the Lexus version of this, but the constant high revving of the Atkinson cycle petrol engine was really off-putting, I'm afraid. So I'm sticking with my nice V6 3litre GS... Comfort and sophistication is more important than fuel economy.

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