Last year, I decided to take the plunge and buy a 2010 Toyota Prius. I’d been wanting a hybrid for several years, it just seemed unattainable whenever I was car-buying. Last year, the time finally seemed right. Gas prices will ultimately continue to rise, and I had friends with the Hybrid Camry who raved about their hybrid.
I love my Prius, as well. It’s a safe, comfortable car that sips gas. What’s not to love?
Perhaps more than most cars, there was a bit of a learning curve with the Prius. I now had a car that showed me, in real-time, how my driving habits were impacting my gas mileage. I started to compile my observations and recently emailed them to a new Prius owner. Like any geek, I figured I should blog these tips too.
This is truly a scenario where your mileage may vary. Mileage is impacted by several variables, including driver’s style (aggressive / conservative), terrain, length of trip, etc. Put simply, what works well for me may not work for you. As Stuart Smalley would say, “And that’s okay.”
Prius’s 4 modes (it’s worth experimenting to see which model gives you best mpg for your driving style):
- Electric only, but only works under a certain speed (25 mph, I think)
- Once you reach the threshold speed, it turns on the gas engine. I haven’t used this mode very much
- Reduces gas pedal sensitivity so driver has to press pedal down harder to go faster
- Air conditioner (a/c) runs at a lower rate (consuming less power); still gets cold enough!
- When running a/c, gas engine turns off when car is stopped (e.g., stoplights)
- I used Eco mode during snowy weather last winter, and have used it when running a/c this summer
- Adjusts gas pedal to be more sensitive
- Enables quicker starts from stop, or faster lane changes on freeway
- When driving conservatively, Power mode won’t necessarily result in poorer mpg
Normal (no mode buttons pressed) -
- I’ve generally used Normal mode except in snow or when running a/c
- I’ve found I get best mpg in normal mode
For more about Prius driving modes:
- Energy captured during braking is used to charge Prius battery
- If stopped at a stoplight on a steep hill, pressing down *hard* on brake pedal for several seconds engages hill assist, essentially locking brakes
- Pressing on gas pedal releases hill assist/brakes
Coasting, Pulse & Glide:
- Coasting: Because the Prius is relatively heavy and uses low friction tires, you can sometimes take your foot off the gas pedal and just let the weight of the car propel you (especially on very flat streets, or gentle down hills).
- Pulse & Glide: Once you get up to speed (e.g., on freeway), taking your foot off gas pedal and then easing gas pedal back down will use less gas than getting up to speed and maintaining consistent pressure on gas pedal.
More about Coasting and Pulse/Glide here:
Locking / unlocking car without using key fobs:
- Standing outside car with key fobs in pocket, touch inside driver-side door handle to unlock. You’ll hear 2 beeps confirming unlock.2
- To lock (with key fobs in pocket), touch top/front section of driver-side door handle to lock — you’ll hear 1 beep confirming that car is locked.
- Don’t let them get under-inflated; check them with each fill-up.
If you’re considering buying a 3rd generation (2010+) Toyota Prius and have questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!