Monday, April 17, 2006

Life in the Green Lane - New York Times

Some Prius-bashing in the NY Times op-eds today. The idea of Prius mileage "plummeting" on the highway strongly disagrees with my experience.

In our first major trip in the Prius, from the Bay Area to Yosemite, we averaged 48.1 MPG in hours of highway driving to and from the Sierras. A Prius owner soon learns that although you can get great mileage downhill, going up and down the same inclined stretch of road burns more gas than an equivalent flat stretch.

On days when I commute (an hour plus each way, all on the highway), I've noticed that I can increase my average MPG by 1-3, after a few days of purely around-town driving. If I reset the mileage figures at the start, I typically see 52 MPG for the highway commute, vs. around 46 for local driving.

I've always heard that the city driving done by auto magazines is a little unrealistic, that they're babying the cars more than you could in real life. If so, perhaps the reviewers need to pay attention to the Prius's real-time MPG readout; ease up on the gas just a tiny bit at the right time, and you can maintain the same speed (or 1 MPH less) without the gas engine at all. Yes, even at high speeds on the highway.

I didn't notice any URLs of online resources to bolster the article's claim of bad highway mileage. Hope the author isn't just trying for controversy to boost the sales of his magazine...

Another problem with the article is the total straw man position regarding carpool lanes. Laws are being passed allowing carpool lane use based on a combination of mileage and/or emissions specs. See here for the California rules:


It's completely bogus for the writer to act as if anything labelled "Hybrid" is getting special treatment. Some non-hybrid cars qualify, and some hybrids don't.

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