Toyota Prius Performance Through the Mountains

Toyota Prius Fuel Economy by Rick Butler

One thing is for sure, Emili (out Toyota Prius) attracts a lot of attention no matter where she goes. Countless times people noticed Emili while parked and came over to ask questions and comment on her sleek aerodynamic styling and futuristic appearance. She truly is a beauty. The interior is spacious and efficient with the very good fit and finish that Toyota is known for. The Centre Dash Touch Screen Computer Terminal keeps the driver well informed on current fuel consumption, the preceding usage in 5 minute intervals, as well as a running average, plus the state of the battery. The terminal also regulates the climate control, and audio system.

The most frequently asked questions are; how much gas mileage does she get, how big is the engine and how long can you travel before you need to plug her in. As for the gas mileage the Toyota Prius is rated at 4 litres per 100 kilometres city and 4.2 highway. The engine is actually a synergy system consisting of a gas powered engine and an electric motor that combined produce 144 horsepower; sufficient to get through the Rockies with no problem and enough get up and go if you need it. Plugging it in? Not needed at all; the battery used to power the electric motor is continually being charged from a number of sources; the excess energy produced by the gas engine, coasting, and breaking. The gas engine automatically shuts off when it is not needed; such as, at a stop or while coasting, also when cruising speed is reached. The long steep decline on highway 3 into Princeton, B. C. provided enough charge to the battery enabling us to drive around the town of Princeton for 20 minutes without using any gas; just imagine, all the way down the hill and around town with no gas and better yet, producing no emissions.

Thus far in our peregrinations we have travelled 2000 kilometres, totally in the mountains, and have averaged 4.5 litres per 100 km (approx. 60 miles to the gallon). The worst gas mileage was the drive from Hope to Merritt B.C. which is almost all up hill where Emili averaged 5.6 litres per 100 km. In and around Kelowna we averaged 4.9 litres per 100 km and the best we averaged was 4.1 from Nakusp to Kaslo. Having an instant gas consumption screen in front of you at all times is a great deterrent to keep from speeding, especially up hill. Driving up the snow shed hill on the Coquihalla highway, we consumed fuel at a rate of 19.5 litres per 100 km, that is with the electric engine fully assisting the gas engine at 50 km per hour. I can’t imagine what those big 8 cylinder SUVs consumed as they sped by us at 100 + km per hour. The computer display also confirmed that cruise control also has a negative effect on the fuel cost, as it tries to maintain your speed up hill, thereby increasing the engine rpm and load resulting in higher fuel consumption.

Emili handles very well on the highway and is not pulled or pushed by the wind of a large 24 wheeler barrelling past. The design allows her to hold the road with little effort. She is very responsive in the turns and curves even at highway speeds due to tight steering and very good suspension. So far we are very impressed with Emili.


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