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Chai’s 2013 Prius Plug In Review

Posted: 03/06/14

01:41 PM

While the parents were out of town, I finally had a chance to snag the keys to our families new Prius Plug In for an extended full test and to see what kind of MPG’s I could achieve with no outside variables (like other family members driving it).

What Makes A Plug In Different? The Plug In Prius is essentially a Prius with a larger battery and a dedicated EV mode that’ll take you up to 19 miles on nothing but electrons until 63MPH, at which point the engine kicks on. When the battery is depleted, the car reverts to behaving like any run of the mill Prius until it is recharged.

Charging with a basic outlet takes around 2.5 hours for a full charge, and should be fine for the average owner.

First Impressions: The Prius’ cabin is a nice place to be. The futuristic dash is ergonomically pleasing and angled towards the driver. The seats are made to support wide american frames, though you get the feeling that you’re sitting on them rather then sliding into them.

Driving It: The Prius is only a boring car if you don’t adjust your driving style to fit what it’s designed to do. Drive it briskly like a regular car, and you’ll be chastised by the buzzing 1.8 liter four pot, which will show it’s dismay by sending coarse vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel. Drive gingerly however, and the Prius becomes fun in it’s own fuel-sipping way.

Your eyes become glued to the dash display as you try to keep the acceleration within the EV only threshold. You start taking corners quickly to preserve precious momentum and set the cruise at 60mph in the right lane on the highway, trying desperately to avoid the I’m-going-to-kill-you gazes from fellow motorists. All of the sudden, the Prius becomes involving in ways even a Porsche couldn’t manage. You no longer mind being in traffic, because now you can work at maximizing coasting and regenerative braking.

You start switching between EV and regular mode where best applicable to better your MPG. In other words, the Prius coerces you into becoming a hyper-miler.

Ride: The Prius wafts down the road quietly and smoothly. The suspension soaks up all but most severe bumps, and the 195 width seem too thin to let any noise into the cabin.

Handling: You do not buy a Prius to flog it in corners. But I did it anyway in the name of science. The steering provides less feedback than a playstation controller, and is pinky light at all times.

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The suspension has abundant roll, but always settles down quickly after a corner. The stability control is always on, so smooth inputs are a requirement if you plan on taking a corner with any enthusiasm. The grip from the Goodyear FuelMax tires is comically low, though the Prius is remarkably stable through triple digit sweepers, likely attributable to it’s slippery skin.

MPG: After a week of hypermiling and charging as often as possible (1-2 times a day), my display shows that over 230 miles, my MPG average is sitting at 81. That’s mighty impressive, and I have no doubt that if the average consumer’s commute was something like a 30 mile round trip, that MPG would be achieved.

EDIT: I should also add that for some people living in generous states, the rebates from buying a plug in make up for the added cost and then some. Our basic Plug In with heated cloth seats and a small touch screen was 23K out the door after rebates. That’s cheaper than a similarly priced regular Prius.

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’11 MINI Cooper S a.k.a. Wiley Mods: KN Intake, Tune, Ghetto Resonator Delete

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