Review: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Posted on 02. Sep, 2012 by in Auto News

Public beta tests are common in the computer world, where a group of fanatics to death and pound your beta help you understand the issues. In the automotive world, this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent in dressing future cars swirly vinyl. The Prius Plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to major companies, Zipcar fleets and of course the press. TTAC also could a drive for a week. What does that have to do with the end product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let's find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

There is little to distinguish the plug-in from the "regular" Prius save the cargo door on the right rear quarter panel and (if you live in California) and the green HOV access stickers. The lack of distinctive character is either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how loud you want to proclaim your "green." The lack of differentiation made financial sense for the Toyota Prius is rumored to be redesigned for the 2015 model year. Compared to the beta car, Toyota moved the charging port on the back meaning I had to use in parking lots due to a number of public charging stations. Ever wondered why the blade port is in your nose? Now you know.

Since the Prius' chassis was designed for a large battery, no changes were required to the passenger compartment. The cargo area is a different story. The regular Prius is in EV mode up to 42mph with a range of 2 miles if you extremely gently on the gas. The plug-in range is 11-15 miles in a larger battery. Toyota achieved by increasing the capacity of dense lithium-ion batteries (instead of nickel-hydride) and converting the spare area in a battery compartment. The result is an increase in the capacity of about 1.3kWh 4.4kWh on costs of the spare wheel and the jack. The beta-car uses a 5.2kWh battery, segmented into a 1.2kWh pack and two packs 2kWh was. The reason for the change was the three sizes arrangement was not as efficient, and the beta testers complained there was no way to regenerate the power back into the dual 2kWh packs as they were exhausted.

A 3.1kWh jump does not sound like much until you understand how the Prius uses the battery. To extend battery life, is a regular Prius never fully discharged or download ("bear" batteries faster if you charge either extreme) the battery, thereby. Usable capacity to approximately 0.6kWh For plug-in service, Toyota expanded this useful capacity somewhere around 4.2kWh. In comparison, the Volt is the usable capacity to 12.9kWh and the 2013 Accord Plug-in is 6kWh.

Under the hood you will find the same 1.8L, 98HP engine and "power split device" as a regular Prius. The engine and electric motors, even the same combined 134HP. I know what Prius owners think: Wait a minute, if it's the same drive, why is my Prius restricted to 42mph in EV mode? You can not find the answer under the hood, it is the battery and the software. The Prius 'drive motor (MG2) is the motor connected to the wheels, and depending on how you look at the way in which (eahart.com great link for tech-heads), the transaxle works, MG2 is doing most of the work when you' forward again. Therefore MG2 is a 81HP motor. The "problem" with the regular Prius is the flow. Can deliver 1.4kWh NiMH battery only 36HP and 27HP peak of continuous power. The plug-in can provide the larger dough on the other side 51HP continuous output. When energy demand exceeds the neighborhood of 51HP, then the motor is turned on to the difference to 134 This battery has an additional advantage: greater ability to recover. On my daily commute, I go over a 2,200 ft pass, would be a regular Prius battery is about 1,700 ft. As the full plug-in able to regenerate all the way, I won seven miles of EV range, to makeup for the extra gas it took to get me up the mountain in the first place.

The Prius is not an EV, and it is not to attempt to "Toyota Volt" either. But it's more than just a car and CARB compliance. Unlike the Volt, Fisker, or even the new Accord hybrid, the Prius can not live without its engine. Even for short journeys. When the car floor, is on the motor, and as the beta car had a smooth heat pump to heat the cab, the series used as a normal car engine heat Prius. Instead, the Prius Plug-in is a new type of car, where locomotion combines two different sources of energy trading a portion of the gasoline you pay $ 4.35 per gallon in California for electricity at $ 0.10-$ 0.15 per kWh. The upcoming Ford plug-in hybrids operate in substantially the same manner.

Let's look at these numbers in terms of a commute. I drive 106 miles per day, and my commute includes city, highway and rural mountain roads. Starting with fuel without charging: The Volt 33MPG Prius averaged 50 and the Prius Plug-in was average 52nd (Credit regenerate the greater capacity for improved imaging.) With the charge on both ends my commute was the 40MPG Volt and the Prius Plug-in averaged 72MPG.

According to our calculations, if your commute under 27 miles in total, or 27 miles each way to the store at each end at $ 0.15/kWh is running the Volt the cheaper vehicle. The more expensive the current, the better the Prius the proposal. Even at $ 4.35 per gallon of gasoline. My average home is $ 0.27/kWh based on my agricultural rate, the unevenness of the operating cost of the Volt away higher than the Prius plug-in to a little over a 1-mile. Check your prices before you plug-in.

On the road, the plug-in as a normal Prius thanks to gains only 150 pounds. As expected, the tires provide low rolling resistance and moderate road noise very little grip. The steering is a bit numb get over impulses, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. Is that a problem? Not in my head. The Prius' mission is not efficiency and driving pleasure.

When in EV mode, causing more than 3/4 throttle to start the engine, is something I still think shame. However, the plug-in is definitely in a position stapling mountainous terrain in pure EV mode. At speeds above about 50mph must be gentle on the gas in order to prevent the engine from kicking in and starts at 62, the motor, no matter how you ginger. If it's a cold day outside, and you're using the cabin heater, the Prius' engine turns off immediately and keep the cabin warm up. Unlike a normal Prius when in EV mode