Well, the Prius is back safely, and Charlie, Alex and myself have all been fed and watered (if not quite properly rested). In the next few days I’ll be publishing the full statistics for all the drivers on our marathon trip, along with my reflections on what happened, what we learned and how much fun we had, but this trip was all about questions, and there’s an important one we need to answer.
Back at the beginning of June, D Simons – who’s owned two Prius since 2002 – asked whether the new car could really do 72 miles on a gallon of fuel. It’s a good question. According to the official (combined) figures, each gallon will take you 72.4 miles if you have 15″ wheels, or 70.6 miles if you have the 17″ wheels that are standard on the both the T4 and our T-Spirit.
There were many reasons for our trip, and many things we wanted to achieve, but like D Simons, I also wanted to know whether you could expect that level of economy in real-life driving on real roads. As it turned out, we also experienced a lot of real weather.
Of course, we wanted the car to do well so we drove it economically, but for a more realistic result we decided to include the figures from everyone that was taking a test drive – and that meant a lot of faster, shorter and more aggressive drives.
I’ve a mound of notes covering all the individual stints people spent behind the wheel, but to answer the big question; over 1,819.6 miles, 18 different drivers averaged an indicated 70.39mpg. Over the whole trip, we were only fractionally short of the 70.6mpg official figure, and we managed much better than that on several stints – our best, recorded from Epsom to Rochford in Essex, was 83.7mpg over a distance of 60.4 miles.
So, after many hundred miles of driving we think we can truthfully say that yes, the Prius is capable of that kind of economy in real life, but – as with any car – you do need to drive with economy in mind.
Use Eco mode and the car’s Eco meter – available in the upper dash zone and head-up display – and you’ll soon find yourself doing just that.