2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test


2012 Toyota Prius C: Spring Training Road Trip Fuel Economy

March 18, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

My road trip to Arizona provided a good opportunity to see how fuel-efficient our 2012 Toyota Prius C is as a highway car. Remember, we spend a lot of time commuting in city traffic in this hatchback, and its series-parallel hybrid drivetrain is at its most efficient in stop-and-go conditions (well, really, it's all the stopping it likes).

During sustained highway travel, the Prius C gets precious few opportunities to shut off its gasoline engine. Its EPA ratings reflect that, as it comes in 53 mpg city, 46 mpg highway and 50 mpg combined. That large gap between the city and highway numbers shows up in our mpg totals for this trip.

Here are my three tanks for the trip:

Odometer
Trip
Gallons
MPG
12,199
390.0
9.320
41.8
12,283
84.1
1.653
50.9
12,694

411.3

9.180
44.8

The first and third tanks were virtually all highway. The middle tank was a mix of freeway and surface street travel in Phoenix, as we drove to and from spring training baseball games. Note the much higher mpg.

Still, the highway numbers are low, and it's logical to assume they're the result of my driving style, which typically involves leaving late and rushing to my destination. Except this time I wasn't in a rush. We never cruised above 75 mph, even in Arizona, where many interstates are posted at exactly that. My husband also did some driving, and he got into the hybrid game. He used the car's Eco mode and cruise control, and generally kept his throttle inputs smooth in an effort to raise his Eco Score.

But there are plenty of steady uphill grades on the road to Arizona, plus considerable crosswinds on the drive to Phoenix as James mentioned in his CX-5 road trip report.

Combine these factors with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 73 hp (with a total of 99 hp once it gets the battery-powered electric motor assist) and has to work hard to overcome the hills and the wind, and you're looking at a car that gets 40+ mpg on the highway, not 50s. Still, I'd have been looking at mpg in the high 30s in most other subcompacts in these conditions, so I'm not too disappointed with my totals here.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,694 miles

Comments

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Erin, this comment caught my eye: "He used the car's Eco mode and cruise control,...." It sort of implies that you don't use the cruise control even on the freeways. Is this true? You are correct about the up and downhill parts. Most places are uphill from SoCal. :)

  • eriches eriches Posts:

    Hi, agentorange, it does sort of imply that, doesn't it? Ha. I do use cruise control a lot on road trips (rarely for regular commuting, though), but not as much as my borderline-hypermiling spouse did.

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