2012 Toyota Prius C: High Fuel Economy ... If You Have The Patience
June 21, 2012
It took me a couple days of driving to figure it out, but our Prius C responds really well to mild hypermiling techniques for city driving. Of course, you're saying "Well, duh Brent, it's a hybrid," but it's been a while since we've had a full hybrid (not our Honda Insight) in the fleet that's readily available.
There are three main things you can do. The first is coasting as soon as you know you're coming up to a red light. The Prius C's gas engine shuts off almost immediately for low or moderate-speed coasting, so less gas use there. You also start to get electric regeneration this way.
Then you can follow that with the second technique, which is light braking to further electric brake regeneration and not get into using the energy wasting friction brakes. The third opportunity is light throttle acceleration, which keeps the Prius C in all-electric drive mode. That's probably good for up to 25 mph or so, though I rarely had the patience to go past 10 mph. The configurable display pictured above shows you how much throttle you can apply before you activate the gas-engine activation boundary.
As a bonus technique, you can select the special EV mode and lock in the Prius C for all-electric low-speed mode. That's good for eking out a little more gas savings in places like neighborhoods or parking structures.
Ah, but there's a key word here: patience. The problem with these techniques is that that you end up being a rolling chicane for other drivers behind you. They like to charge up to stoplights (even if they're red ones) and snap away from stoplights. Can't blame them; that's just how we're used to driving. But I don't mind too much. For city driving, we're all getting to wherever we're going the same time anyway.
The alternative is just to not care and drive the Prius C like a regular car. You'll still get good fuel economy, probably in the 40s. But I doubt you'll get 50 combined like the EPA says. And you won't get 60-70 mpg like I was able to do on a few city errand trips.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor