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Friday, June 01, 2007

Some things you might not know about hybrid cars in general and the Camry in particular.

  1. In the first five to ten minutes, it uses the gas engine just like a regular car. After the vehicle warms up a bit, you can go into "stealth mode," where the gas engine stops running and you're entirely on electric power, under certain circumstances. But if you hit a stop light in those first few minutes, you're guzzling just as much gas as an Escalade.
  2. Despite this, I've gotten "stealth mode" at speeds as high as 40 mph. After you've driven for a while, if you're going, say, downhill, the car will indeed cut out the engine and operate entirely on electricity. And if you have a light touch on the accelerator, it'll continue doing so when you reach level ground. Going uphill will always invoke the gas engine, though.
  3. Watch out for pedestrians when driving slowly. It's amazing just how quiet the damn thing is when the gas engine is off. And if people don't see you, they tend to not get out of your way if they don't hear you.
  4. The economy display is hypnotic. The dash has a section that displays exactly where the power is going--if it's coming from the engine or the electric motor, or if (when coasting or braking) the wheels are sending power back into the battery. Be aware of the road, though. As fascinating as it is, it will not be an excuse in your hit-and-run trial.
  5. The MPG gauge is the tachometer for the '00s. Every car should have one of these, whether hybrid or not. It's a beautiful sight to see when, exactly, you're getting over 60 miles to the gallon.
  6. It starts with a button, and opens with a touch! Maybe Toyota is implementing this with their whole fleet, not just hybrids, I don't know. But there's nothing quite like the X-Men feeling you get when you have a transponder in your pocket and your car unlocks when you touch the door handle. Bizarre...
  7. The nastiest secret of all: despite all the technology, and the advance in years and gas prices, our '94 Saturn still got better highway mileage.


Anonymous said...

The nastiest secret of all: despite all the technology, and the advance in years and gas prices, our '94 Saturn still got better highway mileage.

It's not really a secret that your Saturn got better gas mileage on the highway than your Camry.

If you look here:

you'll see that the City mileage is higher than highway mileage. Hybrid cars typically get better gas mileage in city driving vs. highway driving, exact opposite of a gasoline only car. My understanding is hybrids typically get better gas mileage in the city because with the possible exception of abrupt stops, hybrid cars can recover the heat energy from braking and store it in the battery to use later. But in highway driving you don't tend to brake as much.

Squelch said...

Yes, I know that. Nonetheless, you'd think that 13 years later, even non-hybrid highway driving technology would have improved.