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Getting the Most Out of the Toyota Prius: Driving Tips

labfamilylabfamily Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Toyota
Had my prius now for 3800 miles now and of course love it. But in trying to wring out the best milage I still can't decide between D and B. It seems like I can get to about 25+ before gas kicks in on B and about 22 in D. I am down to about 38mpg for winter but I hope thats because of snow tires and winter gas? Anything else I should know? Thanks Joe


  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    Hi Joe - you've come to the right place! There are plenty of Prius owners here who should be able to give you a hand.
  • Joe: I can't believe you only get 38mpg. I live in Utah & drive my prius to the ski resorts. The only time I get 38mpg is when I am driving UP to the ski resorts (then I get 99mpg driving back down - HONEST!) I have had my 2004 prius for 2 years & average 48mpg winter and 53 mpg summer (I just reached 30,000 miles). I only use B when driving down mountian roads, or when slowing down getting off the freeway.
  • I am still waiting for my Prius to arrive...(next month, so I am told)...but it seems pretty clear. 'D' is drive. 'B' is brake. Normally, use 'D'. When you need to slow down, as if you were shifting down in a manual tranny to slow yourself down, use 'B'.
  • If you use B mode, it will un-necessarily run the gas engine, reducing your gas milleage. Also, if you are in B mode, cruise control is automatically turned off. It's been reported that B mode doesn't aid in recharging the traction battery, too. Why Toyota included this mode is a bit beyond me.

    The only reason I can even vaguely see where B mode might be useful is if you are going down a long mountain road, the traction battery is already at 8 green bars, and you want to avoid using the brakes for some reason and instead want to use engine braking to help slow you down. In that case, it might be useful.
  • seekoseeko Posts: 33
    this is my first toyota prius.2006 white pkg. #8. had it for not quit a month. tinted all glass put body side mouldings on it also put oyota mud guards on it also. have not a thousand miles on it yet. am still getting used to it yet. got a bath with gas the other day when i filled up the gas tank . i guess there is a good way of finding things out the hard way sometimes! anyways just figured i'd say hi to every one. if any one wants to email info about tips on the little machine that would be nice.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "anyways just figured i'd say hi to every one. if any one wants to email info about tips on the little machine that would be nice."

    Welcome to the forum. You will get more response by posting in the Prius 2004+ forum; this forum is for a very specific topic.
  • lefmilefmi Posts: 1
    Where is the best place to purchase accessories for '06 Prius (mud guards, moulding, seat covers, etc.). Found out no one makes husky liners for Prius.
  • michealsmicheals Posts: 27
    The purpose of "B" mode is for engine breaking down steep mountain grades. It does have to be pretty steep to be necessary, as it will slow you down on just typical downhill portions.

    B does recharge the traction battery (and very quickly I might add), but it really is just there to save your brakes. I have only used it a couple of times in trips through the Rockies.
  • seekoseeko Posts: 33

    Here is the website that I purchased the side molding and mud quards for my 2006 Prius.

    Hope this helps.


  • 515kim515kim Posts: 1
    Does anyone have tips for driving a Prius in the mountains? I will be in the Smokies this week and don't want to destroy my brakes or my mileage. Just keep the car in "B" and limit use of brakes when possible?

    Thanks for any experienced input!

  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204

    1,455.9 miles on 12.978 gallons of fuel for a grand total of 112.2 mpg!

    Details include a total distance of 2,343.1 km (1,455.9 miles) on 49.13 L (12.978 gallons) at 47.69 km/L (112.2 mpg) actual from fillup to fill up. 49.1 km/L (115.5 mpg) was displayed on the Japanese Prius II’s FCD.

    Warm up from dead cold to final destination totaled 75, so the average distance traveled was 31.2 km (19.368 miles) from dead cold to parked.

    Date the achievement was accomplished was from July 4th through August 16th, 2006

    Climate was relatively mild with a max temperature of 25C (77 degrees F). It rained just one day during the entire record tank.

    Her home is in a valley of southern Akita Prefecture in northern Japan.

    Totally Awesome results !!!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    1,455.9 miles on 12.978 gallons of fuel for a grand total of 112.2 mpg!

    Hmmm, don't tell that to poor "wentgreenin06" over in Prius software problems. He got less than 300 miles on a full tank before the triangle of death shut him down. Let's see 300 miles on 12.978 gallons of gas, that is 23.1 MPG. A lot of good all these records and accolades do for the people with hybrids, if they don't get where they are going without being towed.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Well there is obivously something wrong with "wentgreen"'s car, which I'm sure will be fixed.

    Having a broken Prius is nothing different than a Toyota Echo or a Chevy Cobalt leaving you stranded on the highway - it happens to all cars, and they either get fixed or replaced.

    Such is Life.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    Such is Life

    Not for me. The last car that left me stranded by the side of the road was my 1964 Toyota Land Cruiser. I think you are in denial on the reliability aspect of the hybrids. The Prius probably has more complaints to the NHTSA for just quitting and being towed than any other current car model. Toyota has not resolved all the failure issues with the Prius to date.

    They need to incorporate a manual over-ride in the computer system that will allow you to drive the car even though it has detected something it did not like. That goes for any car that is overly computerized. A sensor going bad should not disable a vehicle.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote gary: "I think you are in denial on the reliability aspect of the hybrids."

    Someone needs to research hybrid reliability, and it aint this poster. A few Priuses needing a software upgrade does not mean "hybrids" as a vehicle family are "unreliable."

    there are 600,000 plus Hybrids on the road worldwide, and EVERY reliability study (biased or not) has shown that hybrids are superlativley reliable.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    A few Priuses needing a software upgrade does not mean "hybrids" as a vehicle family are "unreliable."

    I think you need to read back a bit on the Prius posts. Several 2006 owners have complained of shutting down with gas still in the car. This has nothing to do with the original stalling issue that is part of the NHTSA investigation. You are also ignoring the big brouhaha in Japan over some accident with faulty steering. I do think that was more than just the Prius. Toyota is still getting raves from the likes of JDP & CR for their very reliable cars during the 1990s. They have lost ground and these publications are slow to react.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    Your beating up on the Prius whenever a problem is reported is getting really old. No car made today is perfect. But organizations like CR and JD Power research reliability of cars every year (not just cars from the 1990s) and have found the Prius to be one of the most reliable cars, and Toyota in general to be one of the most if not the most reliable brands, short-term and long-term. This year, CR reported that the reliability of brands like Toyota is levelling off--but not declining overall. This is not surprising. As the error rate gets closer and closer to zero, it's harder to fix those last few problems. That Toyota, in general and specifically with the Prius, has been able to stay at or near the top in reliability rankings despite increased complexity in their cars is quite an accomplishment.
  • spoken Like a true consultant!
  • Exactly. I had just that chance the other day. 11% grade for 6.5 miles. I'd have overheated brakes on any/every vehicle I've ever driven were it not for compression braking - using the engine to assist in braking.

    It's not a matter of wearing a set of pads out - it's a matter of having any brakes at all to stop with during a long descent.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    You should only use "B" when decending a long hill. Light pressure on the brake pedal also uses regenerative braking. The friction brakes only come on below 8 MPH or so, or when you use "panic" brake pedal pressure. You can feel the slight jar when you slow gradually with light brake pedal pressure. It should occur around 8 MPH as the car transitions to friction braking.

    So driving in the mountains just use "D" until you decend from a mountain pass. Otherwise, light pressure on the brake pedal will suffice.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Very well said!

    Zealots tend to be nit-pickers and overly critical in these forums, and highly intolerant of any information that contradicts their notions. ;)
  • Hi, I just bought a 2006 Prius a few days ago and am hoping to drive it in such a way as to maximize my mpg. On regular old cars, I was always taught using cruise control on the highway would get you better mpg than not using it. Is this true for the Prius? Thanks in advance for any replies.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    The consensus in these forums seems to be by all means use the cruise control on highway trips.

    And, use a light foot on the "gas" when driving around town, keeping the speed at 35 MPH or so, as much as possible.
  • Thanks for the reply, Terry.
  • "I'd have overheated brakes on any/every vehicle I've ever driven were it not for compression braking - using the engine to assist in braking."

    Just down shift to a lower gear. For example on a 6-speed downshift to 3rd or 4th. let the engine provide braking.

    I SHIFT,

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    I'm not as charitable as MidCow.....

    If you have over-heated brakes on every car you have driven, without compression, you need to take-over driver's education classes. :P
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    On my -second- test drive (two weeks ago), I was "playing" with the brakes, trying to determine when "fricton brakes" were used and when regenerative braking was used vs pedal pressure. I am impressed. Regen. braking is used when "light" brake pedal pressure is used - and light brake pedal pressure I define as braking without driving aggressively, stopping slowly enough not to scare passengers. I was amazed at the stopping force this regen. braking creates. To get the friction brakes to engage above 10 km/hr I had to stop fast enough to cause objects on the seats to fly off onto the floor. It does loose efficiency at slow speeds and that's probably why friction braking engages around 7 MPH.
  • I may buy a 2007 Prius, but think that, for most of my driving, I may average only 25-35mpg, instead of the 45-55mpg that would really please me. I live in a small San Francisco Bay Area town. Most trips have a one-way duration of only five to fifteen minutes, with five to ten stop signs or traffic signals. So I will be often driving with a cold engine. Please comment on the following questions and/or tell me where I might seek the answers. I am a very conservative driver and would tend to go easy on the gas peddle to maximize mileage performance.
    1. Is it true that a cold engine will get significantly poorer mileage? How much poorer? How long does it take to warm up? Let’s assume half my driving starts at 50 degrees F ambient temperature, half at 70 degrees F.
    2. The Prius would replace my 1998 Mercedes E320, which when new got 21mpg city, 29mpg hwy (perhaps less now, but let’s assume the same). The real apple-to-apple comparison would use the Mercedes’ cold mpg. Any idea what it is? It is the difference in performance that matters to me, not the absolute.

    I have two other rather technical questions.
    3. What is the most energy conserving way to stop? I am curious about the mechanism by which some of the car’s kinetic energy is converted to potential energy (battery charge) when decelerating to a stop. Does the use of the brake enhance the energy recovery over that which takes place when just coasting? Take two extreme cases, both decelerating from, say 40 mph to 5 mph. Case #1, the foot is removed from the gas peddle but the break is not touched. Case #2, the foot is removed from the gas peddle and the brake is immediately applied (of course stopping the car sooner). I am guessing case #2 is better. In my test driving I hear a low-pitched whining sound associated with use of the breaks, which perhaps is some kind of mechanical (gears?) change in the linkage of the drive shaft to the generator, causing it to spin faster than when just coasting, and thus pump more amps to the battery. Or what?
    4. Is there a slow rate of acceleration from full start below which there is no mpg gain? For example, might the ECVT transmission stay in low ranges, causing high engine rpm? For a Honda hybrid I think I read that it is best to get right up to speed. Thanks.
  • I've owned my 2006 Prius for almost three months. Most of my trips are to and from work, which is roughly 15 minutes on suburban roads. I am getting about 46-47 mpg on these and similar mpg on other short (5-10 min.) trips to run errands without altering how I drive, which is fairly conservative but not obsessive. Highway trips and longer trips I have been able to get above 50 mpg. I'm afraid I can't help you with your other questions.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    1. Yes. Most owners report 25 MPG or so cold, and 50 MPG warm. Takes 5 min or so to warm up at the temps you listed.

    2. The Mercedes will suffer poor mileage just as much as the Prius when cold. It's not the Hybrid technology that causes it, it's an inherent trait of internal combustion engines - they must use "choke mode" (rich fuel mixture) when cold and the oil produces more drag when cold as well.

    Many people think the Prius is some kind of electric vehicle. It is not. It uses gasoline (regular) for all its' energy. It uses the hybrid tech. to enhance the efficiency of the gas engine - both the operation of it and it allowed a more efficient type of engine to be used.

    3. Gentle use of the brakes is the most efficient way to stop. If you see a light change a block ahead, release the accelerator and coast to the light using the brakes only when you have to, and using them soon enough you do so gently. Remember, the conversion from kinetic energy to battery charge (chemical energy actually) is inefficient. Better than dumping it to heat in the brakes, but still inefficient - less than 50% I've read elsewhere. Coasting is the most efficient mode for the Prius - it shuts off the ICE (internal combustion engine) so no fuel is used.
    The noise you heard was probably the planetary gearing running MG2 (motor generator 2) to generate power and charge the battery. You may also hear the inverter though it runs at a few hundred kHz so it would be a sub-harmonic. It must convert the DC voltage from 500V back down to 240V for the battery and the other way when the battery power is used. The two MGs and the engine are always connected to the wheels via the planetary gearing. There is no shifting, gear changing etc. There is no clutch or torque converter.
    4. I don't think you can save much when starting out - it takes energy to accelerate all that mass. Just drive it like a regular car and you'll be fine. You may want to read some of the documents posted on the web on "pulse and glide" to gain a better understanding of how to get the most out of this car. Try Priuschat and Priusonline.
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