Happy Birthday, Prius!

This news comes a bit late, but my Toyota Prius is 3 years old!  “Tubby” (Steph’s name for it, not mine) served me faithfully while I had a 20-minute commute from East Palo Alto to Stanford and back (with weekend trips to Berkeley to see Steph) and continues to do so now with my 2.5 hour commute between Emeryville and Stanford.  I have to say again that this is one of the best buys I have ever made!  (I didn’t take this next photo, but I do like it!)

Speaking of the Prius, I just wanted to give you a quick report about my recent gas mileage, because I’m getting about 100 miles more from each tank of gas than I used to.  You can decide for yourself what to make of this: I acheived 45-49 MPG for every single tank of gas for the first 60,000 miles of ownership.  Average miles driven per tank: 425-450.  I pretty much thought that was about as good as it gets.  I knew the EPA ratings reported higher numbers than this, but I never broke 50 MPG, so I settled on the idea that “Hey, 45-49 MPG is pretty darn good, so it’s okay if it’s lower than the (probably exaggerated) ratings.”  When friends were looking into buying a Prius, I always told them that I drove it under all sorts of conditions, speeds, and levels of aggressiveness, and pretty much always ended up with 45-49 MPG average by the time I filled up the tank, so that magic “51-60 MPG” rating was probably under overly-idealistic conditions.  Most of my inquiring friends decided to buy one anyway, all things considered.  =]

After 60,000 miles, I came across the term “hypermiling” and got pretty curious, especially now that I drive easily 100 miles a day and that means more visits to the gas station.  So I gave the standard “improve your MPG” stuff another try: driving the speed limit, minimizing the hard braking and accelerating, using the A/C minimally, and uh, drafting behind 18-wheelers on the freeway for the reduction in wind drag.  Steadily, my weekly MPG ratings went up, allowing me to get much more out of my 11-gallon tank of gas!

Anyway, I think the data speaks for itself.  I’ve only gotten the 58 MPG average on one tank, and yes, I think that time I did annoy some fellow drivers for the sake of science, by driving 55 MPH on Hwy 280.  I can say that these days, I drive pretty normally again, but still average 54-56 MPG without doing anything extreme, like driving a bit under the speed limit.  =]

Another quick thing I wanted to comment about is the abundance of GPS units that I see around me these days.  I’ve had the Garmin Nuvi 660 GPS for nearly a year now, and it’s truly a lifesaver.  Seriously, if I didn’t have a GPS with me all the time, I’d be liable to get lost one of these days and never find my way home.  It’s pretty sad, this total lack of a sense of direction.  Anyway, every once in a while, I have a conversation with a fellow GPS owner who finds him/herself in a bit of a predicament over how to interpret California laws and whether or not they allow you to affix a GPS unit to your windshield (or it’s follow-up question, “If I decide it put it on the windshield anyway, will a cop ever bother to stop me?”).  The next natural question is, “Well, where else can you possibly mount it?”  Some people opt for those non-slip, weighted “spider” mounts that just sit on your dashboard.  That’s one clever way to do it, I found another way to deal with it, and especially because my Prius’ dash is so freakin’ deep and funny-shaped, I actually like my solution better than using the windshield suction / spider mount.

This solution is partially a remnant from my old GPS system, back when I used the Pharos GPS Software with my Dell Axim x50v PDA.  Pharos worked okay, except that it took dreadfully long to lock onto a GPS signal so that it could determine where on the planet I actually was.  The Garmin units are, in my opinion, about a million times better.   Expensive?  Yes.  Worth it?  Every penny.  Anyway, the picture shows how the Garmin GPS suction cup is actually attached to a smooth plastic mount that is permanently affixed to larger plastic vent mount.  No more worries about getting stopped by the coppers.  (Though, honestly, I have never heard of anyone ever getting pulled over for this kind of thing.)  As an added benefit, not having a windshield-mounted GPS suction cup means I don’t advertise as much to would-be thieves that my car may have GPS inside.  Steph’s mom loves to send us police blotters by email, detailing the staggering number of weekly break-windshield-steal-GPS-and-run crimes in Cupertino.  (By the way, don’t bother ransacking my car, unless you really want my PDA-turned-GPS mount!)

Got any MPG or GPS stories?  Please share them with me!

6 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Wow, you even made a chart for this? You’re hardcore, Kenneth…(and I had no idea Emeryville was so far from Stanford! that’s an insane commute!)

  2. scottrobert

    interesting about the 100 mpg more per tank however for me, the savings of two gallons per fill up wouldn’t be worth it to me having to drive that way although an interesting experiment and as mentioned, I’m sure you don’t drive that way anymore. Have you done any experiments with driving with super unleaded and regular gas? I think I get at least one mile per gallon using super and since my car only gets around 20 mpg and with the price of gas being so high, I think I break about even using super versus regular gas and the gas is better for my car and I get improved performance. thanks for sharing, liked the post.

  3. miniplum

    YAY FOR PRIUSES!!! Haha Jason and I have been drafting big trucks but noticed we got paint chips on our car. =( So we don’t do that anymore.

    Do you commute 2.5 hours EACH WAY?! Or is it total. If it’s each way, then I have nothing to complain about. =P

  4. heyjuke

    yeah, that’s the annoyance with hypermiling… actually most prius drivers don’t seem to care to do it and many zoom past me on the freeway at like 75mph; my commute is basically a stretch of uphill followed by a stretch of downhill, so any gains from cruising downards are offset by the climb.

    try to record your fillups at http://greenhybrid.com, which will automatically generate either a graph or a banner that indicates your lifetime MPG

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