Sidebar: A commuter's plug-in experience (and a video)
Wade Hoyt, Toyota's northeast PR manager, and a former auto writer for Popular Science
, gets a crack at some of the company's latest vehicles for his daily use. Here are New York City-based Hoyt's experiences with using the Prius plug-in for his daily commute.
"My 42-mile (each way) New York commute includes the hilly, twisting Depression-era Taconic and Saw Mill Parkways, Manhattan's Westside Highway, and congested mid-town traffic. In a conventional 2011 Prius, I can average about 51 mpg into town (downhill on balance) and 48 mpg or so going home (uphill on balance).
With a full charge in the Prius PHV [plug-in hybrid vehicle], I got 73.2 mpg going into Manhattan! That's what those 13 gas-free miles did for me. Since I can't charge up at the parking garage near my office, I was reduced to 48.8 mpg on the return trip. That resulted in a round-trip average of 61 mpg -- an 11.5 mpg or 23% improvement over the "normal" Prius on my 84-mile commute.
A 20-mile trip could have given me about 145 mpg, and a 10-mile trip infinite mileage! This will give you some idea of the challenge faced by the EPA in trying to devise a meaningful fuel economy rating for plug-ins.
Your mileage will vary, as they say, largely depending on the length of your trip, and the weather. Cold temperatures will reduce battery power and cause the gas engine to cycle on more frequently, to keep coolant temperature up."
Here is an unlisted video about the plug-in Prius.