Toyota’s new Prius still dowdy looking, but a stellar hybrid …
I laid a lot of praise on Kia’s new Niro hybrid recently, all deserved, but I was basing my hybrid comparison to the previous Toyota Prius. Now I’ve driven the 2017 Prius Two Eco and wow, this is a stellar hybrid.
Get this, I got 57.5 miles per gallon in a week’s drive. That includes plenty of city and two longish highway jaunts. But that’s just a number, and as the EPA says, your mileage may vary, although it rates this Eco version at 58 mpg city and 53 highway. Believe it!
Yet, if this were a tinny econobox that rode like a soapbox derby racer, well, most of us wouldn’t care so much about the mileage. We still need function and comfort, and Prius delivers.
First, note that there are nearly as many Prius models as there are pickup versions from most automakers. The Two Eco is the cost leader at $24,540, with a $865 delivery fee to end up at $25,405. There are five other trims of the four-door hatch model that, while slightly more streamlined than its earlier version, still remains dowdy looking. The exception are its stylish taillights.
Looks aside (and that’s where the Niro wins hands down), the new Prius is light and agile and so tightly built it feels as snug as a three-piece suit. There are no squeaks or jiggles. It’s as quiet inside as most entry-level luxury cars. The doors close with such a resounding thud as to need a little extra elbow grease to latch the doors, the seal is that tight.
Plug-in hybrid Fusion Energi touts impressive fuel economy
Ford’s midsize sedan, Fusion, has been well received both because of its high-end somewhat sporty looks and its driving characteristics. Fusion may prove to be Ford’s biggest hit since the Taurus was new.
Fusion melds, or should we say, fuses the looks of an Aston Martin or Jaguar’s upscale sporty nose with the tail and profile of a sleek Mazda6 to create a good-looking family sedan that can make any suburbanite proud of his or her nod to trendy car fashions. Gone is the look-alike (nose at least) mid-size sedan.
Add in that Ford has gone all in on hybrids, including this hot “sunset” (metallic deep orange) Fusion Energi SE, and you’ve got a trendy family hauler. It’s economical to drive, if not to buy. While a gasoline-only powered Fusion can be had in the mid-$20,000 price range, the Energi, a plug-in hybrid, starts at $35 grand and change. The tested SE lists at $38,700. Add in a $795 delivery charge and just two options and the test car hit $40,585.
I’ll make this point just once. You don’t buy a hybrid to save money, but to help the environment.
Sure, you’ll save each week on fillups. I got 45.2 mpg and shelled out just a bit more than $20 for 300+ miles of driving in a week. EPA estimates put the car at 43 mpg in all gasoline-powered mode and 88 when combining gas and electric, with a full plug-in charge at night. I didn’t plug in each night, but got about 20 miles of electrical charge for each plug in and registered 111 mpg in a day with the charge and driving about 10 miles beyond it. While the car is charged it shows you getting 999.9 mpg. Cool, while it lasts!
Like the Ford C-Max Energi I drove about a year ago, this one is easy to charge. Unload the special charging cable from the trunk, plug it into a regular 120-volt electrical outlet in a garage and then the cable’s pistol grip into the round outlet on the driver’s side front fender. A little cap rotates, after a tap, to reveal the outlet. About 7-8 hours later you have the 20-mile charge. Using a 220-volt outlet (like your dryer would use) will charge the vehicle in just a couple hours, Ford says. Continue reading 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE→
Families looking for superior gas mileage, a small crossover/wagon with generous cargo room and a roomy back seat with massive headroom will feel comfortable in Ford’s new C-Max.
This is a tall wagon this is 100% hybrid, as in that’s all you can buy, although there are two choices.It’s a mini-minivan of sorts, that looks like a Mazda 5, which seats six. This will seat four easily and five in a pinch. The C-Max name certainly will inspire absolutely no one, but this is an extremely useful wagon that due to its hybrid-only power is a fine commuter too.There is a standard hybrid model that operates much like the successful Toyota Prius. But I had the Energi model, which is a plug-in hybrid, meaning you can plug it in to get a full charge in 2.5 to 7 hours. The lower number is for folks with 240-volt power outlets in their garage, the higher number for most of us with 120-volt service. A full charge gave my pleasant Ice Storm (blue-gray) test wagon 17 miles of electric power, getting me to the office and part way home.
At that point the gas-powered 2.0-liter I4 kicks in and delivers decent power along with reasonable gas mileage. The C-Max Energi is rated 100 mpg when it runs on electric and gas, while the EPA rates it 43 mpg on strictly gasoline. All the auto forums are full of folks saying the car’s numbers are overrated. Ford says to expect 47 mpg city and highway. Other auto writers say that’s high too.
Chevrolet’s Volt is the leader of the hybrid pack when it comes to performance.
It’s quick and handles almost like a sports sedan. I know what you’re thinking, “No Way it’s quick!” Ah, but you’d be wrong.
The difference between the plug-in electric hybrid Volt and a gas-powered sedan is that there’s no engine grumble to give you a sense of speed. With Volt, you simply press a button on the center stack and change from Normal to Sport mode.
Next time you press the accelerator (not a gas pedal, right?) this 3,781-lb. car rips away from a stoplight, quietly, but with smooth seamless acceleration. Most cars are still slipping from second to third gear as you streak away.
Handling is borderline sporty too. No, it’s not a BMW, but steering is pretty darned precise and quick, so you can zip around corners with authority. Plus, its low-slung battery packs keep the Volt well balanced, aiding its cornering.
Ride is on the sporty side too, but still is pleasant and well controlled, the Volt’s 105.7-inch wheelbase making this ride like a mid-size sport sedan. But, since it’s a hatch, it’s more useful for carrying things than a standard sedan.
Now let’s face it, if you’re a prospective Volt buyer, the last thing you probably were even thinking about was performance. But the cool thing here is that you get performance along with all those great hybrid characteristics you’re likely aiming for. Continue reading 2013 Chevrolet Volt (plug-in electric)→