Friday, July 12, 2013

Driving a Hybrid

For three weeks I’ve been enjoying driving a Toyota Camry Hybrid that has the right plates. By the right plates I mean, that it has the Virginia’s “Clean Special Plates” which qualify me to drive in the I-66 HOV lanes without the second person. Being able to drive I-66 inside the beltway during the morning and afternoon is commuting my drive to and from the office by a third to a half. The other day it took me 19 minutes to get to the office.

I love how far it stretches a gallon of gas. So far the mileage is just over 38 mpg to just under 40, which gives me a driving range of about 530 miles. One of my goals is to achieve an average of 40.2 mpg over at least 400 miles. By watching the data feedback I suspect that I may well achieve that goal, as well has surpassing the 550 mile driving range.

The first thought many people have about a hybrid is that it lacks power. For every day driving I have not lacked the power I’ve needed. The pick-up is a little slower, but not unduly so, particularly when one is already at cruising speed. If the vehicle was well loaded with passengers or heavy boxes and it was going up a steep hill, I could have a different view of its power at that moment. Due to the batteries the trunk is clearly small, but that is not a significant concern for me.

With a standard 21st century vehicle, when we start the car we rarely have our foot on the gas and therefore we do not feel the engine start. But for a hybrid on feels the engine starting as one moves from running on battery alone to gas. As the engine shuts down whenever one comes to a stop, such as at lights, stop signs, in traffic, one frequently feels the engine start and while at times it feels like the engine is hesitating and about to stall, it is not about to stall. For some feeling the engine start could be unnerving, but I do not find it so.

Today I learned another little thing about my hybrid, is to make sure that the gas cap is tightly closed. On the last fill I did not turn the cap fully closed. Apparently if it is not tightly closed the pressure in the tank is lost which will impact mileage and the check engine light will glare. Fortunately the Toyota dealer did not charge me for the lesson.

Overall, I love driving the hybrid and would buy one.

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