Prius Personal Log  #162

November 22, 2004  -  November 26, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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11-26-2004

HydroEdge Tires on Snow.  It finally snowed here.  With close to 9,000 miles on these all-season high-traction tires, it's about dang time.  The rain handling has proven remarkable.  And the dry road grip is great.  But what about snow?  That's the question I've had to put off until today.  The snow isn't the Minnesota type that we get during most of the cold season (dry).  It's the wet & heavy stuff that melts quickly, especially since the ground surface hasn't become frozen solid yet.  But since that's what much of the rest of the country experiences, this report will satisfy the curiosity.  They worked great!  That wet & heavy mess squeezed right through the tread wonderfully.  And the rubber, that actually increases grip when it gets wet, was fantastic.  In other words, driving on the fresh snow was pretty boring.  No slipping & sliding, just the same old impressive traction as usual.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how to quantify the driving experience.  So comparisons to the other all-season high-traction tires, Goodyear TripleTred, will be really tough.  We'll probably just have to settle for subjective assessments.  As for my choice to upgrade to better tires, any remaining doubt completely disappeared as soon as they touched the snow.  The resulting 1.5 MPG reduction was well worth it.  In other words, they are very easy to recommend to those looking for a tire better than the OEM (standard factory) tire.

11-26-2004

The Netherlands.  He shared 11 great new Prius photos with us... owner:  antoon

11-26-2004

Favorite Quote.  I always pick one out of each absurd hybrid articles I read.  But today's was just plain wrong, since it is the exact opposite of the way owners describe it: "The technology is a bit scary -- there's no noise when starting the vehicle, no noise when you sit in traffic, no noise when you set off until you reach a high enough speed for the gas engine to kick in."  That "no noise" difference has been that way for over 4 years now.  Hybrid owners praise that quiet, listing it as one of top appeal factors of the technology.  That has absolutely nothing in common with what reviewers commonly refer to as "disconcerting" or "scary".  It's a dramatic difference in opinion and not in any way accurate reporting.  I wonder when that will finally change.  Hmm?

11-25-2004

Winter?  It isn't yet.  I'm still waiting for the corning test on fresh snow with my upgraded tires.  I recall last winter's driving with the OEM tires.  They worked fine.  I also recall the difference between the OEM on both wet & dry compared to the HydroEdges.  That's what really impressed me.  The improvement was quite pleasing.  And corning is what I am concerned most about in winter driving.  I'm hoping they deliver increased control, and I see no reason why they wouldn't.  But I'm still waiting to actually prove it.  We'll see... eventually... white Christmas anyone?

11-25-2004

Silly Discovery.  Did you know the headrests on the back seat can serve as bungee-cord anchors?  I discovered that unexpectedly today when trying to figure out how to just dump folding chairs into the hatch area without having to remove any of the other stuff inside already.  There was plenty of room available on top, but the tie-downs on the Prius floor in back were no longer accessible (or even visible).  So out of necessity, I hunted for a solution... then made that discovery.  The hook of the bungee-cord clamps onto the metal base of the headrest wonderfully.  But... it looks rather silly when you actually do it.

11-25-2004

Being Proactive.  Ford doesn't have the luxury of time like Toyota & Honda did 4 years ago.  At first, the hybrids were almost totally ignored.  With gas less than $1 per gallon 3 years ago, that's to be expected.  But not anymore.  It is close to double that price, monster-size vehicles are losing appeal, the economy is struggling, and the technology has proven capable of real-world challenges.  So now, there is a massive spotlight on hybrids.  Everyone is finally paying attention.  That means a failure could really hurt.  Remember how the tire problem with the Classic Prius almost killed the reputation of the hybrid?  Some people actually don't.  That's because we jumped on the issue immediately, not allowing it to get blown way out of proportion.  And that effort paid off big time!  Change is rapidly occurring now.  So don't be surprised when you see it.  And don't be afraid to be the one to point it out either.  Someone's gotta to do it.

11-25-2004

That's great!  The sweet lady did what needed to be done... and now they respect her for having confronted them like that.  Cool!  Someone shared a story how a dealer tried to pull a fast one by not bothering to be careful and avoid oil overfill.  She blew up, something they never anticipated she would do... or was even capable of.  This is an excellent endorsement for how you don't have to be mechanically inclined to understand the vehicle.  All you have to be is observant.  She was.  She knew it didn't feel the same as before she took it in for an oil change.  And she was right!  There was a whole quart more than what was actually needed.  Good for her!  Complaining was a great choice.  Now, I bet that dealer will be more considerate of everyone, not knowing if the next sweet lady will turn on them too.  Ha!  Ha!

11-24-2004

Changing Market.  Just 4 months from now, the media blitz about the Lexus 400h will begin.  It will be the newest and most powerful and most luxurious hybrid to date.  Then just 2 to 3 months later, Highlander-Hybrid will become the hot hybrid.  It is guaranteed to distract attention away from Escape-Hybrid, being direct competition among traditional models already and the fact that it uses the already well-established HSD system.  To further complicate matters, Camry-Hybrid will come out the following year... which just happens to use the same system that the second hybrid version of Highlander could use.  That would be the first ever hybrid vehicle to offer two different configurations, one optimized for power and one optimized for efficiency.  Simply ignoring Escape-Hybrid wouldn't be appropriate.  The system really does deliver, unlike some other hybrids.  That is putting a handful of the traditional owners in an awkward position.  Their prized vehicle just got even better, but they don't own one.  So don't let their comments bother you.  In other words, no need for personal comment.  Just stick to the purpose of the hybrid system.  We'll get through all these changes... and you'll really like the results.

11-24-2004

Escape-Hybrid Observations.  It is a "full" hybrid, like Prius.  And it achieves the same purpose.  But the behavior is different... which explains the differences in owner comments I've observed.  Think of the Escape-Hybrid as a Prius with "EV mode" only, no Stealth or Multi-Display.  That really adds a new twist to the way people perceive hybrids.  Owner comments have supported the impression that the system will remain in electric-only driving as long as realistically possible.  Then when the engine starts, it is an obvious switch-over.  Sound familiar?  That is actually the way people originally thought Prius worked.  Interesting, eh?  With Prius, you have a very dynamic system.  Electrical flow changes often.  In fact, it is completely normal to see it change 10 to 20 times per minute.  This apparently doesn't happen with Escape-Hybrid; instead, owners insist it remains in a single mode for quite some time before switching.  And the switch is noticeable, no Multi-Display is needed... which explains why it isn't standard and also explains why the owners haven't expressed much curiosity about technical details.  So, compared to HSD, it doesn't try to take advantage of every brief opportunity to gain efficiency.  Yet, it does seem to deliver rather well anyway.  Efficiency is clearly above what an "assist" hybrid delivers, and it is cleaner too.  It looks like Ford did very well.  Next is to reduce the production cost and offer electric A/C.  Switching to a high-density battery-module would be a nice perk too.

11-23-2004

"Beta" testers.  At this point, it's hard to believe that some people continue to put Prius down by insisting it is only a beta test of the technology, not actually a finished product yet.  That clearly is not the case.  The 3 generations, 7 years, and 250,000 vehicles now on the road support that.  Prius is the real thing.  The technology is already well proven.  After all, what else is there to test?  In other words, we are in the "Upgrade" phase now.  Testing is complete.

11-23-2004

Double Eagle.  No, not a $20 gold coin from the early 20th Century.  Instead, it was two of the flying kind... Bald Eagles checking out the Prius today.  I was shocked to see how they confidently glided right in front of me as I was driving today.  I had never had the opportunity to see one so close in the wild, only about 40 feet as I passed by.  That was pretty amazing.  Having a car not intimidating to animals is rather nice.  In fact, that is much better than having a vehicle that scares them into running (or flying) haphazardly... an accident waiting to happen.  I'll take the calm observation from a Prius instead.

11-23-2004

Porsche Hybrid.  How about that.  This German automaker, known for impressive high-performance vehicles, has officially asked Toyota about utilizing the hybrid technology in Prius for a Porsche vehicle.  I guess the news of the "Prius GT", which can do 131 MPH on a 3-mile stretch in the salt flats, has made an impression.  The technology really is a versatile as I have always claimed it to be!

11-22-2004

Tax Deception.  This quote today didn't surprise me: "The deduction will be limited to $500 for vehicles placed in service in 2006 and no deduction will be allowed after that year."  I'm not pleased by the fine print in that post-election article.  The pre-election articles were so vague it wasn't clear that the sunset of the deduction hadn't actually been changed.  Everyone just assumed the $2,000 had been restored.  Now we know, it wasn't.  It was actually only a single year change, that's it.  The original termination date remained intact.  This administration continues playing games with hybrids... making themselves appear to be supportive, but really only interested in short-term gain... in this case, a few more votes to keep them in office.  I'm not happy.  I wonder what they'll do next year when the domestic automakers are finally forced to share there long-term plans.  Toyota will have Prius, RX-400h, and Highlander-Hybrid taking the spotlight more times then they'll feel comfortable with.  Do you think they will actually endorse hybrids, or continue the fuel-cell nonsense?

11-22-2004

"Smart" Article.  A completely clueless reporter gave us a gift today, an article so poorly informed we can discuss the mistakes in it for weeks!  The complaint about the R/N/D/B selector was quite unrealistic, since most people simply look at the indicator instead (which he never even mentioned was available).  Remember, there is absolutely no way to shift too far like you'd do with a traditional vehicle.  Each selection requires a unique motion, not a linear movement based on distance.  The MPG claims were totally without merit, since the article completely failed to mention the digital value shown was on the same screen as the energy-flow diagram... which makes the activity of the vehicle pretty obvious.  So there's no need for the fluff he thought would be better.  In other words, it took the feature completely out of context, allowing you to draw a misled conclusion.  The comment about the buttons on the steering wheel were quite amusing, though very misleading.  Most all vehicles offer the ability to honk the horn by simply pressing the center of the steering wheel now.  Pretty much only the very first vehicles with a driver-airbag required you to push a button.  Back then, they couldn't figure out a cost-effective way of allowing you to just smack the airbag with your hand instead.  That hasn't been an issue for years though. But he makes it sound like it is still.  The counter-intuitive claim could have actually been claim to conceal the fact that it makes "B" so darn convenient to shift into on-the-fly.  It is quite intuitive, since it is the same direction as "D" and down is a much easier hand-motion than up.  This quote, "Smart keys carry the inherent risk of loss or theft" appears to be a blatant attempt to deceive.  Smart keys are quite a bit harder to lose than keys, since you never even remove them from your pocket or purse.  As for theft, what it the heck is he talking about?  How could that be any different from a physical key?  The comment about disabling the beep is proof that the write didn't research the topic well.  Owners know it is possible, and many of us have done it.  But if you didn't know, it's just a matter of asking the dealer.  But the dumbest thing of all about that "smart" article is the fact that the car automatically achieves the reduced emissions & consumption for you was never included.

11-22-2004

Electric-Only.  The owner reports are painting a picture that put the threshold of the Escape-Hybrid electric-only propulsion closer to that of "EV" mode for Prius rather than the "Stealth" mode.  I wonder how that will change as the temperatures drop.  The HSD model has a greatly expanded cold-weather tolerance than the Classic model.  What did Ford decide to allow the system to do in the less hospitable climates?  This first year observations should be quite interesting.

 

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