Friday, December 28, 2012

Prius Plug-In is a plus for fuel-saving fans

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – I’ve now been in every version of the Toyota Prius, and when it comes to the Prius Plug-In, think of it as the original Prius with a boost.

Electrical boost, that is.

You can win a few bar bets by asking folks which car model is the best-selling one in California in 2012.  It’s the Prius.  Yes, I’m serious.  Not the Camry, not the Civic, not the Accord, not the Focus, not the Ford F-Series pickup.

Sure, California is eco-friendly and a massive market, but it’s more than that.  The Prius now comes in so many flavors that just about anybody will be pleased and get the additional perk of good gas mileage in the fuel-pricey Golden State.

For those who seriously want to stretch the gas money, this Prius Plug-In is going to be your cup of Texas tea.

With the Plug-In, you get the basic benefits of the 50-miles-per-gallon Prius liftback, but you also have the option of extending your personal economy further with extended electric driving mode.

This is done via a specially installed lithium-ion battery pack and an external charging cable.  A full charge using an standard external AC outlet takes about two-and-a-half to three hours.  Using a 240-volt charging station cuts that to about 90 minutes.

Using the gas-electric option at full song pushes the fuel mileage number to about 95 mpg.  Yes, the feds have a formula for figuring that out.  No matter what, you can figure on bypassing the fuel pumps with regularity.

I must say that I was thrown off by using the external charging cable on this Prius after years of telling people that the Prius hybrid was one you didn’t have to plug in.  Simply put, this Plug-In is the Prius you plug in. Seems easy enough to remember.

From there, it’s all Prius as usual, which is to say super technology for a song.  The starting price on the tester was $32,000, which I assure you is a bargain given all the technology riding on four wheels.

And it’s not stripped.  The tester had a generous list of standard comfort/convenience features and safety devices.  Handling was sharp and nimble, with zero hiccups in the power delivery systems.

Let’s call it the Prius with a plus, which means long-term fuel savings for the owner.

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