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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, not really. But it did take a bite.

So my wife and I have had our Prius for 8 months exactly this past Thursday. As of Friday the 18th, it had exactly 10,000 miles on it. (For the second time, I go my oil change at the exact mileage specified. The first time it was by luck, the second time I had to drive around the block to get it to roll over before pulling in.) Today (10 days later,) it has fully 1/3 more miles, 13335. For anyone who suggests that the Prius may be a bad long-haul vehicle, I must politely disagree.

In our Prius, we had four adults (my wife and I plus her parents,) one infant (in a car seat,) and a completely full trunk for a 1600 mile non-stop drive one weekend, and a reverse 1600 mile trip the following weekend. (The back seat was a little cramped with a car seat in the middle, and an adult on either side, but the only compromise needed was to use the car seat as a forced armrest. My in-laws Subaru Forester or Legacy Wagon would have had less rear-seat space. The trunk was as full as it could possibly get. Our pillows only fit because they could be squished into the cracks. (But we did fit a week's worth of clothes for four, plus baby accessories back there with no need to skimp. It just took Tetris-expert packing skills.) My father-in-law and I are both tall and lanky guys, so back-seat leg space was important. That was the main reason to go with the Prius over their Legacy. Even with the front seat all the way back, I could sit comfortably in the back seat. (The only problem is my head does graze the roof when I sit fully upright; but I prefer to slouch a little in any car's back seat, to help stretch out.)

Unfortunately, a full car, a drive over the Rockies, and four leadfoot drivers (averaged 80 MPH,) does take its toll on mileage. The trip to Nebraska was a dismal 43 MPG. The way back, driving through foul weather in Wyoming, was even worse, 39 MPG. (Including the only two tanks so far to average below 40.) If gas stations had been placed better, we could have made it on four tanks (three fills each way,) but because of bad placement, we ended up doing two full fills plus two half-fills on the way there, and two full plus three partials back. In Nebraska (specifically a farm outside York,) it sucked even more. We were staying at my wife's grandmother's farmhouse, which is 10 miles from town. 7.5 of those miles are on a perfectly flat road with a speed limit of 60. 2.5 miles were gravel roads with a limit of 50. Gravel roads suck. (See below.)

I must say that traction control is a good thing. It was wet and cold, so the gravel roads were very slick. The 'wiggly car' lamp (my wife's name for the traction/stability control light,) came on regularly, and the car was sluggish. (On the gravel roads, when TCS kicked in, it felt like someone hitting the brakes.) Once the VSC came on, and it was very odd. The back end started to shimmy, and I knew it was about to fishtail. All of a sudden, the 'wiggly car' lit up, the car started beeping, and the car came to an almost complete halt. Still a little scary having it slide around, but it did keep me on the road. Hit the gas, and all was better.

As for Prius-spotting? Once I left Oregon, I only saw two Prii again until returning to Portland. One was in Boise, Idaho on the way back. The other was funny. On Tuesday, I headed into town to get a cell phone charger. (My car charger died on the way there.) As I was leaving Radio Shack, I saw a Prius ahead at the stop light. It, too, was from Oregon. I'm now guessing that the residents of York, Nebraska must be convinced that these mysterious 'hybrids' come from Oregon, and that all Oregonians drive them. (As it was also the only other car with an Oregon plate I saw.) It even had the same style of special license plate. (A 'Crater Lake' plate, as opposed to the standard plate.)

As for eating my Prius? Well, first I'll mention that the other Prius I saw in town had a demolished front driver's side fender and bumper. From the amount of gravel covering it, I'm guessing they DIDN'T have VSC, and skidded off one of the gravel roads into the ditch. I felt very sad for that Prius. (Also knowing there was zero chance of the local Toyota dealership having parts in stock, and little chance of them even being in the state. If it had been a Tundra, sure...) Well, my incident came as we were leaving to head home. My father-in-law decided that he wanted to drive by his farm before heading out. (He still owns the farm, but lives in Oregon, and has someone else run it for him. He visits once a year; at Spring Break.) His farm was a 10 mile drive (all of it on gravel roads) from the house we were staying at. He drove. About halfway there, we hit a REALLY bad road. Probably the worst condition road I have ever driven on. (And even a little worse than lots of off-roading I've done!) The traction control was constantly kicking in.

All of a sudden, the car lurched to the right (VSC saves us there,) and we heard a really bad noise coming from the rear right. Came to a stop, I got out, and the right-rear tire was essentially missing. About half of the rubber was now mixed in with the last 10 yards of gravel. The inside side-wall was completely gone, as was a decent percentage of the tread. (Yes, I had checked the tires immediately before leaving, including tire pressures. There had been nothing wrong 15 minutes before.) So, then comes the fun. In the rain, we unpacked the trunk, changed the tire (in record time, my f-i-l cranked the jack so hard, he bent the crank-rod,) and then noticed that the original tire isn't supposed to go into the spare-well. Crap. The trunk was as-full-as-full-gets. There was no way we could cram the tire in the main trunk like the manual suggests. (Heck, I left the 'secret compartment' cover at home, knowing we'd need that extra space.) Luckily, with so much rubber gone, it did fit in the spare well.

Drove 15 miles (10 on gravel) on the spare to a tire shop. Lucky for us, my wife's uncle runs it! He gets us going again (he even had a low-rolling-resistance tire he right size,) in no time. The rest of the drive was without incident. (Aside from some slippery going in Wyoming.)

Upon returning home, I was reminded about how hybrid-friendly Portland is. For 3000 miles, I had seen only two other Prii. In the final 10 miles, I saw 6. On a side note, my daughter sat upright unassisted for the first time on this trip!
 

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That raises a concern I had a while back regarding road trips and vehicle weight capacity (no offense intended to Evan's family...).

A while back, someone posted that they read in the manual that the Prius wasn't designed to carry more than 800 pounds, including fuel. I'm guessing that 4 adults + 1 infant + a completely full trunk + a tank of gas exceeds 800 pounds. (no offense, etc...)

As someone who has road-tripped from LA to Las Vegas (a drive which includes some fairly prolonged uphill grades) with some, uh, "generously proportioned" friends, I wonder if exceeding the recommended weight maximum can somehow damage the car, or if it just results in lower mileage.
 

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One rule about engineering is to ALWAYS be conservative and have a safety cushion when estimating numbers like that, mostly for liability reasons. Unless the trunk was fully loaded with bricks or something similar, I think that the load you described has plenty margin for safety error...gasoline is lighter than water, and 10 gallons of water only weighs 80 pounds. An infant plus a car seat might weigh, say, 40 pounds. That still leaves a safety margin of 167.5 average weight for each adult, and I think a couple hundred pounds of cargo for additional safety cushion is not an unreasonable estimate.

Plus, if they are making room for five adult passengers in the car, they can't reasonably expect that five people are always going to weigh less than 800 with the obesity rate in this country the way it is (that's only an average of 160 lbs a person).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
RSnyder said:
Hmm, 200 person-miles per gallon. That's great!
Yup, I once figured out that three Insights produce better person-miles per gallon (with more cargo capacity,) than a single Hummer. (This related to the original Hummer, not the H2.)
 

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Nebraska traveler

Enjoyed your escapade Nebraska. My husband is from there and never lets anyone forget it. I can't count the number of gravel roads we drove on through the years. I'm not about to try my new Prius on one though. Rental cars will have to do.
 
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