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It's for an overnight test-drive. I'm looking between the 06 Civic Hybrid and the 06 Prius. I have a few questions after driving it about 30 miles, and hopefully some of you owners who have had it for more than 6 hours can fill me in. Also, the instruction manual isn't in the car, so some of these answers may be basic, but nonetheless escape me.

First, sometimes when I'm stopped, or accelerating slowly, the display will show the gas engine running, and energy being sent to the battery. Why isn't it solely the electric motor running the car? At this point, the battery gauge is usually at 4 bars (half) or 5 bars (1 over half). I actually can't recall seeing the battery charged below half, but surely I'm just not looking at it at the right times.

Also, has anyone tried to see if the Park button or the Reverse or Neutral gears work when the car is in Drive and moving? It just seems like those could be accidentally pressed/levered (at least more easily than a conventional shifter), and didn't know if there was a safeguard to prevent such action.

So far, the only complaints I have are the lesser handling than the car I currently drive (a 3rd gen Maxima, circa 1994), the funny blindspots due to the slanting front and rear windshields (this could just be something that I must adjust to, as my Maxima's windshields are not so steep?), and, well, that's about it.

Pretty much I think the car rocks hard, especially the Smart Key system. The key never left my pocket! I'VE NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE. Also, I test drove an 05 Prius, and in the 06 one I'm looking forward to the rear camera, the mp3CD player, and the Magnetic Gray...if I can wait until May. I still want to take the HCH overnight, so I can get a full and fair comparison. Any other comments are welcome. And if there's anything else I should do while I have the car at my command, let me know!
 

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Asian Brad said:
First, sometimes when I'm stopped, or accelerating slowly, the display will show the gas engine running, and energy being sent to the battery. Why isn't it solely the electric motor running the car? At this point, the battery gauge is usually at 4 bars (half) or 5 bars (1 over half). I actually can't recall seeing the battery charged below half, but surely I'm just not looking at it at the right times.
The gasoline engine could be running for a number of reasons. (listed in whatever order comes to mind)
* If the car has been started cold, the gasoline engine will run to warm itself (engine oil, coolant, etc.) and emissions components (O2 sensors, catalytic converter, etc.) up to proper operating temperatures. If it is cold outside, or the engine has been off for some time, the engine may come back on to reheat things again. (Probably will not show up on the energy monitor.)
* The engine is recharging the hybrid battery. (will show up on the energy monitor.)
* The engine is running to provide the passenger compartment (and therefore the batteries) with "waste" heat. (will not show up on the energy monitor.)
* You are requesting more power/acceleration than the threshold has been set for the electric motor only. (will show up on the energy monitor)
* The engine is running to power the AC compressor (Classic Prius only). (will not show up on the energy monitor)
* The Prius is doing some charging/battery level diagnostics (unknown if this will show on the energy monitor)
* I think I'm forgetting something...

Asian Brad said:
Also, has anyone tried to see if the Park button or the Reverse or Neutral gears work when the car is in Drive and moving? It just seems like those could be accidentally pressed/levered (at least more easily than a conventional shifter), and didn't know if there was a safeguard to prevent such action.
too bad you don't have an Owner's Manual in your demo car, as it is covered in there. If you make an improper shift (such as hitting the Power or Park buttons while moving more than 4? 7? mph), the Prius will beep at you and put you into Neutral. Nothing wrong with going into Neutral at any other time. Going into Reverse at speed (while in D or B), I think will also do the beep and into Neutral. (In the Classic Prius, if you managed to hit the brake, press the interlock button, and shift into Reverse from Drive while moving, the Prius will just slow itself down, momentarily stop, and then start speeding up in reverse -- kinda freaky, but nothing bad happens to the car!)
 

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sometimes when I'm stopped, or accelerating slowly, the display will show the gas engine running, and energy being sent to the battery. Why isn't it solely the electric motor running the car? At this point, the battery gauge is usually at 4 bars (half) or 5 bars (1 over half).
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The "computer" decides when the battery needs charging. So far the system works well in my 04 Prius and I don't worry about what's happening as long as the car is running well (which, so far, it always has). When you drive a hybrid that is pretty much controlled by little black boxes, you just have accept that you are not in charge of where the volts go. Sitting at a dead stop with well charged battery the info screen will usually read no activity at all.
Prius rear visibilty is a bit unusual. You'll adjust to it. The 06 models have a video camera back there.
Handling is in the eye of the beholder. It's sure not a sports car and the tires are kinda skinny but I think it corners as well as most sedans. The stability control system will (should) keep you between the dotted lines should you get over your head. It's very manueverable in tight places like parking lots and the turning radius is outstanding. It has excellent brakes. The 60 to zero figures posted by various auto mags are among to best.
Drive the Honda and choose what you like the best. Most new Prius owners didn't get an overnight test drive.
 

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Also, ICE can be used to provide power to the traction motor (MG2) when demand exceeds battery power capacity in addition to, or instead of, feeding mechanical energy directly to the wheels.

This is a parallel/series hybrid, not just one or the other. It's all in the magic of the power split device and the HV computer.
 

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Asian Brad said:
First, sometimes when I'm stopped, or accelerating slowly, the display will show the gas engine running, and energy being sent to the battery. Why isn't it solely the electric motor running the car? At this point, the battery gauge is usually at 4 bars (half) or 5 bars (1 over half). I actually can't recall seeing the battery charged below half, but surely I'm just not looking at it at the right times.
I wanted to comment on this item. Looking at the battery indicator on the MFD, the top of the battery is 80% of actual capacity and the bottom of the battery indicator is 40% of actual capacity. The vehicle is programmed to keep the battery between 40 and 80% capacity. The changing coloring of the display from red to blue (purple) to green is nothing more than a quick visual indicator; a lot easier than counting bars while doing 70 on a crowded highway.

If the battery becomes discharged that red starts to appear I can guarantee you that the ICE will run while the vehicle is at rest, or run at a higher RPM when moving, to charge the battery. If the battery is showing green, the top two bars on the graph, the vehicle will actually work toward using that stored energy up bringing the battery indicator down to 5 or 6 bars in the blue range. Operating the battery around 60% of capacity most of the time is how Toyota insures long battery life out of a battery system known for memory effect. In other words, but not fully discharging or charging the battery memory effect is significantly minimized or eliminated altogether.

It was mentioned earlier in this thread that the vehicle can operate by using the ICE to actually generate power which is immediately used by the electric motor for propulsion. This is the case often when I'm pulling a hill. This last year I had the opportunity to drive over the Cascades to visit friends and attend a conference three times. This is what I noticed when climbing the pass. I fully understand there are more complex electromechanical processes in place, but the MFD can give you a good picture of what is happening if you understand the components in the system.

When you encounter a hill you will see the ICE, battery all contributing power to the system. ICE is indicating that it is providing physical power to the wheels power and electrical power to the electric motor and the battery is providing extra power to the motor. What is actually happening is that the ICE is spinning the generator and it is providing physical power to the wheels all at the same time. The magic of the power split device in action. The battery is in the equation providing extra power to the motor to help out further. Now as you settle into the hill and you are on an extended climb the vehicle will often go into a "direct drive" mode where the vehicle is not displaying the usage of the battery, but you see both electrical power and physical power coming from the engine being directed to either the electric motor or the wheels. This is usually associated with higher engine RPM. What is happening is that the vehicle has enough momentum that it is directly generating electricity which is being used by the electric motor immediately. I've gathered that this is done because the electric motor is your primary torque source and as such pulling a longer grade you need torque and the electric motor is there to provide most of the torque.

On another subject, the gearshift (I prefer calling it mode selector) is not connected to anything physically. In fact it doesn't even shift gears (why it shouldn't be called a gearshift). It does nothing more than tell the computers that you want to go forward or backward or no place at all. This may be hard to visualize without more supporting data, but the Prius is essentially in gear all the time. There are no clutches, no fluid couplings, nothing that you would traditionally find in a transmission. Just 2 motor generators and an engine all connected to each other through the power split device. The computers determine RPMs and rotational directions of the motor generators and the rpm of the engine and that determines your ground speed. Sounds complex? Mechanically no, it is much more simple and graceful than any transmission out there. What makes it work is the computer directing what the various individual power sources do.

The truth of the matter is that you cannot compare the Honda to the Toyota in terms of mecanics. I'm biased, but Toyota has won the hybrid implementation war. Honda has an electrically assisted gas powered vehicle with all the trappings of a traditional vehicle with the added electric extras which do contribute to its fuel efficiency, but not nearly as gracefully as the Toyota product. Sure Honda's product does keep improving and it is well designed, but it isn't nearly as innovative as Toyota's design.

I hope you like the Prius. It is different, very different! Different is good.
 

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But again, that is Honda's way of attacking the problem in the most inexpensive way of building a simple car with high (50city, 50 highway) gas milage that can still be worked on in practically any garage in the country and parts are plentifull and cheap as they are mainly standard Civic.
I really believe when we see the rest of the auto industry go hybrid it will mainly be Honda's methods used. Not nearly as high tech and certainly without all the whistles and bells but I sort of like the idea of turning on a switch for AC and heat and pushing a pre-selected button for radio tuning.
 

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hyperion said:
I really believe when we see the rest of the auto industry go hybrid it will mainly be Honda's methods used. Not nearly as high tech and certainly without all the whistles and bells but I sort of like the idea of turning on a switch for AC and heat and pushing a pre-selected button for radio tuning.
Oh, gosh, I hope not. :eek:

There is hope, The Escape/Mariner Hybrid is using the power split device concept for its propulsion system and so far so good. I doubt that Ford will jump ship on that design before getting a few of their itirations of it out the door. Considering that the MGs and PSD combined aren't much larger than a generiously sized front wheel drive transmission I doubt that it would make much sense for those companies using this system to move over to the much more simplistic and IMO less advanced "electric flywheel" system that Honda utilizes.
 

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hyperion said:
I really believe when we see the rest of the auto industry go hybrid it will mainly be Honda's methods used. Not nearly as high tech and certainly without all the whistles and bells but I sort of like the idea of turning on a switch for AC and heat and pushing a pre-selected button for radio tuning.
Hey, I do turn a dial to turn on the climate control fan on my Prius. On both mine and my husband's Prius there is a dash knob for radio tuning. On my Prius I can press and hold the dash SCAN button to cycle through my radio presets...
 

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Wow again Mr niomeka, how did you miss in all your research that the Prius and about every other car made since 1996 has something called an OB2 port that a scan guage for techs can be plugged in for engine diagnosis. The port for the Prius is located under the lip of the dash panel directly under the steering wheel. It is even shown in the owners manual, which I suggest you get a copy of if you are going to be a Prius expert. My guage is mounted on my dash and set up to indicate engine RPM, coolant temperature and voltage of my 12 volt battery. There are more than a dozen other pieces of engine information available. Quite a few Prius owners who are interested in what's going on under the hood run with the scan guage attached at all times. (For some reason, Toyota neglected to put a guage of any kind in the Prius) If you want to go about six months back on this site you might find some of the numerous threads describing the "Scan Guage" available for the Prius and the address of the company selling them for $130.00 located in Phoenix Az. Also a lot of info posted about how to set the guage up for hybrid operation. This type of posting soon adds up to a thousand posts in a two year period and makes this site so valuable.
 
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