Marathon Prius UK test drive – we’re back!

Well, the Prius is back safely, and Charlie, Alex and myself have all been fed and watered (if not quite properly rested). In the next few days I’ll be publishing the full statistics for all the drivers on our marathon trip, along with my reflections on what happened, what we learned and how much fun we had, but this trip was all about questions, and there’s an important one we need to answer.

Back at the beginning of June, D Simons – who’s owned two Prius since 2002 – asked whether the new car could really do 72 miles on a gallon of fuel. It’s a good question. According to the official (combined) figures, each gallon will take you 72.4 miles if you have 15″ wheels, or 70.6 miles if you have the 17″ wheels that are standard on the both the T4 and our T-Spirit.

80 mpg on the A1 (M)

There were many reasons for our trip, and many things we wanted to acheive, but like D Simons, I also wanted to know whether you could expect that level of economy in real-life driving on real roads. As it turned out, we also experienced a lot of real weather.

Of course, we wanted the car to do well so we drove it economically, but for a more realistic result we decided to include the figures from everyone that was taking a test drive – and that meant a lot of faster, shorter and more aggressive drives.

I’ve a mound of notes covering all the individual stints people spent behind the wheel, but to answer the big question; over 1,819.6 miles, 18 different drivers averaged an indicated 70.39mpg. Over the whole trip, we were only fractionally short of the 70.6mpg official figure, and we managed much better than that on several stints – our best, recorded from Epsom to Rochford in Essex, was 83.7mpg over a distance of 60.4 miles.

So, after many hundred miles of driving we think we can truthfully say that yes, the Prius is capable of that kind of economy in real life, but – as with any car – you do need to drive with economy in mind.

Use Eco mode and the car’s Eco meter – available in the upper dash zone and head-up display – and you’ll soon find yourself doing just that.

Comments (28)

  1. Re the mpg figures, I have to doubt the figures which are being stated as possible with the Prius. I drove the Prius MkII and was very disappointed with the consumption. Maybe the MkIII is better but these 70+ mpg figures are not realistic for most people.

    Sure, around town, and with very careful driving, the Prius is great but that’s not ‘real world’ for me. My driving involves quite a bit of Autobahn use, meaning speeds well in excess of UK limits. At those speeds, the Prius would be flat out and it is then less fuel efficient than many far more powerful cars, let alone a decent diesel. For evidence, see Top Gear’s test, where the Prius averaged 17mpg, against a 400PS BMW M3’s 19mpg!

  2. Got my Prius T-Spirit(17″wheels)in Sep.09 and have driven it hard for for ca. 4k.mi. Indicated 80-85mph cruising on m/ways, hard A-road driving (power mode driving only). Av. fc over this period(incl. recent winter weather) is 47.6mpg. This is substantially better than the ca. 40mpg fc my similarly driven 2008 Honda civic diesel(manual) managed over ca. 4k.mi. I like the CVT auto and the sophistication of the engineering. I would have liked ca.150bhp and a harmonically balanced engine for silky smoothness. The tinny door skin sound(knuckle test) attracts negative comments from professional colleagues(mostly engineers). Some rattles inside too.
    Good car but some aspects require further development.

  3. @JeffB – DAB doesn’t come as standard, but I believe it will be available later as an option.

  4. In answer to those who question the mpg figures, I attended the Longcross event on the 27th and drove my Mk2 Prius the 105 miles from Somerset along the A303 and M3. My overall figure for the entire trip was 65.0 mpg.

    I have managed to average 62-65 mpg during the summer and 55-59 during winter (based on 4 years ownership and 55,000 miles)

    Like Pete G, I’m not sure spending £1400 on a solar roof that only cools the interior seems a little expensive – the ability to trickle charge the battery would make it more worthwile.

    My local dealer has my deposit for the new model and I can’t wait to see what mileage I can get from it.

  5. @Pete G
    Try asking for the 15″, the dealer may have a T3 customer who wants the larger wheels & can do a deal with them. You probably won’t get anything off though.

    I’ve a Mini & drove 15/16/17 before going for the 15″ option. The steering was lighter with a more compliant & quieter ride and tram-lined far less than (especially) the 17″. In my opinion the 17″ give more grip (on smooth tarmac) but the day to day ride quality was superior with the 15″ tyres. Admittedly Mini insist the 16 & 17 wheels must have run-flat tyres that are especially unforgiving.

    And 4% on a tank is an extra 28 miles.

  6. @Andy – sorry for the long wait. Pack content confirmed as follows:
    Protection – (£340, T4 and T Spirit only) boot liner and rear parking sensors
    Style – (£350, T4 and T Spirit only) chrome surround on fog lamps, chrome side strips and chrome strip on rear tailgate
    @Tony – Yep, I was glad you loved the car when you actually got to see and drive it! Please do let us know when yours arrives. We’d love to see the pics and find out what it’s like to own the new car.

  7. Hi Simon – I’d already ordered mine before you so kindly came to visit Norwich. I’m Dingles order #1 – and now waiting patiently for delivery. I think we are doing a thingy with the local paper when it arrives if you are interested in the pics.

  8. Pete, the difference between the 15″ and 17″ wheels is less than 4%; driving styles, temperature etc easily outweigh that difference. The sunroof also makes a similar hit – which is why you cant have both the 17″ wheels and the sunroof together.

    Personally I like the 17″ wheels for the much smarter looks and inevitably better handling. I think the marketing department have got it spot on – they want to appeal to a wider demographic and sell more cars then before.

  9. Hi,

    I own a 06 Prius and am looking to buy a new one this year. How do I arrange an early test drive so I can order the model I would like immediately at launch?

  10. That’s great to hear Hamza. I had a good chat with Simon the Dingles sales director while Alex and you guys went on a test drive – he seemed like a good bloke, so I’m glad to hear he’s been a help.
    @Oli – also good news!
    @Norman – more news today about Toyota’s PHV programme – an extended trial in London with partner EDF energy. Click here to read more.

  11. Hi Pete,

    I completely agree with you. I havent ordered yet but would be going for T3 mainly due to better (if only slightly) fuel consumption & CO2 emissions compared to T4. I would have liked cruise control & leather in T4 along with 15″ wheels, but will settle for a T3.


  12. Thanks Simon re: the possible plug-in Prius.

    I look forward to the UK launch so I can swap it for my 3YO GS300.
    Regards, Norman

  13. Actually, that’s three orders from Norwich. I missed the visit from you guys, but thought I’d better take the plunge and order if I wanted to get one this side of Christmas. You two have obiously already got Dingles’ first allocation though – I gave them three colour options and it still doesn’t look like I’ll get one before September.

  14. My local dealer has kindly kept me informed over the last year regarding delivery dates and other information. When they told me the week before last they were taking orders, I was down there, first in the queue.

    I’ve ordered a T-Spirit with leather upholstery. I was slightly disheartened that the dealer didn’t have enough information about the protection and styling packs for me to decide if I wanted them, so I didn’t. I decided against the solar roof- paying a heap of money for a thing that adds weight to the car and only fans the interior when the car is parked seems the craziest gimmick.

    My biggest concern, though, is that the T-Spirit has as standard the larger wheels, which reduce its fuel consumption as mentioneed above. The marketing department have ousted the engineers; I really think Toyota have misunderstood the demographic of Prius buyers here, to the extent that I’m agonising over whether to tell the dealer I want a T3 instead, or at least negotiate with them to supply a T-Spirit with the smaller wheels. My salesman is on holiday this week. Before I talk to him, what do the bloggers think about the pros and cons of the two wheel sizes, and would Toyota consider making them available as a (negative cost) option on the T4 and T-Spirit?



  15. Hi Simon

    Yep so that’s two orders placed from Norwich already, and I’m just waiting to get back from holiday before I place mine. The drive was also a great chance to meet the sales manager who’s been helping me with choosing details and getting info ever since. I’m looking forward to the new features on the blog, keep the updates coming!

  16. HI,

    Can anyone please confirm what is in the Protection Pack and Styling Pack options please? I want the front parking sensors on my car but I dont want the corner protection which I think looks ugly.


  17. Matt

    Thanks a lot for the quick response. I am making a decision between new Prius or Lexus RX450h when my campany car due to renew in a few months time. I know the prices are quite different but I also noticed a lot of RX functions are available in the new Prius, like screen display. I like the car with power that was why I got a BMW rather than 2nd Gen Prius last year. I am really looking forward to try the new Prius. If I am happy with the power (136 hp sounds a lot) I will go for the new Prius rather than RX to save a lot of money.

  18. Hi, thanks for all your comments.

    @Andy – I normally drive faster than we did on motorways and A roads, but one thing I’ve realised is that there are many motorists out there who routinely drive at 60-65mph on motorways. We overtook plenty of people on our trip. I think that for these drivers our figures are realistic, but I accept your point. We were also overtaken many times!

    I found it much more relaxing to drive at that speed, but I did take your earlier comment on board. After we returned from touring the UK I went for a final drive where I cruised at 70 and floored the throttle in Power mode whenever I had to regain speed. Full details on this heavy-footed drive in an upcoming post, but I managed 56.7mpg over 100+ miles – and came back with a grin on my face 🙂

    @Norman – that’s the plug-in hybrid (PHV) that Toyota is currently trialling in limited numbers within Europe. I’m trying to find out more detail about the programme and plans for the technology, but there are no confirmed plans to put a PHV Prius on sale.

    @Jianglong Zhou – we were trying to see what MPG we could get out of the Prius in real conditions, but we discovered loads more about the car. It’s very aerodynamic, and that helps it remain very stable and quiet in crosswinds.

    @Hamza – great idea. We’re hoping to introduce some new features and I’d certainly love to know what people get with the car. One point I’d make about our figure is that our Prius was brand new. Several sources suggest that a car’s economy improves once it’s put a few thousand miles on the clock. We’re hoping to do some more testing once Toyota’s UK fleet has seen a bit more use.

    Out of interest, did your friend decide to place his order in the end?

  19. Hi

    I too had a follow up problem after making an initial application for the pre-launch event at Longcross. This has now been sorted with Matt`s help. He replied to all my emails within minutes. Excellent customer service.

  20. Hi, just to let everyone know – I am looking after the test drive events queires that come into this blog and I will be getting in touch with anyone who needs help on this matter.



  21. I received the literaature and invitation re Prius 3 and applied to visit youat Chertsey on Thursday 215 JUne but hazve not heard back from you

  22. Congrats on the road trip guys! Definitely keep trying cool ideas like that.

    Those are some pretty impressive MPG figures, especially given the weather conditions.

    Andy, the American Gen 3 owners seem very happy with their mpg numbers, and the UK Gen 2 Prius owners I’ve spoken to say they get 55mpg on a regular basis.

    So I think low 60mpg or at least high 50 with the new version isn’t unreasonable at all. I guess it depends on driving style but the inner city start-stop transmission is a huge help. Actually it’d be great to hear about your figures once you’ve had the car for a while. Maybe the blog can have a section for users to post their numbers?

  23. It seems all about mpg. I had some experience with 2nd Gen Prius of handling in windy whether, would you tell us a bit more on your experience in strong cross wind situation? Thanks

  24. I have read in the D Telegraph -20 June- that there is an alternative version of the Prius which has the facility to re-charge from the 240v mains, at least doubling the range on battery alone. Is this correct, and if so, when will this be available in UK?

  25. I dont wanna rain on your parade, but I dont think this is a “real world” consumption at all. Most people would drive at an indicated 75 to 80mph on a motorway, and I’m sure at that speed the fuel economy is heavier. No one I know could stand trundling along at a true 56mph amongst the lorries.

    Its strange to me that the new US EPA standard – which many consider to be far more real world than the EU standards; gives the new Gen 3 Prius a rating of 50 mpg. In UK gallons that works out at approx 60mpg (20% more). I’ve ordered a new Prius and I will be very happy if I average 60mpg. Maybe on an A or B road stuck behind a lorry I could hope to get 70mpg.

    The big clincher for me is the performance in town (I live in central London); the fact the car drives like a convential automatic and that the interior size (i.e rear legroom) is not too far off a Mondeo. If you look at the urban fuel economy of a diesal Mondeo auto the Prius should get close to double the economy (approx 30mpg v 60mpg). And of course, the heavier the traffic the more the advantage you get with the Prius – as no other car (that I can think of) yet has stop/start with an auto style gearbox.

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