Consumer Reports has gotten itself a Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) for testing and review, and has offered a few first-blush observations.
The publication bought its own plug-in Prius for around $40,000 and said it was ripe for being made into a plug-in version, in fact, Consumer Reports had converted its own Prius in 2008.
Now with a factory example to evaluate, CR set into making comparisons to the Chevy Volt, observing the Toyota PHV only makes sense for people with extremely low mileage commutes – assuming they want to use electric-only power which is why they might have paid the $6,000 premium.
On a fully charged battery, the Volt can go anywhere from 25 miles on the low end to a little over 50, but Consumer Reports notes the PHV gets around 11 miles more or less, and depressing the pedal too hard will turn on the gasoline engine.
These observations essentially echo our own when we tested the PHV Prius, and said accelerating takes a gingerly touch that one can master in a day or two to stay out of the gas.
Consumer Reports also notes a driver can stay in the electric propulsion zone up to 60 mph “as long as we kept a light touch on the throttle pedal,” but added it would be perceived as a let-down to some consumers.
“We suspect some EV enthusiasts will be disappointed at the plug-in’s relative eagerness to turn its engine on, but Toyota’s conservative ways have resonated with many consumers in the past,” Consumer Reports wrote. “Clearly, the consumer will have an increasing number of choices as more electrified choices roll out.”
On the positive side, CR mentions this model has similar ride quality and comfort levels found in other Prius models. Further, the PHV does seat five, instead of four, CR notes, and it can qualify for solo HOV lane occupancy in California, and is eligible for tax credits.
The Volt seats four because of the large battery occupying space down the car’s spine, but CR notes the Volt qualifies for up to a $5,000 higher federal credit, and in California, is also eligible for solo HOV access.
But Consumer Reports’ jury is still out, and we expect the influential consumer information resource will have more to do in its extensive testing and analysis procedures before making outright conclusions.
So new is CR’s test unit that it states it hasn’t even developed a reliable pattern of charging to assess if Toyota’s claim of an hour and a half using a 240-volt supply and three hours on 110 volts for a charge up is accurate.
Consumer Reports’ ad-free format ostensibly is said to allows it objectivity when reviewing products and services, and it says it calls it like it sees it. Given CR’s guardian angel mantle, consumers often use CR reviews as definitive guides and resources for purchase decision-making duties.
Future updates may hold some frank commentary on the Prius plug-in hybrid. Or CR’s testing procedures might simply determine that Toyota’s PHV gets high ratings in its final review.