I have a confession to make. I own a car. And it’s not a hybrid. However, I also don’t drive it a lot. I live in Toronto and am able to walk or take the subway just about anywhere. But there is the odd occasion when I need to drive in the city. So when I was given the chance to test the new Prius, I jumped at the opportunity.
This isn’t the first Prius I’ve driven.
We got our first car, a used Prius, when we had our first child. When we had our second child, we switched to a station wagon because most of our car trips were for camping or traveling with enough stuff that required the back seat of the Prius to be folded down. I was sad to leave the hybrid. I liked the fuel efficiency and the statement it made (“look, I'm driving a Prius, I'm walking the talk!”).
How A Prius Helps Improve Your Driving
And after testing out the 2016 model this week, I realize that I've developed some bad habits in my non-hybrid. My car doesn't give me incentive to drive more efficiently – other than the price at fill-up, which isn't on my mind when I'm on the road.
The Prius gives much more instant incentive, and it's working better than I expected. Here's what I've learned from being (back) in a hybrid.
Driving aggressively costs more in gas (and wear-and-tear), and doesn't get you to your destination any faster.
Next time you're stuck in slow traffic on the highway, pay attention to how people are driving. Watch the car weaving to try to find the fastest lane, and see where they end up. I've done this, and maybe they're 4 cars ahead by the time they're done. And a lot more stressed out.
In the city, slow and steady wins the race.
City driving has lots of stop-starts. You might think that racing off a green light will help you get where you're going faster, but chances are it won't make a difference. With so many likely scenarios to get in your way – streetcars, traffic lights, double-parked cars, etc. – you're just as likely to get held up at the next stop. As a test this week, I made one trip in Eco mode using slow and steady acceleration and one in Normal without paying attention to efficiency. Not only was it actually a faster trip in Eco, but it was also more fuel efficient too.
You can't manage what you don't track.
Most cars now tell you your fuel efficiency as you're driving. But the end-of-trip grade and areas for improvement the Prius provides is much more effective (for me, anyways).
I am officially behind the times.
I had no idea that some cell phones could charge just by being in contact with a charging surface (they can, and you can do it in the Prius). I still know how to parallel park and check my blind spot (apparently, my kids won't have these skills – the Prius has so many sensors and alarms to help you drive straight and not back or drift into something, that I feel like self-driving cars really aren't that far off).
It's important to remember that no matter how efficient your vehicle is, driving it less is better.
So while I continue to walk my kids to school, take public transit to work, and walk to local shops when possible, when I do drive my car I hope to keep up with the good driving habits the Prius reminded me about.
And since the Prius has more space, maybe I'll give it a test drive when the lease on my current car is up.
Update: The 2017 Toyota Prius was named Canada's green car of the year. It's clear we're not the only fans of what this hybrid has to offer.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Toyota Canada. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. As you can tell, I've previously owned and loved a Prius!