Rented the HCH for a day. Result? Bit disappointed
I rented a HCH just to see what it was like for a day or two; I'll probably do the same thing for the Prius as well. (The car rental place had multiple 2nd-generation Priuses along with at least one HCH.) Here's my mini-review of the HCH after spending a bit over a day with it...
Mileage sucks. The way I drive, I mean. I drive the car like a car to enjoy driving with, and that means driving 80+ mph on the highway and never using cruise control. I found I got 22-23 mpg on the highway, which is terrible. My VW Jetta gets 26mpg at 90mph. The HCH's mileage didn't appear to vary between 80 and 90 mph, but it was consistently significantly lower than my Jetta's. Oh, these tests were conducted with A/C on since it was too hot not to have it on, and I tested a route with Econ mode off and the same route with it on, and there was no FE difference.
On my drive to work, which is mostly highway but a bit of "city" driving as well, I got a bit over 26mpg. Still bad. The Prius gets much better mileage, as far as I could tell from dealer test drives. I'll have to rent it to really evaluate it in comparison.
Performance is surprisingly adequate, in my opinion. The low-speed performance is excellent, but it takes a long time to accelerate at highway speeds (70+). On even gentle hills, I found I couldn't accelerate at all... though maybe that was only with Econ on, I forget. Still, it's nothing I couldn't get used to.
The steering is excellent at low speeds but uncomfortable at highway speeds. At low speeds, the minimum turning radius is really low compared to my other car, which helps not only when parking but just when turning from one street to another (rights and lefts). I found it made it much more pleasant. But at highway speeds I have to steer the wheel much further to turn than I'm used to on my responsive Jetta. It also seemed very slippery (something people complain about with the Jetta) but this may have been due to the tires. It did feel like I'd careen off the highway when turning on it.
The view is very good as well, and this is very important to me. The Prius has a highly restrictive view and even the 2006 HCH looks to as well, but the current HCH has a pretty wide-open front windshield and side windows that are easy to see out. When you look to the right side of the car, if nobody else is in it, you get a great view at whatever's on your right. It sounds odd but alot of cars (like my Jetta to a slight extent) don't quite give you as good a view, which matters when lane-changing. It could be due to the fact that the HCH is a very low car. Length is normal, but it's just very low.
As for electronics, they're pretty good as well. The speakers are obviously not very good but they're basically adequate. If I did buy the car, I would seek an after-market replacement. Everything else was very good. At first I disliked the FE indicator, but it's not hard to get used to, and everything is right in front of you on the dashboard; no center LCD screen to divert your attention to. And fan, A/C, and radio controls are all perfectly normal and analog, which is an advantage over the Prius. You shoudn't have to navigate menus and submenus to access basic commands.
In conclusion, the car is pointless considering its horrible FE in the driving conditions I enjoy. My own 115hp VW Jetta (EPA: 22/28) gets much better mileage. But since I seem to recall the 110hp Prius performing much better than either, I hope I can attribute this just to the HCH's weak 93hp engine. Maybe the 2006's 115hp engine won't struggle so much to keep up and will ease up on the gas consumption as a result.
Last edited by CGameProgrammer; 08-09-2005 at 05:55 PM.
Was this highway uphill the entire way or something? I've done the 80+ mph bit before, and pulled off 35 mpg (w/ AC off though). Though I guess I can see 90mph running that down more.
Based on your driving preferences, though, it looks like you're looking for a performance car, and fuel efficiency isn't exactly at the top of your priority list. If you're really looking for a hybrid, the Accord would probably fit on your game a little better.
The highway is level; in any case, I got identical FE both ways on the same route. Maybe A/C makes a big difference? I know the HCH uses a regular gas A/C instead of electric. I'll try again while roasting to death (I still have the car).
I need the car to be good at cruising at fairly high speeds, but raw acceleration is not very important. I did actually consider the Accord Hybrid, but I can't stand leather, it's expensive, and I do want better FE than 30mpg. Specifically, I'm shooting for something that gives me 40+ mpg, with a range ideally of 500+ miles. I would accept something like 35mpg if I still got the extended range.
FE isn't at the top of my list, but it is important. Well, range is really important since I hate refueling, but I'm big on efficiency as well. If a car can't get alot of mileage out of a gallon of gas, at least it should get alot of power out of it. That is what's appealing about the HAH: Good mileage (25+ or 30+ mpg IIRC, when driven by regular people) yet while being very quick and powerful. At 30mpg, a 17 gallon tank gives a range of 510 miles, so it would basically be acceptable to me.
Last edited by CGameProgrammer; 08-08-2005 at 01:29 PM.
Sorry to break it to you, but you'll be pretty hard pressed to pull 40+ mpg w/ any car in the market right now w/ the way you drive.
I wouldn't try roasting to death all that much. Yeah, AC does have a bad effect on mileage, but if you could only pull off 45+ mpg with the AC off, would you even consider the car anyway?
The FE drop I've noticed w/ AC is about 15% - that is, on trips of the same route in similar conditions, I get about 15% less mpg.
One thing I did forget to mention - my tires are at 38psi. You might want to try that, as there is a hell of an effect at higher speed doing that. Again, in my experience, 80mph should get you over 35mpg.
Based on what you want, have you looked into a Toyota Camry? My old '93 Camry got like 22mpg at 80mph, but it did have a huge gas tank (I want to say like 17gal?).
You might want to do more research on motorcycle MPG's.
A mid-size touring bike like that would be good for commutes is only around 45 but you fill up 5x more often.
Not a crotch rocket, or an undersize weeny bike, but one to suit the job of daily commuting.
But, with the way you drive I wouldn't recommend that either as the 45 would not be able to be reached and for your safety.
Efficient drivers do it better. 1003 miles a tank personal record. 74MPG calculated. HCH1 CVT
From what it sounds like Diesel is really the only type of car that fits your needs. Is there anything in particular about your jetta that you're getting rid of it? You might see about getting a diesel Jetta, or Golf.
I say Prius is the way to go, as long as you can get used to the differences, although I don't know about high speed fuel consumption (speed limits here are ~60mph) the aero drag is significantly less than the HCH so you'll be better off without that extra burden on the power plant. In the city you should get better mileage than with the Civic, so the overall mileage should be a bit better, even if the high speed driving doesn't get superb FE. The Prius takes some getting used to, but once you get comfortable with it, you'll really enjoy how well it works.
Excellent plan renting the vehicle you want to test. Nothing beats some private, extended road time.