I have been circling around the TCH for a couple of years now. Last year, I rented an '11 model over a weekend to see how I liked it. It was OK. This weekend, I'm renting a '12 TCH LE. I like it a lot. But this car would really be for my wife, who is presently driving a 2000 Volvo S70 with a "light" turbo. We've had the car since '01 and the odometer's now up to about 130,000 miles -- all but about 12,500 of 'em ours. My wife's been driving it for the past five years, ever since I got an '07 V6 RAV4. The Volvo's still running well but this seems like a good time to move into a new vehicle, especially a hybrid. I would like to get my wife (and me) a TCH in XLE trim.
Cost is not a problem for us. The problem is that my wife is a technophobe who has trouble operating our home-entertainment system remote. For starters with the TCH, she hates the fact that you start it by pushing a button instead of turning an ignition key. She didn't want to drive the one we rented last year. I was able to persuade her to drive this one last night on a short trip and she conceded that it drives like any other car. But she didn't want to take it out today. She's kind of intimidated by the unfamiliar technology.
I think she'd get used to it over time, but I worry about how she'd handle a situation such as the "fob" running out of juice. I looked at the owner's manual (online; the rental car doesn't have one) and learned that there's a way to start the car even when the fob's battery has died, but I'm concerned about that happening when she's "out there" on her own. Would she remember what to do? I don't know. I also read something about how when you're stopped in congested traffic for longer than usual you should turn off all "unnecessary" accessories like the radio and air conditioning, so as not to drain the 12-volt battery. I don't know if she'd remember to do that. And I'm not so sure about me either, plus it seems like a big nuisance.
The bottom line is that I'd really, really like to hear from those of you who've had experience with the TCH re. what problems, if any, you've had with its more advanced functions and whatever technical peculiarities you've encountered with Toyota's hybrid system (like drain on the 12-volt battery, and so on).
I've already button-holed a number of TCH owners around here and they've all said they're happy with their cars and have reported no serious problems with them. But I'd like to gather reviews from more owners.
The battery in the fob will warn owner for a few weeks before it dies. If you ignore it and she forgets that she'd need to hold the key to the button, have her call you on her cell and you can walk her through the process.
It's not a nuclear reactor, it's a car. As long as she can get used to pressing the button to start the car, and she put's the car in gear and presses the correct pedal, she should be okay.
It's as complex...or as simple, as you make it.
Under normal conditions you'll enjoy years of trouble free driving, just like you'd experience with a gas powered Camry.
Don't worry about it.
Ditto what haroldo said, and forget the concern about shutting down accessories when stopped. When the car is on, even when stopped at a light, or in park, but whenever you could put the car in drive and take off, then the 12V battery will be charged by the big drive battery, and if the big drive battery gets low, the engine will start itself up and start charging the big battery. The situation you describe is a complete non-issue.
If the fob battery is a concern, then just put it in your calendar to swap in a new battery every 3 years and you will have no further issues.
Go for it! She will love this car to death! The quietness and smoothness grows on you like you wouldn't believe. After owning the '07 since the first month it arrived in the US, I can tell you that the smoothness and quietness and perfection of the drivetrain is worth more to me than the fuel savings, which are also wonderful.
The biggest problem I have had is, making sure it is turned off when I park it, before going into the building. Everything else is basically the same issues that you see in any new car ... You have to change the clicker-battery sometimes, no matter what kind of car it is.
Who said you need to turn off all accessories when you're in heavy traffic or not moving? That is totally not true. As was pointed out above, the small 12v battery will be recharged by the larger car battery pack. It would make no sense to have to turn off your lights, radio or AC when stuck in heavy traffic. The only time the car will not recharge the battery via the gas engine is when you're in Neutral.
I just turned in the '12 TCH we rented for the weekend. We loved this car. My wife is now totally on board with it and we'll be buying one for sure within the next 6 months. I plan to wait until sometime this summer when, I hope, dealers will have more on their lots at the trim level we want (XLE with moonroof, leather package, convenience package (required with either moonroof or leather, or both; don't remember), and the least expensive required premium stereo/NAV option (EX).
As I said, we loved the car. With its smoothness and quiet, driving/riding in it is a Zen-like experience. Everything reviewers have said about its power is true; punch the accelerator and it goes! It feels almost as powerful as our '07 V6 RAV4, and that's saying a lot. We drove close to 243 miles over several days, some in town and a lot on freeways, and the freeways weren't always flat. We racked up most of the mileage Sunday, driving from Santa Cruz to the SF East Bay. Outbound, we drove Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains, climbing over a 1,800-foot summit and then followed Highway 280 (it runs along the San Andreas Fault) to the Bay Bridge. Highway 280 has a lot of long uphill grades. The needle on the gauge to the left of the speedometer was up in the power range a lot on this route. I kept the TCH in "eco mode" the whole way. When we reached our destination, the car reported 40-plus MPG for the trip! We took a different route going home, driving down the East Bay on Highway 880, which is flat, and then over the Highway 17 summit again. This time the car said we'd gotten better than 46 mpg! For the three days, the car reported, we'd averaged 41 mpg. We were in Eco mode the whole time.
These MPG figures are great, but I'm now wondering how accurate they are, because when I filled up the tank prior to returning the car, I computed average MPG at 37 -- figuring it by dividing miles traveled by gallons of gas consumed. That may be so last century, but it indicates to me that the TCH computer is over-reporting MPG by about 10%. Any comments on this?
We have the same differences between calculated mpg's on our '09 TCH but not more than two mpg. Did you fill the tank when you got the car? If not it was probably not filled completely before you got it.
Anyway the overall 37mpg on a mid sized car is really good in my book - plus the fact you traveled over hills especially in city driving will drag your mpg's down. Our little city is in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains so we have nothing but hills and we usually get around 30mpg, sometimes less in just city driving. But a trip to Oceanside will show 37mpg so no complaints here.
Our TCH is three years old and we will be looking at the new ones in two years. The TCH will be on our shopping list but will be seriously looking at the Ford Fusion Hybrid - according to Consumer Reports just as reliable as the TCH but starting in '13 much better mileage.
surprised no one mentioned that with fob battery FULLY DRAINED, or even fob damaged, engine will still start by holding Toyota logo on the fob against the start button.
but knowing my wife - I'd rather keep it simple and wife happy. What YOU like is irrelevant, and dealing with her phobias will cost you more in health, then pleasure from driving that car once in a while. Let it go. Or, get her a different type of hybrid, like Infinity M3 series Hybrid.