I’ve found a new way to annoy the world:  hyper-miling in the Lexus es300h.

The hybrid encourages a whole new attitude toward driving.  I have gone from “that jerk in the Porsche passing everything in sight” to “that damned old geezer in the Lexus holding up traffic.”

It’s fun getting to know what uses up the fuel.  I have gotten good at making the round trip to Rosebridge at a fuel burn rate of 5.1 L/100 km.  That’s with the windows and sunroof open, and the a.c. shut off on the dash.

Today because it was raining I needed the fan for ventilation, but I didn’t want to run the a.c. because of the fuel penalty, so I went into the climate settings and shut the compressor off.  The computer showed 4.6 L/100 km.  That’s 61 miles per Imperial gallon on the return leg from Rosebridge.  Not bad for a 3800 pound car.  Almost up to diesel standards.

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This question turned up in my Quora feed, so I felt obliged to respond:

The Prius is a very recognizable automobile, but to the extent that the bulk of them end up as battered and grubby urban taxis, it’s hard to attribute the glamour to them that the term status symbol suggests. That is not to say that “Prius” does not have some important connotations. The car’s frugality and long life put it at one end of a choice-continuum which is balanced at the other by a short-life gas-hog like my Porsche Cayenne S.

Would a buyer gravitate logically from one to the other? Perhaps, if the buyer is of a certain elemental nature, determined to avoid the bewilderment of choices in the mushy middle.

If I’d had my druthers I would have bought a new Prius a couple of months ago to replace my Cayenne, but my less radical wife would have none of it. She did find a used Lexus hybrid acceptable, though, so that is what we bought.

But when I am alone in the car it’s a Prius to me, and like Walter Mitty I poke along down country lanes, happy in my own internal dialogue, eyeing the battery graphic and whispering “Pocketta-pocketta-pocketta.”

According to Google Earth it’s 40.2 km from our home to the parking lot of Rosebridge Manor where my mother is a resident.  For most of the route there is little traffic, though there are a number of small, restricted-speed hamlets and stop signs.

Tonight with the 2014 Lexus es300h I got 5.2 L/100 km on the drive.  That’s 4.1808 litres of regular fuel for the round trip, or $5.35 at the current price at the service station in Toledo of $1.279 per litre.

Fuel consumption rates vary from 5.1 to 5.4 for the trip.  This is with air conditioning and headlights off, seat cooler on, windows and sunroof open, fine weather on a summer evening, 80 to 85 km/hr, and using electric power while passing through the hamlets.

On the same route under the same conditions, my 2004 Porsche Cayenne S had a fuel consumption rate of 10.1 L/100 km on premium fuel.  The last time I filled this car the rate was $1.399 but that was a couple of months ago.

Marshall challenged me to repeat this test with the Lexus es300h “while driving it like a Porsche.”  I obliged on a 33C afternoon, glorying in the air conditioning, even leaving the car for fifteen minutes with the air conditioner (though not the engine) running.  I set the cruise control for 100 km/hr instead of 80 and passed on the two-lane roads whenever the opportunity arose.  Fuel consumption was 6.4 L/100 km.

Lexus es300h update

June 11, 2019

As I drive the car repeatedly over routine round trips, I am gradually forming some conclusions about its mileage performance.

1. Mileage is lousy when it is cold. Until it gets three miles from home, it uses from a bit over 9.0 L/100 km to as high as 12.0. A trip to Newboro to bail out the fishing boat, for example, starts at 9.1 and over the 14 mile round trip gradually reduces to an average while coming in the driveway of 5.8 L/100 km. That’s 48.7 Imperial miles per gallon, 41 U.S.

2. Starting while warm, the car maintained that same 5.8 L/100 km average throughout a trip to Kingston for shopping and back today, about 100 miles of heavily travelled two lane and a bit of four-lane highway and assorted city streets and parking lots.

3. From a cold start the trip to Rosebridge Manor in Easton’s Corners, a sixty-eight mile expedition over little-travelled roads and frequent hamlets with speed limits and stop signs, the average steadily decreases from a bit over 9 to a final average as I use battery power through Forfar, up Young’s Hill Road, and in our long driveway, of 5.1 L/100 km. Usually traffic allows me to poke along at 80 km/hr on this stretch, again with frequent coasts through villages on electric. That’s 55 miles per Imperial gallon, 46 U.S.

Driving to Mosport

May 31, 2019

Our son decided that today would be the day to take his parents for rides around the track at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park near Bowmanville. Members of the Porsche Club of Canada annually participate in a Drives for Smiles event where they invite the parents of children suffering from Down’s syndrome to the track for rides in racing cars, complete with pit crews and safety harness, but not helmets. This year PCC considered the seven-year history of the event, but ruled that there would be no passing, so the tours went in parade formation, but the cars still moved quickly around the tight track. Occasional family members and guests of the volunteer drivers did find their way into the cars along with the six hundred kids who attended.

I had only worked on Charlie’s BMW at the shop, and had never encountered it at speed. It’s the real deal on a track like Mosport. The engine is strong and the car is very light. It turns in eagerly, slides the tail out in a very controllable manner, and chases down much more powerful cars in tight corners.

Charlie responded to my comment about plotting a line through a corner before you can actually see it. “It’s more a trajectory you plan.”

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We had left the dog with a sitter in Westport and hit the road in the 2014 Lexus es300h.  Earlier in the week on a round trip to Westport the car’s computer recorded 4.8 L/100 km.  That’s 58 miles per Imperial gallon, but on a limited sample size.

Today’s run up the 401 for four hours at 120 km was likely to show much higher fuel consumption than the slow wander on County Road 42.  The readout hovered at 6.0, but slowly dropped to 5.9L/100 km for the duration of the trip. 5.9 is 48 miles per imperial gallon of regular gasoline.  I think it’s 39 miles per U.S. gal.  My new VW Beetle gave us excellent gas mileage in 1973.  It got up as high as 32 miles per gallon.

They’re not making cars the way they used to. This Lexus hybrid weighs twice what the Beetle weighed, offers climate control and luxurious seating for five, yet uses substantially less fuel than the ’70s mileage icon.

Yesterday I picked up a 2014 Lexus es300h in Hamilton and drove it 375 km home through holiday-weekend traffic.  Then my wife and I returned to Kingston this morning to collect my Porsche Cayenne from the train terminal.  The shock was in starting Ruby up.  My faithful companion for the last three years had suddenly become a creaky old car.

Driving the hybrid is an entirely different mechanical/gaming experience than I’ve had before. It’s quite interesting on several levels, and promotes a whole new set of bad behaviours. For example this morning I cruised up the hill through Morton at 100 km in a 60 zone so I didn’t have to get out of “eco” and re-accelerate. On the 401 yesterday I tended to hesitate a bit too long when overtaking to avoid getting out of cruise control for the same reason. The car has lots of zip in sport mode, but that lowers your score on the efficiency graph.  120 km/hr remained the optimal pace for travel on the busy road, but slower traffic brought its own rewards in a higher mileage score.

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