Province Commuting Challenge: ‘Wack-y commute

Next time you’re cursing your daily commute, think of David Ford. It will probably make you feel better.

The Chilliwack man logs close to 200 kilometres a day between his home and his job at Coast Mountain Bus Company in Burnaby.

So, who better to test out the merits of a hyper-miler commuter car than this ultra-miler? And the timing of his participation in The Province Commuting Challenge, in which 10 readers are testing out the real-world virtues of the Toyota Prius c, couldn’t be better.

“Since my Nissan Versa has 350,000 kilometres on it, I am in the market for a new car and I have heavily researched traditional gas commuters, hybrids and a few all-electric vehicles,” the 32-year old says. “To be honest, I had written off the Prius because I expected that the mileage wouldn’t be much better than my Nissan Versa, since my commute is mostly highway kilometres.

He adds, “I assumed the Prius would be best for stop-and-go city driving to take advantage of the hybrid capabilities.”

Clearly, Ford knows a thing or two about hybrids — they are indeed more fuel efficient in city driving — so what about his initial impressions of the Prius c?

Like the others who have taken part in the challenge, Ford liked the quiet and smooth ride, though admitted it takes some getting used to when running in just EV mode.

“The car is silent when it is started in EV mode and when you pull up to a red light and the engine is off, that is a little strange. In a good way.”

With the bulk of his commute highway travel, Ford notes the get-up-and-go of the Prius c was a factor he was interested to experience.

“The acceleration was as I expected it to be, knowing that the Prius is a small car with a small engine,” he notes.

“It did not feel underpowered compared to other similar vehicles. I was confident accelerating to pass on the highway.”

But he did find some aspects not quite up to snuff.

“The seats were not as comfortable as my car,” Ford offers. “The stereo is weak and (unfortunately) comparable to my wife’s Toyota Sienna, but cannot compare to the stereo that came with my Nissan Versa (SL, CVT with a tech package).

“The trunk space was way smaller than my Versa. The rear window was smaller than expected and created more blind spots than I am used to.”

He was jazzed by the Prius c’s display though.

“All the information displayed on the computer — the fuel rating, cost per trip, fluctuating eco score, etc. — was really interesting. And I liked how the temperature could be changed from the steering wheel controls.”

Most of all, he was impressed with the Prius c’s fuel economy.

He logged 782.40 kilometres during his four-day commute and the fuel rating was 5.1L/100 km.

“The mileage on the highway was much better than I expected it to be.

I am currently averaging 8.3L/100 km in my Versa, but I am sure part of that is due to the high kilometres on my car.”

In the end, Ford enjoyed his week with the Prius c, but doesn’t feel it is the right car for him at the moment.

“Up until this year, I commuted from Chilliwack to the YVR area, averaging 250 kilometres per day,” he explains.  “I would drive most of the way off highway on rural roads, so if I still had that commute, I would strongly consider purchasing a Prius.

“I don’t feel that my current, mostly highway commute is taking advantage of the hybrid features. As of right now, I am considering purchasing a new Nissan Versa Note CVT — which is reported to get about. 5.9L/100 km on the highway — or an all-electric Nissan Leaf, if I can find a charging station near my work.”

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About Andrew McCredie