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Toyota Prius vs Jeep Patriot: the great MPG test by Claire Edwards and Jay Nagley

Introduction.

Eager owners sometimes present a Toyota Prius as David Attenborough on wheels - decent, environmentally aware and beyond criticism. And yet there are nagging doubts that the Toyota is not nearly as irreproachable as Britain's national treasure. You don't have to look very hard on the web to find American buyers questioning the official fuel consumption figures, while some Europeans question whether a simple diesel engine would not be equally economical.


So, we decided to conduct the ultimate test, pitting the Prius (easily the world's biggest-selling hybrid with just over 1 million sold to date) against the devil's own tool; an​
SUV. Our choice of SUV was simple. Jeep was recognised in 2007 for having the most improved fuel consumption across its model range, and has won a Green Award for the Patriot. The Patriot Diesel is one of the most economical 4x4's available on the market today (thanks to its VW engine) and boasts lower CO2 emissions than, say, a Renault Scenic 1.6.

The rules would be simple; both drivers were to drive the way they normally would, but in order to ensure that driving styles didn't interfere with the results, they would swap half way and all speed limits would be adhered to.


The test.

Despite being very different animals, the Patriot and the Prius are both acknowledged as family cars, so our route would take us on a typical family day out to the south coast. Starting from Tower Bridge in the centre of London, we set off at 10am to avoid the rush hour traffic heading out towards Brighton and our first waypoint.
The first impressions of the Patriot were not great - the first few seconds were spent scanning the truly nasty plastics of the interior. Once we had got used to the dashboard, we could not help noticing that it did not actually contain very much - even though we had the range-topping Limited model, there was no sat nav and only a basic radio and CD/MP3 player. However, once on the move, things rapidly improved, as it proved remarkably easy to pilot the Patriot around the city. Despite its size, it didn't feel awkward, and was comfortable inside.

The interior of the Prius was less offensive to the eye and came with more kit than the Patriot. The sat nav was easy to program, so it was decided that the Prius would lead the way. However, it took time to get used to the odd automatic gear lever, which sits on the dash next to the steering wheel. When we first tried to pull off at a set of lights the electronic parking brake wouldn't release and the gearbox refused to select 'drive'. It took quite a bit of persuasion before the electronic systems agreed to let us go on our way.
As we approached the motorway the two on-board computers were reading very different figures. The Prius was showing around 58mpg, whilst the Patriot showed just below 40mpg. The Prius is almost silent whilst driving in the city, but on the motorway you could hear the engine working quite hard - it is only a 1.5 litre unit and the batteries are no help at cruising speed. Nonetheless, by the time we reached the Brighton seafront the trip computer was claiming over 62mpg. In contrast, the Patriot's 2.4-litre diesel engine feels effortless at cruising speeds and the uncouth growl you get from it around town almost disappears. It also feels more spacious than the Prius, which would be a little cramped with the whole family aboard.
After stopping at Brighton, the rest of the journey took us along the coastal route for a few miles before we stopped again to swap drivers and headed back towards London. The entire route took us over 160 miles covering coastal, motorway and city roads.




The result.

Had we relied on the onboard computers, the Prius would have won by a landslide, as by the end of the trip they read 57mpg and 42mpg for the Prius and Jeep respectively.
However, to get the real figure, we calculated consumption based on how much fuel each car had used over the 160 miles. The result was astonishing: both cars had used nearly identical amounts of fuel. The Jeep had averaged 38.9 mpg - only 3.1 mpg less than its computer had recorded. However, the computer of the Prius appeared to be telling whoppers: it actually achieved just 39.9 mpg - a massive 17.1 mpg less than it had claimed.

Whereas, the first impressions of the Patriot had been overwhelmingly negative - it's an SUV with interior plastics apparently supplied by a Chinese Christmas ******* factory - it converted us by the end of the day. It had been a better experience for both driver (more pleasant to drive) and passenger (more space). Our test also raises the question over the economy of hybrids overall - a subject to which we will be returning. Certainly it might feel like you're contributing to a greener world, but most manufacturers are constantly improving their diesel cars to make them greener and more efficient. It seems that if economy is what you're after from a family car, there are better, and - let's face it - more stylish, options than a Prius.
 

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Most the prius's we have in the shop dont show much better than 42 to 43 on the screen.wonder what it actually is:p

i bought a new focus and when comparing what it says to what it gets ranges by 2mpg or less.(averages between 34 to 36)
 

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Nice. I've heard lots of stories that the Prius almost never gets the mileage claimed.

To be fair though, it supposedly gets better mileage around town than highway (since it's mostly battery power in town. I'd be curious to see that test in a more urban go the grocery store, wait in traffic, stop and go type setting. That said, I think the Prius will win, but I'd like to see how well the Patriot fairs in it. Probably well enough that I'd still prefer it hands down over the Prius.
 

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Is the Patriot diesel available here in the US? (This test was done in the UK)

If it is, I bet US emission regulations would hurt the economy.
 

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I wish the American public knew about Toyota's false claims!!! There selling so many of these damn cars there going to crush everyone else in sales this year!
 

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Price insurance for one of these battery equipped wonders. A friend of mine works with a guy that crashed one and the batteries were damaged in the crash, they had to call out a hazmat team to clean it up. I'm sure this cost will not be absorbed by the city or the insurance companies.
 

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As mentioned above, the Hybrid is meant for city driving where the advantage of the electric motor will become evident but just comparing the two fuel mileage figures in this article is deceptive. How much did the diesel actually cost versus the gasoline used in the hybrid? It's cheaper now to operate a gasoline powered vehicle anyhow.

Your bias really shows these days Chris... I would really like to see an article posted on this site that held up under scrutiny but I don't think the denizens of this Michigan auto worker dominated forum will ever pull off that feat.
 

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Is the Patriot diesel available here in the US? (This test was done in the UK)

If it is, I bet US emission regulations would hurt the economy.
These diesels are way clean... No worries there... The only place that diesel costs more then gas is here in the US...(might be the reason you dont see too many out yet)

Diesles are the car of the near future...
 

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Michael Ray said:
As mentioned above, the Hybrid is meant for city driving where the advantage of the electric motor will become evident but just comparing the two fuel mileage figures in this article is deceptive. How much did the diesel actually cost versus the gasoline used in the hybrid? It's cheaper now to operate a gasoline powered vehicle anyhow.

Your bias really shows these days Chris... I would really like to see an article posted on this site that held up under scrutiny but I don't think the denizens of this Michigan auto worker dominated forum will ever pull off that feat.
Hmm. Do they make that Prius (or parts of it) in Fayetteville, TN?

I, for one, liked the read. And it was unbiased, as it was the Brits doing the testing.
 

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Realistically a Hybrid doesn't make a lot of sense since you'll have a hard time recouping the difference in price between the conventional gasoline powered model anyhow. Why pay $10,000 or more than a Corolla or even a domestic vehicle that gets nearly 40mpg. How much gas can you buy for $10,000 + anyhow even at nearly $4/gallon? I'm environmentally conscious but not stupid. I base my buying decisions on my wallet as well as the desire to leave the best world that I can for my grandkids. Forget about miles per gallon for awhile and think in gallons per mile and the total price. Run that through your head while biking... 8)
 

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Hmm. Do they make that Prius (or parts of it) in Fayetteville, TN?

I, for one, liked the read. And it was unbiased, as it was the Brits doing the testing.
So Brits are naturally unbiased? Change is hard to do. It's amazing how many people are balking at a simple CFL. Anyhow, that article makes sense for a Brit because the price of diesel is cheaper there. They don't tax diesel as hard in most of Europe. We don't enjoy that luxury here.

No, no car parts are produced in Fayetteville, TN and I don't work here anyhow. I just live here. I would like to work here. It would definitely cut down on my commuting but the economy was mostly based on factory work that has about all went to some other country... There is a Toyota plant in Huntsville but swing shifts are not something that I desire.
 

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I love seein how them Toyota's need an extra lane to collect themselves after I buzz by em in my gas guzzlin Lincoln Blackwood at Warp Speed :smt097

*With the AC on and Rush Limbaugh Crankin the woofers :supz:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As mentioned above, the Hybrid is meant for city driving where the advantage of the electric motor will become evident but just comparing the two fuel mileage figures in this article is deceptive. How much did the diesel actually cost versus the gasoline used in the hybrid? It's cheaper now to operate a gasoline powered vehicle anyhow.

Your bias really shows these days Chris... I would really like to see an article posted on this site that held up under scrutiny but I don't think the denizens of this Michigan auto worker dominated forum will ever pull off that feat.

Michael.... let me ask you something.

Why would I not be biased? I should be ashamed that I am biased toward anything American? I am highly biased.... and proud of it.

And who said this test was not in the city? And why not ask all the questions instead of just a couple? there are a lot more points you should bring up if you are 'not' biased....

And I highly disagree that it is deceptive.... why the deception coming from a NON U.S. source? It's two people driving 2 cars with regular driving habits around regular streets....

Maybe, just maybe it is you who is biased Michael.
 

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Michael.... let me ask you something.

Why would I not be biased? I should be ashamed that I am biased toward anything American? I am highly biased.... and proud of it.

And who said this test was not in the city? And why not ask all the questions instead of just a couple? there are a lot more points you should bring up if you are 'not' biased....

And I highly disagree that it is deceptive.... why the deception coming from a NON U.S. source? It's two people driving 2 cars with regular driving habits around regular streets....

Maybe, just maybe it is you who is biased Michael.
You admit your bias. At least you admit it.

To a European audience, it's not deceptive. However, it doesn't apply domestically. That's your bias. Just post how much that trip would have cost at the average prices here in the US at this moment. That should settle our dispute and finalize your biased comments. 8)

I just sold one of my Camaro's. I've still got twice as many Chevys as Toyotas. I love both. No bias here. Look in the mirror.
 

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The only thing that might come into play would have been the route they picked... The route could have favored one car over the other...
 
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