Wondering what I discovered on my 2nd and 3rd dates with the 2015 Toyota Auris? I didn’t think so, but I’m going to tell you anyway, and I do have some good and “interesting” surprises.
One very cool thing I discovered when I got into the car and started fooling around was that there was an “EV Mode.” I asked the guy, what’s that do? I knew this wasn’t one of the plug-in hybrid models on the market, so I was intrigued what exactly driving in EV Mode would feel like, and what was going on under the hood. The guy was more mystified than me, and after kindly but unsuccessfully searching through the handbook for awhile, he just suggested that I look it up on the web when I got online.
Toyota Auris “EV Mode”
It has been surprisingly hard to figure out anything about EV Mode on the web, and Toyota doesn’t mention it on the Toyota Auris website I found, which makes me think Toyota isn’t too proud of it. And I’ve concluded that’s probably because it’s fake as hell — or maybe not fake, but as close to “not real” as it could get without being illegal.
The Auris does let you drive on the battery up to about 30 mph (50 km/h), which means no emissions and a silent drive, and regenerative braking recharges the battery. But you get kicked out of EV Mode before you even get started. Aside from the speed limit, the battery in the Auris is so small that you can only drive for ~1.25 miles (2 kilometers) in EV Mode. Accelerating quickly also kicks you out of EV Mode. Comparing the Auris to the many true electric vehicles I’ve driven (and before I read about EV Mode online), I couldn’t tell if I was actually driving on electricity for moments at a time or if it was a trick. For sure, there wasn’t the exhilaration of stepping on the pedal in a true electric vehicle, nor the clearly superior driving experience, since I kept getting kicked out of
the bed EV Mode. There’s also this statement on a Toyota Auris webpage, “Driving in EV Mode is not necessarily the best choice for fuel economy – the battery will deplete and will need to be recharge by the petrol engine.”
Needless to say, I was disappointed, and the cynic in me thinks it’s another attempt for Toyota to spread FUD about electric driving.
Improving My Fuel Efficiency
However, I did have some fun with the Auris. It kept teasing me along via a visualization on the dashboard that tells me how efficient my driving is. I noticed it fairly quickly, and it included an average fuel economy for my trip. It was addictive, and in a good way, because it really got me to drive more efficiently.
I kept aiming to keep the dial below my average fuel efficiency for the trip. However, as is extremely common on Polish roads, there were times when I was behind a slow vehicle and wanted to zip around it, or when some speedy neighbors on the road decided to fly around me, making me feel like a grandma and step on it myself. Accelerating in ECO Mode doesn’t work so well for such occasions, so I tried out Power (PWR) Mode a few times. It certainly had better acceleration, but man, that tore into my fuel economy and even jacked up my average quite fast. So, rather than compete with the wasteful punks on the highway, I was convinced to compete with myself, keep my speed down, and keep my fuel efficiency up. And it was fun.
Power Mode Sort of Sucks
Speaking of Power Mode, I wasn’t impressed with it. Sure, it was much better for passing someone or getting up a hill than ECO Mode, but it wasn’t superb and it was noisy as hell. Interestingly, Toyota writes, “Staying in the lower end of the PWR zone when accelerating produces less noise, but is a less efficient use of the powertrain.” In this case, I honestly don’t know if I care more about efficiency or comfort. It sounded like the Auris was going to bust a gut or something when I really stepped on it.
And I’ll admit it — I’m spoiled as hell from driving electric vehicles. Ugly, struggling, grunting noises that come from inadequate gasoline engines are just a huge turnoff now. And, as many others have commented, after driving electric for awhile, these noises are actually disconcerting — you think something is wrong with the car.
And the worst is when accelerating off the line. Man, that’ll make you miss an electric car as much as just about anything else. I’m sure test driving the P85D is part of the reason for my dissatisfaction with the Auris, but even the Nissan LEAF makes it seem like a broken lawnmower rather than a legitimate competitor.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the seat was very uncomfortable — my back was not enjoying the ride after an hour in my longest drive, and I had another 1.5 hours to go! I was so happy to get out of the car at the end of that!
Lastly, for now, the seat adjustment feature was really flimsy. I don’t recall such a flimsy one. And the materials were quite cheap. I think you can see where this relationship was headed…. Though, my final article is likely to have a few twists and turns to it.