The price of fuel is on the lips of just about every driver in Canada these days, with a litre of the stuff dinging bank accounts harder than ever before.
In fact, its price will probably have risen again by the time you finish reading this sentence. It makes sense why people are re-examining their transportation priorities and looking for fuel efficient options. While electric vehicles (EVs) are a solid option for people in certain pockets of this country, Canada is a vast nation with massive distances between some of its major centres. In those situations, an EV might not yet be ready for primetime.
This helps explain the popularity of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) such as the Toyota Prius Prime. Toyota is arguably the granddaddy of the hybrid segment, having cut its teeth on the original Prius and steadily improving on the formula for nearly two decades. Its latest recipe involves a 8.8-kWh battery, good for up to 40 km of all-electric driving during which the fires of its 1.8L four-cylinder engine are never lit. This contributes to its sub-2.0 Le/100 km official rating in driving conditions during which the car can effectively use its all-electric gubbins. (That stands for litres equivalent, by the way – a calculation of electricity consumption relative to gasoline.) Even on the highway, where its battery propulsion is least called upon, the car is still rated at a wallet-friendly 4.4 L/100 km of fuel.
This year’s edition of the Toyota Canada Summer Road Trip Survey conducted by Ipsos has shown Canadians may be feeling a “return to normal” is on the horizon in terms of vacation activity. The poll found 91 per cent of Canadians surveyed are planning to get back to activities they had to set aside over the past couple of years. For some, their summer plans include taking road trips even though fuel costs are on the rise. In other words, sky-high gas prices are a consideration but not a total deterrent.
With that in mind, we deployed a 2022 Toyota Prius Prime for a 1,700-km journey from thumb-sucking Scarborough, Ont., to the shores of Nova Scotia. Bearing a base sticker price of $38,470 including freight, this liftback-style car is capable of swallowing as much cargo behind its rear seat as the Toyota C-HR crossover with which it shares a showroom. Some have described Prius’s styling as an acquired taste, much like fiddleheads or cod’s tongues, but at least the wind thinks it’s pretty; a coefficient of drag checking in at 0.24 makes it one of the slipperiest cars on the market.
This bore fruit at the pumps. The gasoline-powered engine in a Prius Prime is perfectly happy to run on 87-octane fuel, meaning one needn’t bend their MasterCard for premium go-juice. Checking our receipts after the journey revealed the purchase of just 70.15 L of fuel during the 1,690-km trek, which resulted in an average fuel economy of 4.1 L/100 km, according to the battered Casio calculator on my desk.
That’s actually about a third of a litre per 100 km better than the estimates provided by daddy government – a feat not normally achieved by your lead-footed author. It’s also worth noting this test car was shod with winter rubber, tires which have a much higher rolling resistance than eco-minded all-seasons.
And before you ask, we weren’t a rolling speed bump during our trip down east, instead choosing to set the adaptive cruise control to within a shout of the posted speed limits and making occasional stops for nutrition and sanity breaks. This publication has waxed about the interior of a Prius Prime on a couple of occasions since the car’s introduction about five years ago, so we won’t bore you by repeating those details. What your author will say is the Prius Prime’s front seat can recline to a near horizontal state, providing an excellent perch for catching forty winks in the shadow of gently idling 18-wheelers.
With an average fuel price of $1.75/L at the time of our journey, the total damage to this author’s wallet was just over $122, leading us to wonder what else could be purchased for roughly an equal sum (sans sales taxes, since they vary across our country) it cost to drive a Prius Prime from Ontario to Nova Scotia. Here’s what we found.
Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition – $129.99
Far and away the most popular iteration of this open-world driving series, the Premium Edition bundle of Forza Horizon 5 includes a couple of future expansion packs, a Car Pass with unique vehicles, and a VIP membership that brings even more exclusive content. The difference is these cars are all digital; none of them will actually get you from Toronto to Truro.
Car Jack and Stands – $119.99
Anyone who’s ever worked on a vehicle knows a jack and pair of stands are worth their weight in gold when trying to wrestle that starter out of your aged Crown Victoria for the third time that month (perhaps that’s an example strangely specific to your author). A total of $120 before tax will net you a two-ton capacity set, but it’s highly recommended to splash out an extra $30 for the three-ton units to be on the safe side.
Seven Plates of Ches’s Fish & Chips – $118.93
We’re being totally stereotypical with this entry on our list, but a ‘good feed’ from the legendary Ches’s restaurant is mandatory when visiting the capital city of your author’s Newfoundland home. The grand sum of $16.99 purchases two pieces of cod so fresh it probably slept in the bay last night, along with a mountain of fries. Toppings like gravy and breadcrumb dressing are favourites of the locals and, in fact, it is said a meal at Ches’s is the only known cure for vegetarianism. It also explains why my island home often has the highest per capita incidence of heart disease in Canada. At least we’re happy and well-fed.
Five Return Trips on the Union Pearson Express – $123.50
For anyone not #blessed living downtown Toronto, we will tell you the Union Express is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make the trek from downtown to the airport. The service is reliable, has Wi-Fi, and deposits travellers right at the doorstep of Canada’s busiest airport – all without fighting traffic or searching for expensive parking. The wait times at the airport itself are another story.
So that’s it – the list of the top items that can be had for the equivalent of what it costs to get across about a third of this great country of ours. Of course, none of it’s quite the same as the real thing, so get out there and smell that ocean air. And with a PHEV like the Prius Prime idling on battery power nearby, that’s about all you’ll smell. Well, that and the lovely scent of Ches’s wafting across the mouth of the St. Lawrence Gulf.