drag racing hybrids

Times Online has some fun racing a Toyota Prius against a Honda Civic Hybrid on a drag strip. Electric motors have good low-end torque, so we should expect these two cars not to perform terribly, even though they are optimized for efficiency over performance.

Prius (left) vs. 450h (right)The Prius edged out the hybrid Civic in the quarter mile. Then for good measure they put the Prius up against a Lexus GS 450h hyrbid. The 450h is one of the faster production vehicles out there, with a 0-60mph time of 5.2 seconds, so this was hardly a fair fight but it was entertaining. See the article for details.

It would have been interesting to see how well a Honda Accord Hybrid would have done on the track. The hybird Accord was optimized for performance, not efficiency, and was discontinued when it didn’t sell well. It wouldn’t have beaten the 450h, but its 0-60mph time was a respectable 7.5 seconds.

In a separate article, Cars.com says that the 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid “is too quick. Yes, unnecessarily quick.” I wouldn’t say the hybrid Highlander was optimized for performance, but it retains a V6 engine. Ford chose to downsize to a four-cylinder engine for its similarly sized Escape hybrid. For this reason the hybrid Escape bests the hybrid Highlander in efficiency. The reviewer would have preferred that Toyota had made the same choice. I tend to agree.

update: In an older New Hampshire drag race, a hyrbrid 2008 Highlander and a conventional 2008 Highlander hastened to a draw.