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Driving in hilly areas


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25 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   GaryM

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 03:59 PM

Living in southern California, I have to drive over a lot of hills. I asked this in existing threads, but I have not gotten any answers to it.

 

Is there any good trick anyone has found to keep the C-Max from trying to charge the battery when climbing a long hill?

On many trip I have to go over 2 mountain passes with close to 1,000 feet of climb and then descend.I have tried getting to the hill with both high and low charge in the HV battery, but once on the climb, it seems to ALWAYS work the IC engine very hard and charge the battery when it should be using electric to help climb the hill and deplete the battery. I want to get to the top of the hill with the lowest possible battery, because I know I will be on the down hill for a while and every time now it tops up the battery at only half way down and I have to start using engine or friction braking to maintain legal speed. When I do not have traffic around me, I have been able to use a sort of pulse and glide to make it use ICE + EV to give me acceleration up the hill, but it still goes into charge, slowing the car during the uphill glide. I want free wheel glide and battery assist to climb the hill. It would be nice to have a button like the Chevy Volt to make it use battery power. Having it only use the throttle seems to work very well on ost flatter roads, but it really does not understand steeper hills very well at all. 

 

I am still on my 6th tank since I bought the car. I get well over 400 miles and the gauge is still between 1/8 and 1/4 when I fill up. Early in the tank the distance to empty added to my trip since fill adds up to just over 600 miles, but it falls to about 550 or so when I get to 1/4 tank remaining. The fuel consumed is low by 7%, meaning I am actually burning 7% more than the screen says, assuming the 2 gas stations I use are accurate, and since they both agreed, I tend to trust that more then the dash readout. My current trip is just over 46 mpg, factor in the 7% more fuel actually burned and I am at a real 43 mpg for over 250 miles of mixed highway / city driving. Not too bad, but I think I could do even better with a good hill technique.

 

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#2 OFFLINE   Bill-N

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 08:47 PM

... I want to get to the top of the hill with the lowest possible battery ...

 

The only thing I can think of is to force EV+, i.e. make the hilltop an EV+ location.  Search the forums if you need help with that.


Edited by Bill-N, 26 July 2013 - 03:33 PM.


#3 OFFLINE   grggwlkr

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 09:27 PM

At what speed are you driving?



#4 OFFLINE   viennacoup

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 10:13 PM

This sounds like a situation where the next software update would really help. It should allow EV mode at 70 mph uphill when the battery is fully charged.

#5 OFFLINE   SnowStorm

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 10:44 PM

I have had the exact same problem - a mountain crossing with 500 feet up then 1000 feet down.  I have used P&G on the way up and managed to hit the top with a low battery but it is very tedious and there can't be much traffic behind.  Speed limit is 65 but you have to use about 50 to 62 mph P&G to get the battery drained.  We really need the "EV Now" mode from the Energi.  Tell the car to use up the battery and then leave it drained until you switch back to normal.  Its about 3 miles up (5 miles down) so I don't see EV+ doing much good.  Anyway, if I get the battery drained, it will just about hold all the excess energy going down at 62-63 mph.  The higher EV speed that's coming will let me go full speed on the way down.  Long way of saying I don't have an answer.



#6 OFFLINE   fotomoto

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 10:52 PM

I It would be nice to have a button like the Chevy Volt to make it use battery power. 

 

Gary,

 

As a former Volt owner let me clear something up for you and possibly others reading this thread.  The Volt is always using battery power.  Its main drive motor is electric.  It has a special mode called mountain mode (the button you're referring to has other functions)  that calls upon the small gas engine generator to build a larger buffer in the battery of approx. 15 miles range as reserve "umph" (technical term) :)  for the EV motor to use along with the torque of the gas generator to climb very large grades like those in the Rockies like Independence Pass.  It's not needed for any of our mountains or grades here in Texas.  Mountain Mode would need to be selected about 20-25 miles out from the steep grade to give the generator time to build the buffer.  

 

HTH 



#7 OFFLINE   Jus-A-CMax

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 01:04 AM

Theres not been a whole bunch of uphill testing done here by anyone, at least as far as I have been on this site so we don't exactly know the most FE way to climb. I did ask initially when I started here back in Dec but the answers were non-existence or ignored so I had to learn this myself.

 

I have one way to climb and Gary has another way to climb but here are the truths...you will burn gas and the faster you go uphill, the more gas you burn. IMO, climbing hills and all and I climb some pretty nasty and long grades both here in SoCal (Los Angeles/Ventura County) and also the Sherwin Grade, north of Bishop on the 395 aka my Mammoth trips (285 miles, 800ft to 7,800ft elevation change and temps from 60F to 30F depending on year). From what I can tell and using the nasty Sherwin Grade, sticking to just 2 bar and on the right hand side of the road is the most FE way to climb steeps - so long as no one is sticking on your tail as your speed WILL drop to 50-55mph and in CA, 55 is the lower limits for trucks and towies. Sure you lose minutes but FE driving is always about time vs fuel so nothing new here. I stick to 2 bars cause it allows me to recharge going up for the descent and typically there is always flats on the top of the grade that I use EV to go over. I also remember also climbing Sherwin at the 65mph....crap did I burn a whole lot of gas and the Avg MPG plummeted 6-7, never again since I was pretty FE just getting there from Los Angeles (~260 mile point or 3/5 tank).

 

My 2c.


Edited by Jus-A-CMax, 22 July 2013 - 01:09 AM.


#8 OFFLINE   salsaguy

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 01:33 AM

Gary M, in regards to your 7% more burned question, the cmaxes dash screen mpg numbers are known to be at least 1-3 mpg overstated compared to the actual as calculated mpg once you fill up.



#9 OFFLINE   Jus-A-CMax

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:55 PM

I'd like to hear from others here to see how they tackle these mountains/hills - to see what can be improved....



#10 OFFLINE   HannahWCU

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 05:45 PM

My 2c is that hills are all different. Here in the Piedmont of NC there are no flat roads and almost all the hills are steep enough that my CMax almost never is charging when climbing a hill.

It would be hard to discuss a hard and fast rule to how to climb a hill, unless we are all climbing hills with the same incline. That said ...


What works for me is I actually try to accelerate up the hills to a speed at or alittle above 65mph (the speed limit). Just as I crest the hill I let off the throttle to start charging and loosing speed to get to below 62 and into EV. I then "feather" the throttle to keep my speed between 60-62mph until the bottom of the hill. Rinse, repeat.

#11 OFFLINE   chrisl

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:40 PM

I'm shopping for a new car and am looking pretty seriously at the C-Max (I've been looking at this forum on and off lately), and this thread seems like a good place to ask about one of my main concerns: how does it drive in the mountains (not just on big freeway passes, but also mountain roads, like in the San Gabriels) and how it does when loaded and going over major passes (e.g. the Grapevine).  I've pretty much narrowed it down to the C-Max vs. Subaru Impreza Sport - if the C-Max didn't exist it would be easy, but the C-Max is looking pretty good. 

 

I've been meaning to rent one for a few days (there's one available sometimes at a Hertz near me) but haven't had a chance yet when it's been available and I'd have time to check what I want with it. I'm especially curious how you other SoCal drivers like it in the mountains.  Even just to/from my house from anywhere involves ~500+ feet of elevation change and some twisty roads.


Edited by chrisl, 30 July 2013 - 01:42 PM.


#12 OFFLINE   mtb9153

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 02:04 PM

I have no problems with my SEL in mountains, it handles great.  My past cars have all been performance handling cars.  I used to autocross so I need something that matches my driving styles.  The car comes from the factory with gas pressurized shocks and a potent sway bar in the rear, almost a 1" diameter.   Equally in the front.  Plenty of power when climbing up steep grades.  I think you will be quite happy buying a CMax over a Subaru, plus you go farther on less gas.



#13 OFFLINE   Jus-A-CMax

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:36 AM

I'm shopping for a new car and am looking pretty seriously at the C-Max (I've been looking at this forum on and off lately), and this thread seems like a good place to ask about one of my main concerns: how does it drive in the mountains (not just on big freeway passes, but also mountain roads, like in the San Gabriels) and how it does when loaded and going over major passes (e.g. the Grapevine).  I've pretty much narrowed it down to the C-Max vs. Subaru Impreza Sport - if the C-Max didn't exist it would be easy, but the C-Max is looking pretty good. 

 

I've been meaning to rent one for a few days (there's one available sometimes at a Hertz near me) but haven't had a chance yet when it's been available and I'd have time to check what I want with it. I'm especially curious how you other SoCal drivers like it in the mountains.  Even just to/from my house from anywhere involves ~500+ feet of elevation change and some twisty roads.

 

Read up on my Mammoth thread - the links in my sig. Grades don't get any bigger than the Sherwin grade north of Bishop, with a car fully loaded to the hilt and a wifey (not saying anything there dear :finger: ) and I got more than a few stats. Read it and digest it.

 

I use to personally drive between LA County to Ventura County (San Fernando -> Simi -> Camarillo / Ventura), Also head down thru the canyon rds like Kannan, Malibu, Topanga to the PCH, climb all over the Malibu canyons there like Las Flores, Tuna Canyon...ssshh...I could go on.... (go search my "Nutz" thread for a sweaty amusing read).

 

Look, it will beat the pants off any Prii or any other hybrids right now ... :rating:

 

So yeah, the CMax can climb but don't expect to see miracle MPGs with mountain climbing, even Einstein could not fight physics :detective:


Edited by Jus-A-CMax, 31 July 2013 - 12:40 AM.


#14 OFFLINE   Jus-A-CMax

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:41 AM

...oh Subaru has AWD so if you also intend to AWD...CMax ain't it. Also, if it snows on the grapevine, I know the CMax handles really, really well in the snow for a FWD drive car. Snow cables will work as well, easy on but can be a pain in the butt to take off.


Edited by Jus-A-CMax, 31 July 2013 - 12:42 AM.


#15 OFFLINE   MtnMarty

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 01:22 AM

I'm in the mountains here in Western NC and my Cmax handles hills with ease. You wouldn't get the highest mpg with constant mtn driving, but it is plenty peppy when you need to climb. For example, I often enter the interstate going up hill and have to merge with traffic in a hurry...no problemo.  



#16 OFFLINE   chrisl

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 08:56 PM

Thanks for all the responses! (and the pointers to some entertaining threads)

 

I had been a little concerned after reading a review by someone who took one down from Mt. Baldy (not sure which route) and didn't like it.  But it sounds like it's pretty well behaved in the mountains. 

 

As far as other options-- I eliminated the Prius V pretty fast.  It has more cargo space, but less power, and felt like it was laboring to go over a little hill on the test drive with just me and the sales guy in it.  When I looked it up, it's about 2 seconds slower 0-60 than my old Saturn SW2 that I'm looking to replace.  I also ended up with a regular Prius last week as a rental for a work trip and really didn't like it.  Mostly what I'm looking for is small wagon with decent gas mileage and enough power to haul around full, and with bikes on top.  The points in favor of the C-max are that it's got great mileage and a lot of power, and it's US made.  The subaru has ok mileage and AWD (I'd take advantage of it, but it's not critical), it feels and handles just like the old SW2, and it's a bit less expensive (even pretty far out-- the insurance on the Cmax makes up for a lot of the fuel savings). 


Edited by chrisl, 31 July 2013 - 08:56 PM.


#17 OFFLINE   HannahWCU

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:02 PM

I second what MtnMarty said. Old Fort grade on I-40 west is a 6% grade for 6 miles and the CMax has NO problem with it. As others have said, your not going to get "great" mileage if you are constantly climbing hills, but I am pretty sure you will not be lacking power to climb them. Just keep in mind with a CVT transmission you WILL hear the gas motor on those hills.

#18 OFFLINE   chrisl

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 11:03 PM

"Great" mileage is a relative thing-- I doubt many cars are going to do much better on hills.  The old saturn does well because it's pretty light, but it's slowly disintegrating.  And I think everything I'm looking at now has a CVT.  It's nice to hear that it can handle long steep grades without having to bail out into the truck lane, and that it drives well in the mountain roads around SoCal.  And the trip from home down to the freeway would probably be almost free as long as the battery is charged starting from home. 



#19 OFFLINE   GaryM

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 11:13 AM

Since I started this thread, I have done a lot more driving in my C-Max over the passes here in So Cal. If I stay at the 2 bar point, it does charge, and depending on the grade, it will slow a bit. Obviously, if traffic warrants, I drive drive with the traffic, and doing that is not s bad as I would have expected. I was only 1/8 tank in, so the average was still changing fairly easy. Before I got to the pass, the tank average was at 45.8 mpg. It dropped to just about 40 mpg on the way up, staying close to 65 mph, going past 3 bars to do it. The battery was near full, running "High ICE" before I got to the climb. When I got to the peak in the pass (I-210 to I-14 for locals) the battery was down to about 2/3's and the tank average FE had dropped to 42.X, but now I had the big downhill run. I got to the right, slowed to 63 where mines drops into EV and let it coast, I had to ride the brake a few times to keep it slow enough to stay in EV. Before I reached the bottom, the battery was again already fully charged. It does seem to take a bit more past the top of the graph, about a mile worth of flat road at 40 mph. Just about the bottom of the hill is my exit. It is a 270 degree clover leaf, the C-Max handles it at 40 mph with no tire squeal, so I ride the brakes in regen to 40 and hit Eco Cruise. At the bottom of the hill, I was already back into the mid 44 MPG range, and now with a full battery. I have been able to drive in EV alone up to 5 miles from that point as it is nearly dead flat, 40 mph and even a little down grade, plus the over charge. When I finally had to fire up the ICE again, I glanced down and was at 46.3 mpg.

 

As long as you do not race the IC engine hard on the hill climb, and then have to ride friction brakes, it does not really seem to matter how we climb the hill. It only seems to matter how well we can use the potential energy back out coming down the hill to get the energy back out that we put in from the gasoline on the way up. 

 

That being said, I got  a bit hosed at the end of my last tank going to and from Acton out the I-14. It is just 15 miles, but climbing over 2000 feet on the way there, and my wife insisted the A/C stay running both ways. Again, I had the MPG average for the tank at nearly 47 brfore the climb, but the MPG fell under 42 on the way there, and this was down at only 1/4 tank left, so not much time left to recover it before I had to fill up. On the way back down, I topped the battery very early and the traffic mandated I stay in ICE mode. It was running at 55 mpg and more the whole way down, but it still only got the average MPG back to 45. That tank is my first and only Fuelly entry at 45.3 MPG. I sure hope this next tank is better, but my drive to/from work yesterday to start the tank did not do great. I am just under 45 right now.


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#20 OFFLINE   Jus-A-CMax

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 12:08 PM

GaryM, I don't know where you live but WELCOME to my world...I hit the 14 all the time to go to Mammoth or visit family friends in Acton and I use the 2 bar strategy to burn up is the most optimal (right side and don't PO the drivers). Luckily I was able to keep the AC off since we travel in winter. Now heading south on the 14 is a god-send...I pick up A TON of MPGs there but its payback thought for the gas I burn going north....

 

Nice to see someone doing a freeway familiar to moi and seeing similar things :)

 

Oh, I turn off eco-cruise as it tends to want to go more than 2 bars to keep up the speed. Like I always say, you sacrifice time for MPG, some people do not wish to do this, so I acknowledge that as well. Can't fight physics either...


Edited by Jus-A-CMax, 12 August 2013 - 12:08 PM.







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