My recent test drive in Pacifica Hybrid
A few weeks ago I test drove a Pacifica Hybrid in Marion, Mass. I have a Prius V and I wanted to compare the behavior of the hybrid system. I also want to replace my '04 Sienna, which only has about 110,000 miles on it but it is definitely showing it's age due to New England winter salt use.
The car had about half charge, and I took it out on rt 195 to test highway performance (very nice) and to discharge the battery.
So at that point I was essentially driving a normal hybrid while driving back to the dealer. I never noticed if the engine shut down during this few miles of moderate speed driving, but being a Prius driver I assume it did shutdown occasionally.
When I got back to the dealer I parked the car and turned on the AC and headlights to put some electrical load on the system. To my surprise, the engine never turned off, it just sat there idling. I would have expected the engine would operate off idle for a few minutes to put some charge in the battery and then shut down for a while, discharging the battery, then repeating this pattern, the same way the Prius does. The miles remaining on battery remained at zero.
Is this normal? Does the engine have to run in order to operate the AC? If so, this will really hurt mileage. Maybe this is a software bug? I would not think it would be difficult to fix this.