Dear Tom and Ray:
We recently bought a 2008 Prius and just love it, love it, love it. But we're having a bit of a discussion about how to use the "B" on the gearshift. I say it's like a downshift, and you should use it only temporarily, while going down a steep hill or coming to a stop. You use it to save the brakes, then return to "D." My husband thinks it's fine to drive most of the time in the "B" mode, since it regenerates electricity and recharges the battery. Who's correct? And if "B" is the gear to use all the time, why didn't Toyota just call it "D" and forget the separate braking option? -- Gayle
TOM: Gayle, you're 100 percent right, and your husband, unfortunately, has his head up his brake line.
RAY: When you shift into the "B" mode, you increase the drag created by the regenerative portion of the brakes. And while that extra friction does produce some electricity to help recharge the battery, the "B" mode's primary purpose is to simulate downshifting, or engine braking, when you're going down a long, steep hill.