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Toyota Prius vs VW Golf TDI

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    Amazing how the Prius could be so gosh-darned unreliable yet be one of the top 5 most reliable cars as of spring 2009 per CR's surveys. Also the "most satisfying" car to own per those same surveys. Also the best for used-car reliability.

    I notice how you left out the 2009 MY. Was that because there were only 137 complaints that year? You also left out the first two years of the Gen 2 Prius history; each of those years had fewer than 500 complaints.

    Should we talk about all the Golfs and Rabbits recalled by the NHTSA over the past few years? Looks like it was pretty much ALL of them, from 1999-2008.

    Update: Interesting (and telling?) comment from one of the NHTSA complaints for the 2010 Prius: "I DIDN'T THINK TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS BEFORE I BEGAN HEARING THE NEWS."

    If I had a safety-related problem on one of my cars and was experiencing it "every day" as this person claims to have done, I wouldn't wait four months to take action about it.

    That said, Toyota blew it big-time by not applying the software fix to the cars already sold, as soon as it was available.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    I randomly picked 2003 Golf and came up with a total of 20 complaints. And you are comparing that to 969 on just the brakes of the 2010 Prius. I will be surprised if CR has the nerve to rate the new Prius even worth looking at. I also found recalls for all VW cars from 2001-2006 and it was for a total of 13k vehicles.

    You own a Rabbit and I am sure you have driven a Prius. How do they compare? If you could get 50 MPG with a Golf would you buy a Prius?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    If I had a safety-related problem on one of my cars and was experiencing it "every day" as this person claims to have done, I wouldn't wait four months to take action about it.

    Maybe he is like many Toyota owners, tired of the runaround and "that is the way it is supposed to work" line from the dealers. None of my issues would be considered safety except the tailgate not going up all the way in the cold and me hitting my head. The only dealer I found less responsive than Toyota was the Subaru dealer in Alaska. Best has been Chevy, Ford, VW, & Chrysler. No particular order. One worthless Chevy dealer who just happens to also be the Lexus dealer on the hot seat for those 4 people dying as a result of putting the wrong floor mat in their loaner car.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    You must not have found the recall on brake lights that affected over 1 million VWs, or the recall on headlights that affected 340,000 VWs... including the Golf/Rabbit and Jetta.

    Keep in mind almost all of the current complaints on the 2010 Prius are for a single design flaw, already fixed via software update. The job now is to get the update to the field.

    I don't own the Rabbit any more. Was not comfortable for my wife with a bad back to climb into and out of. Had to get a bigger car with 4 doors. Miss driving the Rabbit, but the sedan is more practical for the family.

    Find me a Golf that can get 50 mpg consistently in city/suburban driving and guarantee me an unlimited supply of non-gelling-in-winter diesel that is the same price as regular unleaded, in MN, and we'll talk about it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    Find me a Golf that can get 50 mpg consistently in city/suburban driving and guarantee me an unlimited supply of non-gelling-in-winter diesel that is the same price as regular unleaded, in MN, and we'll talk about it.

    That is about as likely to happen as you finding a Prius that handles & brakes good on all road conditions in MN. I see many reports of low 30 MPG with Prius in the winter.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    So, you've driven the 2010 Prius with the braking s/w update applied? How did it do in the ice and snow around San Diego?

    Cold affects fuel economy of all cars, not just the Prius. But here's what Road & Track found when they compared the 2010 Prius and Golf TDI (against a Ford Fiesta!) in real-world conditions in and around L.A. (numbers are mpg of course):

    Easy Suburban driving: Prius 57.5, TDI 41.1, Fiesta 38.1
    Suburban Sprawl: Prius 66.7, Fiesta 43.8, TDI 39.0
    Mixed Suburban: Prius 62.3, TDI 43.1, Fiesta 42.1
    Canyon Carving: Prius 40.8, Fiesta 34.4, TDI 30.9
    "Free" Ways: Prius 53.8, TDI 45.0, Fiesta 41.5
    Dreaded Commute: Prius 57.8, TDI 47.4, Fiesta 42.8
    "LA4" (old EPA city cycle): Prius 50.5, Fiesta 32.2, TDI 31.6
    Freeway cruise, AC off: Prius 57.3, TDI 53.5, Fiesta 46.8
    Freeway cruise, AC on: Prius 55.8, TDI 49.2, Fiesta 44.4

    Overall: Prius 54.5, TDI 42.7, Fiesta 40.8

    Two conclusions:

    1) If I am looking for max fuel economy, with room for two adults in back, the Prius is the clear winner.
    2) If I am looking for a small hatchback that is fun to drive, sips fuel, and is economical, including up-front cost... the Fiesta looks like it will be a great choice.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    So, you've driven the 2010 Prius with the braking s/w update applied?

    Not even on my radar. I rode a lot with a preacher friend I recommended getting a Prius. It was a 2009 and rough riding noisy and just nothing I could consider. The only reason I would buy the Golf TDI is for running errands and back country drives. I sat in a GTI and liked the seats. I hate our Lexus LS400 as it is a big strain on my back getting out. I like a vehicle with some ground clearance and easy entry and exit. Cars generally are not comfortable to me.

    By the way I doubt any of the Prius with the updates have been sold. It was not added in the factory until late January. If Toyota is telling the truth. I see reports on the 2010 Prius brakes as early as July 2nd 09. 300,000 vehicles and 7 months to figure it out.
  • The NHTSA publishes an annual "Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information Booklet" with the latest being 2009. It reports the relative insurance costs and finds:

    103 - Prius Hybrid
    110 - Jetta

    Looks like the Jetta costs more to insure.

    The EPA maintains a fuel efficiency web site that individual users can record their mileage and we find:

    40.1 MPG (27 vehicles) - 2009 Jetta TDI diesel, automatic, compact car
    46.5 MPG (115 vehicles) - 2008 Toyota Prius, automatic, midsize car
    49.0 MPG (70 vehicles) - 2010 Toyota Prius, automatic, midsize car

    So the Prius remains the most affordable to drive, especially in urban areas with more interior space than the Jetta TDI compact car. Note, these are user mileage reports, not the formal EPA testing. So far, the 2010 Prius is the most fuel efficient.

    About the brake pause, I was able to capture one event last week after trying for nearly 6 weeks. It is rare, only 50% of Prius owners report experiencing it. In the 2010 owners, only 20% consider it severe. However, most agree that as rare as it is, many times it can not be replicated at will, stepping harder on the brake pedal stops the car RIGHT NOW!

    In the case I captured, it happened at a speed of less than 25 mph after a speed bump in light rain. The pause was 700-800 milliseconds and other than feeling like the typical "slip n slide" we have with Huntsville streets when it rains, it was unremarkable. This was the first and only experience I've had since May 2009 and like I said, it was unremarkable.

    I understand there may be other requirements for vehicle ownership not having to do with vehicle space, insurance and fuel costs. But I could not afford to drive a Jetta in the urban routes that my wife and I have to deal with. Nor could we tolerate the limited interior space. As for insurance costs, the Prius is more affordable as of 2009. We also like the quiet interior that is all but free of engine noise. But these may not be of any value to a Jetta owner and I am good with that.

    BTW, we analyzed the Prius fatal accident rate, 2001-07, and found it was less than half that of the USA fleet average. I have no idea where the Jetta stands but the 2010 Prius did receive very high marks in the European safety scores.

    Now I'm a Greenback dollar "green" guy so I really don't care about the California Air Resources Board ranking of the Jetta TDI vs Prius. However, the CARB data shows the Prius to be 2-5 times less polluting than the Jetta TDI. It doesn't matter in Alabama because we don't emissions test our vehicles.

    Bob Wilson
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    If your driving is mostly Urban the Prius is a good choice. I have recommended the car for that demographic. I would slit my wrists if I had to face an urban commute every day. It is bad enough the one or two times per week I leave the sanctity of my home to travel down into the suburbs. I really want more than either the Prius or Golf has to offer. The Golf would satisfy the fun factor for me. Not worth $25k just to sit in the garage for my pleasure. Your cost analysis did leave out purchase price. Not sure what that would be now. Before all the recalls last year, the average Prius on the lot in San Diego was just shy of $30k before tax and title.

    I found your "Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information Booklet" online and just checking. If you are concerned about insurance cost you would get a big SUV. If you will take a look my Sequoia gets a "31" compared to the Prius "103". Yes it is cheaper to get complete coverage on a $51k Sequoia than a $30k Prius. And the Rabbit which is the Golf, that this thread is comparing gets a "106". I was shocked when my 05 Passat Wagon "87" insurance was higher than my 05 GMC Sierra PU. Then my 07 Sequoia came in even less than the PU truck. Telling me I am driving one of the safest vehicles on the road. It uses a bit more gas, but the safety is worth it.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/Vehicle%20Safety/Articles/Associated%- - 20Files/2009_Insurance_Costs_Comparison.pdf

    Speaking of fuel costs. We took a 5700 mile trip in the Sequoia last fall. From SD to South Dakota over to Minnesota down to Indiana back to New Mexico and home. Total fuel cost $759.06. Try getting a plane ticket to all those places for two people that cheap. We had plenty of room for all our stuff. The safest vehicle on the road and no fatigue from being stuck in a little econobox all day long. Cost of fuel is way down my list of importance.
  • Hi,

    You mentioned:

    "Speaking of fuel costs. We took a 5700 mile trip in the Sequoia last fall. From SD to South Dakota over to Minnesota down to Indiana back to New Mexico and home. Total fuel cost $759.06. Try getting a plane ticket to all those places for two people that cheap. We had plenty of room for all our stuff. The safest vehicle on the road and no fatigue from being stuck in a little econobox all day long. Cost of fuel is way down my list of importance."

    I'm a great believer in getting the right tool for the right job. Sometimes that is a honkin' big SUV or even an RV. Other times, it is fuel efficient urban vehicle. Some road warriors may be better served by something else. It really comes down to a question of individual requirements.

    GOOD LUCK!
    Bob Wilson
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    Intellichoice 5 year ownership cost 2010 Prius compared to 2009 Jetta TDI Sedan DSG

    Prius $25,393 Jetta $25,396

    2010 Golf and 2010 Jetta do not list ownership cost yet on Intellichoice.

    Jetta is $3 more.

    Factor in the $1300 Tax Credit and the Jetta has lower cost.

    Factor in the fact that VW TDI's have a real world higher retained value and VW TDI is lower cost of ownership.

    Factor in the free 3 years maintenance and VW TDI is lower cost.

    I, like Edmunds, Autoweek, Automobile Magazine, Car and Driver and Motorweek prefer the superior handling and superior interior of the VW Jetta to the Prius.

    Golf TDI interior and handling are even better than the Jetta, so it is reasonable to expect it to be reviewed as well as or better than the Jetta TDI.

    For those enthusiasts among us that prefer to shift their own gears, TDI is offered with 6 speed manual transmission or 6 speed dual clutch auto/manual DSG transmission. Prius is not an option for manual transmission.

    Prius is the best appliance for highest mpg.

    Golf TDI is the best choice for smiles per mpg.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    Toyota is a standout in unreliability so much that even State Farm warned of Toyota problems. State Farm says it first warned safety agency about Toyota accelerators in 2007

    Perhaps insurance rates for Toyota's need to be drastically increased.

    Toyota Exec: It's OK, My Son Drives a Prius

    Prius owners everywhere can take comfort in the safety of their vehicles now that Lentz has disclosed they are safe enough for his family to drive.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    Between the two cars, yes. (Although saving gas can be smile-inducing!) But as R&T found, a less expensive choice like the Fiesta might fit the bill better than the Golf TDI, if TCO is a factor. Not much FE difference but a huge difference in up-front cost.
  • LOL!

    "Prius is the best appliance for highest mpg.

    Golf TDI is the best choice for smiles per mpg. "

    I tend to smile at the gas pump ... a lot.

    Bob Wilson
  • eliaselias Posts: 1,837
    gagrice, did you also consider the total cost of running the vehicle for 5700 miles - which was probably $3000 at a minimum. That's getting closer to the price for a couple of plane tickets, eh!?
    (Even when air travel is less expensive, I prefer to drive, if I have the right TDI vehicle and the time, and a road to travel.)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    If you are looking at Total Cost of Ownership that might be a low figure at 52 cents per mile. However most of those costs are there whether I leave it at home or drive it. I would have preferred a smaller SUV if it gets exceptional mileage. The Audi A4 comes with the 2.0L TDI in the rest of the World. In the Allroad version I would have pared down my stuff to fit. I am thinking no one will ever offer a great mileage CUV or SUV I like. Same goes for a small PU with diesel.
  • gogogodzillagogogodzilla MarylandPosts: 698
    And that's the key difference in the demographics.

    VW owners tend to smile during the drive, due to the fun.

    Prius owners tend to smile when not driving, because of a cost analysis.

    To each his own. But neither side will convince the other of anything, because of philosphical differences in driving attitudes.
  • You mentioned:

    "VW owners tend to smile during the drive, due to the fun.

    Prius owners tend to smile when not driving, because of a cost analysis."

    It turns out that Prius owners tend to drive more miles ... they can afford it. When they get where they are going, a nice dinner instead of trading off between fuel to get back or food.

    Bob Wilson
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    You may really think you are doing well with a Prius. And some are. But there are a LOT of disgruntled 2010 Prius owners. Read the reviews here at Edmund's to see what owners think. Then read reviews on the Golf TDI. You won't find any unhappy Golf TDI owners with multiple trips to the dealer like you do for the Prius. Toyota has gone down hill the last few years and so far has not been able to get slowed down or stopped.

    Prius sample review:
    Bought the car less than 4 months ago. Happy with the gas mileage. Three times I had to jump stat the car. The fourth time, even after charging, the car would not start. I called the Toyota emergency service, was told there is no free towing service for the Prius. We had it towed to the dealer. They reset about 8 codes and said the car was fine. Two days later at noon, the car would not start and had to jump start and took it the dealer. They charged the battery and said it is fine. I think this model has some electrical problem. They should have tried a new battery, but did not do it. The display panel in the middle of the car is not ideal. To look at it, you have to take your eyes off the road.

    No free towing on a brand new car? That is crazy.

    Hopefully it is a short drive to dinner:
    Just can't get comfortable. Back and bottom hurt after two hours, not like my former ride, a Grand Caravan, which was comfy. Has few adjustments, and I can't find a combination of seat and steering wheel positions that works for me. I am 5' 1" and 125 pounds. The console thingy is annoying, maybe because I am so far forward but otherwise can't reach the gas. So this is why it has not been so fun to drive. Averaging 47 mpg.

    Typical Golf TDI review:
    This car is fun to drive! Its handling is outstanding. Parking is as easy as it gets. The steering feel is just right. A comfortable driving position is very easy to obtain. The interior is well designed and the fit and finish is first rate throughout. Gauges and controls are well placed and easy to use. There is ample room to hold your groceries, packages, etc in the rear under the hatchback. By the way, the DSG six-speed automatic is the best I've ever driven! Fuel mileage is awesome better than the government's estimates. What a great little commuter vehicle this is solid, comfortable, economical, quiet, safe and fun to drive! Oh, did I mention the $1,700 tax credit?

    I am sure the higher cost of a comparable Prius will more than negate the slightly better mileage.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    It turns out that Prius owners tend to drive more miles ... they can afford it. When they get where they are going, a nice dinner instead of trading off between fuel to get back or food.

    Bob Wilson


    Buyers of both vehicles can afford to drive any number of vehicles. There are too many choices in the $20K to $30K range to list.

    TDI and Prius buyers choose to buy a high mpg vehicle. Often for very different reasons.

    Any Prius buyer that has to choose between eating or paying for fuel has serious financial issues. They would be better off buying a used Golf or Corolla.
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