TX_Traveler's 2010 Toyota Prius
Today as I logged my 10,000th mile in my Fuelly app after 9 weeks of Prius ownership, I thought to myself - "Self, that is an awful lot of miles. On track for over 50k per year in fact. I should be a long-term vehicle tester." Alas, because I never made it to Csaba Csere levels of fame in the world of automotive journalism, I started looking for volunteer opportunities. Unfortunately, it turns out manufactures don't just hand out cars to random guys looking to drive them. Never one to give up too easily, I eventually stumbled across these Edmunds reader reviews and figured, why not give it a go? So here I am.
A little about me
I'm a young professional in the Austin Texas area. A creative writer by education, a technical author in semiconductors by trade. Needless to say, writing manuals for consumption by electrical engineers doesn't afford a lot of creative opportunity. I figured this might be a reasonable outlet for such things. My wife and I recently purchased a house about 40 miles from work due to the ridiculous housing market in Austin proper. I am sure you all can do the math, but we drive about 100 miles per day after accounting for any superfluous gettings around. Our love for travel only adds to that. Always a bit of a performance nut, I never thought of myself as a Prius owner, however, it simply made financial sense for us.
A little about the car
We purchased the 2010 Prius with ~53,000 miles about 2 months ago, due to our new commute distance. We previously had a 2011 Nissan Juke that liked to average around 22 mpg. With a 9 gallon tank, and a penchant for premium fuel, we were paying a $25-30 fuel bill every other day at least. We went on the hunt for a hybrid or diesel. After plenty of looking around and researching, we finally settled on this one. Low miles for the year, all the options we wanted, and most importantly, the price was right.
The experience so far
Alright, on to the meat of this thing. The reason we're all here. The pièce de résistance.
Lets not kid ourselves. Nobody is buying a Prius because they [insert from list].
- Look cool
- Go fast
- Excite your inner child
- Get all the ladies
So lets talk about these numbers. Are they realistic? Yes and no. As with most EPA estimates, these numbers seem to be generated under the most ideal of ideal conditions. Your mileage may vary (no pun) depending upon your driving style and conditions. According to my Fuelly app, I have averaged 43.1 mpg with a best of 51 and a worst of 37.8.
All joking aside, the Prius really has reasonable acceleration and is quite comfortable at higher speeds. Here in Texas we have some highways with 85 mph speed limits, where it's not uncommon to see 90-95 mph. I can even confirm that there is in fact a 3rd digit on that digital speedometer. With 134 combined horsepower, the Prius is surprisingly happy cruising at these speeds. The 36 horses and instantaneous torque that comes from the electric motor really shows itself when taking out from a stop.
There are 3 selectable driving modes that the driver can choose from:
Eco/Power modes are both similar to one another in that they run on combined gas/electric power. However, the throttle response is much snappier in the Power mode. Eco mode feels like the throttle linkage is made of elastic (if this were a car from the days of yore when physical linkages were a thing). By this I mean that it seems to "absorb" the first few inches of pedal movement and hardly react at all, but once the "elastic" is stretched and you continue pushing, it will still give you full power eventually.
Amenities and fit/finish
I wanted to talk a bit about what it's like in the cabin, since that's where I spend most of my time. Surprisingly, for a 6 year old car, the technology has aged very well. It has all of the Bluetooth/iPod connectivity, navigation, satellite radio, etc. that one would expect from any modern car. It seems that the UI/UX aspect of the infotainment center was well thought out. Very intuitive for the most part. The one thing we have struggled with is getting it to switch between Bluetooth connections when there are multiple phones in the car. Probably a case of user-error, but it is not as intuitive as the rest of the system.
In terms of build quality and materials, I am so far impressed. Everything feels well put together. We drive a portion of gravel road to get to our home, and there are a few rattles, but nothing more than I would expect. It's nearly silent at highway speeds. No doubt at least partially a product of its very low coefficient of drag (the 5th lowest on the market at Cd 0.25).
Maintenance and expenses
Lastly, I felt I should include a section on cost. To date, I've not had any unexpected costs.
- 1 oil change: $48.65
- 254.5 gallons: $595.54