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Toyota Prius Test Drive - What Do You Think?



  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    My Prius is the best car I've ever owned.
    I live in the mountains of Colorado and have two problems.

    1. It's not a 4WD so when heavy snow falls, I prefer to use my 4WD Subaru Outback if it's not being used by my wife. If she is using it, I use the Prius which has Blizak snow tires, and have never had a problem.

    2. On long, straight, steep mountain passes, like on I-70 to Denver, the battery boost runs out after 5 minutes or so. You are then running only on the ICE gasoline engine which is about half the total power so you can't accelerate past 75-80 or keep up with trucks going that fast. It is worst in very cold weather, with deep snow on the road, and strong head winds. That "perfect storm" has happened to me only once in 3 years. Otherwise the car is fine. A larger engine or "bigger" battery would solve that problem but be less efficient the rest of the time. A turbo booster would probably be the perfect solution.
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    Prius is a lot more than just a small car.It is very well equipped,comfortable and even has a certain status value which the ones mentioned do not.A comparably equipped Corolla for instance,would not be all that much cheaper.To get all the equipment standard on the Prius,you would need the very top of the line, and then you would not get the economy of a Prius.I have test driven a Civic and a Corolla, and neither ride as well as a Prius.For me,comfort does count.Someday,I hope to get one.
  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    I agree with you on some of your points, but I'm not interested in the "upscale" options of the aforementioned alternative vehicles, and "status value" means absolutely nothing to me. In the USA, I know I'm in the distinct minority with that position.

    Another cheaper alternative is a Camry LE. Certainly as comfortable, and 32 to 34MPG on the highway, and still cheaper if you watch the option list. The Prius is a great car, and a technological tour de force, but not something I would purchase. This is somewhat a paradox, as I'm an engineer, but one who believes in the K.I.S.S theory of design (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    Well...if creature comfort doesn't matter,then you are correct.One of the Rio,or such type would do the job.Price wise the Prius cant compete with a $13 K car.Since my car cost pretty much the same as a Prius,the price would be a wash.
    "32-34"MPG...thats quite adequate,but the city mileage IMO doesn't approach what's on the sticker.My car is rated 24 cty,but I've gotten as low as 12.2 ,so to me thats where you really save with a hybrid,more than on the highway.Consumer Reports rates virtually all the cars of the size of a Camry,at real world mileage ,city,at around 15 MPG.I'm speaking of the 4 cylinder models now,not the sixes.
    BTW we have several friends who have Prius,and in both cases put well 100K miles on them with no problems,so I think the technology is getting quite mature.
  • Since the discussion has gotten off track, I'll let you know that I like the idea of high mileage not just for a cost standpoint, but avoiding the inconvenience. And the rear seat leg room is much better than a Camry. I just want to be sure regarding highway acceleration (also mentioned in a post above) and battery turning off when wheels fail to maintain traction.

    But since you raised it, I'd love a car for 13K for my teenage son that has a good safety record and predictable handling. Your suggestions are....?
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    Hyundai Accent is under 11K at the base level.I would suggest a Hyundai Elantra though it costs a bit more.Its as roomy as my Optima and starts under 14K.There are many others that fit that price range,but the small cars are not as safe in case of accident,as the mid size such as Elantra.
    I hope the moderator doesn't yell at me about posting this on the Prius thread,but I'm just answering your question. :blush:
  • msindallasmsindallas Posts: 190
    I test drove the Prius twice - once in 2005 Aug, and again in 2007 March. Driving experiences are the same. In 2005, I rejected it outright because the dealer wanted a $6,000 mark up over MSRP (that's Toyota of Dallas) - trying to justify it with market conditions and tax breaks. I said "No thanks, I'll keep driving my Camry for a few more years" and left.

    In 2007, they are not asking for mark ups. However, there is more road noise and engine noise compared to my 10yo Camry (4cyl). I still get mileage over 33 driving between Dallas and Houston averaging 75mph and 27-28 in the city. Going to 40/45 won't save me much on gas. The Prius also feels flimsy - like the hood/dash/fender - everything is made of cheap plastic to make the vehicle lightweight.

    I remember - when I bought the Camry, the dealer asked me to lift the hood - "See, how heavy it is? This is how crumple zones work properly, and what saves you in a collision and gets the vehicle stability". The Prius dealer also told me to lift the hood - "See, how light it is? This is the new technology that helps with the great mileage". Now I don't know which is better, having a heavy hood or a light hood! :confuse:

    It's great technology, the dials and gadgets are fun to look at, but I could get into an accident trying to look at the shift of power between different sources and not focusing on the road. Headroom, legroom, hip room, shoulder room - every room is more than sufficient for me. The start button and the 3" shifter on dash are unique, too. The dash has a futuristic look to it, too. The big digit display deep in the dash (speedometer) could be a distraction, and I think the display size for the other meters should be comparable (they are much smaller) so you dont have to squint. The rearview camera is a nice feature while backing up.

    An aside (buying decisions are influenced by dealer reputation, too). A colleague of mine drove her Prius on a gravel road, and something went wrong with the suspension, within the warranty period. The dealer wouldn't recognize the problem, and she had a hard time with Toyota Customer Service to get the problem fixed. She will not recommend that dealership to anybody. Now we drive 12 more miles to the next dealership. :mad:

    I wish some of the more popular, resale-able and reliable cars (like Camry/Accord/Civic) offered the options of Xenon headlight and backup camera, features useful for driving, as opposed to sunroof, designer wheels and surround sound systems. If they did, I would not even consider the Prius.

    Bottom line - If I spend that much money on options for creature comforts like leather seats, sunroof, Xenon headlamps, and not save substantially on gas, the Lexus ES would be a better upgrade for myself. :shades:
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    I just test drove 3 cars (on a rainy day), and was not properly shown any of them, even with vehicles inside the showroom!

    I'll guess which one has a heavy or light hood. I know more than the salesmen anywho. You know me! ;)

  • pmanzapmanza Posts: 34
    Get a Hyundai Elantra if you want a new car for him. It has air bags all around and ABS brakes standard, as well as power windows and locks. The ad cars (around $11,500) are usually manual with no AC or radio, but there is a $2000 rebate right now, so you should be able to get a base GLS auto with pkg 3 (ac, radio, cruise, foglights) for around $14,000. We just bought one for my hubby to use as a commuter car and are very happy with it. If we could afford 2 car payments I would get one for my 16 yr old son also and dump the 14 mpg Explorer he is driving now, but gas is still cheaper than car payments plus higher insurance costs.

    On that note: before you buy, check out what your car ins is going to be for a 16 yr old boy that has to have collision and comprehensive on it. You may quickly decide that an older car that you can pay for in full and carry liability only on is the way to go.

    Good luck and best wishes
  • On Long Island, insurance for a 17 year-old boy driving 5000 miles per year, with $500 deductible through GEICO costs $3500 for a jalopy having little value and $5000 for a brand new Honda Civic LX.

    So the bulk of the costs are to cover the damage he could cause to other people and property.
  • pmanzapmanza Posts: 34
    YIKES!!! And I thought I had it bad here in Calif. I'm paying approx $1200/yr for liability only for my 16 yr old on a 95 Ford Explorer. They said it would be $3500/yr for full coverage ($500 ded) on a new Hyundai Elantra. But $5000!!!!!! Parents have to get a second job to pay for that.
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    I would have to get a bicycle if my insurance was anywhere near that high.I carry full coverage with a $1000 deductible on my KIA and just liability on my 97 Chrysler .Thats for 300K,100K liability coverage.My premium for both cars last year? Under $500.
  • I believe the Prius is as "popular, resale-able and reliable" any of the other cars you mentioned. Probably even more so than those others. According to Consumer Reports, the Prius has the highest customer satisfaction of ANY car on the road. Yes, even higher than all other Toyota AND Lexus vehicles. :)
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "However, I have heard of two issues that might dissuade me from purchasing this car, and I would like current Prius owners to comment on their own experiences.

    1. Slow acceleration from 40 MPH to 65 MPH, i.e., accelerating to "highway speed."

    2. Loss of traction in snow or gravel causes onboard computer to incorrectly think car is in idle and shut down electric power to steering wheel and brakes."

    Can't speak to number 1.

    Number 2 was a problem but was fixed in the 2007 model (as I recall - might have been the 2006). The problem was the traction control could not be disabled, and it was protecting the electric engine by shutting the car down instead of allowing a "rocking" technique.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    I have a 2004. 1. Acceleration is not just good but great at all speeds UNLESS the battery boost is depleted from 5-10 minutes of severe uphill driving like going over a mountain pass. It gets back to normal when you come down the other side and the battery has a chance to recharge.
    2. There was a software problem that sounds like what you describe. It got a lot of publicity, thanks to GM and Ford PR firms. The fix was already being implemented when the [non-permissible content removed] hit the fan. It never happened to me and my computer had been updated a few weeks before as part of a group of TSBs.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "There was a software problem that sounds like what you describe. It got a lot of publicity, thanks to GM and Ford PR firms. The fix was already being implemented when the [non-permissible content removed] hit the fan."

    I never saw it from a GM or Ford source. It was reported by someone on this site.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    The failure was never attributed to GM or Ford. It just got a lot of newspaper and TV coverage considering there were about a dozen reported incidents out of 200,000+ Prius' on the road at the time.
  • steve1csteve1c Posts: 3
    I've put about 60,000 miles on my 2004 Prius, and overall I like the way it accelerates and handles. Mostly desert and mountain pass driving, between Las Vegas and California. I get 45-50 mpg typically, depending on how much I have to run the lights and air conditioner or heater. About 50-50 city-hwy driving ratio. No problems maintaining 75 up & down the mountain grades or dealing with the crazy LA-Vegas friday afternoon free-for-all traffic on the I-15. :)

    My squawks :( some annoying torque steer when cornering with heavy acceleration; crosswind gust sensitivity (it's a light vehicle, so not unexpected); and a recent (bad) experience with the 12V aux battery (details of which I will post in one of the other forums).
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    Your original comment: "It got a lot of publicity, thanks to GM and Ford PR firms."

    Hence, my clarification on the source of my information (not from the press).
  • chiplchipl Posts: 3
    Not sure of the rules on replying to VERY old posts, but always been interested in the Prius. Now at a point in my car ownership I decided to take one for a spin. The short of it.... I loved it! (Want to add I I have read many posts in the forums here on the Prius and loved the guidance.)

    The ride was smooth to me on the short circuit in the Tysons Corner area of Virginia. Acceleration for the way I drive was up to par for my needs. More will be known when I rent one for the weekend perhaps.

    The things I liked about my short time with the 2011 Prius was of course the MPG, dooh! The ride was very comfortable, maybe more so than my Subaru 2003 Baja - which was always nice on long trips. But it seemed smoother and of course quieter. The front cabin was comfortable, rear seat area seems it would work for trips with friends. What won me over is the trunk space.

    Seems to be more than enough space for me and my better half for any road trips - without the need to fold down the rear seats. This has been a concern at times in my Baja and their Yaris in road trips. We never liked exposing our luggage. The benefit of the fold down seats will help in some cases with the potential loss of the bed of the Baja.

    I am torn though - even as I plan on a rental of the Prius - just wish there was a car. Another factor as I look towards buying a new car is one that I don't want it to look too dated 7 to 10 years out. Along with reliability, so far the Baja and Prius fit the build. The Corolla doesn't stand the test of time IMO - nor does it ride.

    In the end MPG may rule the heart over the mind...
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