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Toyota Prius Test Drive - What Do You Think?

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,226
Have you taken a Prius for a test drive? This is the place to post your thoughts on your experience. Tell us what impressed you, or what left you wanting more.

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  • gmctruckgmctruck Posts: 186
    After reading all the ravings about the Prius, I had to drive one for myself. I made a quick call to our local Toyota dealer and 45 minutes later, we were test driving the Prius. I must say, it was a weird experience not feeling the engine running all the time. The demo Prius we drove was a 2004 model. I was surprised at how much room it had inside for both passenger seating and cargo room. The Prius had no problem cruising on the highway at 70+ mph. There were only two "negatives" I experienced which leads me to my questions.

    1) This car had trouble gaining any speed from a stopped position. It was fine after it picked up speed, but I would be afraid to pull out into busy traffic with it. Are they all this way, or could there have been something wrong with our demo model?

    2) I kept hearing a high pitched noise from the rear of the car. This would become very annoying on a long trip.

    In all fairness, this was an '04 model, but I would hate to order one only to find out these two problems exist on the newer ones as well. I would appreciate any feedback from current owners regarding these or any other issues with the Prius.

  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    The acceleration is very deceiving as there is NO shift shock. If you look at the speedometer you'd be surprised at how much it picks up speed. Since it was a demo did you check the state of charge of the battery? If it was low, you will not have full acceleration.

    Can't help you on the noise issue. Of all the 2nd gen Prius I've driven, I have never heard such a noise. My advice is to rent one for the weekend. A test drive for 10-15 minutes is not enough for any car.
  • gmctruckgmctruck Posts: 186
    I'm not sure how charged the batteries were. This thing made lots of noise on takeoff, but it just didn't move very well at first. I'll see if I can test drive one at another dealer and compare the two. There were so many indicators to look at, it was hard to check them all out and drive at the same time. I guess in time, one would become used to them. I did like the layout of the instrument cluster. It was strange not turning a key to "start" the car. I've never seen a car with a power button until now. The Prius is a neat little car. I'm not sure I want to buy one just yet, but I think Toyota is on the right path.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Check out the new Honda Civic hybrid. A real improvement over the recent model and it is a VERY handsome looking car. Much more conventional looking than the Prius. If fuel economy and basic transportation is your goal, have a look at the newly designed Toyota Echo. It's a very light car and bare basics but very reliable.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    If I may what type of vehicle do you normally drive? Is it a GMC truck?. If so you probably drive a V8 or at min a V6. 4c cars are MUCH noisier than V6's or V8's. The high pitched whine you heard was most likely the 1.5L engine. What is different is that the Prius uses the electric motor to give you instantaneous acceleration which is normally much quicker than other 4c or 6c cars.

    If you are used to the massive torque feeling of a big truck when you stomp on it to get into traffic the Prius will seem to lack.. but most 4c cars are also in this situation.

  • I would appreciate any feedback from current owners regarding these or any other issues with the Prius.

    The car is a great commuter car that can haul stuff. But it does have limitations. The noise, as you noticed, is pretty bad. On the highways, depending on the surface, it can be pretty intolerable. There is like no sound insulation on the car. It's also the only car I've owned where the acceleration totally varies. If the battery is green, it's actually pretty fast. Usually the battery is blue, which is 'mostly adequate'. If you go to a drive-thru on a hot day, and have the AC running, when you pull out the battery will be pink, and the car can barely get out of it's own way in this state. The lack of adjustable seats and a tilt steering wheel makes it somewhat hard to get uncomfortable.

    But if you want a basic commuter car, and don't mind paying a lot more than a comprable car, the Prius isn't bad.
  • gmctruckgmctruck Posts: 186
    I have a GMC truck, but my daily driver is a Pontiac Grand AM (V6) which will throw you back in the seat on takeoff. That being said however, the Prius didn't sound too good on initial takeoff. It just seemed to be having alot of trouble getting itself moving. Not a good feeling when pulling out into heavy traffic. The high pitch noise was coming from the rear of the car. I asked the salesman what the noise was, and he didn't know, but I think that car had a few problems since is was a demo car.
  • gmctruckgmctruck Posts: 186
    Thanks for your feedback. I like to hear reports from people who actually own and drive the cars! :D
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    You must have ultra sensative ears. I find the noise levels at highway speed quite comendable. Every car has sound insulation, including the Prius.
  • You must have ultra sensative ears. I find the noise levels at highway speed quite comendable.

    I think it was the car I came from. My old Jetta was tomb quiet on the highway. With the Prius, I can hear the road and wind. And if there is sound insulation, I don't think there's that much of it.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Well... I have to say. I've been in many, many cars. I've owned quite a bunch of fancy cars as well. I would say that the Prius is very quiet on the highway compared to my Audi allroad. Perhaps it's because the Prius I drove had the Goodyear Tripletred tires on them. If I can have a normal conversation with my passenger at 70 mph, that to me means there is not too much road noise intruding in the cabin. I would suggest you sell your car while the market is hot and buy a more sensible car for your tastes.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Preaching to the choir, but...
    OK, I'm looking at the Prius because:
    1. It's a very efficient design, body wise.
    2. It's an electronic car and I'm an electronic tech.
    3. I like the looks.
    4. I currently own an SUV (Pathfinder) and a sports car (RX-7) and am getting tired of subsidizing the oil companies. Don't get me wrong, they both get pretty good mileage for what they are, it just doesn't come close to "economy car" status.

    So on friday I took a Prius for a test drive. Salesman says "I'm pretty busy, here are the keys, here's how it works, have fun...see you in six months (wink)". Woh. Car sales have changed lately, or this is an exceptional dealer (latter I think - Toyota City in Wetaskiwin Alberta).

    I was surprised with the power (acceleration). The gadgets are cool (speedo etc). I've got to read the owners manual so I can understand what the car was doing. The only frustrating part was I couldn't tell when the engine was running! I saw 6.5 l/100 km (not really good mileage), but I suppose that will change once it's broken in, and I'm not testing acceleration all the time.

    This is a cool car! I'm now selling my RX-7 so I can justify buying another car! Any takers ;).
  • I rented 2005 for a week - and have driven about 3 of the 2006 vehicles.

    Power is similar to our Saturn LS1 (With 5 speed). The passenger room is spacious and comfortable.

    The hatchback is convenient. Remember that the 16 cu ft is measured from the cargo floor to the roof.

    Handling is a "soft" - not real crisp - creates a little uncertainity.

    1 week of driving the rental resulted in 47 mpg, mostly at highway / interstate speeds and A/C running (temps in the upper 80's - low 90's) Total mileage about 600 miles. It was interesting how much flucuation in MPG with A/C and winds as low as 12 mph.

    This spring drove a Prius that was considering purchasing - on I-70 in rain - wind, @ 75 mph felt twitchy. I decided to hold on purchase, in retrospect - I think the drive by wire steering gives different feel and car stable.

    A little concerned about battery disposal costs when car is older (usually drive vehicle to 200K) and reliability of switching gear after 4-6 years of use.

    Not purchased yet - considering currently with the $3,150 tax credit. Without credit, hard to justify the capital cost for the hybrid.
  • From 60 to 110 mph there is nothing like a Prius. People are amazed at the seamless, powerful, silent acceleration. The most quiet car I have ever owned (And I have owned some nice ones)I can only speak for my 05.
  • rcinmdrcinmd Posts: 139
    I am considering a Prius purchase, and tonight drove 'them' for the first time. Both were package 2, one Standard, the other Touring.

    The drives were brief, about 7 miles. I took the Standard out first, and drove a bit cautiously. I felt the ICE cut out a couple times, and overall felt good about the ride, noise levels, steering feel, etc. I was not autocrossing of course, but the car came across just fine.

    With the Touring, I immediately noticed 'feedback' through the steering wheel, not the sort I was looking for. While not feeling like an out-of-balance condition, there was a definite sensation through the wheel that was not present on the Standard model. I was thinking perhaps the lower profile tires and the shock / spring differences were the cause. In addition, the engine was quite a bit more audible than in the Standard. That one made no sense to me, since the drivetrain is identical in both. I sure doubt Toyota opted to give the Touring a "sporty" sound. The ride was a bit harsher, with a trace of jiggling. I did not mind that, since I enjoy driving. It's just that the Standard model was much smoother.

    For the brief identical drives, the Standard reported 44 mpg, while the Touring returned 40. I was probably driving the Touring a bit more briskly. The HID headlights were nice, but not as effective as those in my Mazda Tribute.

    Does anyone out there with more time behind the wheel of both think what I experienced in the Touring is normal? Or might there be an issue with that particular car? The dealer does not have any other Tourings for me to try.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    The touring gets slightly lower mileage than the standard model. Always has in other countries. The ride is firmer, and noise level should be slightly higher with lower profile tires (tire sidewall transmits more road noise).

    The plus you get with the touring is slightly better handling, particualrly in corners. You also have 16" tires, which should give more choises when tire replacement time comes around (15" tires are going out of favour, so aren't available in as many styles/sizes). Further, the OEM 16" tires are much better than the 15" Goodyear Integrities the standard model comes with.
  • dncbdncb Posts: 70
    My wife and I test drove a 2007 Prius yesterday and found a nice riding, nicely equipped (except for lack of quality sound system), reasonably quiet, reasonably comfortable (though not as much leg room as an HCH)extremely efficient car for everyday driving. One notable lack(and the only reason I found that I would not buy a Prius) for those who do their own home improvement and do not want to own two vehicles is the lack of towing ability of a small light utility trailer for hauling the long Home Depot items home like an HCH can do. (No one is talking about hauling heavy loads here, so please save the comments.) The techy info panel is great for most of the types who would be shooting for max mileage. One possible negative is that it is also used for the HVAC - requiring a button push just to get in the mode and more button pushing to change settings. I suppose most owners would get used to this and not find it a negative. An obvious advantage over the HCH is a split fold-down rear seat back -- something we are almost expecting as standard nowadays -- and where Honda puts the NiMH battery pack. If it weren't for the trailer hitch issue I'd trade my 23MPG V6 Sonata in a heartbeat.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    You can get a trailer hitch for the Prius, just not from Toyota. Be aware, the Prius can haul 14' lumber -inside- with the hatch closed. Check out
    for the receiver hitch.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    I bough it from and installed it myself.
    I use it mainly for a bike rack. Works fine.
  • Let it be said loud and clear...The Prius is favorably versatile and can carry a vast array of Home Depot goods to your domicile and lets not forget that there is a trailer hitch available that can handle minor loads easily. I speak with 57,000 miles plus and 3 1/2 yrs behind the wheel. I'm 62 yrs old and took the plunge way back when it may have seemed a bit of a risk. All is well with Prius owners and we continue to smile to and from gas stations. I especially like filling up next to Hummers w/ their 38 gal tanks that take nearly ten minutes to fill while I dump 8 plus gals in less than 1 minute. Seems that "smarts" is developing a new definition in this world of hybrids and gus-guzzlers.
  • maxtestmaxtest Posts: 1
    I recently rented a Prius for a day in Mesa, Arizona. Going uphill on I-17 at 75 mph the car was a little noisy as you would expect from a small car, but performance was good. Cruised through Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff, etc. before heading in a round about fashion to Phoenix where I finished the trip on city streets avoiding freeways. The computer showed mpg's all over the map. Mpg's, without trying to conserve, for the day was 47. I like the car. The controls on the steering wheel were very convenient and the touch screen was easy to get used to. Its really cool driving through the neighborhood on electric power only. I'm tall and found the car reasonably comfortable. Its a great little car. I just haven't decided to part with the money. It is a bit pricey. Gas will have to hit $10 per gallon before you will save the price difference. Still, I like the car for its styling, comfort, efficiency, and lower emissions.
  • I keep hearing "pricey" but the facts are that the car has great resale and with the extra extended warrantee on the hybrid system you really can't go wrong. About the ten buck gas... Say it gets over three bucks I think you'll see the interest in hybrids driven right back up again. I have a 3 1/2 yr old '04 Prius w/ 56 K miles and can't stop praising the car.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    I thought it was over $3 per US gal. in parts of California already. It's $0.99 Can. per litre here in Edmonton. That's the lowest in Can. I'm told (with "normal" discounts, I pay $0.97 per litre). Lets see (calculator comes out), that's very close to US $3 per US gal. I wouldn't be surprised to see US $3.50 per gal. this summer. Probably over $4.00 next year. I don't even want to talk about how much it is in Europe! You'd think it would be hard to keep Prius in stock, the way gas goes up in price. I guess people just have very poor memories.
  • Hi,
    In Western Los Angeles County it is $3.25/gal for 87 Oct regular. It has been well over $3.00 for over a month.
    NOW the driving season begins. It'll probably stay well over $3.00 in this area at least through Summer--maybe permanently.
    That's one reason we bought 2 of the Cars.
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    I have driven a 2007 Prius at a dealer in Peoria Ill.I found the car very impressive.Normal acceleration was comparable to my 2006.5 KIA Optima, and the comfort level was even better.I didnt know that battery level would affect the power,so I cant comment on that,but overall my impression of the 2007 model was very positive.
    Reading the comments on this thread however will make me think twice before buying one.
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    That is how you can tell what you really feel about this neat little car.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
  • I took the Prius for a test drive down a 30-40 MPH winding road, and found its handling predictable with no problems accelerating quickly from slow speeds.

    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.


  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    Thats some interesting stuff.I sure hope that some owners can clear that up.
  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    I know I'm responding to a post 10 days old, but . . . I respect those who purchase a hybrid. However, if you do the math, and compare overall cost of operation and ownership, including purchase price, over say - a 5 year period - there are other more cost-effective alternatives for a new car.

    For example, a Corolla, Yaris, Civic, or Fit will be cheaper to operate over that term than a Prius. I'm not sure what the median purchase price is for a Prius, but with the other alternatives, one is already starting with a $8 to $10K advantage over a Prius in purchase price. You'd have to buy a lot of gas to make up for that initial price differential. There's more than the price of gasoline when it comes to calculating total cost of operation of a vehicle.
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