Toyota Prius Car Review – MotorPoint
Good things: Superior gas mileage sturdy chassis lots of room well priced good visibility lots of standard equipment technological marvel.
Needs improvement: Poor shifter placement audio screen to difficult to reach air conditioning halves gas mileage cost of repairing technological marvel.
Last year this was The Car Family’s top vehicle. It held four adults had a usable trunk got terrific gas mileage and felt as solid as a Porsche. It was fun to drive and you felt good about yourself and the environment. It won us over immediately. We just finished retesting the Toyota and found some additional insights.
First the Prius is surprising fast costs AUD$40000 comes loaded with features such as remote entry power windows automatic transmission and touch screen controls. The fact that the Prius gets well over 50 mpg in mixed driving is an extra helping of nice on this car. We loved this Toyota totally until we started driving it in hot weather and found that the air conditioning and freeway speeds dropped the gas mileage to just a little over 28 mpg on the road. We double-checked and were surprised. In the morning we got nearly 100 mpg. On the return trip that afternoon in 100-degree heat we recorded 28 mpg with the air on full tilt. We repeated this test the next day with nearly identical results. Maybe this was an anomaly but you need to check it out although 28 mpg is very good for most vehicles.
To give you a little background the Toyota Prius is the world’s first mass-produced hybrid automobile as it combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and powerful electric motors. Both power sources are capable of propelling the car individually or together when extra power is needed such as when passing. Turn the key and car starts by itself. Next you grab the strange gearshift watch the indash monitor to make sure you place the transmission in drive and the electric motor takes over. If you are in a hurry the gas engine kicks in and the Prius lets you know that there is plenty of low speed power available. Within seconds you are up to speed. It is easy uneventful and pleasant.
The Prius uses its electric power whenever possible running on the 125-pound battery that rides low in the chassis until more power or recharging is needed. Than the 57 horsepower gas engine leaps to life. This is no slow car press the accelerator and both the electric and gas motors move you along quite nicely. You only notice a slight shake when the gas engine starts and the rest of the time the drive is smooth and comfortable.
Technology is everywhere in this car from the drive-by-wire accelerator to the five computers which handle the important tasks such as deciding when the car needs to be recharged when all the motors are needed and when to shut the engine off. Yes the Prius turns itself off when the car is stopped such as at traffic lights. At first this is disconcerting but a simple touch on the “gas” pedal and the Toyota immediately starts and off you go.
Mom’s view: I liked this car and found it an ideal commuter vehicle. It is fairly short and yet the interior is very roomy with lots of storage areas and a nice open feeling. Unfortunately the huge windshield and the Toyota’s meager sun visors didn’t make a good match driving into the sun. The back seat could hold two adults and the trunk was easy to use although I would have appreciated a little more room for longer items.
Someone at Toyota must be related to the designer of the Mazda Tribute and Ford Explorer because all three cars have shift levers that block access to portions of the heating and cooling controls as well as the stereo. In a car as sophisticated at the Prius this positioning defies logic. And while Toyota is fixing that error there is another glaring one to correct in the form of the LCD monitor; you can not read it while wearing polarized glasses or in the bright sun let in by the high windshield. Despite these mental lapses there was no getting around the fact that this was a very friendly car overall and one I would not mind owning.
Dad’s view: The continuously variable automatic transmission which means that there is essentially no shifting and the engine is kept operating at optimum conditions at all times was a marvel. Smooth quiet and yet responsive this transmission is going to be available in all cars before the decade is over because it gets the most from the engine and your fuel dollar. The Toyota’s gas engine is only 57 horsepower and designed to work with the help of the electric motors that offer another 40 horsepower and have the advantage of producing the same torque as a 3-litre V6. That’s right this car does not sit around at stoplights. When the gas and electric motors team up you keep up. However around 45 there is a let down making your zero to 60 times lapse into the 12-second zone. On the freeway you can keep up with all the legal traffic and only have to wait for the fast lane inhabitants to pull over for gas and you’re by them in a flash.
The brakes recharge the electric power pack which makes them a little grabby until you learn to modulate the pedal. This concept is called regenerative braking and works very well.
The engine also recharges the battery when it is running. You DO NOT repeat DO NOT have to plug this car into a charger. It is always ready to go. Of course if you decide to floor the Prius the battery pack will eventually drain. However the monitor will let you know that the gas engine is in charge literally. In order to accomplish this drainage you are going to have to be doing well in excess of the speed limit for an extended period of time and your gas mileage is going to be dismal. In other words you are defeating the purpose of the Prius and should look into buying an Echo or Celica. A feature that appealed to me greatly was the monitor that showed your current gas mileage and your fuel consumption rate for the last half hour. One morning I reached over 100 mpg for five minutes by just keeping up with traffic. For the entire half hour trip I average well over 70 mpg. The monitor also tells you what is powering your Prius the gas or electric motors.
The trim size of the Prius and high roof line make it a distinctive looking car but most people just thought is was ugly especially from the front. The steering wheel is adjustable the seats feel very good and only the lack of an armrest keeps it from being supremely comfortable to drive for long periods of time.
Female graduate student: This car is big on the inside and small on the outside. It is a very utilitarian design. I loved the idea of the Prius. Good gas mileage lots of room inside and the ability to be parked in the smallest of places appealed to me. What didn’t was the straight sides with their tempting “dent me” appearance and no protection. With a full tank of gas you can go well over 450 miles with the Prius. In fact you get so used to not checking the gas gauge in the centre cluster that it shocks you when the low fuel light comes on. The small turning radius of the Prius is great. You see a space any space and it is yours. A nice car and this Toyota is not just for the nerds. Green is the best colour.
Working college-going teenage male: You have to sneak up on this car it is so ugly. Once inside it looks a lot better. The CD and stereo worked very well the radio gets above average reception however the audio controls are very limited and the trunk isn’t big enough to haul much in the way of snow boards surf boards or even plain boards. It is spooky when the car shuts off at a light. Makes you worry that the truck sitting inches off your back bumper might try to push you out of the way if you have any trouble starting it. Don’t worry because one touch of the gas pedal and you are off and running. This is not my kind of car. I like the great gas mileage and I love the concept of conservation but I need a little bit of beauty and Toyota has hidden it all beneath the hood. Truth be told I’m waiting for the Matrix with the optional 180 horsepower engine all wheel drive and room for everything.
Family conference: A year after selecting this vehicle as the best in the nation we find the Prius still keeps us delighted with its useful nature solid character and stupendous gas mileage. We recommend it highly for commuters and those who love to share gas mileage figures at family gatherings.
Written by the Car Family
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