In contemplating my Prius ownership so far I have to say that it is all positive points that immediately spring to mind. To see the bad points I really have to think hard and furrow my brow. The whole of my Prius ownership experience has been pleasant, has exceeded my expectations and has been stress free. Now, in reviewing a vehicle, it is only fair that the negative as well as the positive points are noted. This is what I will try to do. I will also try and group these points in a sensible way so all points are assimilated as easily as possible.
Note that this review is based on my second generation (2006) Toyota Prius T-Spirit, owning and driving it mostly in
the occasional foray o'er the border to Scotland . England
What I love about the Prius:
Running Costs & Efficieny
Fuel Efficiency - this is easily the most fuel efficient car I've had. The lowest I've ever achieved was 49.9mpg (with roof bars fitted) and the best was 60.1mpg (without roof bars). As you can see from my regular MPG Review posts, I'm currently achieving 50.5mpg. So, altogether, one can expect to achieve better than diesel economy with a cheaper unit fuel cost – (petrol/gasoline being typically £0.04 cheaper per litre than diesel.
Road Tax – in the
tax has to be paid every year if a car is driven on any public highway. There are different tax bands and costs. Typically, the more environmentally
unfriendly the car is then the more it costs.
A typical medium size family car will cost about £200 ($300) to tax
every year. I think my wife’s 1999 Volvo
S40 cost £225 last time round. Compare
and contrast this with the 2006 Prius at £10 ($15). Aha.
Yes. That’ll do nicely, thanks
very much. UK
Fuel and Energy System Feedback – the LCD system provides real-time feedback on where the energy is coming from and going to. On a Prius, petrol can be burned to power the internal combustion engine, of course. But kinetic energy can be converted back into electrical energy that is stored in the special battery located under the back seat. Electrical energy from this battery can then be used to power the electric motor which can either augment the petrol engine or propel the car solely by itself. The LCD display lets you see all this energy flow and enable sthe careful driver to adapt driving style to get the most economy out of the Prius. You may have heard about hypermiling – getting the most mpg out of a car as possible. The Prius display really facilitate this. You can judge the pressure on the accelerator/gas pedal just right so that you can coast along with neither power source engaged and use the Pulse and Glide method to maximise your mpg.
100% Reliability – In over a year of ownership my Toyota Prius has been 100% reliable. It has never skipped a beat.
JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Survey – one of my reasons for choosing a Prius was its continual appearance in the top 5 or so cars in the
Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Survey. The latest 2011 survey shows the Prius as the
5th best overall car in terms of the survey’s criteria. Most of the readers coming to this blog come
from the UK . The latest 2011
USA JD Power survey shows similar patterns in respect of the Prius (albeit
I think this relates to the third generation – but you get the picture). USA
Clear Instruments – the digital display of the speedometer and the layout of driver information is clear and well thought out. The display is not busy nor cluttered and I can reaily get the information I want. There’s even a small arrow on the fuel level read-out that reminds what side the fuel flap is. When you are as forgetful as I am every little detail like this helps.
Cruise Control – thank goodness for cruise control on these long trips. This version is easy to use and takes that bit more stress out of driving.
CVT – the transmission on the Prius isn’t manual or automatic like on most conventional cars. Instead, it has a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) system which doesn't lurch between gears when driving like an automatic or a manual. You get a very smooth ride and never worry about the gears. Easy peasy. Why don’t all cars have this?
Quietness – the Prius is a very quiet car to drive. This makes it more relaxing in my experience. Perhaps its due in part to the CVT system. Perhaps its because its a solidly built, well sound-proofed car, perhaps it because it can go all-electric at lower speeds. I don’t know. But, quiet it is, and I like it.
Fuel Cover – you open the fuel cover flap by pulling a lever in the cabin next to the driver. This makes it safe and secure. Once open, there is a well-designed holder for you to rest the fuel cap whilst refuelling. Maybe it’s silly, but I appreciate the design and thought of such a humble aspect.
Sat Nav Guidance – our T-Spirit comes equipped with satellite navigation. Once you have set your destination I do like the driving instructions I get from the device. The visual information is good and is better than other sat nav devices I have used, like on our Volvo XC90, for instance. The audio information is good too. However, setting the destination is not the easiest (see the negative aspects below)
Room - the cabin is very roomy, particularly for its class. I am a six-footer and have plenty of headroom in any seat. The driver's seat adjusts up and down too. However, it is the back seat I love; the amount of leg room is incredible - bigger than we had in our VW Passat 1.8T Estate - and that is saying something. If you have small children who love nothing more than to stick their little legs out and rest their feet (usually mucky) on the back of the seat in front then you will not be troubled as such in the Prius. They simply won't be able to reach. This extra leg room also means I can easily get in to fasten and adjust their seat belts. Family life made that little bit easier. Ah.
Sound System – on the T-Spirit model there is a JBL sound system. It produces a lovely deep, clear sound from all the speakers. Actually, as I write this, I realise I don’t even know how many speakers there are – a fair few all round the cabin anyway. I also like the fact that on the LCD display panel I can easily select to shove the sound output only to the rear speakers for the kids. In this way they can listen to Horrid Henry and Daddy becomes a happy man again.
Storage Space – there are plenty of cup holders and storage room around the cabin. Four people can safely put down their favourite hot beverage in a convenient cup holder – two in the rear, two in the front. There’s cubby holes all over and I find the deep space under the front central armrest the most useful. There’s even a little drawer under this at the front – something that some people only learn about after a few weeks of owning the car.
Specs Holder – I’ve blogged already about the specs holder, situated just above the rear mirror. It can easily hold two pairs (three at a push) and you always know where to find your specs or sunglasses – and they won’t be squashed.
Seat Belt Tensioners – if you have small kids that require car seats then you’ll appreciate the seat belts and the seat belt tensioners on the Prius. We used to have a lovely VW Passat Estate when we had our first child. However, although we loved the car, it soon had to go because the seat belt tensioner clutch always kicked in and made it so very difficult to get the seat belt around the child and car seat before clicking it into place.
Tonneau Cover – the tonneau cover that covers the rear luggage compartment has got to be the easiest one I have used on any car. Some can be so awkward and fiddly they end up never being used and items in the luggage compartment end up being on show to Uncle Fred, all his pals and anyone else that knows them. Don’t know about you, but I don’t like Uncle Fred to see all my stuff.
Storage Under the Main Luggage Compartment – I love this extra storage space. The floor of the main luggage compartment has piano hinges in two places that means it folds up easily and rests against two stops at the side. You can then put items in the space under the main luggage compartment. I carry all my shopping bags, bungee cords, kids drawing stuff, DVD players, ropes and tow rope and first aid box in this bit. There’s still more space for other items too. I like it because it keeps the main luggage area neat, free and tidy and stops all the items I mentioned above from sliding around whilst driving.
Voice Control – yes it does sound a bit futuristic, I know. Kind of reminds me of Client Eastwood in the Firefox. Although not used much, this feature has been handy when my two kids have been making loud, emphatic requests for audio entertainment that was deleterious to my driving concentration levels. In such cases, where I really did need hands on the wheel and eyes front, I can press the Voice Control button on the steering and the friendly (and calm) voice requests what command I need. In the absence of a “Silence Kids” command I request “Audio On” and the sound system engages. Calm is restored to the cabin. Daddy is again happy.
Top Safety Rating - The Prius makes me feel safe in its solid cabin, surrounded by copious air baggery. In the
find the Parkers website a very useful
source of car data and information. You
can see for yourself that the Prius
scores well and has a top Euro NCAP 5 star rating. With more safety-feature related acronyms than
you can shake an oily stick at, the Prius gives me the reassurance that my
family’s safety is being well catered for. UK
What I don’t like so much about the Prius:
Sat Nav Destination Setup – the Sat Nav doesn’t take full
code as a way of setting the destination.
Now, this is the most common and convenient way most people I know set
destinations on their Sat Navs. Why this
is not the case on the Prius beats the tripe out of me. I’m not sure if UK
models can accept full ZIP codes, or what the equivalent is in other parts of
the world. I’d love to know. USA
Dim Instruments – when it is poor visibility during daytime driving (like when it gets gey dreich as we say here in
then I’ll put on my side or main headlights in order to be more visible to
other vehicles on the road. However, the
digital instrumentation dims because it presumes I am driving at night time and
therefore needs to reduce instrument intensity.
Maybe there is a setting to address this, I’m not sure. In the meantime, it means I am hesitant to
put on my headlights in the daytime, which can impinge on road safety. Scotland
Raindrops in Cabin – this is a minor quibble. When the car is wet and you open the doors or tailgate you can get drips from the door surrounds dripping onto the seats or luggage areas. Not many drips but nonetheless I wonder how this got past the designers.
Tailgate Opens High – if you are parked in a multi-story car park (car lot) or any garage with low roof then take care when opening the tailgate. It opens in such a way that the line of the tailgate rests at 10 degrees or so from the vertical, meaning the bottom portions of the tailgate are now way high up and can risk bumping against a low roof. This is what happened to me and I’ve had to get paint chip repairs done to fix minor paintwork damage.