Saturday, November 10, 2012

First Drive: Toyota Prius

Hybrids have been around since 1899 with the production of the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid. In 1997, Toyota came out with its own hybrid, the Toyota Prius. The Prius is currently on its third generation. I have test driven the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid, and the Nissan Leaf, an all electric car. The Prius is powered by a 1.8L I4 engine that produces 98 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque and a permanent-magnet electric motor that produces 80 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque that has a total combined power output of 134 hp. The Prius will go from 0 to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 112 mph. The Prius comes with a continuously variable timing automatic transmission. The base price for the Prius is $24,000. The Prius I test drove came with a rear spoiler, and was fully loaded. It had navigation, a back-up camera, push start, a heads-up display speedometer, and remote keyless entry. The price for the tested Prius is $35,997, but it is fully loaded.

The Prius is not the best looking car on the roads. It does not have the aggressive styling or the sleek lines I prefer that other cars have. The interior is nothing special. There is no head room for adults sitting in the rear. I am 5' 9" and I was banging my head while sitting in the back. One thing I liked the gear level. To put the car in park, just press the park button on the center console. However, I prefer to have the gear lever between the driver and the passenger seats. I do not like having to reach up on the center console and switch from reverse to drive.

The Prius has a good ride quality, but it is lacking in performance. The car drove smoothly on the road. The cabin was very quiet. The car made no noise until the gas engine kicked in. Steering was responsive. However, the car accelerated slowly. I went on the highway and the Prius took a while just to reach highway speeds.

After driving the car, I do not understand why the Prius is so popular. The car is too slow for highway driving. The car is ugly, the interior is nothing special, there is not much room for rear passengers, it has poor performance, and is very slow. The Prius is overrated. There is nothing special about the Prius. After driving the Prius, I recommend passing on the Prius.

Photo was taken by a camera phone.
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