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Test Drove the Toyota Prius

Last weekend, on July 4th no less, my wife and I stopped by our local Toyota dealership and test drove a Prius. Fortunately for us, neither one of us drives a gas guzzler (I drive a 2003 Toyota Celica and my wife drives a 2004 Honda Civic) and neither one of will need a replacement car for quite some time but with a day off and being in the neighborhood running errands, we figured stopping by would be a fun little diversion. Our friends from New York own a Prius, which they love, and we’ve ridden in it before, but never really “test drove,” complete with salesperson pointing out every last feature. Overall, we were impressed and it certainly would be on the short list of vehicles we’d consider if we were to replace either of our cars.

What We Liked

My wife really liked the Prius and here were some of the reasons why:

I liked the heads up display and the statistics it showed. The HUD showed your current fuel efficiency as you drove, 99.9 MPG in times when only the electric motor was engaged, and I was amazed at how low the numbers were in certain conditions. At first, I thought the efficiency was horrible. Then, I realized that I had no reference point. I saw the Prius get 2.5 MPG over a particular hill and thought that was bad, until I realized that I simply didn’t know what my car got (likely 2.5 MPG too, as I drive a 4 cylinder car) in those situations.

What We Didn’t Like

Here’s what my wife didn’t like:

I didn’t like how the numbers couldn’t justify purchasing the car. While I like the idea of helping the environment by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and I like the idea of helping America get off dependency on foreign oil, the financial figures simply don’t work. If we were driving a 10MPG Hummer, then we’d be talking an annual gas savings of $4813.40 and it starts making sense.

Things To Consider

My wife wanted to add a few additional ideas to help those who are thinking about the Prius:

After all that, I don’t think we’re getting a Prius but it certainly was fun driving it.

Finally, we leave you with one interesting note. Normally, heat in a car is free because it comes from the heat of the engine and air conditioning costs fuel because the compressor needs power. In the Prius, because the engine doesn’t run as often, you don’t get “free” heat. It actually costs you to turn on the heat! The trade-off then is that AC is “free.”

(Prius photo by six27 [6])