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It's actually my father's car, and I would never have bought it (I need something more stylish). However, having driven it many, many times, and also ridden several times in the passenger seat and the back, I'm (almost) converted.
It's very cheap to run - you hardly ever need to fill up! Plus you don't have to pay the London congestion charge, and road tax is pretty cheap. Reliability is definitely better than other cars I or my father has owned (a Saab, a Fiat, Citroens, etc, etc).
You can't exactly have fun driving it, but if you want a car for getting from A to B, this is great. My father's 78, and he finds it really easy to drive. But everything else, driving position, dashboard display, etc, etc, is great.
That's what makes it so strange that Toyota has given us one glaring problem - visibility through the rear window, which is really, really bad!
Luggage space is good, and there's a shelf so people can't see what you've got there. (For the same reason, security, it's good to get dark windows in the back, like we have.)
The Prius has always had a reputation of being a slow, boring car. But that couldn't be more wrong. I have a 2011 Prius 10 and it has been a pleasure to drive. In EV mode, the car is pretty much silent. It can go up to 31 mph for 1.2 miles on electricity. This may not seem like much, but it regenerates energy through braking and deceleration.
People say that it isn't as economical as it is claimed to be, but it is. I can easily get 60mpg out of it, but driving carefully, you can definitely get it up to 70-80mpg. You have to know how to drive it to get the best mpg's.
0-62 is said to be 10.4 seconds, but with a full battery and in power mode, it can do it in about 9.7 seconds. And, for a car that can do 60-70 mpg, that's pretty quick.
It is full of technology and gadgets. With the top spec Prius, you get Sat-Nav, Head Up Display, Adaptive Cruise Control, Heated Seats, Solar Panel Sunroof, Intelligent Parking Assist, Rear View Camera, Smart Entry system, and the list goes on.
Cruising at 70mph, it is quite quiet and doesn't feel like you are going that quick. It handles reasonably well, but it does feel like a big car going round a corner.
The Sat-Nav has bluetooth telephone connection and saves songs from CD's onto a hard drive. It's extremelly good, however, the one fault with it is that the Sat-Nav map is a bit slow at responding and is a bit jerky. It also gets a bit confused at times and takes about 15 seconds to figure out where you are. There is no major problem with it though.
The Intelligent Park Assist feature is quite fun to play with. You press the button and slowly drive past the parking space, it then gives you a couple of instructions on the Sat-Nav screen and parks itself. It's quite funny to see the steering wheel turning on it's own.
The Prius 10 has 17" black alloy wheels and it comes in either black or white. It also has a subtle body kit and leather seats with the words 'Prius 10' in the two front seats. However, there have only been 1000 made.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this car to anyone trying to save money or wanting a decent size family car (with LOTS of leg room!) It has a 5 year Toyota warranty with an incredible 8 year warranty on the battery. My car has done 11,000 miles since new in April 2011 and there hasn't been any problems with it yet, but of course, it's not that old.
It all started on my daily 36 mile each way trip home. 70 mph in the inside lane and a white 5 door saloon whooshed past me in the outside lane.
This was repeated over a couple of nights until, trying to find out what it was I caught up in my 2.0 Tdci litre Ford mondeo and saw the "prius" badge and Toyota on the rump. This car did NOT hand around, and easily led me away from the roundabout.
Having to choose a company car, a quick review of websites , the calulated company car tax of about £70 per month compared to more than double that for a diesel, and a trip with a dealer my mind was made up.
I have a blue ( important this , see later) T-Spirit. The car is wonderfully smooth and lovely an quiet to drive. It is NOT a sports car, bit the excellent Climate control, wonderful touch screen sat nav and 49 MPG almost every day is more than enough. Push the Eco button and it is like driving with a large spring under the accelrator, you have to push hard to make it get going. But push the power button and away it goes! 0-60 in a tad over ten seconds is 1970;s sports car performance and this is more than enough for rapid overtaking. I find that I get at least 48 MPG ( and I do nojt hang around on the way to work, ) easily overtaking most cars and up the legal limit pretty rapidly.
I went for blue because it is the only exterior offering anything other than a black interior and this makes it light and pleasant to be in. I avoided the solar roof as the dealer warned me that to keep the weight down they then change the alloy wheels for steel ones with plastic covers. Uugh.
I am a professional Senior Engineer and let me tell you, drive one of these and you have a glimpse into the future. Economical, quiet, comfy and easily capable of moving 5 persons around. This may be the start of this technology, roll on the future.
We are living through challenging times, especially when it comes to the environment. Governments are putting pressure on so many companies to reduce their carbon footprint & none more so than car manufacturers.
You can't invent solutions overnight but all the car makers are trying their best to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles, it is costing billions of pounds for research at a time when we are enduring the worst financial crisis in our history.
However, one car maker did 'steal a march' on the competition & introduced a hybrid in 1997 which can still be purchased today.
WHAT IS A HYBRID?
In this particular case it is a car that has a conventional petrol engine as well as a separate battery that can power it electronically. You start the car on battery power & drive at slow speeds emitting no emissions, once the battery power becomes low or you need more power; the engine kicks in to allow you to finish your journey.
You don't have to plug this car into the mains to recharge the battery, it does it itself through a series of clever systems.
The results is a very low emissions vehicle, at present it is one of the lowest with an engine fitted & thus saves the owner a fortune on fuel bills & road excise duty as owning one of these vehicles exempts you from paying road tax. Oh, & you get to travel around the City of London without paying the congestion charge too.
HISTORY OF THE TOYOTA PRIUS
Work started in 1994 & the original Prius was introduced in 1997 & two years later in the UK. It was years ahead of its time & due to the enormous cost of producing the special battery that powers the car, Toyota subsidised the cost to allow the public to buy the car at an affordable price.
It never sold in great numbers, however when the second version was introduced (and the subject of this review) with many improvements, the time must have been right as the Prius started to sell in serious numbers.
We all became more aware of the environmental concerns & the car answered a lot of the critic's questions. The 'Hollywood set' bought them & all of a sudden sales rocketed.
A newer version has just been introduced & makes even more significant improvements on the previous version. Of course when a good idea is introduced it can take a while before other manufacturers follow as they want to assess the market carefully. Honda introduced their hybrid a couple of years after Toyota but never had the same success, now many other car makers are developing their versions so hybrids will become more popular.
Are they the answer to our problems? Are these cars any good in the real world?
THE TOYOTA PRIUS
I was fortunate enough to drive two separate models in different circumstances over the period of three days a couple of months ago. One was driven around a city for two days & one on a longer journey for an afternoon & this gave me a good idea how these cars perform in the real world. At present the Prius is one of the most technically advanced cars in the world & a lot of its features are different from other cars.
The Prius (the Mk 2 version) is not a big car; it's slightly smaller than an old style Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra. It's a five door hatchback that seats five people & it looks a bit odd.
Its shape is deliberate to minimise wind deflection & thus make it more efficient, it is also a very lightweight car & shows when you start to look at it in detail.
It's made in Japan, so build quality is top notch & first impressions are good, nice paintwork, good finish, even gaps around the panels all inspire confidence.
Because the rear window lies quite flat & may make reversing difficult, Toyota designed a small window below the rear window to aid reversing. Between the two windows is a small spoiler which I have to say looks & feels a bit flimsy.
Toyota do not supply a conventional key with the Prius, you get a small fob with an emergency key built inside it, there are two buttons for locking & unlocking the doors. Open the doors which are quite light in construction & sit inside & you are amazed on how roomy it is inside.
This is a genuine five seater car with ample space for five adults; there is no gear lever or handbrake between the seats, just a big comfy arm rest.
The dash has a very minimalistic look about it, no heater controls, a radio CD but very few controls to operate it & just a little gear knob sticking out of the dash.
What dominates the dash is a large blank screen which is the energy monitor when the vehicle is started & doubles up as the heating controls, radio display & info screen.
Where is the speedo I hear you asking? Well, ahead of the driver's line of vision below the windscreen is a small display featuring a digital speedo reading, fuel gauge, gear selector gauge & some warning lamps. You don't get a rev counter or temperature gauge.
The car has numerous cubby holes, the large central armrest opens up to reveal a large lined box with a lined sliding tray for coins, pens etc. It also has two cup holders that open up & a drawer at the front to hold larger objects. There is a generous glove box & door bins so space is not at a premium.
Boot space is excellent & ample for a family's needs; there is no parcel shelf at the back only a roller cover which is satisfactory. The rear seats fold down to enlarge luggage space in the boot.
Equipment levels are quite good, the Prius comes with climate control, a decent radio/CD, air bags, electric mirrors, windows & central locking. It also comes with 60.000 mile / 3 year warranty but the hybrid system is covered for 100.000 miles & 8 years, such is the confidence Toyota have in the system.
Although the Prius has a conventional battery under the bonnet to start the car, operate the lights & wipers as normal, there is another special battery under the rear seat that drives the car. It is so important that the cooling vents on the side of the rear seat are not blocked which would cause the special battery to overheat. Not good!
DRIVING THE PRIUS
This is not easy the first time you enter the car, first you take the key fob & place it in the slot provided on the dash. At night the slot is lit up to make life easy. Once inserted, you press the starter button next to it & keep your foot on the brake, the energy monitor & instrument display lights up.
One thing at this stage is missing, there is no engine noise, no hum, no hiss, nothing, just silence as you are on battery power.
Just so that you know everything is OK, the word 'ready' pops up on the instrument display in red.
You then take the little spring loaded gear lever & engage 'D', you only have few options here anyway, 'R' reverse, 'N' neutral, 'B' (more about that later) & 'P' Park on the switch above the lever. As you engage drive the park switch automatically disengages & the car lurches forward slightly as the parking brake is still on.
If you're lucky you'll find the parking brake & release it, it took me five minutes to find it. Although the Prius is an automatic it has what looks like a clutch pedal, but it actual fact it's the parking brake!
You put on the parking brake by pressing the pedal to the floor & it stays there, little wonder I couldn't find it in the dark! You press it again to release it.
Once released we are moving & everything is eerily silent, all you hear is the tyres going over the road surface. No noises like the old battery powered milk floats, no creaks, squeaks or rattles, nothing.
Once the speed reached 10-15mph, depending on how much power is in the battery the engine kicks in, you can just hear it. There is no conventional starter motor; it just starts when it's ready.
As you don't have the same problems as a normal electric car, such as lack of power & the worry of running out of power, you just drive the Prius as normal.
Performance is brisk considering you only have a small 1500cc engine but remember the car is as lightweight as possible which does help.
Stop at traffic lights for any longer than usual & the engine switches off, at first you panic as you think its cut out but in fact the engine may have shut down but your back on battery power. When you are ready to move off you remain on battery power until the engine is required & it kicks in again.
The automatic gearbox (there is no manual option) is not a conventional auto box but a CVT gearbox, that stands for constant variable transmission. You won't feel it changing gears so driving it is very smooth indeed & ideal for this particular vehicle.
Instead of using the 'D' for drive selection on the gearbox, Toyota recommend you use the 'B' selection. In 'B' it will drive as per normal but every time you take your foot off the throttle the battery will get a charge, this is called regenerative braking. In reality it's like slowing down with the handbrake slightly on, but it is charging your main battery each time you slow down.
The main battery will also charge as you drive the car, with constant braking & slowing down it didn't take long for my Prius to get its battery charged up in town, but with less braking on the motorway it did take considerably longer to charge. Progress can be viewed on the central energy monitor display.
Brakes are excellent, the power steering is electronically controlled & although a little too light for my tastes, it doesn't take long to get used to.
The car handles like any other modern car & it rides quite smoothly too. In fact the whole driving experience is just a normal car except for the low speed battery powered parts.
You do get a habit of watching the energy monitor all the time just to make sure the battery is getting a full charge. Press a couple of buttons & the energy monitors changes to a bar graph & displays your average & current fuel consumption.
Now the disappointing part, driving the car was fun despite the stigma attached to these types of vehicles. It is well designed & according to the Prius technician I spoke to, they never have reliability issues with them.
However, town driving recorded 44mpg which I thought was quite good, a 60 mile blast down a motorway in a hurry only recorded 42mpg. If I had driven it with a little less enthusiasm, I dare say it would have touched 50 mpg, but still no where near Toyota's overall figure of over 65mpg.
Considering these cars cost £18k just before the model was replaced last August can anyone justify paying this rather high price for a car that only recorded the same figures as my trusty little Toyota Yaris 1.3 which cost a mere fraction of that?
If you're concerned about the environment, then I would say it's a fair price to pay, but there are many cars that are much cheaper that will achieve better fuel consumption without being so complex.
This leads to the next problem, the general public are wary of the technical complexities of the Prius & reluctant to buy one second-hand. Only in time when more manufacturers start producing them will this reluctance to buy older ones change. As it stands today, I'm not convinced the future is hybrids, I think it is a short term fix for a long term problem. However, the Prius it still remains one hell of technical achievement.
The Toyota Prius has in recent years become somewhat of a must have for many celebrities and politicians due to its apparently "green" credentials. The car also benefits from low tax and is exempt from the congestion charge.
With a newer and apparently more efficient version due to be released in the summer, I thought I would look into how "green" this car is.
As a petrol head I often worry about the future of our motor vehicles, with oil prices rising and also the oil itself running low I wonder how much long we will be able to enjoy our great machines! So in my opinion cars which are purposely built to both save petrol or to use another source of energy are fantastic as this means we can enjoy cars for longer.
The Prius is a car which was built by Toyota to save the world's environment and save the customer money by making a more efficient vehicle with lower emmisions. The vehicle is a hybrid car which uses both a battery powered electric engine and petrol engine to move itself. The car uses the battery powered engine when the car is travelling below 28mph and then the petrol engine when it is over that speed.
Although the car has been designed relatively well and when using it around town is more efficient than most other vehicles, I feel the car does not deliver as much as some politicians and celebrities would have us believe.
Unfortunately, the biggest flaw in this car is the thing which makes it stand out, its battery. This unfortunately weighs the car down which means when you are travelling at 70mph on the motorway it is adding to your MPG, not efficient at all!! The battery will also need to be replaced in a few years which means making a new battery and also having to get rid of the old one which both have environmental costs. The car also only returns approximately 50-60 MPG which can be achieved by a diesel Mini, so it's not as efficient as the media portray!
But the cars worst flaw is its looks! Why didn't Toyota just put a battery in a Corolla??
I commend Toyotas efforts with this car but unfortunately it has not worked. I hope the new version is better but in my opinion as long as they continue to use a battery combined with a petrol engine I do not think they will create the car which we will all be using in the future!
The Toyota Prius is actually designed to be a low-emission car rather than fuel-efficient, but fuel-efficiency is a side-effect of the low emission objective.
My current average fuel consumption is about 45mpg and I'm able to fill the tank to about 40 litres (c. 85 gallons). I have heard that the tank is a flexible rubber bladder tank and will vary in size according to the temperature.
I drive on urban, built-up and congested roads covering on average 12 miles a day, 5 days a week with a bi-monthly motorway trip of about 150 miles one way.
Very briefly and generally, the Toyota Prius hybrid engine uses the electric engine when travelling at < 30mph or easy driving conditions and starts to use the petrol engine > 30mph, for accelerations or generally when more power is needed.
The battery is charged by the engine when the amount of power used for propulsion is less than the power output of the engine and is also charged by regenerative-braking (converting the car's kinetic energy into electrical energy to charge the battery).
I'm overjoyed at the quietness of the engine (I can hear my music and don't have to struggle to converes!), love the external styling, like the interior, in awe of the simplicity and smoothness of driving the Prius hybrid engine, but I know that the computerised information/control display system* (in the middle of the dashboard) could be so much better.
[*what is it called??]
I'm not a tecchie and don't claim to be, so I won't give too many technical specifics here because if you're really interested there are many sites dedicated to the specfications of the car, or perhaps you'd be booking a road test anyway; either way, you'd get all the specifics you'd want.
The hybrid engine has already received a lot of write-ups so I'll also skip that part...
I want to mention the cockpit and driver's seat. Before the Prius I was driving a VW Golf and I've also driven a Volvo, and compared to both of these the seat really doesn't compare. I find myself having to slouch in the the seat to get a good perspective out of the windscreen - I haven't figured out why. Is it the seat? Is it the seat belt? Is it too low? Also, for me, the range of adjustment on the steering wheel isn't varied enough.
I also find that I'm developing a withered and numb left leg - it doesn't need to do anything while I drive - but this never occured in the other two cars I mentioned (VW Golf and Volvo), which were both automatics too. I haven't figured out why either. So, in summary, the ergonomics of the cockpit aren't right for me - something's just a little off for me. I'm 5ft.3inches tall.
The seat belt adjustment panel I've had to push to the highest point, but since I"m not that tall who uses it on the lower settings?
The computerised information/control system in the centre of the dashboard really hasn't been designed for me... I can't really operate it when I'm driving because not only do I have to take my eyes off the road for quite a while but I have to stretch right across to the middle - quite dangerous. It takes me far too long to find the right button then I have to push another series of buttons on the touch-screen before I get to the CD I want, or before I can set the right interior climate. That's dangerous.
In a VW or Volvo the buttons and dials are all on display and I develop muscle memory over time to be able to reach for them instantly and with ease, but with the touch screen technology the buttons end up all over the place on the screen and I have to keep looking over to find them.
The sattelite-navigation system is almost brilliant, but it's difficult to change the destination after driving off since you cannot operate it when the car is in motion - a safety feature. It would be more brilliant if I knew how to update the sat-nav information e.g. add new Points of Interests.
The split screen on the sat-nav system is a god-send. One side provides an overview of the area and the other side provides a zoomed-in detailed view of the immediate junction to provide clearer directions at turning points.
I hate having to push several touch-screen buttons before I can get the audio system to change to CD 5. The CD buttons should be displayed as push-buttons and I can just push them right there and then to get what I want - my music in an instant - instead of faffing around with the touch screen.
The rear windscreen isn't brilliant since it's split into two horizontal panels obstructing clear, easy and fast vision - I kind of have to spend a few seconds adjusting my eyes and mind to the view to understand what I'm seeing. A few seconds is a long time in urban driving - anything could happen.
The Intelligent Park Assist drives me nuts. It keeps bleeping, as it should, whenever I reverse. I feel like I"m going to go crazy some days. How would I switch it off or reduce the volume level? I can't. It hasn't been designed that way. However, yes, I know it's a good idea, but it would be better if it were adjustable. Where are my human rights as an intelligent individual to decide for myself whether or not I need an Intelligent Park Assist to bleep at me whenever I reverse? I may or may not need it according to circumstances and I may prefer to use it at various sound volumes.
Another good idea that needs improving: whenever the driver switches off the engine and opens the door without removing the key from the car, there is another alarm!! It also bleeps like crazy!! Until you remove the key from the car. It's objective, of course, is to ensure you don't leave the key in the car. AARGH. How many bleeps do I need in one day, in one driving session? Some days I feel as if my ear drums are about to explode, but if not that then the car is about to explode. The alarms do really sound like the final countdowns on a bomb just about to explode... just like in the movies!
Then, if you have a passenger, the car bleeps again, again like crazy. It bleeps. Because the passenger isn't wearing a seat belt. Omigod. I know it's a safety feature... but sometimes, just sometimes, it's not necessary. I get over it by agreeing: yes, for the majority of times that it's a good idea it's worth the frustration for the minority of times that it's a pain in the ass.
It's the bleeping that gets to me. However, some days to stop hearing the bleeping I purposely ignore it which means it sometimes stops serving it's purpose as a warning alarm...
So, if you have an adversion to bleeps you may need to consult the dealer before buying.
Another few things about the design of the interior:
- when the sun flap is down on the driver's side, it covers up about half the rearview mirror therby obstructing my view - bad design. I've never seen/had this problem before in other cars.
- I don't know what causes this, but there are quite a few restrictions that stop me having an easy, fast, all-round driving vision from the driving seat - I often have to double-check things or concentrate harder to overcome 'blind spots'.
- vision of the bonnet and rear is restricted from the driving seat to make parking more hazardous and the IPA more essential - I'm now a more experienced Prius driver and therefore my guessing is better.
- there is something about the boot space that could be better, at the moment it feels like a struggle to use it fully. Again, I'm comparing it to my best experiences in other cars - which is the point, right?
- the paintwork seems easy to scuff or scratch... or have I just had some bad luck?
Things I like:
- it looks great from the rear!
- loads of other stuff too...
On the whole though, I do love driving my Prius.
I'm trying to think which other car I'd choose to own right now, and I can't think of one off the top of my head...
I love the hybrid engine, I love the overall design, but the cockpit needs to be ergonomically improved and the dashboard/ touch-screen controls need to be more driver-friendly to prevent hazardous driving.
For those among you that have not heard of this car before, it is a fairly recently introduced eco-friendly family car from Toyota. Personally, I hadn’t heard of it before up until the time I entered one of a Japanese colleague. I have to say that from the outside it doesn’t make much of an impression. I normally wouldn’t go for a car like this, but after hearing about it, I went to my local dealer and took a prospectus and I am actually considering its purchase. What changed me? You have to see the dashboard of this car. It reminds me of some kind of home entertainment system. The hi-tech dashboard features a multi-information display, centrally positioned for easy of viewing. Honestly, I can’t imagine looking at the centre to see if I have any petrol left in the tank. However, my friend quickly persuaded me that it is all a matter of getting used to. Anyways what’s so spectacular isn’t that the display provides the normal information (audio system’s status, outside temperature), but that it also gives all the details about the workings of the hybrid system and fuel consumption screen. Really that did it for me. A hybrid car and in this case a combination of a 33kW electric motor and a 1.5litre petrol engine can be employed either separately or in combination, to produce the most efficient performance. At start-up, you see, the Prius is powered solely by the electric motor – meaning that there are no emissions whatsoever. As speed picks up, the petrol engine not only takes over, it also generates electricity to power the electric motor that drives the wheels and to charge the battery pack. In specific circumstances, like when full acceleration or when climbing a hill, the electric motor provides extra power, thereby saving fuel and further reducing emissions. Now, it is known that not a lot of people would opt to buy such a car. With a top speed of 99mph and 0-62mph in
13.4sec it hardly is a “meaty”, full of grunt vehicle. Despite that, with the price of petrol rising constantly – no matter what everyone promises before the forthcoming elections – and when considering that Toyota boasts that Prius returns 61.4 miles per gallon on the urban cycle, I’d say I am all for it. My philosophy is that a car is something that takes you from A to B, where you cannot use the public transport to take you there. I am not interested in doing 130mph in the M25 (that’s a joke!) or fearing for the insurance costs. If you also require a nature “friendly” car with it also being economical then you might want to consider Prius as an option. ********* Just after finishing this opinion, I remembered that I had seen a hybrid car test on Top Gear where there was a comparison between the Prius and a similar hybrid vehicle from Honda albeit that was a 2-seater. Whoever is interested in eco-friendly cars should look at that. Another detail I just remembered is the boot space. I seem to recall previously launched electric cars whose boot was used to place the batteries. As far as the hybrid cars that are mentioned above this could not be more untrue. The batteries, not being the only form of power used, are much smaller and do not particularly limits the boot space. I reckon that Prius being a saloon car would easily allow for 3-4 bags to be place in the back. Finally I had heard that there would be a new tax directly related to the emissions generated by cars. I am not sure if this is presently put under its paces, but that will be another blow for the motorists. EACH ONE OF US COULD MAKE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE IF WE WOULD LEAVE OURS CARS AT HOME. PUBLIC TRANSPORT CAN GET US THERE JUST AS WELL IN MOST CASES.