Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Bagpuss
Well it was a shock for me anyway. I guess it had to happen that a confirmed petrol head such as myself would end up being issued a rental car that seems like the absolute antithesis of fun motoring. But it was late at San Francisco Airport and I didn?t want to wait.

Actually first impressions were quite good. In the car park I was confronted with Priuses as far as the eye can see, all in a very bright shade of metallic red which suits the futuristic styling. I?ve never seen so many Priuses and I later learned that there is a tax incentive here for hybrid vehicles. I found mine, operated the small, well designed electronic key module and climbed in, noticing that the door closed with a very solid clunk, reminiscent of a VW if not quite a Merc. The driving seat is comfortable even though Toyota have clearly gone out of their way to find the least attractive interior fabric imaginable, presumably thinking the target customers generally want to adopt a sack cloth and ashes approach to life. There is more perceived space up front than many SUVs I?ve experienced and the dashboard is stunning its weirdness. Then the big problem was, how do you start this thing? 10 minutes of fiddling and swearing revealed that you have to put the key module in a hidden slot, then simultaneously press the brake pedal hard and touch the ?Start? button on the dashboard. Should have been obvious I guess. Put the tiny shifter thingy on the dashboard into ?D? and off we went.

There are 2 big surprises when you move off from rest the first time in a Prius. One is the unexpected shove in the back from the acceleration. The other is that it?s virtually silent. Or at least it is until you push the pedal too far and the petrol engine starts up. That?s not to say the engine is noisy, it just interrupts the eerie silence of pure electric power (especially in a multi-storey car park).

Onto the broken blacktop of US 101. There is always a lot of traffic around San Francisco irrelevant of the time of day. You sit high up in a Prius, which helps self confidence when driving an underpowered eco car in a sea of nose to tail SUVs. Actually it isn?t that underpowered. Pulling onto the highway it was easy to reach the speed of the rest of the traffic. The petrol engine sometimes sounds strained as the revs bear no direct relationship to the road speed, but it?s never intrusive and the rest of the car is very quiet with almost no wind noise even up to 85 mph. The car is also very stable, has excellent brakes, and handles in a very neutral fashion, probably helped by a low centre of gravity with the NiMH batteries mounted low over the rear axle. The ride appears as good as any other mid sized car and I was not being knocked off line by pot holes which happens in various US sheds. Actually, I realised, a Prius is not only relaxing but also (gulp) fun to drive.

Time to take stock of the interior. There is a digital speedo, lots of idiot lights, including one that tells you when the air-con is switched on and one that says ?Ready? for no apparent reason. A large touch sensitive screen dominates the middle of the dashboard and controls pretty much all of the minor functions such as air-con and stereo, sort of like a miniature i-Drive, and there appear to be no controls instantly recognisable from other cars. I eventually discovered that these controls are on the steering wheel. You read that correctly, the air-con controls are on the steering wheel. Underneath the screen in typical Toyota fashion is an ugly LED digital clock which looks like it came from a 70s Corolla. Two additional functions on the screen are an ?energy transfer? display and a fuel consumption meter. The former shows which energy source is doing what, whether the car is consuming or regenerating energy and what the state of the battery is. The latter shows the fuel consumption in 15 minute time intervals together with little tokens which you win when you manage to regenerate more than 50 kW of power. I found both screens huge fun and massively distracting, but in Northern California no-one wastes much time watching the road anyway. There is something strangely fulfilling about coasting downhill with the shift lever thingy in the ?B? setting and seeing the battery in the display turn green as you fill up the last charge bar. I also found myself trying to accelerate in such a way as to keep the petrol engine from cutting in for as long as possible for no other reason than liking the feeling of silent forwards motion. I discovered this is particular fun in supermarket car parks as people don?t hear the car approaching.

I realised I was starting to like this car although it?s far from perfect. Being designed for the US market there are more annoying chimes and alarms than in a Tamagotchi factory and more idiot proof functions than any other car I can remember driving (e.g. it bleeps like a 40 ton truck when reversing and some radio functions are disabled when the car is moving). It also sometimes makes odd noises when the petrol engine engages and disengages itself, the amount of servo assistance to the steering changes for no apparent reason and the shape affects visibility and makes it a nightmare to park. I?m also not such how much fun driving would be with a discharged battery, though it seemed to charge quickly enough when I wasn?t continually performing full throttle starts from traffic lights.

At the end of my 2 day rental the Prius had achieved 42 mpg (US) average according to the trip computer, when I filled up it was actually a bit less than that, so approaching diesel economy without the rattles and turbo lag. Plus, with the screen and the electric mode there is an incentive even for someone as pathologically lead footed as me to drive economically.

Apart from the apparent economy benefits, I can?t help feeling that Toyota is underselling the hybrid concept by marketing it to tree huggers. There are so few cars that offer a genuinely different driving experience these days. In fact I felt a sense of anticlimax back in Pittsburgh when I picked up a conventionally powered Volvo S40. Maybe Toyota should beef up the suspension, put in a slightly bigger electric motor, a six cylinder engine and market it as a fun product. Oh, hang on they do ? it?s called the Lexus GS450h. That must be really something!
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
Nice review, thanks for that! Always interesting to see it through fresh eyes.

I agree with your final points - I like the Prius because it's different, not just because it's green. I like the ergonomics of the gearshift design and general dash layout. (Whereas the Mk 1 Prius was spectacularly ugly both inside and out).

I'm also not such how much fun driving would be with a discharged battery,

Doesn't normally happen. What happens is that when the battery gets low, it starts using the engine more, and the battery less. The only noticeable effect is that the car gets noisier - the engine revs more. The extra engine input stops the battery stops going down too low.

Only after going up a really steep, long hill will you drain the battery enough to lose power. Never happened to me yet, even when I expected to when traversing the Scottish highlands.

The opposite happens when the battery's full - after a long downhill run, it'll use the engine less. You'll find yourself able to push much harder without the engine kicking in, and it will be giving assist on cruise, pushing the instantaneous mpg up to 80-90.

You read that correctly, the air-con controls are on the steering wheel.

Is that that unusual? Seems quite sensible to me. There are also stereo and aircon controls on the touchscreen, but they're a bit fiddly. You can use the voice control too, but that's usually a bit longwinded for most functions.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Pugugly {P}
".....itched on and one that says ?Ready? for no apparent reason"

Douglas Adams would have liked that line.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Bagpuss
You can use the voice control too but that's usually a bit longwinded for most functions.


I didn't know it has voice control! Memo to self - next time read the owner's manual.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - flunky
There is something strangely fulfilling about coasting downhill with the
shift lever thingy in the ?B? setting and seeing the battery in the display turn
green as you fill up the last charge bar.


You can do this in a normal car as well. Since I got a car with an the mpg on the dash (either instaneous or cumulative), I sometimes like to boost the mpg figure. It's probably quite a good thing for the environment, e.g., on the motorway when a car in front of me moves left, rather than quickly closing the gap and then braking when I reach the next car, as I might have done, I just apply a little bit of gas so that I don't use the brakes, although it does take a bit longer to reach the spot 3 seconds behind him, it ultimately doesn't lengthen the journey at all. It's also quite fine to coast down hill and watch the instantaneous mpg read 99.9 (the long-term average is 26.5mpg), a well as eventually boosting my cumulative figure by 0.1mpg.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - oilrag
If all the worlds cars were prius ( or using similar technology) and someone invented a car that weighed a lot less, cost £10,000 less, did 78MPG
instead of 66MPG.

I mean if things were turned on their head and small common rail diesels ( or even diesels) had just been invented and *light weight cars possible as a result.*
What an invention that would be considered.

Enjoyed your write up Bagpuss and not intending to detract from it.
Regards
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - nb857
how does a Prius brake? The energy is recovered and stored in the batteries but what actually happens when you depress the brake pedal?

I'm guessing that the power is cut and the motor becomes a generator which applies a braking effect.

Do the brakes come on at the last minute? I'll bet the don't wear very much
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Westpig
good post Bagpuss.....just goes to show though...'horses for courses'.........because i really didn't like the Prius driving experience. Not sure whether the one i drove was the most recent (06 plate), but i thought the petrol engine was harsh and inadequate, interior was second rate, handling nothing to write home about (and i generally prefer comfort over out and out handling)

hopped out of that into a Honda Civic 2.0 turbo diesel (again 06 plate).........now that was a revelation..........quick, handled but was a good handling/comfort compromise, good economy

if i was doing the eco worrying bit, that's the one i'd have
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Bagpuss
just goes to show though...'horses for courses'.........because i really didn't like the Prius


I can understand the Prius not being everyone's cup of tea. I guess there are parallels to the technologically advanced Citroens in their day (esp. CX and GS). People like myself get attracted by the novelty of a different engineering approach, tempered in the case of the Prius by a negative personal opinion prior to driving it due to its unfortunate image. Most people would just see an almost ridiculously high amount of technical complexity to solve what appears to be a relatively trivial problem, bringing with it a whole new set of drawbacks. In the case of Citroen it was the styling and the suspension and in the case of the Prius it's about getting energy from somewhere to drive an electrical motor (I didn't trust myself to mention Prius styling as that would really divide opinions, though it's very distinctive in a US motoring landscape where the square cut SUV seems to be enjoying a renaissance).

I also discovered, FWIW, there was a facelift of the Prius around the beginning of 2006 which seems to have addressed criticism of the stability in sidewinds, engine noise and interior quality. God knows what the interior must have looked like beforehand. There is also, apparently, a leather option, as well as an option where the car can park itself - that's what I want to try!
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
ridiculously high amount of technical complexity

This is often overstated. They've managed to throw a lot of complexity out too. It has:

* no torque converter or clutch
* no shifting gears
* no reverse gear
* no starter motor
* simpler, more efficient electric air conditioning

They've largely traded mechanical complexity for electrical and computational complexity. Plus the drive system is able to treat the engine in a more friendly fashion than a normal driver would (eg letting it idle for the 30-60 seconds while relying on electric drive until it's warmed up).

I'd say you're less likely to have a debilitating mechanical failure in a Prius, but more likely for the whole thing to come to a grinding halt if there's an electrical problem. (Although most cars are extremely computerised these days anyway).
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
what actually happens when you depress the brake pedal?

As I understand it, if you're pressing lightly, it moves the pads into position just touching the discs (to calibrate itself), and then starts to increase the regeneration. If you ask for more braking than it can cause by regenerating, it brings the brake pads into play as well.

Regeneration stops when you go below 8mph - you can hear, and sometimes feel, it shifting from regen to actual braking as you come to a halt.

If you do an emergency stop, or any other time it feels the car losing balance or traction, it abandons regen and switches back to pure brakes, so the VSC, ABS etc can do their job.

Oh, and when coasting, there's no engine drag like in a normal car, so it would naturally roll on as if you were in neutral. To simulate "normal" behaviour, it does a small amount of regen to slow you down if you're not touching the pedals. A small amount of accelerator pedal pressure cancels that out.

The brake pads don't get much use, and as a result you can get some corrosion. I've found it worthwhile to do a few complete brakes to a halt from speed while in Neutral (which disengages all the electric bits) to clean the pads.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Avant
Thank you very much, Bagpuss - extremely interesting. This thread is doing well so far with people giving honest opinions, pro or con, so let's hope it doesn't get hijacked by people who haven't driven a Prius but for some reason think that driving one means you're a smug environmental fanatic. I can't see why myself - as Westpig says it's horses for courses.

I much enjoyed a hour or so's test run in one recently - we tried the Prius back to back with a diesel Verso which was also very impressive. The Prius gives you economy not far from a diesel, without the noise - but then the Verso's engine is fairly refined and noise wasn't a problem.

The Prius is at its best if most of your driving is in town (I presume that Toyota's claimed average mpg is pulled up by the urban cycle where the electric motor is doing kost of the work). A good turbodiesel like the Verso 2.2 has that much more oomph at motorway speeds, and better economy. But you can't have a diesel automatic Verso, and the Prius is still very much on my shortlist for (hopefully) later this year.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - tyro
Thanks for the interesting review, Bagpuss. I'd like to try one - I think I'd quite enjoy it. Purchase price is too high for me, so I'd be unlikely to buy one.

And then there is always the fact that one doesn't really want to drive a car which says "I'm a very self-righteous person." That may be one of Toyota's biggest problems.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - midlifecrisis
And yet another review that proves it's not a 70mpg wonder car.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - flunky
Purchase price is too high for me so I'd be unlikely to
buy one.


Indeed. It has always appeared to me that they sell it as a statement, rather than a car. They don't seem to market it to compete against similar-sized cars, only as a pious eco statement, which is a bit silly, as the eco-freaks might be better off with a smaller diesel car, which would be more fuel-efficient, as well as cheaper, and less consuming of resources in its construction.

I guess the problem is that as a competitor to say a Peugeot 307 1.6 HDi 90, the fuel consumption will not be substantially better (the Pegueot does 55mpg combined), and the Pegeuot can be yours for £11.5k, against £16.5k for the Pious.

And while the 307 is outrageously taxed at £115/year, the £80/year saving will take a very long time to make a dent in £5,000. The only grace is that the Pious will depreciate more slowly, losing about 30% of the (discounted) selling price, or £5,000, in 3 years, against 48% of the (discounted) selling price of the 307, which is £5,500. So the Pious actually works out cheaper.

But trading in for a new Pious after 3 years seems to rather defeat the point... And by 10 years, a more sensible amount of time, both cars will likely be <£1,000, so the £5k extra up front has cost you. And over 100,000 miles if the Pious does an extra 10mpg over the 307, you will save about £1,250, along with £800 in road tax, which is far less than the £5,000 more it cost in the first place. And I would have thought the 307 would be cheaper to service than a complex hybrid vehicle.

So whatever way you look at it, the Pious has to be purely an eco-statement, and cannot compete against other cars of its size. And used, they are even more bonkers.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Collos25
One of the most enviromentally unfriendly cars on the planet due to its weight the production materials in the batteries and the problem of not being able to easily dispose of them plus all the added electronics in the vehicle containing pcb's, were originally rushed out to meet the calofornia percetage of production car reaching certain gas immissions and to toyotas amazement people bought them.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Marc
This morning, the person doing about 85 in a Prius in the fast lane, just before entering the 50 MPH "Communications Upgrade" section of the M4 wasn't exactly environmentally friendly...
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - boxsterboy
The whole hybrid technology would surely work better with a diesel. I can't wait to see how the PSA diesel hybrid fares when that is launched (next year?). If it works, it will surely pull the sack cloth from under the Prius's feet?

Of course Toyota could never do a Prius diesel , because the car is aimed at the US market, where diesel is ignored, if not outlawed in some States.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
When comparing the price - do at least take into account that the Prius is an automatic, and a damned good one - better than a conventional or MMT transmission, in my opinion. That would add maybe £1000 as a cost option to most similar cars, and you often can't even get an automatic diesel.

Of course, most petrolheads here probably don't want an automatic anyway, but if you're looking for an automatic, the Prius starts to look a lot better in a cost comparison.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - ukbeefy
I think the key thing that alot of people seem to overlook is that the Prius was designed I think to be a distinctly better alternative in markets where petrol and automatic is the norm ie the US, Japan, Australia etc. These are markets where the competitor vehicles that we would consider in Europe eg PSA/Ford/VW CR Turbo diesels are notably absent either because of legislation eg California or through their parents choosing a different model strategy or in the case of PSA/Renault not being present at all in the market (for a gamut of reasons which we could go into).

In comparison with a typical US petrol automatic car doing say 25/27mpg then a Prius does seem quite alot more economical and for a switching driver there is nothing that odd about a Prius ie its fuelled by the same petrol as everything else and does not require learning to stick shift (remember an aweful lot of US drivers have no idea how to drive a manual and never have had to learn).

Also I think the way people have described the car's driving feel it does look suited to a more US driving style ie cruising about in town/country with less overt acceleration, overtaking and jostling that you see/need to do in Europe.

I think though the technical experience of having launched the Prius, learning how users fare and made it fairly widespread must have given Toyota quite a head start in terms of making the next generation ones, including plug in varieties and diesel/hybrids. I wonder if they will launch Corrolla and Avensis model versions?
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - ForumNeedsModerating
I have twice had test drives in the Prius - the original 'mk11' in late 2003 & the later update in 2006. I was quite techno-struck by the cars, the silent electric motor mode, the minimalist fascia, the dinky 'gearstick' , cvt-type transmission, cruise control, geeky lcd display etc.

Driving dynamics were entirely adequate for me, after all it's a mini-MPV type of thing with high driving position & judged as that does its job. The only aspect that put me off - and this is rather an obsession of mine really - was the lumpy, crashy ride. The American version, I'm led to believe, has more 'sensible' 15inch rims & taller tyres & slightly more forgiving suspsension than the 'sportier' European version - we probably can thank but lateral G obsessed motoring journalists for that though. As my driving style tends to achieve better-than-advertised MPG, I'm sure the economy controversy would fall in my favour. The interior, in my view, would benefit from more solid, soft-touch plastics & leather seats. The sound system (JBL cd- multichanger) was quite, good enough for me anyway with my 'drive-time' sort of tastes. It also has a great feeling of space, most akin to a Picasso I drove once, with rear legroom on a par with a Skoda Superb.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - boxsterboy
after all it's a mini-MPV type of thing


Is it?

More a slightly fat Corolla, I thought.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Brian Tryzers
Very interesting thread - good work, Bagpuss, for starting it off.

Like some others here, I'm intrigued by the Prius mainly because it's different. There's one that passes my house occasionally and its near-silence is welcome. There's something to be said for daring to be different, although I agree that its 'green' credentials have been rather over-sold. (As has the spiteful anti-Prius backlash, I should add.)
Coincidentally, I'll be visiting my local Toyota shop this week to try a Verso T180; perhaps I should ask to try a Prius while I'm there.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - flunky
I think the key thing that alot of people seem to overlook is that the
Prius was designed I think to be a distinctly better alternative in markets where petrol
and automatic is the norm ie the US Japan Australia etc.


In other words it's not a car that's a sensible choice, except to posture, in the UK. And in the US it doesn't seem to make sense either, a regular Honda Civic does 30/40mpg city/highway, against 50/50 for the hybrid. Gas costs just $3/gallon, and the hybrid costs $7,000 more than the non-hybrid, so over 150,000 miles, the hybrid will use about 1000 gallons less. 1000 * $3 = $3000. So not even close to recovering the cost.

The only way to offset this would be to basically pay people to buy them, i.e. by giving people a full tax write-off of the price of the car.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
But why do critics think the Prius is forced to justify itself purely on cost grounds? Why don't you criticise a BMW as not being a sensible choice when compared to a Civic?

Maybe, like a BMW purchaser, a Prius purchaser isn't simply trying to buy the cheapest car possible...
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - cuthbert
It was interesting reading your response Avant as someone interested in the Prius and the Verso

The Verso is now available to order with an Automatic diesel they have got rid of the MMT thank goodness its is a torque converter gearbox !!

I was really interested in the Prius not because of its green credentials but because I wanted an Automatic and I thought the car was a little different from the run of the mill cars .!
The thing that has put it out of the running is the fact that they reduced the warranty from 8 years /100,000 miles to 5 years /60,000 miles on the hybrid technology.

While I know diesel engines can suffer from there problems to many people this is a new technology just look how long it took people to accept the Citroen hydro gas suspension .
Why have Toyota reduced this warranty ?? a backward step in my view if the claims on it were small why reduce it!! will it have a knock on affect on used values
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - J Bonington Jagworth
Terrific review, BP. While the overall environmental cost/benefit is debatable, the ability to drive through town traffic on electric power only is a major step forward IMO, both for pedestrians and the driver.

I see that Portsmouth University has just adapted a (new) Mini with electric motors and Lithium batteries, plus a small petrol generator in the boot that runs while the car is stationary, giving it a 900 mile range, apparently (although presumably you have to stop occasionally). I had a similar idea about a decade ago...
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Westpig
Terrific review BP. While the overall environmental cost/benefit is debatable the ability to drive through
town traffic on electric power only is a major step forward IMO both for pedestrians
and the driver.


not so good for the pedestrians when they cross the road without looking because they can't hear an engine.........
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - T Lucas
The car was concieved to sell in the Californian market with very low emissions not to try and achieve a very high MPG.
Just think how Toyota and Honda have managed to produce these vehicles,market them worldwide and they work very reliably.
The technology may not be the future but it shows what these companies can achieve,what have the other manufacturers bought to the party?
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - DP
A really nice review, and very informative.

I would really like to drive one, but I can't get past the poor fuel economy (compared to claimed figures). I appreciate that it is a seriously clever piece of kit, and I do like the idea of a leccy motor when driving in the city, but I just can't get past the fact that 40-something mpg is just not good enough for the money.

If it got closer to its claimed 60+mpg, I would be seriously interested in a test drive with a view to buying one, but I can get the same thing out of a diesel for less than half the outlay. And surely if it's burning more fuel than the book says, it's emitting more CO2 than the book says, and the latest diesels already run it close.

Cheers
DP
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
My lifetime MPG is 51 (calculated manually), and I do mainly short city trips. Long runs would do better, and reports from other UK owners suggest that mid-50s average is typical.

Most sources claiming 40-something are probably using the 16%-smaller US gallons.

I'd agree that if looking purely at running costs, it's not much better than a conventional diesel manual. Mind you, try finding diesel automatics in the same class, and it's a different matter...
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Lud
not so good for the pedestrians when they cross the road without looking because they
can't hear an engine.........


If this were the US Westpig you would call such people jaywalkers and have it in for them. I was rudely bawled at by a plod in New York once for crossing, at a perfectly safe moment, against a red light.

A car freak friend of mine says the same about the Prius. Doesn't make sense to me though. One is supposed to look when crossing a road, not just listen. Suppose a phalanx of silent cyclists is bearing down?

Of course there are also those who walk across the road even when your car is audible. I still shudder from an incident a few weeks ago when a spotty youth looked as if he was going to step off the kerb into my car. A more sensible middle-aged women stopped him.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
I agree.

But to be honest, at any speed above 5mph the noise of the tyres is quite significant. If trundling along at 20-30mph, it's not actually much quieter than a conventional car that's coasting. Unless you're accelerating, a modern car engine is already very quiet, and it's mainly tyre noise at that speed.

There's a huge difference in a traffic jam though - a jam full of Priuses would be much more pleasant than a jam full of tractor-like soot-spewing diesels.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - boxsterboy
>> There's a huge difference in a traffic jam though - a jam full of Priuses
would be much more pleasant than a jam full of tractor-like soot-spewing diesels.


Come now. Don't let your prejudices ruin this thread.

My diesel neither sounds like a tractor (it's not a VW) nor spews soot, thanks to its particulate trap.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Brian Tryzers
Like Lud, I've pretty well given up on expecting pedestrians to listen - or even look - before stepping into the road. The teens and 20s are the worst - plugged into an Ipod or a mobile phone. I don't suppose a car with a silent motor will make a lot of difference to them. World's gone raving mad. Pass the marmalade, Marjorie.

Incidentally, I remember a visit to Amsterdam a few years ago. The streets there swarm with bicycles, and I felt a lot safer when it rained, because the swish of bike tyres on wet tarmac let me know what was coming my way.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - mr.freezer

I drove back home today from a business trip to Skye and overtook 2 of these things on the way to Ft. William. Both were driven by older members of the community which made me think that any percieved coolness may fall away when it becomes a default replacement for a Rover/Honda Civic/Toyota Corolla.

One was being driven by a self rightiousness person who sat at 55mph for miles on end and flashed me when I overtook and the other one struggled to keep a consistant speed whilst going up steep hills.

I take it that the torque is minimal in these things ?
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
Not really. Put your foot down and it'll certainly go. Top speed is limited to 106mph, and it certainly doesn't struggle to get there.

The fact that it works like a CVT may dissuade the less-competent driver from putting their foot down though - the engine revs up high when significant power is demanded.

Floor it from a standstill, and you'll get from 0-60 in 10-point-something seconds, but the engine will be flatlined at 5000rpm pretty much all the way. Can apparently be unnerving if you're not used to it.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - mr.freezer

Thanks for explaining that KMO.
It doesn't make for too pleasant a driving experience then.

I averaged 53 mpg from Skye to Edinburgh, I can't imagine a Prius would be much better.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - boxsterboy
I averaged 53 mpg from Skye to Edinburgh I can't imagine a Prius would be
much better.


Certainly not if the CVT box is stuck at 5,000 rpm come every hill! These things are 'best' around town.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - commerdriver
Not really. Put your foot down and it'll certainly go.

>>
Had a job to out accelerate one this afternoon away from a set of lights where the road narrowed about 200 yards out so respectably quick
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Westpig
>> Not really. Put your foot down and it'll certainly go.
>>
Had a job to out accelerate one this afternoon away from a set of lights
where the road narrowed about 200 yards out so respectably quick

were you in the Commer?......:-)
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - commerdriver
no in the saab but he did have a 10 yard strt as I waited till the lights went green but he started to move as soon as the lights the other way went red
the commer can race lorries but I wouldnt try anything quicker she's an old lady and gets driven as such
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Westpig
the commer can race lorries but I wouldnt try anything quicker she's an old lady
and gets driven as such


i think everyone should have an 'old lady'.......mine's an old Triumph.... The pleasure I get out of that old thing is immeasurable, even though for economic reasons she's currently off road.

When i think that i've never cured the oil leaks and supect i never will.... and being a dynamo the battery retention has never been brilliant....and if you have all the electrics on at once, something will have to give......... and 1 speed wipers in the rain............and really heavy steering, despite the world's largest steering wheel..........so what!
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - commerdriver
Totally agree there are great vehicles for pressing on or commuting long distances but there are also great vehicles for enjoying the drive at a more leisurely pace, pulling in so you are not holding people up of course.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Avant
"My lifetime MPG is 51 (calculated manually), and I do mainly short city trips. Long runs would do better, and reports from other UK owners suggest that mid-50s average is typical."

Interesting, KMO - I wonder, though, if the usual logic works with the Prius. My impression is that the urban MPG is exceptionally good because the electric motor is doing most of the work, but that on motorways you'd have to drive very sedately to get anything better than a 'normal' petrol engine. There's plenty of performance, but as someone was saying above with the CVT transmission you have to floor it and it's doing 5000 rpm with the resulting penalty in consumption.

The Prius brochure claims that the electric motor is equivalent to a 1.0 litre petrol unit - so when the two motors work together you get plemty of shove. It's more fun to drive that it's given credit for, and it appeals to me as a reasonably economical car without the diesel clatter: but at the moment I do too many motorway miles for a Prius to be at its best. If you live in London or any big city, and go outside the city occasionally, it would be ideal.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
The usual logic does still largely work. In my case my usual commute is very short (3 miles?), so I'm getting pretty poor mpg overall. It doesn't do well during the warm-up period - much like any car, I'd imagine.

Any longer trip boosts it. I've been tending to get a disappointing 45-48mpg on just the commute for the last few weeks, but a run from Cambridge to Kent and back over the weekend popped me back up to a 57mpg tank average.

I'd say that the best mpg is found when cruising at 50mph or so, and it's nearly as good at 60. Long runs through town are also pretty good, because it only runs the engine about 50% of the time (or less) - if you're doing a constant 30mph cruise, it will alternate between electric and engine. I think it's still better at 70mph motorway cruising than town, but the difference is less marked than in conventional cars. It is better on the motorway than a conventional petrol, but much the same as a diesel.

And yes, you do get plenty of shove, especially at low speeds (electric motor torque is inversely proportional to speed). And I wouldn't like to give the impression that the engine always leaps up to 5000rpm on hills. It doesn't struggle that much, at least until the battery's depleted; the rpm generally depends how hard you're pushing the pedal. If you don't floor it, it'll rev less.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - lotusexige
I think it's
still better at 70mph motorway cruising than town but the difference is less marked than
in conventional cars. It is better on the motorway than a conventional petrol but much
the same as a diesel.

That is what it comes down to. You need the same power to cruise at a given speed in a given car no matter where the power comes from. In the Prius the pwer comes from the petrol engine in the first place. On the motorway no gain and probably a bit of a loss compared with a manual transmission but probably similar to an automatic. Around town it is not wasteing fuel when at a standstill in traffic. When it moves in traffic it still uses power, whether from petrol engine or from the petrol engine via the battery.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Lud
There are so many Priuses in this part of town you wouldn't believe it. Waiting on a double yellow for my granddaughters to come out of school today, there was a mark I Prius, very smart, on the double yellows in front of me with, exactly opposite 9 or 10 feet away in the residents' slots, a slightly scuffed mark II. When an even newer mark II passed between them I wished I had a camera and was contracted to Toyota. Just hope the damn things arent messing up my pacemaker :o}
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Bagpuss
Well lots of discussion going on then! Just to clarify some of the points based on my 2 day experience.

The mpg figure I gave (42 according to trip computer, 40ish according to my calculation) was the US mpg figure. In old money that would be around 50 mpg. For my standards this is quite exceptional and beyond what I normally achieve in a diesel, although under different driving conditions. The last time I did this particular journey around northern California was in a GMC Envoy (horrible jurassic era 2.5 ton SUV) which I got down to an average of 9mpg according to the trip computer, admittedly involving some serious drivetrain abuse.

Apparently the Prius petrol engine is based on the Atkinson cycle which increases the efficiency at lower power outputs. I guess Toyota can get away with this concept as the electric motor is there to help out with any power peaks. In practice, under hard acceleration, the engine does not immediately spin up to 5000rpm, unless you really floor the right pedal.

There are actually quite a lot of hybrid models available in the US, mainly from Toyota (Prius, Camry, Highlander, Lexus GS, RX and LS) and Honda but also some niche models from Ford and GM. Not sure I would ever trust GM with technology that complex but these models seem to be mild hybrids without the ability to run purely on electric power. I think the reason these vehicles sell well is down to the fuel economy and the style of driving here. Pretty much all cars are automatic and americans expect to accelerate briskly and smoothly away from traffic lights with lots of low down torque, no turbo lag and no rattles, i.e. turbodiesels just don't fit to the driving style and, however economical they may be, are unlikely to win friends compared to a hybrid fitted with a brushless dc electric motor producing 350Nm of virtually silent torque at 0rpm. The only diesels I've ever seen here in any quantity are new VW Jetta TDIs and early 80s Mercedes W123s.

I'm not sure a Prius style hybrid with a diesel would work. The Prius relies on being able to start the petrol engine instantaneously which is not possible with a diesel, especially if it's cold. Maybe an alternative would be if the diesel engine ran all the time and the electric motor was just used as additional power, e.g. to get over the turbo lag, this might be a better idea.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
Diesel might not be right for a fancy parallel/series hybrid like the Prius, but diesels can work effectively in a straightforward series hybrid. The actual drive is purely electric, and the diesel operates as a generator, which can be turned on and off as required. Many "diesel" trains and most hybrid buses work like this.

This has advantages and disadvantages. It's mechanically simpler, and the engine can be even more finely tuned and controlled, and it doesn't need to be instantaneously started like in the Prius to supply torque, but you need heftier motors and electric systems, as they have to be able to supply all drive power.

I believe Mitsubishi has been talking about series hybrids. Interestingly a series hybrid is even closer to a full battery EV than the Prius - just take out the engine and fit a bigger battery pack with external charging interface, and you're there.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - glowplug
My interest in the Prius and subsequent search brought up this thread.

A nice review which pretty much confirms what I suspect about the Prius and other reviews about it. I think it would be a good choice for me and the sort of driving I do. I like different approaches to motoring which is why I like hydraulic Citroens.

One thing that does grate though is the attitude that if you drive such a car you're a smug eco tosser. But should I be more concerned what others think when I say please and thank you to rude and indifferent people?

Steve.

Edited by Webmaster on 30/07/2009 at 01:53

Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - KMO
And two years on, it's a bit more affordable - plenty of used Mk II Priuses around now for reasonable prices.

And it's been continuously coming in very close to the top of the reliability charts in surveys, which should be reassuring.

But having been a fan of the Mk II Prius (and now driving my second), I can't say I'm overly enamoured with the new Mk III - the drive system's probably better, but everything else about its design inside and out is a backwards step as far as I'm concerned. Many of the interior ergonomic innovations have been reversed, and it's now hard to avoid being given 17" cartwheels. :(

They seem to be trying to make it appear more conventional, which seems a bit odd as more hybrid versions of conventional cars come on the market, and as the Mk II sold so well.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - retgwte
Isnt one of the few differences between Prius in USA and the Prius here the rear brakes? In the US they have rear drum brakes but here they put disks on the back, mainly due to consumer pressure, and pressure from UK buyers who think their family runabout will be somehow better with disk brakes at the back

I think the whole Prius thing is misguided, you cannot blame Toyota, they are reacting to Califonia laws in a country where diesel cars dont exist because the forecourt infrastructure isnt there for the fuel sale

For most people the Fiat Panda Multijet or Fiat 500 Multijet is a far more worthy enviromentally friendly car, fantastic economy, simple(r) to maintain, and low emissions

For folk who need a car that size an Auris diesel would make more sense than a Prius

The other issue in the USA apart from poor/non availability of diesel fuel at car service areas is the fact many drivers just dont know how to drive a "stick shift" aka manual car

So for them an Auris diesel with automatic gearbox or similar would make more sense

Prius does not make sense, as much as anything because of the massive pollution caused where the batteries are produced and disposed of at both ends of the cars life

etc
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - nortones2
Massive pollution? Not so. The Daily Wail and other articles on the Sudbury nickel plant had to be retracted. The batteries are recyclable. Next canard.....
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Sofa Spud
Interesting review. I've always thought of the Prius and other hybrids as interesting developments. I've never driven one or been in one - hope to sometime, though.

I would imagine for people who normally drive automatics, the Prius is an attractive proposition as it's a gearless car which is more economical than a manual gearbox equivalent rather than less so. OK, the Toyota is a petrol/electric hybrid as opposed to an automatic with a planetary gearbox and torque converter, but they are both 2-pedal control with no need to shift gears.

Hybrid drive systems are becoming more widespread now. People say that a small diesel car is more economical than a Prius - maybe - but wait until we get small diesel/electric hybrid cars!

Edited by Sofa Spud on 29/07/2009 at 14:54

Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - legacylad
As an avowed petrolhead I too surprised myself by enjoying my 7 day rental period with a Prius back in May '08. I covered 1k miles in northern CA and found it very relaxing to drive.
Definitely the antithesis to my Feb '08 rental, a Dodge Ram Bighorn 5.3 V8 hemi (i wanted a CRV, honestly, and I drove through some big storms in the Sierras) and in Sept '08 a Mustang convertible, albeit with the smaller 4.0 V6 under the hood.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - FotheringtonThomas
Prius does not make sense as much as anything because of the massive pollution caused
where the batteries are produced and disposed of at both ends of the cars life


You've mentioned this before - what pollution are you talking about?
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - captain chaos
There are actually quite a lot of hybrid models available in the US mainly from
Toyota (Prius Camry Highlander Lexus GS RX and LS) and Honda but also some niche
models from Ford and GM. Not sure I would ever trust GM with technology that
complex >>

I would. They seemed to be advanced enough thirteen years ago when they brought out the GM Impact. Quentin Willson test drove one and seriously embarrased a Volvo T5 when it tried to beat him away from a traffic light drag race.
tinyurl.com/p98cl
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - Kiwi Gary
F.W.I.W., as a Prius owner of 3 years, 65,000 miles, bought because the technology intrigued me, I routinely get 62 - 64 mpg general use, dropping to 58 on long hauls. { Corrected for odometer error, assuming the garage fuel pumps read correctly}. Motorways are rare here, and most of our main roads are about on a par with the roads across Dartmoor in terms of twists, rises, and falls, unless you are crossing the Southern Alps, where it gets a bit steep. I did run out of battery boost then, but the system leaves the engine running the generator as well as driving the wheels, with the generator power going directly to the main motor to maintain the "lugging" torque, so not a great loss of oomph.

I can't comment on brake pad life, as I am still on the originals, even though I drive in "D", not "B" which calls up engine braking as well as regeneration. "B" costs petrol, and, on NZ pricing, brake pads are cheaper than petrol.

Note aside re the "Ready" light mentioned above, It tells you when the electronics have booted up. Try to do anything before it is "Ready", and you will get a bad-tempered chirp in reply.
Toyota Prius not rubbish to drive shock! - whoopwhoop
Had the (mis)fortune to drive a couple of Priuses....

Even when driving like Miss Daisy, the economy was no better than a modern diesel, and the noise the things make when you need to drive hard is atrocious due to the horrible CVT autobox combined with the relatively unrefined Atkinson cycle engine.

EV mode (which forces the car to run on battery only) highlights just how little the electric motor really contributes to things. In EV mode, acceleration is measured on a calendar not on a stopwatch and the motor tops out at 30mph. Oh and the battery goes flat very quickly.

Interior space is good, but boot space is bad. Interior packaging is "special".

I guess they're ok for pure stop-start city use if you really need a mid-size car.

 

Value my car