By on May 8, 2008

027177_18.jpgI know: it's been bugging me too. I mean, here we have "the world’s best-selling hybrid," a "must-have accessory for carbon-conscious show business players." A PC-mobile that's "cleaner than a smoking Beetle [and we know what it's been smoking, too]. Quieter than a roaring [where's the caps lock key when you need it] Mini. Able to leap through car pool lanes with a single occupant." And yet and Hollywood's going gaga over a multi-phallic race car from 1967. Sure, Speed Racer features a few vehicles described by The Old Gray Lady's picture captioneers as "post-petroleum cars." But c'mon! The Prius is… God! Well, it was/is His chariot. "God drove one, briefly, in 'Evan Almighty,' a [Bruce Almighty come lately] comedy that struggled at the box office when Universal released it last summer." Must've been the Prius. I'm not saying Michael Cieply's article reads like a press release for Toyota, but, as regular readers will know, I am. Why else would he include this little ditty (a.k.a. apologia)? "According to a Toyota spokeswoman the Prius goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 10.1 seconds, but could go faster if, like the Lexus hybrid, it were tuned for performance rather than efficiency." And now, back to blogging real news. 

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34 Comments on “NYT: Why Isn’t The Toyota Prius a Star?...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    You do see them frequently enough on TV.

    ADA Rubarosa (sp?) drives one on “Law and Order” and Charlie Epps drives one on “Numbers” (notably in a scene where he must escape an evil Ram pickup). I’ve noticed a few others.

    More amusingly, lately the Feds on “Numbers” pull up to the Scene Of The Crime in a black Yukon Hybrid. Well, the show IS fictional.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Why Isn’t The Toyota Prius a Star?

    It’s boring and uninteresting. It may be a good vehicle but most people just don’t have a reason to buy it. The environmental and economic benefits, as far as they go, aren’t enough reason. On top of that, I think some people just don’t trust the technology and it doesn’t help when you see videos of burning laptop batteries.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Larry David drove one during an entire season (4th season?) of Curb Your Enthusiasm

  • avatar
    geeber

    The main character on Reaper drives a Prius.

  • avatar
    Tredshift

    Because it’s UGLY???

  • avatar
    essen

    I wouldn’t buy any car with the speedo in the center of the dash, including the Mini.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Brian drove a Prius in an episode of Family Guy.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Indeed – Brian Griffin drives a Prius on several episodes of Family Guy – pretty strong endorsement.

    “Hey, barkeep! Who’s leg to do you have to hump around here to get a martini?”

  • avatar
    morbo

    Supposedly when preparing designs for Season 4 of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane specifically made Brian a Right Coast hypocritical liberal that’s all talk and little walk, with a Dennis Kucinich ’04 bumper sticker. And the car that best suits such a person….

    I still love the fact that, push come to shove, he worked at a Hummer dealership (formerly a Rain Forest cafe) to pay the bills.

  • avatar

    Reaper is great not only does the main character drive a Prius but he works for the Devil catching escaped souls from hell while holding also down his job at a home depot clone “the work bench”

    It is a very funny show and the Prius was a birthday gift from the main characters parents who felt guilty for selling their unborn son’s soul to the devil years ago.

  • avatar
    menno

    Well, essen, then the Prius can be on your short list of next-cars-to-consider-purchasing, because the speedo is in front of the driver. The screen in the middle of the instrument panel is multi-use, and can be set to show various aspects of how to drive for efficiency, reverse camera view, and nav system, depending on how the car is equipped.

    All these negative vibes! I’m a car guy too. I love the sound of a strong V8, I just don’t want to feed one any more. I like racing, I just don’t go out on the track for “practice runs” with my buddy in his Porsche any more (for one thing, he got a divorce and one major casualty was the loss of his 911).

    Well, gas just went up 20 cents as I sat at work yesterday, we’re at $3.89 for regular (and over $4 for premium) in northwestern Michigan now, and my 2008 Prius is showing 62 mpg on the cumulative meter right now. Actually, that’s because I ran across town after filling it up. At one point, the cumulative meter showed 74 mpg. But once I go home this evening, it’ll drop to a more typical 50 mpg. Still, what’s your whip doing for cumulative MPG on your commute?

    Fun to drive? Sure is fun to drive past the gas stations while I’m watching people fill their SUVs for over a hundred dollars. More fun than a SMART car which Consumer Reports said got fewer MPG than a Prius (they tested a Canadian spec DIESEL SMART car, too). Plus I have room for 4 (5 in a pinch) and actual trunk space. As for driving, ah, 0-60 in 10 seconds is fast enough. That was mid-sized V8 family sedan territory when I was a kid in the early 1960′s. Most folks seem to be slowing down in order to try to eke 13 mpg out of their SUVs and pickups instead of 12, anyway.

    No, the car is not perfect, but I do believe you all had better get used to the concept, because I truly believe it is a precurser to what the cars of the future will pretty much all be. In some form or other other, at least similar in many aspects. Maybe even powered by hydrogen some day (tongue in cheek?)

    From my perspective, the reality of the future of the automobile is not so bad as some people are making it out to be. Sure beats a horse and buggy.

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    half of the movies and tv shows have somebody driving a volvo 240.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “According to a Toyota spokeswoman the Prius goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 10.1 seconds, but could go faster if, like the Lexus hybrid, it were tuned for performance rather than efficiency.”

    Or, if it had a V8. What’s the point? If it wasn’t the car it is, it would be different?

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    No-one’s mentioned Andy from The Office yet? He bought a Prius after completing anger management training. He held onto his XTerra until last week when he sold it to Dwight. There’s a deleted scene from last season where Angela keys the new Prius.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    menno, Amen. Especially, yes, when I was a lad, 0-60 in 10 was smokin’.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Sherman Lin: It is a very funny show and the Prius was a birthday gift from the main characters parents who felt guilty for selling their unborn son’s soul to the devil years ago.

    I would have preferred a Scion tc.

    If I recally correctly, his slacker friend (the chubby one) drives either an early 1990s Cadillac Sedan DeVille or a Dodge Dynasty.

    menno: Fun to drive? Sure is fun to drive past the gas stations while I’m watching people fill their SUVs for over a hundred dollars.

    Fortunately, our choices aren’t limited to a Prius and an SUV. There are plenty of cars that are fuel-efficient and considerably more attractive. My Accord (four cylinder) is doing just fine right now.

    I don’t have “Prius hate”. I respect the engineering that Toyota put into it. But gas will have to become MUCH more expensive before I drive a Prius with its Godzilla-meets-Citroen styling.

    Of course, if gas prices do rise that much, everyone will jump on the hybrid bandwagon, which means I still won’t have to drive a Prius.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    It’s not a star because owning one is a political statement… A statement most people don’t want to be associated with.

    Why it’s not a star with Hollywood is beyond me.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Indeed – Brian Griffin drives a Prius on several episodes of Family Guy – pretty strong endorsement.

    Maybe because in one of those episodes, he got Stewie Griffin (the toddler for those un-Family Guy types) drunk and proceeded to hand him the keys to the Prius resulting in it crashing into the bar.

    Strong endorsement eh?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    My Volvo 740 (114hp/3000lbs) wouldn’t have hit 0-60 in 10 seconds short of a hurricane behind it. What’s to complain about?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I get the feeling that there is a substantial number of people out there who detest any vehicular shape that is aerodynamic.
    Perhaps in their minds vehicles are like buildings, and must be blocky with straight lines and right angles.
    To my mind, sleek organically shaped, streamlined vehicle are by and large far nicer to look at than castles on wheels.

  • avatar
    menno

    I’am with you, ttacgreg. I like aerodynamic. I like functional. The Porsche 911 is both AND it’s fun, for example. A definition of functional just depends upon what kind of functions a particular vehicle was designed for!

    I like Tatras. Any car guy or gal must get jazzed about a car with a dorsal fin, eh? (I got to see more Tatras than anyone should have a right to just this January – go to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville – hard to find but great). Lots of microcars, loads of Tatras.

    I love Citroen DS’s and ID’s. Always wanted one, never will, probably. Nearly got a CX once, while I lived in England. Another guy got there literally 5 seconds ahead of me (at the seller’s driveway).

    Interestingly, in the 1920′s, the American buying public would literally only buy cars with lines as straight as a ruler. Square boxes. “The fenders may be rounded, but that’s all”.

    By 1934, the Chrysler and DeSoto Airflow and Hupmobile Aerodynamic brought forth curves, and there was initially sales resistance. By 1936, most cars were curvy, hence the “fat fender era”.

    This ideal of wishing for boxes appears to have a cyclical appearance in car styling. The 1960′s were boxy, but by the very late 1960′s, swoopy was in (look at a 1968 Chrysler vs. a 1969).

    By the late 1970′s, square and boxy was coming back “in”. By the time the Taurus was introduced in the mid 1980′s, it heralded a return to swooping lines and aerodynamics.

    It just goes in cycles.

  • avatar
    menno

    You’re right geeber, the Prius or SUVs are not the only automotive choices.

    (smile) – you could always get a Honda Civic hybrid. That looks pretty conventional. Nice car, I tried one out.

    Glad you can appreciate my sense of humor.

  • avatar
    Tredshift

    Did I mention it’s UGLY.

    I don’t care if it does Zero to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 100 mpg (well, maybe if it did all that I’d have a change of heart), the fact remains that this thing looks just God Awful. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an uglier vehicle on the road today.

    I have nothing against Hybrids, they very well may be the way to go in the near term, but why does the car have to look hideous?

    By the way, what happens to all those lead acid batteries when they die?

  • avatar
    detroit1701

    Negative sex appeal.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Sure beats a horse and buggy.

    … and cleaning up horse crap!

  • avatar
    geeber

    menno,

    I looked at the Honda Civic hybrid, but, unlike the Prius, Honda has limited supply. They are hard to get, from what I understand.

    My wife has expressed interest in the Ford Escape hybrid for her next vehicle (she currently drives a 2005 Focus SE).

  • avatar
    ghillie

    # Tredshift :
    Did I mention it’s UGLY.

    I don’t care if it does Zero to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 100 mpg (well, maybe if it did all that I’d have a change of heart), the fact remains that this thing looks just God Awful. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an uglier vehicle on the road today.

    I have nothing against Hybrids, they very well may be the way to go in the near term, but why does the car have to look hideous?

    Ugly in your opinion of course. You could pick any car from any time and find people who think that it is hideous and others who think it’s the cat’s pyjamas – it’s just personal taste.

    By the way, what happens to all those lead acid batteries when they die?

    Umm – are there still “car” people who think that hybrids are stuffed full of lead acid batteries?

  • avatar

    IMCDB to the rescue:

    Toyota Prius in movies and TV series

  • avatar

    All this tsuris towards Priuses… and Citroens???! I don’t particularly want to own either, but they both make the world of automobiles far more interesting than it would otherwise be. Both have personality far beyond that of the average car.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The prius isn’t a star because it doesn’t scream ‘badass’. Not even in a Corky Romano orange Miata sort of way.

    I’m sure somebody could work it into some lowbrow comedy featuring a nerdy superhero, or even a live action version of Captain Planet, but then again, it probably would end up being a move that I wouldn’t care to watch anyway.

  • avatar
    cudlecub

    With attentive driving, I’m stretching around 30 mpg out of my 2002 Subaru Legacy sedan. I’m in the market for a new car and am highly considering a Prius. I think it’s one of the least visually appealing vehicles out there, next to the new accords. But every day I drive by the gas stations and see another price jump, the Prius becomes more and more appealing to my eyes. I’m holding out for a 2009 model that I’ve read may get over 70 mpg. For that fuel economy, I’d even drive one in Mary Kay pink.

    What I don’t understand is why it doesn’t get better fuel economy. Back in the days, the Geo Metro got well over 50 mpg with a 3 cylinder and so did the Honda Civic CRX HF.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    The batteries in all of the current crop of hybrids are Nickel-Metal Hydride. Given current and likely future commodity prices its safe to assume they will be recycled into new batteries. Automotive and industrial batteries already have a recycle rate > 90%.

    I enjoyed the South Park Episode “Smug Alert!” that makes fun of the holier-than thou nature of some Hybrid Drivers. They call the Toyota the Pious.

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    menno

    Well with mostly highway to the office this week was at 15.3mpg but when doing some city driving today it is down to 14.3mpg. :)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    What I don’t understand is why it doesn’t get better fuel economy. Back in the days, the Geo Metro got well over 50 mpg with a 3 cylinder and so did the Honda Civic CRX HF.

    http://money.cnn.com/2007/12/17/autos/honda_civic_hf/index.htm

    It’s still doable if you don’t mind driving around a car with no power steering, power brakes, or air-conditioning, and are willing to live with a car that has a two- or one- star crash rating.


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