By on June 26, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight: There are very few inanimate objects which inspire my personal appreciation, respect, and interest as much as the 2010 Toyota Prius does. It’s a happy-faced, slick, aerodynamically-optimized, practical, comfortable and dead-reliable vehicle which exists for the sole purpose of letting concerned Americans feel like they are making a small but genuine difference in their efforts to reduce their consumption of the world’s finite resources.

I will go to my grave believing that Toyota made an incredible corporate gamble to spend a billion of their hard-earned dollars against all odds to commit to the development and production of the Prius in the mid-nineties right during a period of historic low oil prices for the sole purpose of arming Toyota with the advanced technology for a global future of ever-scarcer oil, and that the Prius began to make a profit years sooner than is often rumored, in a way that no automotive nameplate that does not begin with “Toyota” would consider even vaguely possible. Over time, the Prius has opened the eyes and minds of many of its most ardent detractors. In my perfect world, it would extend the same service to the few remaining narrow-minded, mouth-breathing, blinders-wearing, right-shoulder-passing mullet-mobile owners.

A little harsh, lacking in punctuation, and yet strangely familiar? My rant is a word-for-word mirror image of an anti-Prius diatribe heard here at TTAC recently. Well, the Prius does tend to generate highly polarizing points of view. Which evoke less-than stellar memories of my high-school hallways and the Vietnam War era. Back then, the rant was “America, love it or leave it”. And now we’re wishing death to . . . owners of a certain car?

But Jack Baruth’s editorial moves on to the more mundane question of how we at TTAC should rate cars (in the number of stars sense). Your vote in the poll is overwhelmingly clear: 86% prefer Option #1 — Rate the car in accordance with how well it performs its particular intended mission. I hear you, and Jack and I actually agree on something.

From the beginning, the Prius was conceived of and designed to be one thing only: an ultra-efficient, economical and practical compact car (here’s an interesting story on its origins). So I’ll leave the critique of the Prius’ Corolla-like interior appointments, steering feel and handling and the Prius’ limitations in flying up long mountain grades to others. Anyway, my feelings about the Corolla have been made quite clear here. And the 2010 Prius and current Corolla are more alike then ever, both having been “rationalized” (rationed?) by Toyota in the pursuit of cost control and higher profits.

I tested a stripper 2010 Prius II with a price of $22,000 (plus $750 delivery) bought by my neighbor. A comparably equipped Corolla XLE lists for $19,489. The “hybrid premium” amounts to $3261. Ownership costs for both vehicles are very similar except for fuel. At $3 gas, and 15k miles annually, the Prius saves $652/year; at $5 gas, it’s $1100/year thriftier.

My neighbor is replacing a Corolla she bought new twenty years ago (and still looks great). She expects to keep the Prius equally long. Given the likely twenty-year trend of gas prices, she’s going to come out way ahead with the Prius. In fact, if gas averages only $5, the Prius will repay its entire purchase cost in fuel cost savings. Pious or practical?

I took the Prius on a sixty-mile drive of back roads with winding and hilly sections as well as long straights and returned via the freeway. It did not come as a big surprise to me that response was quicker in the Power mode than in the Eco mode Nor should it to you or other test drivers. And the “OM” emitted by the engine on acceleration and hills would be highly appreciated by certain meditative sects. They would also undoubtedly rate the Prius’ serene highway manners highly for Zen Driving Meditation.

I’m not a practiced Prius hypermiler, but with a little sensitivity to the pedal formerly known as the throttle, I found myself in pure EV-only operation for some extended periods on winding, undulating stretches at around 40-45 mph. The Prius felt like it was coasting with the engine off . . . even uphill. A new challenge for engaging driving that doesn’t shred tires.

But no test of the Prius is complete without some freeway shenanigans. No attempts to break the 300km/h barrier here. But drafting behind a semi at 61 mph shot the economy meter into the 100+ mpg range (see photo for proof). And then the ultimate Prius test: holding up traffic in the right lane. On a thirty-mile level stretch in the valley, cruise-controlled 65mph yielded 55+ mpg. Being even more obnoxious, at 60mph the meter was well over 60 mpg. Unfortunately, traffic was so light that I couldn’t really create a traffic jam or inspire right-shoulder passing, despite my best efforts. My trip total was just a tick over 50 mpg, despite forcing the Prius to chant lots of OMs.

On the way back through town, I made good use of the 2010 Prius’ most significant new feature, the EV Mode. It allows speeds up to about 15mph for as long as a mile, absolutely perfect for sneaking up on and scaring unsuspecting pedestrians and bikers.

Cars are kind of like people: they’re happier when they stick to their intended life mission and are judged accordingly. The Prius knows its mission and carries it out well. It’s a practical, comfortable, reliable and u;tra-efficient transportation device. It’s earned a bit of smugness along with its five stars.

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123 Comments on “Review: 2010 Toyota Prius – Take Two...”


  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Agreed its a great Car and well designed, the only flaw I note is the CVT Transmission! They are un repairable, they have to be replaced at a High Cost, its the same problem currently with the Mini, recently in the local Ontario press there are a few clips of people having to replace there Transmissions on Mini? BMW is quoting over $10,000 dollars for such replacement, in one case they offered to pay 50%, the owner rejected it, and so it goes.

  • avatar
    tooling designer

    2010 Toyota Prius – std equipment: smug

    this is a car for grandstanders and posers but little else

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      The very fact that others hate the car would be a major reason for me to buy one. Some people deserve to to be tweaked.

      I haven’t sat into a 2010 Prius yet, but suspect the front console intruding on the driver’s knee room would be a veto. Also, the hybrid premium may pay off too slowly on my highway commute.

  • avatar

    Critics of TTAC often assume that every opinion expressed on this site is shared by everyone who writes for it. In fact, this site encourages writers to express a diversity of opinions. This review can serve as Exhibit A.

    I haven’t been able to drive the new Prius yet. The styling is certainly an improvement, and the interior is much roomier and better finished than that in the competing Insight.

    TrueDelta will have reliability stats for the 2010 Prius as soon as possible. The previous generation car has been very reliable. We also provide real-world fuel economy information on the car.

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Prius.php

  • avatar
    salhany

    I echo the praise not just for the car, but for more reviews by different columnists here of the same vehicles. Exactly what I was hoping for from TTAC.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    I still have to agree that this is a car for people that hate cars. Personally I don’t hate the Prius. It is still an ugly car, but those “finite resources” (lol) that it’s saving is what my Jeep is using. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      The Prius is NOT for people who hate cars. I like cars and have four of them, one a 2010 Prius. I also have a Mini Cooper. They are both fun to drive, but in different ways. The Mini handles well, is fun to run through the gears, and is “cute.” In the Prius, it is fun just to let off the “gas” or step on the brake, knowing that you are recovering energy rather than converting momentum to heat. Also, the Prius has that long floor with the back seat folded down, which is great for transporting R/C airplanes and surf boards. Basically put, while they are different, both a Prius and a Mini are very good for their intended purpose.

  • avatar
    harristheodd

    For me, the first time I drove a 2nd Gen Prius was a geeky joy ride. Great size inside, got you where you wanted to go and had fun buttons and screens. This one ups the ante by being a road going spaceship in looks and gadgetry and for that I love it. Looks depend strongly on color, though.

    I love my planet, but I’m not duped into thinking this car is going to save anything. Ride a bike instead and let those of us who like pretty buttons and whiz-bang technology “om” ourselves along pretending we’re Buck Rogers.

  • avatar

    If you keep a car for a long time, this car is worth the extra money vs. a Corolla. If you need to drive BIG ENGINE Monsters, then this isn’t for you.

  • avatar

    The whole “smug” thing is as much BS (the bull kind, not the Bertel kind) as any other stereotype. See it repeated often enough, and it must be true, right?

    TrueDelta has hundreds of Prius owners participating in its research, and I hear from them often. They are often proud of the fuel economy of their cars, much as TDI owners are. In neither case do owners write as if this makes them better than other car owners. If anything, I find them much more helpful than the typical car owner.

    Oddly enough (or not), it’s people who have the attitude that “no one else is going to tell me what to buy” who suggest that Prius owners are smug and should be buying something else.

    As for the CVT, that used in the Prius and other Toyota hybrids is a totally different type than that used with conventional powertrains. The Prius CVT is not based on belts and pulleys, but on planetary gearsets. No where else you can find planetary gearsets? In conventional automatics.

  • avatar

    Concerning the interior of this car, there’s a lot of the little things that imports seem to always do better than the domestics in this. Like the space found under the center-console. That’s ingenious!

    Toyota did a fine job of making this car very livable and utilitarian for what it is. I would never own one, however, just not me. Though I do envy the all-electric quietness of that mode.

  • avatar

    As I’ve said before, I prefer my internal combustion straight, like my bourbon. But I’m very happy that a lot of other people are driving the Prius, and other gas saving cars, since it extends world supplies of the magic hydrocarbon that much further, and reduces ghg emissions.

    Terrific review, made me smile in spots. Very glad TTAC saw fit to get another perspective on this car. Thanks!

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    “My neighbor is replacing a Corolla she bought new twenty years ago (and still looks great). She expects to keep the Prius equally long.”

    Cost of replacement batteries? I don’t know if this is truth or rumor, but I’ve heard that the gas mileage of the Prius decreases steadily over the course of ownership as its batteries age?

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      A friend has a 2005 Prius with ~150K miles, and he has seen no change in mpg. The car has the original battery.

      I see different numbers thrown around for battery cost, but I think it’s about $3K for a new battery from a dealer. Can anyone confirm that? Also, used batteries for gen 2 cars are available from wrecks. The batteries would still be on warranty for nearly all Gen 3 Prii.

  • avatar
    snabster

    Two things have always bothered with with respect to the Prius.

    1. Was this car meant for the US or for Japan? Building a hybrid for Japan always made a certain amount of sense with higher gas taxes there. They’ve been living with $5 gas (100% imported) for years. But I sense the Prius was designed more for the US market, which is a gamble.

    2. For three years, I’ve been arguing that the feds should mandate MPG readouts (and other pollution displays) in all new cars. The pollution displays are just guilt porn: if you emissions system is faulty a CEL will pop up anyway. But if you really make it easy for drivers to understand how much gas they are using at any one time you can see savings en masse. I know. Carteresque. But what all prius owners rave about is their MPG display, which I’ve had in a SAAB since the late 90s.

    (I read the link, which was helpful, but it does sound as if Toyota envisioned this as a global engine and then tailored it to the US as it became a success)

  • avatar
    Jason

    I think the exterior looks pretty nice. If the interior was not so poisonous to my eyes, I’d consider owning one.

    Well, maybe not, hybrids don’t seem to do well in Canada because of cold weather battery performance, but I don’t have a hate-on for the car like some others.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    I don’t get the oft-repeated idea that “the Prius is for people who hate cars.” I don’t drive a Prius, and probably never will. My current car is a Saab with a 5 speed manual, and I enjoy the whistle, honk and pish of the turbo, thankyouverymuch. I have always prioritized driving enjoyment and involvement above all else.

    Still, how can you call yourself a car enthusiast and not appreciate the Prius? It is a technical tour de force, a car you can buy today that remains a fantasy proposition for most carmakers. It is, by all accounts, well-built, reliable and a true performance car relative to its chief mission – efficiency. Others can debate whether the cost equation makes sense, the styling, driving dynamics, etc., but Toyota has hit one out of the park in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      Great post, PartsUnknown. I don’t get the “Prius is for people who hate cars” either. I have a Prius, and a Mini Cooper. A friend who has a Prius, and two Ferraris. Neither of us sound like people who hate cars.

      I like the gas mileage of the Prius, and also the hatchback versatility, but, also, the technology of the Prius is really cool. The thing is ungodly complex, but the gen II Prii have a very good reliability record. I hope the new one does as well.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    This review, in contrast to the earlier poor review of the Prius, does tell more of the story. I took issue with the earlier review because it basically trashed the car by not taking its intended purpose into context. Between the two contrasting reviews I can now find some inner peace. Thanks.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Why can’t this car be just for people who want to save gas and drive around in a decent car?

    It’s like people who drive big trucks. It ain’t because they have a small dick, they might have to tow something and like going offroad, or just like the space. Don’t assume the person has issues or is trying to smother people with environmentalism ideals.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t understand why the 2010 Prius should get a pass for it’s Dodge Durango steering feel, bad handling, and an interior that looks worse and seems less ergonomic than the 2004-2009 version just because it does a good job with its high MPG mission. IMO, the loss of the popular readout screen alone would have kept it away from 5 stars.

    This is an odd comparison, but if a Challenger SRT8 was reviewed wouldn’t it get criticized for its handling and interior shortcomings despite it looking, sounding, and going like the throwback muscle car it intends to be?

    I’m not asking for the Prius to be a GTI here, but would giving the Prius (at least optionally) some sharper Civic-type dynamics really be a major problem?

  • avatar
    jmo

    One thing that isn’t mentioned is all the technology in the Prius that will hopefully filter down to other cars. For example: the Prius has no belts. The power steering, AC, fan, etc. are all electric. This provides not only better gas mileage but it’s more durable, reliable, and it requires less maintenance.

  • avatar

    The first-generation Prius was developed for Japan. My understanding is that after that they’ve been designed with the U.S. also in mind–hence the increasing engine size and interior space.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    A terrific review that made a totally convincing argument. The only problem I had is that since my attention span is usually no longer than 15 seconds, I couldn’t find the end of the first sentence of the second paragraph.

    On another note. Sometimes when reading a car review, I have to think: what would Setright say? In the case of the Prius, I’m stumped. On the one hand, he appreciated sophistication (and was always quick to criticize American cars as hopelessly vulgar and meanly engineered). And he loved Hondas for their intelligence and thoroughness. On the other hand, he hated Toyota’s cynical disregard to driving enjoyment. I think Setright would laud Toyota for this technical tour de force, and yet he’d complain that the Prius’s pleasures are needlessly intellectual and stingy.

  • avatar
    vww12

    «The “hybrid premium” amounts to $3261. At $3 gas, and 15k miles annually, the Prius saves $652/year; at $5 gas, it’s $1100/year thriftier»

    At 5% interest rate, it takes 5 years, 8 months to just amortize on the $3621 extra @ $3/gallon.

    At 5% interest , it takes 3 years, 4 months just to get amortize on the #3621 extra @ $5/gallon.

    This car only makes financial sense if you plan to keep it for at least four years. If you plan to keep it for say, ten years, are you sure its maintenance costs will be the same as those of the Corolla?

  • avatar
    tymbo70

    Paul, nice review. I rented one recently in SoCal and found the car completely adequate for it’s job as an ultra-efficient transportation pod. Was it invigorating? Nope. Gratifying? Maybe. I certainly chuckled when I returned the rental Prius without filling the tank up after a 60-mile trip.

    I live in (arguably) the Prius capital of the US, Berkeley, CA. It seems like one in twenty cars is a Prius, and rightly so as speed limits in town are 30mph or less with tons of stop lights. This is a perfect environment for a Prius. If I needed a new car, I would consider a Prius because my driving is all within 5 miles of home with 90% urban driving. Use the right tool for the job, right? If I had a long highway commute I would look at a VW Jetta TDI…If I had more $$ and could do some track racing perhaps a Exige S…

    As for the smugness, there are so many hybrids around here they just blend into the autoscape. I laughed out loud at Mr. Baruth’s editorial, particularly the line about the “smug, open-mouthed, emo-glasses-wearing, lane-blocking owners.” It’s true, there are some smug hybrid @$$holes but smug peeps also drive SUVs and sports cars (and shopping carts, this IS Berkeley after all). Can Prius haters get over their inadequacies and just buy other cars? To each their own. If I had a Prius I would just feel good that I was saving money on gas and hopefully making a difference in greenhouse gas emissions. No smugness there.

    Last story: Once, as a pedestrian, at a four-way stop I saw four Prius each silently idling, waiting their turn. Weird.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Your friend who might keep it 20 years will likely have to replace the batteries twice. This is a big-ticket item. If she re-sells after more than just a few years, the next buyer will deduct the battery replacement cost from the price.

    Environmentally-aware buyers need to take into account the contaminants created by the battery manufacturing process. Of course, these prigs can rest secure in the knowledge that the neighbors admiring their greenness will never ask. That would be as un-eco as questoning the ethanol boondoggle, or global warming junk science.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Well I have owned a 2004 Prius and think it is the best car in the world.. bar none. But since I have had knee surgery and will need another one in the future, I don’t know how much longer I will be driving the Prius. My only complaint is the tight fit for such a big guy as I am. The larger doors of the Sienna and the Avalon have started to get my attention and I will most likely trade up to one of these in the near future. I just wished they made a larger PRius type car that had the easier access of the larger vehicles. I will keep hoping for such an option.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Critics of TTAC often assume that every opinion expressed on this site is shared by everyone who writes for it. In fact, this site encourages writers to express a diversity of opinions. This review can serve as Exhibit A.

    There’s nothing wrong with editorials that some of us disagree with… it’s the ones that insult a segment of the readership that might be a problem.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    While this readership sometimes expresses odd opinions, none are odder than the extremely perjorative ones directed at the Prius. Good grief, can’t some folks just let it go? Nobody is forced to buy one. I certainly don’t intend to. This reminds me somewhat of when Bush’s father opined that he didn’t like broccoli. Like the world really cared, right? I’m guessing that at least he tried it, though.

  • avatar
    windswords

    OK, I’m digging the diversity of opinions stuff but I’m still waiting for a review of a domestic that says it sucks followed by a review of the same car saying no it’s good and then a review of an import that says it’s good followed by a review of the same car saying no it sucks.

  • avatar
    Hank

    “Cars are kind of like people: they’re happier when they stick to their intended life mission, and are judged accordingly.”

    And this is why I find lots cars that are often talked down by sites such as this to be quite good cars despite the flack (that’s not a cut at TTAC, print rags are far worse about thinking only a BMW & Porche produce cars with round tires).

    Lots of “car guys” are in fact not at all “car guys” because they don’t get this. In truth, they are “a-particular-type-of-car guys” with narrow focus. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of us have just found appealing any car that can do what it was designed to do exceptionally well. Judging a Prius for its cornering ability and 0-60 times misses the point terribly.

  • avatar

    windswords : OK, I’m digging the diversity of opinions stuff but I’m still waiting for a review of a domestic that says it sucks followed by a review of the same car saying no it’s good and then a review of an import that says it’s good followed by a review of the same car saying no it sucks.

    Already been done. Sort of: I reviewed the Town Car, overall it was positive. Alex Dykes did the same, hated it. Then I also drove a Camry LE (sucked) and a Camry SE (kinda nice)…

    While there is no point to what I said, this is where I compliment Paul for his perspective on the Prius. Most every car has a mission, and its our job to explain that mission and why the car is good/bad at it.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Michael Karesh I agree about the whole “smug” thing (damn you South Park!)
    For thier own reasons an owner of any vehicle type can be smug. Such as, “I drive a three ton SUV, if I get in a wreck your lesser vehicle, you get killed and I walk away unhurt”
    There is even a certain smugness in labelling someone else smug. :)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Cost of replacement batteries? I don’t know if this is truth or rumor, but I’ve heard that the gas mileage of the Prius decreases steadily over the course of ownership as its batteries age?

    Yes, but not so much as you’d think. The Prius’ battery management software is very good at preventing the kind of deep charge/discharge cycles that prevent battery rot. This is one huge advantage Toyota has over, say, Honda. Many original, high-mileage Priuses (fleet units) have not seen performance decay while many Insights and Civic Hybrids do.

    Basically, you’ve got eight years of warranty. There are many, many cars that won’t get that kind of usage out of their head gasket or automatic transmission, both of which cost as much as the Prius’ battery pack.

  • avatar
    afabbro

    “My neighbor is replacing a Corolla she bought new twenty years ago (and still looks great). She expects to keep the Prius equally long. Given the likely twenty-year trend of gas prices, she’s going to come out way ahead with the Prius.”

    …assuming nothing goes wrong with it. I’m sure the Prius is a well-engineering vehicle, but there’s still a lot of new tech. No one owns a twenty-year-old hybrid. If it turns out the batteries don’t last twenty years and you have to replace them, your math might not work. You’re taking a gamble on the long-term costs of maintaining tech that doesn’t have much of a track record yet.

    “In fact, if gas averages only $5, the Prius will repay its entire purchase cost in fuel cost savings.”

    These sort of calculations are fine, but they ignore the opportunity cost of the money. When you factor that in (what if you’re taken the $3200 hybrid premium and invested it?) does the math still work?

    I’m not saying the Prius is perhaps not a good car, the right car for your neighbor, etc. But there seems to be a need for owners to justify their ownership based solely on the gas savings. It’s like there is some inferiority complex – “well, it is an ugly, utilitarian car, but LOOK at the savings!”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This car only makes financial sense if you plan to keep it for at least four years. If you plan to keep it for say, ten years, are you sure its maintenance costs will be the same as those of the Corolla?

    It’s probably marginally better to compare the Prius to the Matrix, Camry or Venza, size-wize, as it’s more accommodating than the Corolla by a good margin. As for the maintenance costs, well, it’ll likely be close even older Priuses are proving to be thoroughly reliable.

    I’m really glad to see a review of the base Prius instead of the loaded trim levels. This is the car I think more people will buy, and it makes much more sense as it comes with all of what you’d need in a car. A lot of the criticisms in many reviews have cited the easily-over-35K price tag of the top-trim model. This one, starting at just slightly more than a comparable Matrix, is very palatable.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “are you sure its maintenance costs will be the same as those of the Corolla?”

    I’m willing to bet the costs will be lower. The engineers at Toyota had more leeway in ordering the best parts for the Prius. Toyota was afraid of hybrid technology having a bad reputation for unreliability so they went all out with the quality.

    Corolla engines on the other hand presumably were told to build to a price rather than a standard.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    A friend of mine bought a first gen of these years ago. He knew nothing about cars, still does not. I drove it a few times, other than heavy steering and some brake weirdness, it seemed OK as transportation. Suprisingly big and comfortable tho.

    It takes a little to get used to the engine shutting down instead of ideling, but it really makes sense to provide that feature, even in cars that are not hybrids. Why waste gas and spew unnecessary fumes. Especially in cities, that is so appreciated.

    Another friends Honda Civic hybrid is a little different, you cannot run it on electric only. The electric motor acts as sort of a supercharger, it works flawlessly, seamlessly.

    Again, heavy steering and weird braking are the only things I noticed.

    Both these vehicled return amazing fuel comsumption numbers. My VW returns returns 32 mpg in mixed traffic, less on hooning days. Both the hybrids do way better.

    As for hooning, thats not what these cars are about. You would not buy a Buick LeSabre if you wanted to carve corners. Same here. One does not buy these cars to drive for fun. These cars, like the majority of cars out there, provide simple transportation, in varying levels of comfort.

    My VW can be tossed easily, putting a smile on my face and panic on my passengers face. I like that. No one would use these hybrids for that.

    I hope someone makes a hybrid car thats fun to drive. I would love to dance by gas stations on my flings into the woods. So far no good. There are however a few deisels that are fun to drive and have high milage numbers. I would love to see the Golf GTD varient sold here in the states.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    Why is it ok to be smug about a fast car, old car, rebuilt car, modified car, first car, and all other forms of car, but it is not ok to be smug about an eco car?

    Honest, who is the bigger bore, the know-nothing rich guy who buys a car because of its prestige value, or the tree-hugger who is trying to “better the environment”? Both of these people are trying to say something about their values, but we figure that one is acceptable while the other needs to be called out? We all try to say something about who we are with our possessions: our SUV tells other suburbanites that we are really tough outdoorsmen/women; our Volvos tell others that we are safety freaks; our minivans tell others that we have given up and are waiting for the cold embrace of death. And, with some exceptions, people feel smug about their cars.

    Let’s just accept that not everyone wants to go fast, and that does not make them losers.

  • avatar
    DearS

    When I try hyper miling in my E34, I get about 26mpg average, maybe. I miss getting better mileage, but I decided it was not worth driving FWD or irritating cars.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I hope someone makes a hybrid car thats fun to drive.

    There’s the defunct Honda Accord hybrid, as well as the Lexus GS400h. I don’t think that’s what you meant, though.**

    The problem is that sporty hybrids face the same issues as GM’s hybrid half-ton trucks: the intersection between “hybrid” and “sporty” is very slim and, commercially, not worth catering to at this time.

    ** though if I ever win the lottery, I’m signing the papers on a GS400h the same day.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I don’t like the 2010 as well as the 2009. It seems like the cheapness of the new one (which was actually well-stated in the earlier review) is not going to win over many owners of the previous model. Of particular note is the complete elimination of the Multi-Function Display (MFD). Among other things, it means that, unlike the earlier car, the back-up camera is not available on non-Nav equipped cars.

    OTOH, for those who aren’t Prius-savvy, this review isn’t really far off the mark, either, and for those buyers, the 2010 will probably be just fine. I would anticipate Prius sales to continue their steady, upward trajectory.

  • avatar
    Monty

    “My neighbor is replacing a Corolla she bought new twenty years ago (and still looks great)…”

    Ummm, is there any chance that she is selling the car? Hmmm, please?

    Who wouldn’t want to buy that from her? It’s probably been babied, been regularly serviced, washed, vacuumed and waxed, and I bet it doesn’t yet burn oil.

    This is why Toyota is at the top.
    Twenty years ago they built a car, that if you did basic maintenance to, would last twenty-five years or more. If it still doesn’t have any rust, it’s porbably going to outlast me.

  • avatar
    James2

    ajla nailed it.

    There’s no reason the Prius shouldn’t have engaging dynamics –but that would probably not be the Toyota way– which is why I still believe the star rating is more appropriately valued by a car’s aspects that transcend its intended mission in life and enable it to do other things well.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “There’s no reason the Prius shouldn’t have engaging dynamics ”

    Yes there is. A firmer suspension would lead to a harsher ride. To get decent ride quality and a firm suspension you need a more sophisticated and expensive suspension setup. If money went into the suspension it would have to come at the expense of something else: reliablity, durablity, efficiency, etc.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Monty, It’s for sale, an automatic wagon, 200k miles, runs like a top; she’s asking something like $1750.

    Martin Schwoerer, Don’t blame me for the long run-on sentence; I just copied Jack Baruth’s rant and changed some of the words – mirror image, as I said. Did you read it?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    There’s no reason the Prius shouldn’t have engaging dynamics

    Well, actually there are several.

    Good tires go a long way to bettering handling, but murder fuel economy over the eco donuts the Prius uses now. Increasing wheel size also increases unsprung weight, which further penalizes fuel economy.

    Next up, engineering the likes of Mazda or Honda’s independent suspension in lieu of the rear beam eats into trunk and battery space and adds cost and complexity to the whole car. A more taught suspension also adds harshness and noise, which requires noise-dampening material (which weighs more) to compensate.

    I’m sure that, if Toyota could make it work, they’d have blessed the car with a 3-Series’ (or at least a Mazda6′s) suspension, but that would have entailed compromises elsewhere, in price or in packaging. Note that Mazda, who has access to Ford’s hybrid technology, does not seem to have the business case to make a 3- or 6 hybrid, and the more normal Civic hyrbid (which suffers the aforementioned price and packaging issues) sells at a fraction of the Prius’ volume.

  • avatar
    virages

    Isn’t it the Prius III that you tested, not the Prius II?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    virages, Prius II, as in the trim level offered, not generation.

  • avatar
    Shogun

    Holy hell, jumping from a one-star review to a five-star review? Never seen that before.
    Anyways, let me actually read the review and get my thoughts straight..

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Already been done. Sort of: I reviewed the Town Car, overall it was positive. Alex Dykes did the same, hated it. Then I also drove a Camry LE (sucked) and a Camry SE (kinda nice)…

    Also, IIRC, RF hated the GT500 and JL loved it…

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    Rate the car in accordance with how well it performs its particular intended mission.

    OK. Fair enough. BUT, if that’s the case, explain this:

    So I’ll leave the critique of the Prius’ Corolla-like interior appointments, steering feel and handling and the Prius’ limitations in flying up long mountain grades to others.

    Woah-Woah-Woah! ALL cars need to steer, hence is it is a part of the “intended mission” of every car. How on Earth can you just dodge addressing that aspect of the vehicle?

    Regardless of whether or not others have addressed it, you don’t get a pass if you’re going to objectively judge the car. You can’t just *ignore* negative aspects of a car if they’re as integral as um… STEERING. Steering is kinda important, Mr. Niedermayer.

    Seriously. That latter sentence could just as easily read:

    “So I’ll leave the critique of every negative aspect of the car to others, and I’ll instead focus only on the positive.”

    If every TTAC reviewer simply chose to ignore every attribute that *happened to be a negative* for a particular car, we’d have one hell of a lot of five-star reviews. That’s for *damn* sure.

    Heloooooooooo bias.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    “I hope someone makes a hybrid car thats fun to drive.”

    There’s the defunct Honda Accord hybrid, as well as the Lexus GS400h. I don’t think that’s what you meant, though.**

    as a hybrid, the gs450h is a joke. It’s fuel economy ratings are marginally better than the gs350 and it’s not worth the premium you’ll pay for it.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • avatar

    Jerseydevil: My VW can be tossed easily, putting a smile on my face and panic on my passengers face. I like that. No one would use these hybrids for that.

    Oh, I don’t know. Last summer I drove Steve and Lynn Biddle’s new 2009 on the outer Cape’s incredibly twisty Old County Road, with them in the car. I had to cajole Lynn a bit, as I was driving well past her comfort zone. It did a pretty good job of carving up Old County. Look, I said, “it goes like a banshee, just like Tom Tancredo said!” (Thanks to the torquey electric motor.) Tancredo, former Colorado congressman, and former 2008 pres candidate, told me he bought the car so that he could drive on DC’s HOV lanes without a passenger. You can read what he and the other last-round presidential candidates had to say about what they drive here http://tinyurl.com/prescandidatescars

    Of course, I’m not going to buy one, and neither my brother nor the Biddles are going to drive the way I do. But I bet the driving dynamics of the “Pious” are superior to those of Joe Biden’s ’67 Corvette, or Bill CLinton’s and Newt Gingrich’s ’67 ‘stangs. I’d rather drive Jerseydevil’s VW, but it’s amazing what you can get these days.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      ” But I bet the driving dynamics of the “Pious” are superior to those of Joe Biden’s ’67 Corvette, or Bill CLinton’s and Newt Gingrich’s ’67 ‘stangs. ”

      …and the driving dynamics of a Prius are better than all but a handful of the SUV’s and pickups that make up almost 50% of the U.S. fleet.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    Quote… “And now we’re wishing death to . . . owners of a certain car?”

    And the fact that the “owners of a certain car” have been HATIN’ ON and WISHING TO DEATH the owners of those God Damned, Death Dealing, View Blocking, Gas Guzzling, Planet Killing, Global Heating, Automotive Dinosaurs known as SUV’s for YEARS is somehow suddenly irrelevant??? Really???

    Now that they are receiving the same name calling vitriol they’ve been spewing for YEARS, they suddenly just want to get along and be free to drive they’re ecowarrior status symbol without ridicule… Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @jmo, psarhjinian:

    Toyota offers a stiffer suspension on the Corolla and Camry. They used to offer one on the Prius too, so there is no “all Toyotas must drive like a Buick Park Avenue” mandate.

    Would it really kill Toyota to make a 2010 Prius XRS with the double wishbone rear suspension setup off the Matrix (The Matrix doesn’t offer any less trunk room than the 2010 Prius), better seats, P215/45R17 tires, TRD roll bars and strut brace all priced at about $25K?

    If they are afraid about diluting the Prius branding, then why not just pull a HS250h, and reskin the “sporty Prius” as a Scion?

    Yes, mileage might suffer some, but it should still be in the mid-40s, which remains very good. And it is true that a more dynamic Prius would be harsher, but not unreasonably so. It isn’t like the Civic EX, VW Rabbit, Saturn Astra, Mazda5, or Mazda3 have loud, punishingly hard Nismo 370Z-style ride characteristics.

    Also, you can get “mileage murdering” wider, larger tires on the 2010 Prius, but you must buy the most expensive “Prius V” trim level to get them. I hate that. Why doesn’t Toyota offer a “tire package” so one can buy these on any trim level?

    I haven’t driven the 2010 Prius, but I had a horrible time driving a non-Touring 2008 Prius. The Touring version upgraded the experience to Elantra-grade. This isn’t a 0-60 issue either. The Astra XR is a slow car, but I still had a good time driving it around.

    Why does Toyota seem so content to surrender the “high-MPG but still engaging to drive” part of the world to European diesel cars?

    I would love to get 40-50 MPG out of my car, but I’m not willing to give up so much of the driving experience to get it.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      “Why doesn’t Toyota offer a “tire package” so one can buy these on any trim level?”

      Maybe because no one would buy the “tire package.” I, for one, would rather buy aftermarket wheels and tires, and truly individualize the car. I have some 16 inch wheels sitting around with 2/3 worn performance tires that I’m going to try on my Prius this summer, to see what affect it has on handling, and mpg.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Would it really kill Toyota to make a 2010 Prius XRS with the double wishbone rear suspension setup off the Matrix (The Matrix doesn’t offer any less trunk room than the 2010 Prius), better seats, P215/45R17 tires, TRD roll bars and strut brace all priced at about $25K?

    I’m betting they figure (correctly I’d assume) that there really isn’t a market for such a vehicle. Or, I should say, no market large enough to justify all the extra expense.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    The secret to the success of this car is it’s styling. The first generation didn’t sell because it looked like everything else. It was also kinda ugly and misshapen, in an old Japanese sedan from the 1980′s way. But the BIG secret to the success of the Prius is the fact that you cannot buy one that is NOT a hybrid. So every Prius makes a statement.

    I believe most Prius drivers WOULD NOT drive one of the other hybrids available, except the new Honda Insight – another statement Hybrid.

    There are other hybrids out there sold by Ford, Mercury and Honda. But they look like normal cars, and this is the reason the Prius outsells them. The Prius makes a declaration, a political statement. There is a reason that 99.9% of Prius drivers are cookie cutter similiar, politically.

    So please don’t pretend that people drive these cars because they want an efficient good car. They drive this hybrid over the others because they want to make a statement about their vehicle.

    This puts them in the same kind of category as big-rig SUV drivers, pony car drivers, and other poseurs. Prius drivers expect respect just like the drivers of these other vehicles.

    This opens them up, just as it did for HUMMER drivers and drivers of Toyota Sequoias, to ridicule – and the for same reasons. They are making a lifestyle statement, just as these vehicle drivers.

    If I want a hybrid, I’d rather drive a Fusion. It is a matter of class and taste. No one needs to know my politics.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      I would not buy a hybrid other than a Prius, because the others are not hatchbacks. I don’t get the oft-made comparison between a Prius and a Corolla. The Prius is not a more expensive Corolla that gets better gas mileage. It is a much more utilitarian car, because of the hatchback body. I think a Prius body with a VW TDI power train would make a great car. It would probably get 60+ mpg at 75 miles an hour, given the low drag of the Prius body. It wouldn’t be as efficient in stop and go driving, though. The regenerative braking is what makes the Prius so good in that type of driving.

      As far as the complaints about the steering feel and chassis dynamics of the Prius, I don’t get it. A Prius drives much better than all of these SUV’s and pickups running around, and handles as well “sporty” sedans of not too many years ago. No one ever said a Prius was a sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      VanillaDude,

      I don’t know the source of your data that says “99.9% of Prius drivers are cookie cutter similiar, politically,” or any other way. People, including myself, buy Priuses because they are efficient, well packaged, and are a technology “tour de force” which, in itself, makes them kind of cool. One Prius owner acquaintance is a bona fide “tree hugger” who has a Prius as his only car, but the other Prius owners I know do not fit that mold at all. Among other cars owned by some of them are minivans, Ferraris, a Porsche Boxster, a Buick Lucerne, and a Miata. In addition to my Prius, I have a Mini Cooper, a turbo manual transmission Dodge minivan, and a Rabbit convertible. Prius drivers don’t fit into any “mold.” We just buy them for what they are and what they do well.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    Where’s the promised shot of the Prius drafting a transport truck?

    I didn’t think much of Baruth’s anti-Prius rant because it was in an editorial, a suitable place for such diatribes. Your mirror-rant is in a car review however.

    This review was specifically construed as a pot-shot at Jack Baruth and at the earlier TTAC Prius 1-star review. Entertaining if you’ve followed all three articles, including the reader comments. However, it makes me question whether the review represents your sincere impressions about the car.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “So please don’t pretend that people drive these cars because they want an efficient good car. They drive this hybrid over the others because they want to make a statement about their vehicle.”

    My wife drives a Civic hybrid. She cares as much about cars as I do about TV. So far as I know none of her friends have commented or taken notice that her car is a hybrid.

    The Insight I drive… it fits my needs. I do a lot of in-town driving and the hatch with the hidden compartment is actually very convenient. If it looked like an old volvo 240 I honestly wouldn’t care less. So long as I have the fuel economy and the room… I’m happy.

    Hybrids are ECONOMIC propositions. Hence the reason why Paul compared to Toyota’s other compact commuter. Unless the persons lives in granolaland I don’t see them buying the Prius as a status symbol.

  • avatar

    Just got the new Consumer Reports (yes, I subscribe). The Honda Insight tested so poorly–they called the hatchback configuration “one of its few saving graces”–that they cannot recommend it. So it seems that I find myself agreeing with CR and Clarkson and opposed by the buff books and Mr. Martinek…

  • avatar
    KixStart

    VanillaDude: “There are other hybrids out there sold by Ford, Mercury and Honda. But they look like normal cars, and this is the reason the Prius outsells them.”

    You’re quite sure it has nothing to do with the Prius’ extra 10mpg and $4-5K price advantage? I mean, I’m not a professional marketer but it seems to me that people buying a hybrid expect really good fuel economy and “the gooder, the better.” And if they can get better for $4-5K less, I would think that would be a compelling argument.

    But maybe you’ve got an impressive bigtime MBA and I’m all wet.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @jmo:

    I’m betting they figure (correctly I’d assume) that there really isn’t a market for such a vehicle. Or, I should say, no market large enough to justify all the extra expense.

    No maybe not right now.

    But when the Prius was conceived gas was cheap and there was no big market for hybrids. Then when gas went up, Toyota looked like geniuses.

    Paul’s review talks about sustained $5/gallon gas prices. If that situation occurs, I want my next car to do a lot better than the 17MPG on premium I get now. The market for engaging high-MPG cars is going to grow as gas prices rise.

    Now if Toyota keeps the “Buick of the high-MPG World” title going, I’m not even going to bother shopping them. I’ll be over at Fiatsler, MINI, VW, or Ford buying one of their offerings.

    However, if Toyota released a Prius XRS or (probably better) a Scion xH while the fun-to-drive hybrid demand market was small, it would give them time to grow a positive reputation in that segment.

    I’m sure that with expensive gas, Toyota can make cash with their boring hybrids, but if Toyota has the resources, why not compete? They weren’t happy with the Big 3 controlling the full-size truck segment, so they invested a ton into the Tundra. Making a fun hybrid would be a lot less expensive than that adventure was. These guys built the Celica GT-S/All-Trac, Supra, and MR2- they can build a fun car.

    Just as an aside, I also think that a sporty and affordable Toyota hybrid would go a long way towards killing the “Pious Eco-weenie” reputation that dedicated hybrids currently have to endure. Fair or not, that generalization does hold some people away from accepting hybrids as a vehicle choice. As a Pontiac fan, I can guarantee hybrid fans that allowing a negative stereotype to continue unchecked can lead to a future problem. Witness people refusing to buy a great car like the G8 because they didn’t want to be associated with “trailer trash” cars.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Vorenus,

    The steering on the 2010 Prius is somewhat better than the Corolla’s and the prior-gen Prius. It’s not as bad as I had prepared myself for it to be.

    Electric steering is essential in a hybrid, so it’s part of the package. That’s not necessarily the case in conventional cars. I gave the Corolla a rap because its steering was substantially worse than the prior generation. The Prius’ steering is getting better with each generation.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    A truly “sucky” car. This car sucks. Its only saving grace is high gas mileage. Toyota is now my least favorite car company. Selling overpriced crap.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Shogun: “Holy hell, jumping from a one-star review to a five-star review? Never seen that before.”I noticed that, too. I wonder if it’s ever happened before and, if so, what were the vehicles.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Rday :
    I just wished they made a larger PRius type car that had the easier access of the larger vehicles.

    It’s called Ford Escape Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 450h.
    If you would consider Avalon might as well get 2010 Ford Taurus. TTAC reviewed it and it got 4 stars.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I’ll take the mean average between the reviews and reccomend this car for 3 stars. Love it or hate it this car is probably a good idea of what the car of our government mandated, pussified future is going to look like.

  • avatar

    Thanks Paul for a very entertaining review. The review and comments represent what makes TTAC a daily must read for me.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I’ll take the mean average between the reviews and reccomend this car for 3 stars. Love it or hate it this car is probably a good idea of what the car of our government mandated, pussified future is going to look like.

    It’s what the people want. If they didn’t want it, it wouldn’t be such a hot seller.

  • avatar
    thoots

    Paul,

    Excellent journalism.

    Well done.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    “vehicle which exists for the sole purpose of letting concerned Americans feel like they are making a small but genuine difference in their efforts to reduce their consumption of the world’s finite resources.”

    If they were truly concerned, they would be driving diesels running on B100.

    “Oh, well, I’m not THAT concerned……..”

  • avatar
    taxman100

    For my 18 mile commute each way in rush hour traffic, it would be a perfect second car to replace our current Corolla as our second car. Plus, it would be a perfect grocery-getter automobile.

    I don’t understand the hate myself. When I was younger, I liked fast cars. Now that I have kids, etc., a fast car is nice, but it certainly doesn’t define my identity.

  • avatar
    tooling designer

    I’ve got a novel idea for those who think this car would be great for a daily commuter car.

    MOVE CLOSER TO YOUR WORK.

    Yeah I understand that means you may need to ditch the McMansion, the spread out exurb lifestyle and live near the dark people in the big bad city but just think about all of the greenie bonus points you’ll earn! You can ride mass transit AND not have to heat a 2000+ sq ft house.

    These types of cars ultimately do very little to correct the energy problems our country faces. Get all wrapped up in the idea that your making a difference but unfortunately your doing little more than soothing some type of 21st century white guilt. Sadly, our countries energy problems are actually by design. Our own designs.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “but they ignore the opportunity cost of the money. ”

    Have you checked out savings interest rates lately? The opportunity cost for cash right now is almost zero. Oh, but you could invest in corporate stocks and bonds. In which case you might loose all your principle as well.

    Opportunity cost isn’t what it used to be.

    BTW, the Prius has at least one big advantage over the Civic Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid: The Prius is a hatchback! You can put down the rear seat and carry a serious amount of stuff back there. The Civic and Fusion hybrids compromise storage space for the battery pack. The Civic Hybrid is priced about the same as a Prius. The 2010 Prius is a much more capable vehicle than a Civic Hybrid. No wonder Prius kicks sales butt.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I could care less about making a difference – I’m more concerned about getting a commuter car that fits with the future massive increases in the cost of energy that the U.S. House just passed, leaving alone the fact that Obama is salivating at the chance to push a higher gasoline tax to fund his fantasyland.

    As far as moving, I’d take a new job closer to home over moving back into the city. There is a reason many downtown area in the United States have hollowed out – the jobs tend to follow in a metro area to where skilled employees want to live and work.

  • avatar
    LoserBoy

    “MOVE CLOSER TO YOUR WORK.”

    I’m a contractor. It’s my work which moves, and it does so every six to twelve months. If I followed your advice, I’d waste more resources renting U-Hauls.

    One size (of advice) does not fit all. It may surprise you, but it’s quite possible someone can rationally and correctly come to a conclusion you don’t like.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    One size (of advice) does not fit all. It may surprise you, but it’s quite possible someone can rationally and correctly come to a conclusion you don’t like.

    That won’t go over well with the Green ideologues.

  • avatar

    Some of us (I suspect the majority but I am not sure) are not Green acolytes but simply cheap frugal and like to hold on to more of our cash. You don’t buy a car to save money but if you are buying a car simply because you’re going to buy a car anyway then you will generally save money by choosing one that is more fuel efficient.

    I agree that it is the true smugness to label someone because of the car they drive. If you assume someone who drives a Prius because they are green then you are probably easily fooled by many things in life.

    The worst assumption to make is to assume that people who like cars that you do not like
    do not value cars. The Prius , the Corolla, the Camry and generally Toyota cars have been labeled cars for people who do not like cars.

    WTF Do we say people who like their steaks cooked differently than ourselves are people who do not like steak? If I don’t like the movies that someone else likes then do I not like movies.
    That’s simply ridiculous.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The Prius , the Corolla, the Camry and generally Toyota cars have been labeled cars for people who do not like cars.

    WTF Do we say people who like their steaks cooked differently than ourselves are people who do not like steak?

    You were almost there with your steak analogy. To be more accurate, the Camry and Corolla is like tofu dipped in barbecue sauce to be passed off as almost as good as the real thing. People who enjoy steaks are not fooled. Vegetarians would never know the difference.

    It may be the best damn tofu around, but it’s still tofu.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Tofu – yup, that’s it! A soggy soybean mix.

    Current diesel emissions regulations, combined with high diesel fuel prices in the US due to refinery issues, largely eliminate the diesel from the US, but not from Europe. This gives the hybrids, still a very small part of the overall market, something of a free ride. This will change in the future.

    Going from 10 mpg to 20 mpg (large truck to a more fuel efficient truck) cuts your fuel cost in half. Going from 10 to 30 cuts it to one third. To 40 to one fourth. To 50 one fifth. So there is diminishing financial benefit, you are not going to save much cash buying a car which gets 50 mpg, compared to one which gets 40 mpg. There are three wheel kits you can bolt on to a standard motorcycle and get 100 mpg. Big deal. I know someone who drives a Mini and gets 40 mpg highway. I see the new Kia Forte gets better mileage than the car it replaced, the Spectra. So people have choices. If gas does not go to $5 per gallon, say stays below $3, the Prius sales will stall. It will face competition from improved gasoline and diesel engines in the future. No other company besides Honda thought the market for hybrids was large enough to bring a direct competitor.

    There are so many beautifully styled cars and motorcycles from Japan, how does Toyota get away with Prius, Corolla, Camry?

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      “There are three wheel kits you can bolt on to a standard motorcycle and get 100 mpg. Big deal.”

      Not really. Only smallish motorcycles get much over 50 mpg, and a three wheel kit would drop that a lot. My Honda Silver Wing 600cc scooter doesn’t get as good of mileage as my Prius. My Suzuki V-Strom 650 gets a little over 60 mpg, but going fast on the interstate can drop that to under 50.

      “I know someone who drives a Mini and gets 40 mpg highway.”

      If you don’t go too fast, a Mini gets 40 or a little over. If you go 75 in the interstate, it’s more like 35-36 with my “best mileage” Mini, a non-S manual transmission car.

      “There are so many beautifully styled cars and motorcycles from Japan, how does Toyota get away with Prius, Corolla, Camry?”

      Yes, the Camry and Corolla have very generic styling. In the case of the Prius, though, beauty is as beauty does. The car is designed for good utility with its hatchback body, and good efficiency with its very low aerodynamic drag. Those things are why a Prius looks like it does. The Insight looks similar to a Prius for the same reasons.

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    I enjoyed both reviews, and think you are both right. A lot about whether a car is “good” or “bad” depends on what you want. There are some objective ways to judge car goodness, like poor design (you have to hoist the engine to change the spark plugs) or poor quality (Chevrolet Citation), but a lot of it is subjective. Personally, I am more in the Jack Baruth camp when it comes to the Prius, but there sure are a lot of people (like my mother) who side with Mr. Niedermeyer. C’est la vie; vive la difference!

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’m not really posting about a Prius here, but I couldn’t let the prior slam against the Chevy Monza go by without saying something. The V8 Monza was basically a factory hot rod in which a small-block V8 was shoehorned into what was basically a Vega. Afaik most buyers knew this – at least those I talked to did. I drove mine about 150,000 miles, and the Chevy dealer service guys jacked up the engine about an inch to get the one spark plug a total of four or five times; good tuning and unleaded gas led to long spark plug life. If one wants to slam the Monza after all these years, one might complain that it needed a bit stronger front suspension and that the 4-speed cars needed a stronger firewall at the point where the clutch cable came through. I enjoyed that car a lot; it performed like a Camaro, handled better and got better gas mileage, and it would cruise at 80 mph at 2800 rpm.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    By: RogerB34 6/13

    The Prius is a transition vehicle and not the car coming down the road. After all, the model T was appealing to the initial minority who were pissed off about horses.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Matt51 :
    June 27th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    There are so many beautifully styled cars and motorcycles from Japan, how does Toyota get away with Prius, Corolla, Camry?

    Those aren’t bad looking cars per se…but let’s face it, Toyota’s stock and trade is conservative styling. The flip side is that there are few Toyota designs that look awful as fashions change.

    I also think the Camry holds up far better design-wise than its main competitor, the Accord. It’s no Maserati Quattroporte, but it does have some nice styling details. I also like the general design ethos of the Prius…but the Corolla is a shapeless mass.

    Toyota CAN deliver a very good looking car when it wants to – check out the new Venza.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Matt51: “If gas does not go to $5 per gallon, say stays below $3, the Prius sales will stall.”This is the conventional wisdom and would be true if the Prius were built by Detroit. Although Prius sales certainly won’t always be at the same clip, history has shown that it sells okay even when gas is relatively cheap. The car has been in production since 1997 and for sale in the US since 2000, and gas was certainly cheaper back then. That is, until Katrina hit and Prius sales skyrocketed with long waiting lists.

    This is one of the reasons Toyota was able to best the Detroit competition. They have the foresight (and deep pockets) to look much further into the future and stick with a model. Just look at the FJ Cruiser, a far less practical model than the Prius and it’s still in production.

    The uncertainity about gas prices that started with the big jump in prices during Katrina will drive Prius sales for years (if not decades) to come. Everytime there’s a spike in gas prices, even in the short term (which is an inevitability, thanks in large part to the Bush administration’s inability to deal with the problem), there will be a corresponding spike in sales of high mpg cars, of which the Prius is still the leader.

    This may be one of the few potential positives about Government Motors. As a federal agency, they will have the resources to subsidize and continue production of an expensive, low-profit, low-sales vehicle far beyond that of a vehicle that the old General Motors would have summarily cancelled if it didn’t quickly have the calculated return on investment, a category in which the Volt will surely fall.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @DearS :
    When I try hyper miling in my E34, I get about 26mpg average, maybe. I miss getting better mileage, but I decided it was not worth driving FWD or irritating cars.

    Want an economic BMW?
    When I try hyper miling in my E81, I get about 55mpg average. When I’m just hooning around I still get 40.

  • avatar
    coop2911

    I just like spending money on other things. I like owning a great car designed to save my wallet (fuel efficiency/reliability) and my life (safety). If that makes me “smug” so be it.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Thanks for the review and especially for the very nice high-quality pictures.

    My 2004 Prius’ controls all route through the touch-screen, including the nav system and even the satellite radio.

    Although there are days that I can’t see it well due to glare from the sun, I think I would miss the MFD in the 2010. Does anybody know where they put the navigation screen if you purchase that option?

    Michael Karesh: Thank you for your observations regarding your experiences with the helpfulness of Prius owners. I have experienced much the same thing; people just willing to help.

    Quick Comments:

    1. I’m not worried about batteries. As mentioned previously, the computer keeps them from experiencing deep-discharges, so they should last longer. So far no problems for me.

    2. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are recyclable. There’s a manufacturer bounty for Prius battery packs. Plus, they’re modular. Failures are extremely rare, and don’t cost that much because only the bad modules are replaced, not the entire pack.

    3. My favorite tires for the Prius are the Michelin Hydroedges. I keep 42 PSI all around; the fuel economy is markedly better. It’s a firmer ride, but I used to own a Trans Am and a Corvette, so I’m good with that.

    And a general comment to all:

    Not all Prius owners are “greenies.” I am most definitely not green, and I think the global warming thing is just the bogeyman of liberal politicians and members of the mainstream media. So you can take your “people who hate cars” and “smug” comments and shove them.

    It’s simple. I love the car. It’s been a great commuter, hauler (people AND cargo), hurricane evac transport, and.. yes, hooner.

    So far, 5+ years and almost 85,000 miles. It has never stranded me and it has had to be repaired about one tenth as often as any godforsaken General Motors car. So there!

  • avatar
    don1967

    Given the likely twenty-year trend of gas prices, she’s going to come out way ahead with the Prius.

    … and did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue… AAY!

    Here is the Truth about Gas Price Trends: In real, inflation-adjusted terms the price has been falling since 1918 and will almost certainly fall in nominal terms as the 2003-2008 price bubble exhausts its final dead-cat bounce:
    http://www.inflationdata.com/Inflation/images/charts/Oil/Gasoline_inflation_chart.htm

    We’ve been here many times before, in everything from tulip bulbs to dot-com stocks, and each time we fool ourselves into believing that “this time things are different”. I don’t really hate the Prius as much as I pretend to; I just hate the human folly that it represents.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Set this review to music and it would be a torch song…

  • avatar
    FireAndRice

    For more information on Prius battery pricing, you can check
    Toyota Pressroom

    And I’m 6′ 1″ and never felt comfortable in the front seat of the previous generation Prius. But the more adjustable seats and telescoping steering wheel make the 2010 Prius very comfortable for my lanky frame.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    While I don’t think it deserved a 1 star rating like the first review, it definitely doesn’t deserve a 5 star rating.

    A Corvette does what it is designed to do on a track. Interior isn’t good. It doesn’t deserve 5 stars because it does what its owners are looking for well when it has the flaws that it does. Most Corvette owners are going to be perfectly happy with their purchase. Not a 5 star car.

    This Prius, much like the Vette, does exactly what it was designed to do well. It has faults as well. One shouldn’t ignore these faults and give it a 5 star rating.

    It would be nice to get a honest rating on the car instead of a 1 star (which was wrong) and a 5 star which was in retaliation for the 1 star.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Here is the Truth about Gas Price Trends: In real, inflation-adjusted terms the price has been falling since 1918 and will almost certainly fall in nominal terms as the 2003-2008 price bubble exhausts its final dead-cat bounce:
    http://www.inflationdata.com/Inflation/images/charts/Oil/Gasoline_inflation_chart.htm

    We’ve been here many times before, in everything from tulip bulbs to dot-com stocks, and each time we fool ourselves into believing that “this time things are different”.

    Oil is different since there’s a finite, decreasing supply and relatively inelastic demand. A minor bubble in the last few years as people clued in to saudi field curves doesn’t change the reality that more difficult extraction equals higher prices.

    It’s not a coincidence that the it’s same people subscribing to climate change denialism and infinite oil theory. It really takes a special kind of intellect to pretend to be capable of divining knowledge that alludes scientists who are orders of magnitude smarter.

  • avatar
    don1967

    It’s not a coincidence that the it’s same people subscribing to climate change denialism and infinite oil theory. It really takes a special kind of intellect to pretend to be capable of divining knowledge that alludes scientists who are orders of magnitude smarter.

    There are smart scientists on both sides of the Global Warming and Peak Oil theories, the only certain difference being in the level of public support, and therefore government backing and media coverage, that each currently receives. But it is not my desire to open that can of worms here.

    My point is that things are not always as we humans think they are. We get caught up in the moment, obsessing over some specific set of data while excluding all others. The surest sign of this folly is when we stop debating with each other, and start ridiculing instead. Thank you, by the way, for providing a classic example of this behaviour.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    There are smart scientists on both sides of the Global Warming and Peak Oil theories,

    No there are not, in much the same way as Evolution or the Round Earth. This is one of the big lies devised by the anti-science crowd: concoct a “debate” such that ill informed laymen think that there are two sides.

    -

    My point is that things are not always as we humans think they are. We get caught up in the moment, obsessing over some specific set of data while excluding all others.

    It’s funny people who don’t understand science at all think this, because that’s exactly what anti-science is all about. No, actually it’s much worse, most of their data is fake:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/omb-memo-criticizes-epa-co2-ruling/

  • avatar
    Wolven

    “No there are not, in much the same way as Evolution or the Round Earth. This is one of the big lies devised by the anti-science crowd: concoct a “debate” such that ill informed laymen think that there are two sides.”

    Big lies?? Unlike the totally unsubstantiated, absolute bullshit promulgated by the Global Hoaxers, Evolutionists, et all?

    “No, actually it’s much worse, most of their data is fake:”

    You mean like all the “missing link” PROOF “discoveries” that actually HAVE been proven to be fake? Give me a break.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Big lies?? Unlike the totally unsubstantiated, absolute bullshit promulgated by the Global Hoaxers, Evolutionists, et all?

    Interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve actually seen someone who was purely anti-science. I’m curious, what do you think of the long historical 100% losing streak of such a position?

  • avatar
    don1967

    This is one of the big lies devised by the anti-science crowd: concoct a “debate” such that ill informed laymen think that there are two sides.

    Luckily Galileo did not subscribe to this definition of “science”.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Luckily Galileo did not subscribe to this definition of “science”.

    It’s funny you should mention him, because in his day, people were equally reluctant to abandon Geocentrism as non-descriptive of the physical world.

    Btw, next time you want to bring that “controversy” up as an analogy, I’d suggest Copernicus because Galileo is an even greater embarrassment to the anti-science crowd.

    Back in those times, science awareness in the general population lagged behind research about a couple hundred years, so on the bright side we’ve made some progress since then.

  • avatar
    don1967

    agenthex,

    My entire point is that Global Warming is the new Geocentrism. If Galileo were alive today, surely he would not be joining the chorus of UN-sponsored scientists who agree unanimously on climate change and keep telling us to shut up and drive a Prius. He would be taking a hard look at the other 3,999,999,900 years of climate data which they ignored, and standing up against a hail of ridicule and scorn to present a dissenting opinion.

    Anyway, the more frenzied the defense of the Prius becomes, the more I am convinced that it is nothing more than a social phenomenon that we’ll all be chuckling about in 20 years from now. And it’s okay if some of us feel that way, agenthex. There isn’t room on the bandwagon for everyone :)

  • avatar
    agenthex

    My entire point is that Global Warming is the new Geocentrism.

    You have it the other way around. It would be beneficial to read the comments linked above: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/omb-memo-criticizes-epa-co2-ruling/, where the arguments are clearly made, and I conclusively show that the denialism camp pretty much exclusively consists of purposely non-scientific crud. Dissenters should feel free to take the challenge issued in that thread.

    In brief, people should be disgusted that such backward treachery is allowed to stand.

  • avatar
    don1967

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on who the denialists are, agenthex.

    My background is psychology and finance, and in my experience the most passionate, statistic-filled “new era” arguments always come at the peak of a bubble. And yes, it is difficult to argue with them unless one is a technical expert on the subject. But faith in technical experts – scientists – should never be absolute, because sometimes the most brilliant minds make the most egregious errors. Especially when the devil’s advocates among them have been silenced through coercion, ridicule and the withdrawal of funding. Those are big, loud warning bells in my world.

    Maybe this has nothing to do with humans causing climate change, but it is an important contribution to the discussion. With science and politics being so deeply intertwined, we can marvel at the men in white coats but we also need to keep an eye on the men in black coats too.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on who the denialists are, agenthex.

    You can have whatever opinion you want, but it’s objective truth who is doing the scientific research and who is just making stuff up.

    -

    And yes, it is difficult to argue with them unless one is a technical expert on the subject. But faith in technical experts – scientists – should never be absolute, because sometimes the most brilliant minds make the most egregious errors.

    This isn’t a few folk’s hypothesis. The amount of scientific material supporting anthropogenic climate change is incredibly massive worldwide with no dissenting views as to the general trends within the scientific community. It really is analogous to evolution or might as well newton’s laws. It shouldn’t surprising if it’s hard to get grants or even avoid ridicule for those opposing the idea of gravity.

    With a background in psychology, you should know that without the benefit of external processes like scientific methodology, most people tend to make snap decisions and spend disproportional amounts of effort in post hoc rationalization of them. This is exactly the trend seen in denialism as people have a strong desire to believe in amateur self-determination over years of meticulous study and thought. I would highly recommend these couple of vids for those with a sense of curiosity for the basis of these errors:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    My boss has 3 Prius: 1st generation, 2nd generation and 3rd gen (don’t ask). He also has a the RX 400h thing. All bought new and all still with his family.

    None of the cars has had batteries replaced including the 2001 model. Whatever algorithm controls the battery life, it works.

    The ’01 model had to replace the AC condenser (warranty) and the 12V battery once. The only other thing ‘wrong’ with the car is the plastic covers on the headlights are now yellow. The 10 y/o brake pads are original. I kid you not. The tires were replaced by non-oem rubber once about 5 years ago and still look good. I park my car next to this car at work, so I see it age.

    The 2nd gen Prius is driven by his daughter, zero problems, parked on the same parking lot, nothing replaced in 4 years.

    I drive a ’00 bmw and have spent – as expected, trust me on this one – more money on this car than what it cost to replace the battery packs in all these Prius together. :P

    The excuse of Prius unknown battery pack replacement cost over long-term ownership is very weak.

    I would take the new 2010 prius model over my 330 any time of the day for an errand in downtown Vancouver (as I do often). It just plain makes sense.

  • avatar
    Spiral

    I recently bought a 2010 Prius. Is it the greatest car ever? No. Is it the worst car ever? No. Does it make a nice addition to my BMW (which followed two Porsches, another BMW, and an Alfa Romeo)? Yes. I didn’t buy it to make a “green” statement. The current generation is just a dang good car for the money.

    The styling has finally come around. It’s amazing they can make it look as good as it does and still have the lowest drag of any production car. I like the interior. It has visual interest, the seats are comfortable, and the plastics are nice for the price point. It’s got a lot of bells and whistles for 23k. Power everything, cruise control, stability control, hill brake assist, 6 disc changer with 8 speakers and aux jack for my ipod, auto climate control with air conditioning, hands free entry/exit and engine start/stop, Bluetooth, trip computer, a myriad of controls on the steering wheel, ABS, etc.

    I average 50mpg on my 70 mile round trip commute that takes me over a mountain pass. What some call a non-engaging drive, I call relaxing. It’s got decent acceleration if you put your foot down. The utility of the hatchback is great. It’s extremely reliable. The resell value is off the charts.

    I don’t feel like I’m paying any premium for a buying a hybrid. In fact, I’m very pleased that I can get so much car for the price.

    If you must have a sporting drive and can only own one car, is this the car for you? No. But does this car serve the purpose of many? Judging by the sales figures – Definitely.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I find the odour of smug that eminates from the owners of hybrids the most repugnant smell ever. You try and tell them that it caused more pollution being built than a Jeep “But it’s a hyyyyyybrid” they purr in reply. You tell them that some modern diesels (especially in Europe) get better miles ber gallon and actually cost less to buy “yes, but it’s hyyyyybrid” they purr again.
    These cars are the ultimate in greenwash. If you want to be environmentally responsible and ‘green’ – walk. And stop breathing.

    *I must have had a bad day when I wrote the above. Sorry to sound so angry at Prius drivers – I don’t hate you all.
    With regards to the environmental cost of production, please read into the types of metals used to make the magnets/batteries etc in hybrids and you will see that the potential for pollution creation from the extraction of such metals is far more than you would get from the extraction of Iron Ore and Alumina used in your bog-standard car.*

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Sinistermisterman: “You try and tell them that it caused more pollution being built than a Jeep “But it’s a hyyyyyybrid” they purr in reply. You tell them that some modern diesels (especially in Europe) get better miles ber gallon and actually cost less to buy “yes, but it’s hyyyyybrid” they purr again.”

    You could tell them all that. But you would be largely wrong. You may not like it but that can’t be helped.

    The amount of energy it takes to build a car is (surprise) roughly proportional to the amount of material in it. The Prius weighs less than the least expensive Jeep Wrangler.

  • avatar
    hotconcept

    I own one, and i think the car is great.One of the first problems i usually have economy model cars is the lack of space and comfort. I sat in a 2010 corolla and felt extremely confined. Sitting in a Prius after a car like the corolla is like laying down in a football field. The new console bothers me a bit as it takes up a lot of room, but..it is a very comfortable roomy car. Someone in my family owns a Sonata. This is a very low car, and to me,i feel crowded. Not so with the Prius, there is plenty of room for both driver and passengers front and rear.

    My second beef with the car, is the lack of accelerating power in its normal mode. Many times it feels like its straining. Switch to power mode ,and all is good.

    The steering is excellent, probably due mostly to the fact that it is low and wide.

    Inside visibility is very good, much better than I anticipated. To me riding in this car is similar to riding in a high tech minivan.

    Put this all together and you get a car thats comfortable and fun to drive. But what really makes it fun is the frozen gas guage. When I fist picked up the car i had to do some chores and before i knew it I had put over 100 miles on the car. The gas guage didnt move at all. This is a great feeling folks. Forget about all the price comparisons, you will not believe how how little that gas guage moves, its amazing.

    I first drove an older Prius that a dealer friend had picked up. The prior owner was the proverbial old lady. She put 200,000 miles on this old Prius
    It never had a brake job. this car felt like a brand new car, and the brakes were excellent.

    Anyway, I love mine, if you are looking for a high tech performance car, this probably isnt the car for you.

    But if you like a comfortable car thats fun to drive that just happends to get aprox. 50 mpg,
    I recommend you test drive one, and buy two.

  • avatar
    Earnest-Ops

    I own one (2010 Prius), and would rather think of myself as a conservationist than an environmentalist. I am conserving fuel and my money, while driving a car that is comfortable, practical and also gets great mileage. Much better than my Lincoln Town Car, which is my other vehicle. Prius is about the same cost as other mid-size cars (or less than almost all), yet gets a lot better mileage. If you want speed, you shouldn’t be even thinking about these, should you? I will say it gets a lot more attention, if that’s what you are after, than any car I’ve ever owned, including fancy, fast sports cars and convertibles. And while it can just be used as just a good car, it is quite a bit different. I wouldn’t pay twice as much for a Volt – there is a point of diminishing returns for me. I’m satisfied, not smug.

  • avatar
    55sports

    I never would have believed my 97 Ford Aspire would be a four star car, but it does the job it was made to do and apparently that is good enough.

  • avatar

    Huh, the most reliable model of car -from the most reliable maker of cars, Toyota. It gets me 60mpg reliably in-town. It was totally re-designed from all the user ideas and comments. It is larger (yup, you can sleep in back now), faster (much larger engine), gets 10 mpg more average, looks less weird and is $1500 cheaper. All the “hacks” developed from older Prius users are now buttons on the dashboard. Wanna pull away from everyone at the light in a flash -hit “Power mode” and add those 100KW of electric motors to the gas engine.
    Squeek- gone. Want to sneak up on your house after a late night out with your pals, hit “EV mode” and stealth-glide right into the garage. This car is so advanced and solid, you know you are light-years ahead of the majority of noise and smoke belching dinosaurs on the road next to you. And when gas is $5+ a gallon, you won’t worry a bit about it.

  • avatar

    The Prius is just more proof of what we in the Lineman business have known for years.

    People don’t understand electricity. They think electric and hybrid cars are some new, exotic whizz-bang technology that’s prone to fail. The fact is, the Prius is OLD technology wrapped up in shiny new paper. There’s nothing new at all about electric motors, and some of the first cars were powered by them. The same technology that powers the Prius has been powering trains for almost a century, and has proven exceptionally reliable under those tough conditions.

    Electric motors themselves are incredibly simple, much moreso than an internal combustion engine, and they require almost no maintenance. I’ve seen large electric motors that were built in the 50s operate 24 hours a day for 40 years without a single problem.

    And for everyone who thinks electricity is going to steal away your driving fun, you are quite mistaken, as it is much easier to get more output from an electric motor than from an ICE. Just add more juice.

  • avatar
    priamprius

    Until Tuesday I had a lovely 2005 Prius. On Tuesday it was destroyed by a very large old gas guzzling pick-up truck.

    The 2005 has driven Canada from Coast to Coast and north all the way to Dawson City in the Yukon. Mileage claim 4.2l/100km, realized in my driving 4.5/100Km but that probably is a result of switching the OEM low rolling resistance tires for Noikian WR all weather radials.

    Comments:
    Acceleration – it isn’t my old 240Z, but I have never felt any lack of power. A little slow from a full stop, but passing on the highway is truly elegant as the electric motor has enormous torque and sends you zipping past the 15m long campers.
    Handling – the well distributed weight gives sports car like handling and with the Noikian radials the car handles better on ice than my RAV4 or the company Ford 4×4. It isn’t a snow plow and can get challenged by really deep snow, but so would any small car.
    Comfort – better than my Volvo DL, better than my Camry
    Repairs in 5 years – NONE

    Cons – the thermometer in the dash only goes down to -30 Celsius which is really not good enough in the Yukon and at those temperatures the electric heater struggles to keep your toes toasty. Fuel consumption goes up by about 1l/100km when the temperature drops below zero but I had no problems with cold weather starts. In fact, since the big battery gets you rolling before the gas engine starts it goes when other things stop dead. At -40 C some strange things started to happen with the regenerative braking, but it settled down as soon as brakes warmed up a bit.

    So despite the loss of my 2005, I look forward to seeing if the 2010 is indeed a better vehicle.

    PS – I wouldn’t compare the Prius to the Corolla. In fit, finish and size I would compare it to the Camry.

  • avatar
    tonyyyyyyy

    This article is old, but worth put in a comment. Three weeks ago, I bought me a used 2010 Prius. I thought it was well equiped although I would love to have a few more bells and whistles just for bragging rights. No complaints here.

    One thing I noticed is the fuel consumption. The rated fuel consumption (48 mpg city, 46 mpg highway) is poorly measured. City number is somewhat acceptable, but the 46 mph highway is grossly wrong. I got 53.7 mpg and the number was still climbing as I continued driving it over the past 3 weeks, 1200 miles since purchased.

    My intention was to stay green as much as I could, and this car does it beautifully: Less pollution to the air, and more money in my pocket. The car does look girly but I don’t mind. I don’t complain about the somewhat noisy ride, because I turned the music much louder to share it with the other drivers in the traffic jam.


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