By on May 16, 2008

dscf1289.JPGTo my eyes, the Toyota Prius looks like an Area 51 reject: an ungainly sci fi fantasy devoid of charm or beauty. To its admirers’ eyes, the Prius is the latter day equivalent of a Model T or a VW Bug: an automobile whose virtues– and virtuousness– transcend the normal dictates of style. And THEN there’s the debate about propulsion, premiums and politics. It’s hard to think of another car that’s been this polarizing– for both manufacturer (Maximum Bob) and the end user (a.k.a. car buyer). And yet, just as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes a car is just a car. Ah, but is the Prius a good car?

The current Toyota Prius (NHW20) hit American showrooms in 2004. The exterior shape hides the black skirts, integrated (vision robbing) rear spoiler and aero wipers that give the Synergy-driven sedan a slippery .26Cd. Clean, smooth and strangely attractive in Spectra Blue Mica, the Prius is still unique enough to stand out. “The” Prius has become “a Prius” without losing its identity.

21_08_prius.jpgAnd yet, for observers who know that “Dino” isn’t just the name of an annoying cartoon house pet, the word “ungainly” springs to mind. For others, “Toyota” is beginning to resonate; the Prius' shape is slowly fading into the masses of Yarii, Fits, and Versas. A refresh is overdue.

The Prius’ interior reeks of cost savings. Toyota hid all the really nasty plastic where fingers rarely dwell (lost parking tickets and french fries excepted). Strangely rippled soft touch materials resembling burnt Ruffles potato chips cover half of the dash, steering wheel and door panels. While it looks “interesting,” a close encounter of the third kind is like caressing a hairless cat. And the lack of beauty was more than skin deep; the center console shook more violently than a crack addict at the Western Casino and Bingo Hall.

23_08_prius.jpgThe Prius places all the important driving info at the base of the windshield. After a few days, it was no biggie– unlike the gigantic ode to geekdom rising out of the dash like an electronic Kilimanjaro. The LCD information display that controls the car’s auxiliary functions is not so functional (Mr. Bond). The combination of buttons and touch-screen interface makes every adjustment– from the air-conditioner to changing radio stations– a tiresome two or three press affair. [Note: I fly AWACS for a living.]

At least the Prius gives drivers a choice between green and orange tones on the display, depending on whether you’ve got spring or autumn skin tones.

08_priustouringedition_19.jpgThe Prius is motivated by a 76bhp 1.5-liter gas engine married to a 67bhp electric motor, a battery-powered powerplant that stumps-up an astounding 295ft-lbs of torque at 0 rpm. Around town, the Prius could not be easier to drive. It’s quick on its feet, nimble and almost tossable. In Las Vegas traffic, the Prius returned a laudable, affordable 40.5mpg. In stop-and-go traffic, the family-sized golf cart is in its natural element. Magic.

It’s an entirely different story on the open road. Find a slightly hilly/curvaceous piece of interstate and the Prius is more out of place than a gay pride parade at a West Texas football game. On level ground, the Prius easily attains 80, even 90mph (as the Clark County Police pointed out). Introduce a small incline, let alone a mountainous circuit, and the Prius huffs, and puffs, and gets blown off the road by any other vehicle, down to and including a Smart ForTwo.

dscf1292.JPGClimbing the road to the summit of Mt. Charleston, the Prius quickly drained its batteries. It could groan no faster than a pathetic 57mph. Once the battery boost ceased to exist, the CVT transmission buzzed louder, and louder, reducing fuel consumption to 17.5mpg. Throttle response ceased to exist, and momentum became the name of the game.

If the Prius handled like a Honda Civic, you could dismiss its Pinto-like performance with the old “a slow car driven fast can be fun" argument. Nope. The Prius washed out into drastic understeer on every curve. In fact, the battery pack in the rear caused the back end to sway outwards when I lifted off the throttle. Who knew you could have a ‘moment’ in a Prius?

The more I pushed the Prius– and I mean that in the “I want to get home in time for dinner” sense of the word– the more it resembled a four-wheeled Lean Pocket. (“Remove from box, place directly in InSinkErator.”)

dscf1291.JPGAs a driving enthusiast, I’d describe the Prius as a funky Corolla with a big battery and bad handling. As an observer of the automotive scene, I’d call the Prius the uber-Toyota: inexpensive, efficient, reliable transportation that makes you feel good about not driving anything else. I’m not damning the car with faint praise; it’s what makes the Prius the people’s car of our time.

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213 Comments on “2008 Toyota Prius Review...”

  • avatar

    Nice review. I’ve always thought Toyota cheaped out a bit on the interior plastics to save some money that went into the hybrid drive. Hopefully now that they are making money on these they can improve that quality a bit.

  • avatar

    I put forth that the car itself isn’t polarizing, it’s the cars’ owners that are, in fact, the group that brings controversy to this piece of transportation.

    Politics, smugness…you name it; the owners are the polarizers.

  • avatar

    I heard this car is back order.
    A lot of people are buying Prius.
    I wonder how much this car cost?

    I recommend 6 stars on this.
    it is really worth it. the review speaks for itself.

    I interviewed 5 Master Tech and they all recommend Prius for durablity and dependability.

    TTAC is tatak

  • avatar

    Mike Solowiow, Thanks for the review. If you would answer a couple questions…

    Considering the handling… did it have some sort of electronic stabilization?

    Also, Mt. Charleston where? And from which side of it did you approach? I intend to look up the change in elevation to get an idea for how dramatic that incline would be. I’ve only taken a short drive in one on flat ground, so your remarks on that were pretty interesting. Slowing down uphill aren’t necessariliy a deal-breaker but if this hill was very moderate, that would be cause for concern.

  • avatar

    Uh, my bad. I misread Mike’s star rating. He gives it a 3. Seriously, I apologize to both Mike and our readers for the editorial SNAFU.

  • avatar

    Now why would you give this car 5 stars (scratch that- 3 stars)?

    You admit it’s horrid to drive, we all can see that it’s supremely ugly and if you’ve been in one you know it’s interior is underwhelming. From from a size perspective, it’s a a reverse tardis. Small on the inside and mid-sized on the outside (well at least for the non-US audience).

    ‘Hybrid’ engineering is, sadly, a reasonable solution to an intractable problem.

    The intractable problem is, of course, energy density. Petrol has about 13,000 Wh/kg (watt hours per kilo). Lithium ion batteries currently manage something like 200 Wh/kg in development environments and 120 Wh/kg in real life (figures taken from the internet and no-where near checked for validity but the comparison probably remains valid even if the numbers aren’t exact). There is no battery technology (well at least not one that I’ve heard of publicly) that has more than something like 400 Wh/kg and currently there are charging / cycling issues with those.

    Despite the fact that to achieve both range and efficiency ‘hybrid’ makes sense, the Prius is simply a horrid car. 40-odd miles per gallon is not that hard to achieve now (well at least everywhere except the US) with small, small-engined, sensible cars. You don’t have to drag around a lot of batteries and massive engineering complexity to do it.

    In what sense is the Prius a (five) three-star car then?

    In the sense that Toyota is a leader in this is space and a has version 1.0 hybrid that they sell effectively to gullible people? Well perhaps.

    But I would have given it a 1 star rating on the basis that a Toyota Aygo, with a 1 litre engine, gets better fuel economy and in a smarter package too. If one is to believe the internet, the Aygo diesel gets 69 miles to the US gallon…

  • avatar

    Geography lesson, Olympus is in Greece, the Serengeti in Tanzania; not a lot of “rising above” is going on between them. Speaking of mountains, I had never heard of that issue of poor uphill performance before, but it makes sense. That >2L motor lugging the dead weight of all those batteries uphill. Interesting. That plus the poor handling should have knocked a star off the rating, no?


  • avatar

    I agree with SpinningAround — the Prius appears to be more impressive than it is, only because fuel prices are so high and there is no 40mpg alternative in the U.S. at the moment. Who gave the Prius a second thought when gas prices were low 5 years ago? That’s right, almost no one.

  • avatar

    After reading the review it has kind of pushed me over the edge to go take a Prius for a test drive. My wife is a community health nurse, on the road all day in the city. Shuttling patients to hospitals etc. Here in Southwestern Ontario we have no mountains unless I want to go look for the hill on Hamilton Mountain so hill climbing is not a consideration. We are looking to replace her Hyundai Excel which has served her well. As sh eis paid mileage for her job, we have been thinking perhaps leasing one would be a smart move. Anyone have a similar circumstance and could tell me how it has worked out?

  • avatar

    I have driven the Prius on a few occasions as my mother-in-law owns one. She gushes about it constantly and I just keep my mouth shut. I can understand giving the Prius 5 stars if your only criteria is getting from point A to point B in an efficient manner. But I know that is not the criteria you guys use, so I have to call shenanigans. The Prius interior is awful, simply awful, materials are terrible, fit and finish isnt that good, even the seats are uncomfortable. I cannot complain about the acceleration, I always thought it adequate for this type of car. Handling is horrible, just horrible. Then again, that isnt really that important for this type of vehicle until you need to do an emergency maneuver. Then get ready for serious understeer, body lean and brake dive. Another unfortunate saftey lapse is rear visibility, forget about it. Last, the exterior is….well….you’ve seen it. Its ugly. There is no reason for this car to be ugly with the exception of appeasing wannabee environmentalists who desperately need to stand out and wear their politics on their sleeves. I applaud any manufacturer for bringing new technology to the market, in that sense, Toyota deserves props. But lets not kid ourselves, with the exception of efficiency, the Prius sucks in every other objective measurement of a good car. 5 stars it is certainly not. Thankfully, the environmentalists can sleep at night knowing their purchase of a Prius almost counter balances the environmental impact of that full sized Tundra that can get 0-60 in 6 seconds flat that sold in nearly equal numbers as the Prius last year. Almost.

  • avatar

    chuckgoolsbee :

    Geography lesson, Olympus is in Greece, the Serengeti in Tanzania; not a lot of “rising above” is going on between them.

    True dat. Text amended.

  • avatar

    very nice review. – very well written!
    I can see it getting 3 or 4 stars. just because it’s not a ‘pocket rocket’ with room for a family of 4, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good piece of automotive engineering. It can handle 90+% of ‘appliance’ driving situations just as good as any other automobile…

    your description of driving up an incline reminded me of my dad’s geo metro 1.0L 3 cylinder. like the prius, that was a 5 door hatch. though, it did get better mileage than a prius. over the first 5 years or so, it AVERAGED ~ 50-55 mpg over all miles driven. of course, it was purchased new in 1991.
    the metro’s redeeming quality was that it had a 5 speed and could be picked up by 6 people…
    going up ‘long’ hills in an interstate setting with 1 passenger would see the car lose momentum like a loaded tractor trailer….

  • avatar


    That is the problem. It’s a horrid car and it doesn’t even achieve the ‘exception’ of efficiency. Everywhere in the world but (of course) the US, you can go out tomorrow and buy cars that are far more efficient for half (or less) of the price.

  • avatar

    Anyone know if the handling is any better on the “Touring Edition” Prius? And versus the Civic Hybrid?

  • avatar

    Its actually going to be fun watching all the haters fidget and squirm over the next few years as Toyota Hybrid sales go up exponentially over the next few years as Toyota goes after their own target of 1 million annual sales by the early 2010’s. For most consumers it’s not about saving the environment it’s about saving money.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t drive a Prius, as the Civic hybrid does virtually the same task without the weird interplanetary module looks. Yet I do have to applaud Toyota for the packaging job, started with the Echo. As a transportation device, the Prius works very well and is easily capable of 40+ mpg when the 1800 lb two-seat smart gets a mere 32. Four people fit in relative comfort; in a car smaller than a 3-series, they have given the rear-seat passenger more legroom than the 5-series. And whether or not the hybrid concept is an interim step, the technology is pretty awesome in a 23,000 car. Nonetheless, it’s disappointing that Toyota made the same stupid mistake made by BMW in creating menu-based features for simple tasks.

    Thanks for a good review, Mike.

  • avatar


    So you don’t think a Civic exhibits “weird interplanetary module” characteristics? Have you ever been inside one?

  • avatar

    The “peoples car”
    Don’t think so.
    Didn’t crack the top 10 in 07.

    So far so good for 08, but not considering all the hype and the false oil crisis.

  • avatar

    And then there is the reality that back when I lived in the States my 2002 ‘Vette with its teeny tiny 5.7 litre, old-school pushrod, V8 lump with 0-60 times that made your eyes bleed and a about the same level of interior quality as a Prius used to return something over 30 miles per US gallon on nice long runs up the freeway in sixth gear lollaping along at 1500 rpm.

    Going up hills in that thing was not particularly stressful, either.

    In town, you would rather stress as you could hear the gurgle of the petrol leaving the tank to keep those 8 cylinders lit and you dropped down to single digit efficiencies. But, frankly, you could have solved a lot of that problem with fairly simple stop-start engine technology.

  • avatar

    Much of the handling/ride woes of the non-Touring Prius can be attributed to the miserable ‘mpg-at-all-costs’ OEM Goodyear Integrity tires. Switching to virtually any other tire will improve handling/ride significantly (particularly in wet weather) with a relatively small mpg penalty.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the review Mike. Even though there was more info about the Prius than I ever cared to know.

  • avatar

    The Prius is motivated by a 76bhp 1.5-liter gas engine married to a 67bhp electric motor, a battery-powered powerplant that stumps-up an astounding 295ft-lbs of torque at 0 rpm.

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, as my technical knowledge of electric motors is quite limited, but – am I to understand that the motor produces 295ft-lbs of torque while it’s not spinning at all?

  • avatar


    Sure, except limit two on the ‘Vette. People do get very high MPGs in their Prius with four on board and gear in the rear.

    That stop-start idea is a fine one and it’s one GM has introduced in their mild hybrids (Vue Green Line, Aura Green Line, Malibu hybrid) but their lackluster efforts to build it and the premium they want for it conspire to keep it out of the hands of people. It’s also compromised in the GM vehicle by the need to run the engine to keep the A/C going, so it’s not in effect for a good part of the year, depending on where you live.

    Done right, stop-start should be inexpensive to build, inexpensive as an option, reliable and make a significant difference in city fuel economy but in the GM vehicles people aren’t seeing much improvement. At it is, it’s very disappointing.

  • avatar

    @ Dynamic88 – electric motors are cool like that. personally I can’t wait for a real electric sports car. one day…

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Hey Toyota: Put this drive train in a Corolla, fix the stupid dash display (ie, give us a normal speedo display & gauge package) and keep it under $20K. Then, I would definately buy one.

    My last go-round debate about buying a hybrid pretty much ommitted the Prius because I hated the styling…little tires, Pep Boys-esque cheapo Alteeza tail lamps, blind spot from Hades. In fact, I was poised to buy a Civic hybrid, even though by most accounts, it’s the lesser hybrid. Why? Because it looked like a normal car! (Except those gawd-awful wheel covers). Alas, $23K for a Civic was a stretch…thus, no sale.

    I would most definately pay a modest mileage penalty to have this drive-train in something besides that sloth-like shape…and please, don’t make the Camry the only other option.

  • avatar

    Picard234 – Point taken. I have driven the Civic and agree I could do without the bi-level dashboard. The exterior of the Civic looks to me though timely if understated.

    In the more “classic” interior of my 3-series, however, it still drives me nuts that tilting the wheel down to a position that I find comfortable thus means I miss out on the top of the tach and speedo. And the “gosh, it’s just like a Camry” expanse of bland sweeping across the dash doesn’t do much for me either.

    Frankly, the Honda interior didn’t bother me.

  • avatar

    SpinningAround I drive 25,000 miles a year. I currently get 31 real world miles per gallon in an Xb 1st generation. I got 29 miles per gallon in a Corolla and 21 miles per gallon in a V6 Accord. I can guarantee if I drive in a Corvette 25,000 miles a year on my commute, I won’t get close to what the Prius gets or even approach the Corolla. Not knocking the Corvette (it’s a fantastic car) and I believe it to be very fuel efficient for what it is but please the way to compare fuel efficiency is not to look at your best highway trip but to look at your real actual total fuel use versus mileage in the long run.

  • avatar

    Great review Mike!

    the more it resembled a four-wheeled Lean Pocket. (“Remove from box, place directly in InSinkErator.”)

    Sounds like we have a Jim Gaffigan fan in TTAC’s ranks!

  • avatar


    You are of course right. The Vette was rather deficient in many ways when compared to a 4 seater. But I bring it up because the Vette’s engine was knocking on for 4 times bigger in terms of displacement,its 0-60 time was under half the Prius’s and yet its fuel economy on the motorway, at least in my experience and in a six-speed, was maybe 15-20 miles per gallon worse. Now that may seem pretty horrid, but no one has ever complained that their Vette slowed down to 50 miles an hour going up a hill. Unless the hill was vertical, one would think.

    I don’t understand why, given that nearly every US car is automatic, they don’t all have a bigger battery, a better starter motor and stop-start technology. Not so sure it would work well in a three pedal car somehow.

  • avatar

    My mom drives one. Interior is of impeccable quality, so I don’t know what you’re griping about. It’s not supposed to be a fun car to drive, that’s not the point, it’s a car for the masses that revolutionizes the standards for automotive transport.

  • avatar

    Wow, did my Prius get trashed here. Each to their own.

    Did you hear that oil just went up to 3 pennies short of $127.50 a barrel, by the way? Locally, gas is $3.98 a gallon or more. Back when gas cost $3.89 a gallon during the aftermath of Katrina, oil was at what, $80 a barrel? So by all rights, given the cost of crude, will we see $6.34 a gallon for gas in the United States, soon?

    As for the car being a “reverse tardis” (big on the outside, small on the inside), I’m sorry, but I can’t see how anyone could even think that IF they’ve taken the time to sit in a Prius.

    The car is as long as a Honda Civic Hybrid, which is rated as a compact, and the Prius is rated as a mid-sized car by the EPA, due to it’s interior room, which is significantly larger than Civic, and even the trunk space is about 60% more than a Civic (Hybrid). Plus the flexibility of the hatchback. I’ve had a 27″ cathode ray tube HDTV in the box, in my Prius. Hatch (and rear seat) both down. Also, a Honda snowblower, hatch and rear seat down. Did have to leave the hatch up to carry a massive, boxed, new barbeque the other week…

    As for handling, well, around where I live, most folks drive SUVs and pickup trucks and I so easily out-handle them, that it is laughable.

    As for the “massive weight” of the battery, well, only if you consider 150 pounds “massive”. Of course, the car lacks a 60 pound low energy lead-acid battery, but hey, who cares about accuracy, eh?

    Overall, would I rate my car as 5 stars? Maybe
    4 1/2. It’s not perfect, it’s not for everybody. I’ve driven a Civic Hybrid and liked it well enough that I would have bought one, even with its disadvantages (which are evident when you compare the sales figures against Prius). In fact, I priced one, was contemplating it, and my ordered 2008 Prius came in the next day. I only waited 6 weeks (for my first car in 2005, I waited 9 1/2 months). Waiting lists are back in place for Prii, BTW. I bought mine last September and the only reason I waited, was that I wanted a 2008 instead of 2007. May as well go for the new model year. I had a 2 week window of opportunity to get both a 2008 car AND a $788 reduction in my Federal Taxes. Got lucky (or was it, got smart?)

    But this review just trashes Prius. But it is what it is. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

    I personally like the looks (I’m on #2 of this style of Prius – the other car had virtually no problems over 2 1/2 years and 48,000 miles). I actually like the interior on my 2008 better than the 2005, they’ve improved the look of the plastics and they actually feel better to me.

    In other news, did anyone else see the statement made that if this energy bill goes through the Democratic congress early in June, that gas prices in the United States will GO UP ANOTHER $1.50 TO $5.00 PER GALLON? $5.48 a gallon to potentially worst case scenario $11.34 a gallon?! (See above re: crude oil costs vs. current gas prices again). That’s gonna leave a mark.

    I think that if the Democrat congress does that, they’ll sign their own death-sentence. Quite literally. Because, the American economy will simply collapse on their “watch.” And people will WALK to DC with nooses. And guns.

    Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, oil production is actually going down while demand is going uppity up up up worldwide. Pay special attention to the price chart. It’s an eye opener.

  • avatar

    Yes the Prius (and other electric motors) do produce maximum torque at 0 rpm. Torque is “twisting force” which translates into accelerative force.

    Electric motors and steam engines are similar in this way, hence no real need for gearboxes in either electric vehicles or steam vehicles.

  • avatar

    Those who keep claiming that other cars do better in mileage are FUDding, pure and simple – every time such a comparison ends up being run head to head by somebody reputable, the Prius either wins, or the other car turns out to be a much smaller vehicle.

    Yes, even the diesel ones.

  • avatar

    Car for the masses?
    Revolutionized automotive transport?
    Oh, my. Please lighten up.
    I am sorry, but for all you city folk…you need to get out more.
    You need to drive around the hills in Southern Mo.
    Then tell me how much this car means to The People.
    Tell me…how does it sell in Europe?

  • avatar

    I agree with some of the other commentators that the owners of these cars are the polarizing issue. South Park really got it right. Last weekend, I saw a new Civic Hybrid cruising down I-25 with US Marine Corps and NRA decals in the corners of the rear window. You don’t see that type of personal expression on Priora very often. If I had to choose between the two, I’d take the Civic because it looks more like a car and is much more anonymous than the Prius. It’s a Honda, too.

  • avatar


    I am sorry, but you are simply wrong.
    It doesn’t out perform all comers.
    In fact, the diesels do get better, or similar MPG, and another added benefit…
    Reliability and strength.
    No hybrid is going out last a diesel engine.
    It simply will not…ever.
    A car simply must offer more than city commuting.
    We need to carry more than just lattes.
    I actually have more hwy miles than city miles in my world.
    Again, compare to Europe sales and performance, since we don’t allow diesels here…and then here is an interesting link;

  • avatar


    Yes the Prius (and other electric motors) do produce maximum torque at 0 rpm. Torque is “twisting force” which translates into accelerative force.

    Thank you for attempting to educate me (many others have tried and failed :-)

    I’m still confused though. If the motor isn’t spinning how can it be producing torque? Wouldn’t it be correct to say that it produces max torque at “point something” rpm up to some maximum rpm? Say a fraction of 1 rpm up to let’s say 1200 rpm? To put it another way, doesn’t it start to produce torque when it starts to spin?

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    On an intellectual level, I can understand the 3 stars, but on an emotional level, this car would get one star (at best). I thought the Prius would be my next car, it had a couple of things I was looking for: great gas mileage and a hatch (Yeah, yeah I have a hatch fetish). The looks were funky, but it’s a Prius? Right? Funky looks can be forgiven.

    We both test drove this car, and while I cannot speak for my wife, I really wanted to like it. We both HATED the car! For starters, the looks resembles a video game more than a car dash. We’ve talked about generational differences before and maybe this is one of them. But I hate busy dashes. I’m trying to drive, not commandeer the Starship Enterprise. Second, I have to take issue with the author’s claims of brisk acceleration around town. I thought the car was dangerous due to the lack of brisk acceleration. That lack of oomph is compounded by truly awful rear vision on this car. I had trouble getting out of the way of faster traffic, not that I could see them in the first place!

    This car may be better than walking, but not by much.

  • avatar

    I read that a poll concluded that 60% of Prius drivers were Democrat and 40% Republican, not 99% Democrat as some would believe. I suspect that the pollster only gave the two choices. I’m neither.

    Actually, I also read that Prius drivers:

    Have an average age of about 50.

    Are more highly educated (college/university) than the general US population. (Given that a huge proportion of universities “swing left” this also could explain the leftie swing in politics of the demographics).

    Have an income some 30% higher than the US average.

    Are safer drivers by a significant amount than the average US driver.

    Most insurance companies would bend themselves into a pretzel for demographics like these (the politial part being non-relevant to them of course).

    As for the so-called smug factor, perhaps that is evident in California but here in “fly-over country” I’ve simply never seen it.

    I do see tons of “rainbow” bumper stickers on Subarus locally, however…. but that’s another story alltogether.

  • avatar

    Climbing the road to the summit of Mt. Charleston, the Prius quickly drained its batteries. It could groan no faster than a pathetic 57mph. Once the battery boost ceased to exist, the CVT transmission buzzed louder, and louder, reducing fuel consumption to 17.5mpg.

    Did the 17.5mpg happen while climbing? Or is that what it gets on flat roads when the battery is drained?

    If that is the climbing-with-out-batteries rate, is that any worse than any other small car will get while climbing? I suspect not.

    My point is, this is not any worse than any other normal small car in those conditions.

  • avatar

    Any chance you can now review a Touring version, Mike, to see how it compares? It’s something I’ve been meaning to do, but have never quite gotten around to.

    Reliabiity on these is exceptional, even without considering how much could go wrong. TrueDelta has results for all years from 2004 on, and even the 2004s with an average of 63000 miles on them require few repairs.

    Many bits will start to fail at some point, but we haven’t arrived at that point yet. When we do, TrueDelta will report it first.

  • avatar

    Hi, Dynamic.

    I think technically speaking, twisting force can be measured at 0 rpm by resistance, as accelerative potential.

    All I can say is this; when test-driving a rental 2004 Prius (before buying), I was stuck behind a Chevy Sloburban AND a smoking (literally) Chrysler minivan on a very steep hill near town, after sitting at a red light. The Chrysler minivan finally moved over to let me pass; we were 1/2 way up the hill going 40 mph.

    I pushed the go-pedal about 3/4 the way down and at the crown of the hill I was – um – exceeding the 55 mph limit by 25 mph. 80 mph for the math challenged. Thankfully, no police were around…

    That’s TORQUE. (Said to my wife “er, maybe I’d better lift…” “ahhh, yah!”)

    Horsepower = top speed. Prius can do 106.

    My wife gave me 3 1/2 hours to get her to the Detroit airport two years ago, when her father was dying (in England). It’s normally a 5 1/2 hour drive.

    The Prius will do 96 mph just fine, for extended periods.

    Normally I don’t speed, by the way. Honest!

  • avatar

    Michael, Canadians have been running 250,000 miles (400,000 km?) on Prius cars in two years, doing taxicab duty, and the cars seem to be trouble-free. Quite literally.

  • avatar

    I saw a Prius doing 90 mph the other day.
    I think Toyota made this car NOT be a BMW.

    Toyota Motor Company made this car for the consumer who doesn’t really care about performance. 3 or 6 star doesn’t make any difference.

    This car has only one thing in mind to save money.

    Dynamic88 I think you should watch top speed.
    They test drove a electric car versus a Lamborghini and the electric car beat the Lambo.

    Top Speed already answered your question.

    Here’s the proof

    America Consumer behavior again. We should ask Leo Burnett for advise. Toyota handling has been always been a problem even with their Camry’s.

  • avatar

    ppellico, that Euro test was slanted. It wasn’t done to TTAC standards of fairness.

    Take the 520d and run it at designed-for high speeds against a Prius which has the MPG drop off (conveniently for the BMW) at 65 mph, and the comparison still was closer than BMW would have liked, especially considering the Prius is actually bigger inside.

    Redo the test with 50% city driving and 50% non-autobahn speeds and the Prius would eat the diesel BMW’s lunch.

    Consumer Reports tested a SMART DIESEL (Canadian spec – not even legal for sale in the US) and it obtained 42 mpg overall.

    Their Prius obtained 44 mpg overall.

    That pretty well says it all.

    Except that locally, gasoline is $3.98 a gallon while diesel is $4.74.

  • avatar


    I hate to interrupt a good argument with facts.
    To be “revolutionary”…you need to stand for more than just saving money.
    To be “The Peoples” car, you need to do more than provide city driving MPG.
    You can’t even put a bike in it.
    Folks, You can like the Prius all you like, but stop with all the performace garbage.
    We love cars here…not one issue minds.
    A prius is no more a peoples car than a 400 HP Corvette.
    It does a few things well…but not a peoples car.

    There is no shortage of fuel.
    Speculation and speculators should not rule the day.
    Here are some interesting links for anybody interested in a little, little bit of counter information.–+lifestyle+subindex+page_top+stories

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Consumer Reports tested a SMART DIESEL (Canadian spec – not even legal for sale in the US) and it obtained 42 mpg overall.

    Come on now…let’s not resort to Consumer Reports for research data; five circles do not a tier-1 research journal make.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    One thing not mentioned:

    When I had a rental Prius in LA about a year ago, I realized it was the only reasonably priced car in which you could still look like a millionaire (especially in LA).

    Maybe the Smart is an exception to that now, though I doubt it.

  • avatar

    Robert, you should do a comparison “efficiency and overall driving” comparison test of the Volkswagen Jetta diesel when it comes out in the fall, against the Prius Touring.

    Bear in the mind, however, that the Touring gives up about 1 mpg against the regular Prius due to the wider tires.

    The Volkswagen will have to be an automatic, for a real, fair comparison. Especially since 95% of Americans buy automatics, and the Prius can’t be manufactured as a stick-shift (since it really hasn’t got a transmission in the strictest sense).

    What say you?

    It should not just be an MPG comparison, but a cost per mile comparison (given the fuel cost differences). In fact, list both, out of fairness. Test the cars running together at the same time, swapping drivers and redoing the same course again.

    Do a – city test
    A – mixed test (city/45 mph roads and 55 mph roads)
    A – steady state 55 mph test without stops
    A – high speed test (70 mph roads)
    And – ahem – an illegal test (85 mph) in order to give the Jetta some chance of doing well overall.

    “Enquiring minds want to know”

  • avatar

    Thats right…42 against 44.
    But what about what the other offers?
    In terms of longevity and useability…please.
    And I do not want to get started again on the price of diesel…or the false speculation that is driving us to where we are now.
    We were trading oil at $86 three months ago.
    Today its $124.Can anybody tell me truthfully…what has happened so drastically to make this happen?
    Nothing.Gasoline here is really around 40 cents more per gallon..but thats high historically.

  • avatar

    OK Sammy, fine. I have a British car magazine from when I went back there two years ago, in which the Prius was tested against significantly smaller cars of various descriptions, including a GDI (gas direct injection) small displacement VW, a stop-start Citroen supermini, a SMART car with gas engine, and a small diesel (I think it was a Ford Escort).

    Prius body slammed them ALL in overall MPG. And could comfortably seat 4, 5 in a pinch (i.e. had significantly more room that all the other cars).

    The down-side of Prius was that it cost a couple thousand more than the others, which Toyota apparently has “fixed” for the next-gen car which will be at the Detroit Auto Show for its debut in January 2009.

    I can’t wait to see it. I hear it has lower costs (hopefully meaning a lower MSRP and/or upgraded interior), 4″ longer length, weighs no more, gets better mileage, and adds 60 horsepower and God only knows how much more torque.

  • avatar

    That is a wonderful idea.
    I wish we really did have more true face to face comparisons.
    This comparison is one we all have been/will be waiting for.
    But, in realty…hasn’t this been done in Europe?
    Hasn’t the voting of the pocket books proven the diesel the choice and winner?

  • avatar

    I believe Edmunds has done one and is going to release the results next week. Prius verus TDI versus Smart versus Focus

  • avatar

    @Dynamic88: You can have torque with no rotation, just like you can have force with no motion. When you push against a wall, you’re applying a real force to that wall even though it’s not moving. Torque can be viewed as a force that causes rotation (leaving technical details out). So when you push on your door to close it, you’re applying torque to the door and it rotates around the hinges in response to that torque. However, if the hinges are rusted and locked, you can push on it all you want and it wont move. You’re still applying a torque to the door with no rotation.

    Just like others have said before, an electric motor has max torque at 0 rpm, and as it speeds up there’s internal friction which takes away from that torque. The reason most people think of torque requiring a rotation is that IC engines need to keep spinning so that they can bring fuel in. If you could feed an IC engine fuel with out it moving, then you could get torque at 0 rpm, but that’s not possible. That’s why you see torque grow with RPM in an IC engine, the faster it spins the more fuel and air it can suck in to produce more torque (until internal friction takes over). But that’s only specific to an IC engine. Electric, steam, or any other engine that separates the fuel delivery from the power delivery can indeed produce a torque at 0 rpm.

  • avatar

    to all…

    Here is the European comparison of hybrids and diesels recently offered.
    It does speak well of the hybrids…but MPG, hmmmm

  • avatar


    Prius boosters are in some sort of wierd denial. Look at Toyotas own numbers here

    A UK Prius does 65.7 mpg combined and 67.3 mpg extra-urban. A UK diesel Yaris does 62.8 mpg combined and 70.6 mpg extra urban.

    A UK Prius lists at over something approaching twice the price of the Yaris depending on the model. A Prius is between about 14.5k UKPDs and 17k UKPDs vs 8.8k UKPS for a Yaris diesel. That comparison is a bit unfair because that is the 3 door Yaris but even a 5 door is only 9.7k UKPDs. Even at UK prices you can buy an awful lot of additional diesel for the 3 mpg difference and if you spend a lot of time on the freeway then your Prius is just good money after bad.

    Slapping a hybrid badge on the back and lugging around a boot-load of batteries and complex petrol / electric gear does not allow you to pretend that the Prius is magically more efficient. And it definitely doesn’t change the fact that that Prius is ugly, horrible to drive and all of that complex engineering takes up space.

    Moreover, if you added some sort of stop-start technology to the Yaris you’d be laughing. I don’t know that it would do the Yaris’s engine a lot of good, but equally it you don’t have to worry about your gently decaying batteries, either.

  • avatar

    right now, I’d say that a small diesel and the prius are pretty ‘even steven’ when it comes to mileage.
    When the new vw tdi actually arrives, it will provide better performance and an mpg average on par with the prius…

    with that said, the hybrid powertrain has a significantly higher ceiling than a modern diesel in terms of potential improvements over the next 5-10 years…

    voting with dollars as somebody who enjoys driving, but also as some one who thinks driving is a necessary evil, I’d choose a european diesel in a vehicle the size the a prius over the prius any day of the week.

    however, when the plug-in hybrid arrives, the game will change significantly…

    menno: – great idea. need to put a base vw tdi (with dsg) against a prius touring!
    also, comparisons should be done with different in town driving styles:
    realistic, everyday hypermiling (in a safe manner)
    conservative driving that most people would be capable of if they actually tried
    soccer mom / small business owner red-light racer style (always on the gas or brake)
    highway at 55
    highway at 65
    highway at 80

  • avatar

    I spent a week in one and had many of the same observations that you did, Mike. To me, the only thing that the car excelled in was fuel consumption, and mostly in stop-and-go traffic. I didn’t climb any mountains and didn’t deplete the battery, but the car is too narrow, headroom too short in the rear, steering too disconncted, and power missing. That being said, I got over 40 mpg as well when I usually get 22 in my Accord.

  • avatar

    Hi ppellico. See my other post about the Brit test.

    Yep, diesel cars outsell Prii in Europe big-time. At this time.

    Once Euro V emissions standards come into effect, several diesel advantages will be dulled. The added emissions equipment will add costs (we already know the next gen Prius will only add $1500 to the price of the car vs. a conventional gasoline drivetrain vs. $3000 now – while diesel costs will be going the other way). Diesel efficiency may be reduced by some of the new emission equipment, that remains to be seen.

    The Prius is the only family sized car currently with CO2 levels allowing it to go into London’s congestion zone fee-free, thus sales in London is increasing quite well for Toyota.

    Then, there are the health warnings about diesel particulates from “high speed small displacement diesel engines” read “automobile”) in the air, potentially causing heart trouble, heart attacks, asthma in children and other health concerns including the potential for cancer.

    A 2006 VW Jetta diesel put out about 17 TIMES the actual air pollution (HC, CO, NOx) compared to a Prius, and being diesel, also spewed out particulates (gasoline cars do not).

    So, a whole neighborhood of Prii pollute as much as one 2006 Jetta diesel. It’s kind of mind-blowing.

    Oh yeah, the CO2 level of the Prius is 104 gm/km, and the only diesel cars that can match that are Citroen and Peugeot supermini sized cars. If you believe the global warming hype, that is.

    I don’t, for the simple reason that I’ve found contrasting information by real scientists who are more alarmed that we are going into a mini-ice age due to normal celestial mechanics of our solar system. In fact, to make a long story short, our sun is slightly cooling and may do so for about 70 years, due to the fact that the four biggest planets in the solar system periodically move the center of gravity of the solar system outside the circumference of the sun – and when this happens, the sunspots cease and the sun cools). The last four episodes like this were close together and comprised what was called the mini-ice age from 1350 to 1820. We’ll know for sure within about 12 months. The AlGores of the world are CTA’s by claiming that “global warming is going to take a 10 year respite”. Yeah, right.

  • avatar

    I’m still confused though. If the motor isn’t spinning how can it be producing torque?

    Because it is an electric motor, not an IRC enigne. An electric motor transmits power produced or held in another source (batteries). That “max” power is in the charge contained in those batteries (the power already exist). IIAC all electirc motor produce there maxium power at 0 rpms and only decrease from there.
    An IRC on the other hand is just a “power pump” there is NO power at rest or 0 rpms. The engine must begin the porcess of burning air and fuel to make power. The amount of power is determined by how much air and fuel you mix and burn. needless to say the more you spin the engine the more fuel and air you can burn resulting in more power.

    In other words the power from an electric motor is “released” as opposed to being “built-up” in an IRC engine.

  • avatar

    We can’t get a Yaris diesel here in the states and the more apt comparison would be for a diesel larger than a Yaris or a Corolla.

    People tend to actually compare their actual mileage. The Prius here in the states beats all comers except maybe the TDI for now

  • avatar


    Shall we assume that there is absolutely no environmental impact from the NiMH battery packs? None at all?

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    I can’t wait to see it. I hear it has lower costs (hopefully meaning a lower MSRP and/or upgraded interior), 4″ longer length, weighs no more, gets better mileage, and adds 60 horsepower and God only knows how much more torque.

    Sounds like bad news for the Camry. Seriously, does anyone have an idea/guestimate of how many Camry sales are cannibalized by the Prius?

    And if this next generation is themostsuperawesomehybridever, what incentive would Toyota have to maintain the same MSRP… especially considering ever-higher gas prices are pushing buyers into their showrooms? Doesn’t make much financial sense for Toyota to go the public welfare route when they have customers by the balls, no? Or are they just really good guys looking to score some positive karma?

  • avatar

    Hi SpinningAround. The hybrid batteries have a bounty on them, clearly labelled, so salvage yards (the vast majority of which make a profit – unlike the Detroit 2.8) will and do turn them in for the money, to be recycled. In fact, auto salvage yards in the US recycle some 95% of what comes through their hands (hence, they make a profit!)

    Want real potential for deadly pollution? Try the billions of LEAD-acid batteries in conventional cars.

    Yeah, lucky for us, they are recycled too.

  • avatar

    Hey, why not wait for the new 2009 Prius and test it against the new 2009 Volkswagen Jetta diesel?

  • avatar

    Sherman Lin

    But it is an absolutely fair comparison because the sizes are not terribly dissimilar. According to Toyota a Yaris has the following dimensions(Front/Back):

    Head room 38.8/36.7
    Shoulder room 51.6/50.2
    Hip room 49.8/50.1
    Leg room 42.2/35.6

    And a Prius:

    Head room 39.1/37.3
    Shoulder room 55.0/52.9
    Hip room 51.0/51.6
    Leg room 41.9/38.6

    You may class the Yaris as a super-mini and the Prius as something like mid-sized but you gain not a lot of room and pay twice the price.

  • avatar

    SpinningAround, please read more carefully. I said the diesels either end up losing or turn out to be much smaller – the Yaris being the latter case.

    And if the diesels we get stateside are any evidence, the Yaris would also make the Prius look like a race car.

  • avatar

    M1EK :

    But that’s the point. It isn’t that much smaller. All of those motors, batteries and regenerative systems take up rather a lot of room. And make it unpleasant to drive.

  • avatar

    very accurate take on this unfortunately trendy vehicle. having driven one & worse, been a passenger in the rear seats, i’d never have one. over-priced cheap garbage.

    but nothing beats the inept but smug driving of the majority of its fans …

  • avatar

    SpinningAround, you are leaving out the storage space. Also when people shop cars they are going to compare the roominess they experience in their test drives. Most people here in the states are not going to cross shop a Yaris with a Prius. There is also unfortunately no diesel option for us. I drive an Xb 1st generation and I can’t come close to the mileage of the Prius.

  • avatar

    SpinningAround, we have Yaris (non-diesel) in the states. It’s a LOT smaller. Far smaller. Both for passengers and for cargo. Not even close – not just one class down, but TWO.

    You diesel guys would have more luck if you went back to comparing against models we can’t actually see here.

  • avatar


    Well it is clearly smaller on the outside. But apparently, and I’ll refer you to the numbers I grabbed from Toyota in a previous comment, it isn’t very much smaller on the inside. The big hit is on your rear leg room. And then only 3 inches.

    I’ll add that a Yaris has 13.7 cubic feet of luggage capacity as compared to a massive 16.1 cubic feet in the Prius. All in all then your much bigger car offers you a whole extra 3 inches of rear legroom and 2.4 cubic feet of boot space more. From the way fans goes on you would imagine the Prius is the size of a Towncar or an SUV inside rather than being marginally bigger than a class-leading supermini.


    And I should add that for those of us not in the US, this is an entirely valid comparison. I can go to my local dealer tomorrow and buy either of the two cars. The Yaris remains more or less half the price for more or less the same interior space and better economy on the motorway.

  • avatar

    Menno, and Miked,

    Thanks. It’s a little clearer now. Sorta. kinda. It still strikes me as more of an engineeringspeak thing than a physical reality.
    I understand force can be measured w/o rotation and your examples were good at illustrating that. It doesn’t seem like anyone or anything is pushing while the motor is still. the motor isn’t even maintaining tension against anything when it’s still, is it? Potential, yes, I see that.

    Anyway, thanks. I’ll do a little poking around on the web and see if I can make this clearer in my mind.

  • avatar

    Re: polarization

    I don’t think Prius drivers are polarizing. I think there is a small but very vocal and very angry bunch who are for some reason anti-Prius. It’s the anti-Prius crowd who are polarizing.
    It’s almost as if the Prius reminds them of the unpleasant reality that dino juice is a finite resource.

  • avatar

    Yaris is a whole different class. A cheap-arse mini with a peppy (relatively) engine, 2 doors, and a hatch. [The four-door is a US-only travesty that should have never occured, IMO]

    It is extremely roomy upfront for the size, which is what makes it look comparable when you do the bare numbers. However, if you have any cargo at all, you’re only carrying 1 passenger, and the back room is just not there.

    That said, a Yaris WOULD be preferrable for the majority of people. It’s more fun, it carries your own self to work and back quite well, it can be packed with people like a sardin can for a bar run, or you can take it on a road trip with your significant other AND have lots of room for luggage. Just leave ’em kids at home, if you’ve got ’em.

    A Prius, on the other hand, is the new Camry. Somebody said it cannibalizes Camry’s sales – it better. The size is getting there, it has better ergonomics, and it was designed as an A-to-B car from the beginning – just like Camry. Think of it as a Camry wagon for the US. Heck, it’s even in the same price bracket.

    The gas mileage for the weight sounds like a deal with the devil. No other car of its size and capacity gets anywhere near that, bar TDI Jetta wagons (and where are those?…).

    Add to that undead transmission and uholy engine, and you have a recipie for a million-mile car.

    And just in case anyone tries, Prius DOES have an indestructible drivetrain. A simple, heat-free transmission, an understressed engine, and a battarey pack that Prius can actually drive without (and still get better gas mileage than Camry).

    In other words, it’s the ultimate car for people who want a good-value appliance that doesn’t break and gets them there in comfort, all the time. Time for a Camry deathwatch?

  • avatar

    I dont think the whole diesel is better than petrol argument works well in the United States since there is such a big price difference between the two. Currently an 18% price difference. Meaning if you get 40mpg in a Prius, you’d have to get 47.2mpg in a diesel to have the same fuel bill. Real world though most get around 45mpg in the Prius, so if you can get a diesel getting 53mpg then your cost is still the same.

    It’s my understanding that in Europe diesel and petrol are usually about the same price. Also with the tiny roads and the $10/gallon gas prices it makes sense for them to get the smallest car that drinks the least amount of gas.

  • avatar


    But Prius fans are the ones who push hard the cars environmental benefits when objectively a Prius is twice the cost of a supermini, marginally (and it is marginal) bigger on the inside and by Toyota’s own numbers less fuel efficient out of town and barely more efficient in town. Subjectively the car is horrible to drive and ugly. From an engineering perspective it is enormously more complex.

    Prius devotees simply wish to be seen to be environmentally responsible. The little Yaris next to it on the lot is no more or less harmful environmentally. Sadly though you don’t get that trendy hybrid badge on the Yaris.

  • avatar

    Well the center stack in my Prius has never vibrated or made any noises, creaks, groans, nothing. Not a single sound comes from any piece in the interior, and this is perhaps the first vehicle I have owned about which I can say that.

    17.5 mpg going up a steep hill? I’d say that is pretty decent considering how many vehicles get less than 17 mpg driving in the best of conditions. And I bet you got a cool 99.9 mpg with full battery recharging on the way down, but didnt bother to point that out.

    Ive driven my Prius in Vegas. It is pretty flat, getting as low as around 40 mpg seems like it would actually take a bit of effort. I’m guessing too many nights stuck in inching traffic on the strip with the a/c going full blast. I’m also guessing that SUV next to you was probably getting about 4 mpg at that time.

    My trip from LA to Vegas and back, including time in Vegas strip traffic and hot a/c running days, averaging about 75 on the I-15 (which includes lots of hills) … mpg was about 48 for the whole trip.

  • avatar


    I don’t think we want to say the ‘Vette is “deficient” in any particular way, rather I think it better to say, “it excels in different dimensions than the Prius.”

    The Prius has one dimension in which it excels (fuel economy) and… ummm… fails to excel in certain others. But if that one dimension is very important to the buyer, the failure to excel in other dimensions may be deemed acceptable.

    I can’t see how start/stop would work with a stick. But I agree that an effective start/stop system would be a great addition to every automatic drivetrain.

    Claude Dickson: “This car may be better than walking, but not by much.”

    There’s just something about this level of hyperbole that annoys me (ironically, I’ve probably reached this level of hyperbole myself already today).

    The Prius is WAY better than walking. I’ve done a lot of walking and I appreciate riding all the more for it.

  • avatar


    But this I just don’t understand. Objectively it isn’t that much smaller on the inside from either a passenger or luggage perspective. The numbers don’t support the view that a Prius is a much bigger car on the inside. All of that clever engineering in the Prius takes up a lot of space. Even subjectively I would have to say that they don’t feel terribly large on the inside.

  • avatar

    I do not wish to discuss global warming realities…I think it might be warming up…for now.
    But I agree with you that the real long term (um, but not for us) is the actual reality of the earth’s cooling.
    What really has me laughing is every generations self importance and self image.
    Every generation thinks the only important, the only real devastation has only happened to them.
    The recent earthquake in China, the flu of 1918, the entire 20th century in Europe, the plague that wiped out over a half of Europe in the middle ages…
    Puleeeze, folks.
    Today is the best times of all!

    Diesel technology will get better as will hybrid.
    In fact, hybrid diesels that shut off when stopped.
    Look out; these speculators having driven up the price of oil have really started another great jump start of technology.
    Mike…you really got us going with this feature!!!


  • avatar

    I didn’t mean to say the earthquake was the best of times.
    I left out the line by mistake explaining that mother nature really was in charge…not us humble humans.
    She can rid us at any time…and has done so with life on this planet 4 times…perhaps we are in the fifth at this period.
    Sorry for the error.

  • avatar

    Precisely, ppellilco. Re-read my little post about how the CO2 thing is nonsense, because “mother nature” (or, as I would say, a nature designed, created and put into place by God) IS in control. Our little humanity is barely making any dent in the earth’s atmospheric make-up, even after 150 years of the industrial revolution and 100 years of the automobile.

    The celestial mechanics of the solar system are actually predictable, can be calculated into the past and WERE corrolated with the prior global cooling periods. As in 100% corrolation.

    Global warming has stopped. Even some of the global warming alarmists are admitting it.

    Measuring the mean temperature of the globe over the past 12 months has shown that we’ve “lost” virtually the entire temperature increase “gained” over the PRIOR CENTURY.

    And we still have a potential of 70 more years of a lack of solar flares.

    This should not alarm us; humans survived from 1350 to 1820. But we should at least be aware of scientifically proveable facts, and intelligently make use of our brainpower to facilitate change, in order to survive and prosper.

    Even if that means giving up our precious SUV’s and sports cars with V8s for hybrids and electric cars.

  • avatar

    I see the Prius as the hybrid everyone’s heard about that nobody (really) wants to drive, but everyone know’s who makes it. But when they get to the dealership, Mr. Salesman is happy to introduce them to OTHER hybrid vehicles that are still hybrids but don’t look like a puddle of crud.

  • avatar

    SpinningAround, again, it’s difficult to credit you as telling the truth when you claim the Prius is only marginally bigger inside than the Yaris. What, precisely, are you smoking?

    In this country, they’re basically two classes apart – the Yaris is a subcompact; the Corolla a compact; and the Prius a midsize. Not just one class apart, which you could MAYBE stretch into “marginally bigger”; but TWO.

  • avatar

    @dynamic88: “It doesn’t seem like anyone or anything is pushing while the motor is still. the motor isn’t even maintaining tension against anything when it’s still, is it? Potential, yes, I see that.”

    I see where the confusion is now. When the motor is not moving AND no electricity is being sent to it, then it produces no torque, just like if you rest your hand against the door with the rusty hinges in my earlier example. But when you apply electricity (current) to the motor, it will produce torque that’s proportional to that current up to it’s maxed out. If that torque is enough to overcome friction and cause the car to move it will, if not, then it will stay still even though there is torque still being applied. To make the car move, more electricity is applied to the motor which produces more torque that finally moves the car. Just like if you push hard enough on that rusty door, eventually you’ll produce enough torque to move the door.

  • avatar

    Since we are doing apples to bananas to grapes comparisons. I decided to compare the interior dimensions of the Malibu, the Prius, the Cobalt and the Yaris since we know everyone is cross shopping those choices.

    Using SpinningAround’s figures and yahoo I get the following info comparing the new Malibu to the Prius to the Cobalt to the Yaris

    Head Room Front 39.4 39.1 38.5 38.8
    Head Room Rear 37.2 37.3 37.7 36.7
    Shoulder Room Front 55.9 55.0 53.0 51.6
    Shoulder Room Rear 53.9 52.9 51.4 50.2
    Hip Room Front 53.0 51.0 49.6 49.8
    Hip Room Rear 52.1 51.6 46.0 50.1
    Leg Room Front 42.2 41.9 41.8 42.2
    Leg Room Rear 37.6 38.6 33.7 35.6

    They all are within a couple of inches therefore the Yaris is comparable to the Malibu and its the cheapest and good on fuel so therefore anyone who buys a Malibu a Prius or a Cobalt is foolish.

    And the above illustrates what is wrong in assuming a car is a certain size and directly comparable to another car without driving and comparing them for oneself.

  • avatar

    I don’t get the arguement about the Prius.

    We should be lucky that the automotive world are doing their best to offer us efficient cars that will help our environment and help us save money.

    That is the most important thing that we should think about. Us and our future not the interior of a car or who is driving a Prius or diesel is better than electric cars.

    I have more respect to those people who drives Hybrid cars than those people who drive FAST and Waste gas.

    People who drives Prius are more responsible people than people who care about the interior of a car. The World has changed and Americans should be the leaders in this changing world and of course the rest of the world will follow but I think it is the other way around.

    We are still behind and we should change the way we think especially in making our country a healthier place to live.

  • avatar


    Thank you. It’s clear now. It’s producing torque even though it’s not spinning.

  • avatar

    my gf had a rental prius for about a week. i feel the same way the reviewer does. even though the exterior isnt attractive its a Function>Form kinda thing so ill let it go. the weak link is deff the interior. i had an xB at the time and the interior quality/fit/finish/feel were nearly the same. which is saying something since the xB started at ~$14k and the Prius start at $8k more

  • avatar

    Yes, miked. Prius puts out a combined maxima of 335 foot pounds of useable torque. 295 foot pounds of that is from electrical sources.

    That’s roughly equivalent to a 5.3 litre Chevrolet V8 in a Silverado pickup.

    Remember, torque = acceleration and hill climbing, horsepower = top speed (roughly and non-technically speaking).

    The reason that Prius doesn’t do 0-60 in 6 seconds flat is because Toyota engineers actually LIMIT the total torque on all Prii with electronics otherwise the car would literally be smoking the front tires if a driver tipped in the go-pedal too far, every time. And driving the car on ice would be virtually impossible. The cars all have traction control and it is much more highly controlled than conventional cars’ traction control, for this very reason.

    It also means that the traction control cannot be turned off in the winter, and hence, the need for me to buy proper snow tires for my Prius (since I live in northern Michigan). Otherwise, I don’t go anywhere in certain winter conditions, ‘coz in a Prius, you CAN’T SPIN THE FRONT TIRES TO GET THE CAR MOVING on ice or slush. This will be the same on any full hybrid (Honda gets away with it because their system is only an electric motor ASSIST system). IMA = integrated motor ASSIST.

    The current Prius will do 0-60 in approximately 10 seconds with a reasonable charge, and will climb hills well, and mountains well if driven normally.

    The reason that the Prius gave up the performance in the above test (in which the tester admits that the traction battery had drained) is that a good portion of the torque available to the Prius is from the battery. Once that is depleted, you have 3000 pound mid-sized car with 76 pound feet of torque climbing a mountain, and all the lack of performance that obviously entails.

    Hybrid synergy drive is not perfect. But it probably is the best technology we’ve available to the general public at this time, if your intent is to save fuel.

    BTW I did a quick calculation on what I believe the US price of gasoline is going to be next Memorial Day (2009). I’d correctly guessed here at work, for 2008 ($4 a gallon).

    My guess? $12 per gallon. We’ll see next year.

  • avatar

    LamborghiniZ :
    May 16th, 2008 at 10:05 am

    My mom drives one. Interior is of impeccable quality, so I don’t know what you’re griping about. It’s not supposed to be a fun car to drive, that’s not the point, it’s a car for the masses that revolutionizes the standards for automotive transport.

    The Masses aren’t allowed to have fun? If I want to drive a penalty box, I’ll take something simple and cheap. As others have pointed out, relatively cheap (compared to a Prius) cars exist in Europe and Asia that will offer you as good or better mileage, depending on your typical driving cycle and the specific car. The Pirus is designed for around town driving as long as the town isn’t SanFrancisco, which is kinda’ ironic given that City’s green political bent. A cheap car with a 1L diesel engine would perform just as well for less money under these conditions. I will say that with the extreme rise in gas prices in the US, it now makes economic sense to buy a Prius versus a Corolla or Civic.

  • avatar

    If driving dynamics matter, but you still want a Toyota hybrid midsized car, there’s always the Toyota Camry Hybrid (which trades a little MPG for power and handling and a little bit more room). A comparison between it and the Prius would be interesting.

    (Not that the Camry’s the world’s best handling car, just that it’s more…um…normal than the Prius.)

  • avatar

    BEAT – That is the most important thing that we should think about. Us and our future not the interior of a car or who is driving a Prius or diesel is better than electric cars.

    You make a solid argument. With the choices we are offered in America it is all to easy to forget that we are pretty callous in our use of resources when compared to the remainder of the world.

    And for those who think of “smug” when thinking of Prius drivers, imagine the smugness that underlies a belief that the quirk of fate which brought birth in the U.S., or other developed nation, is a birthright giving one the permission to be wasteful and use resources in any way one sees fit.

    We certainly believe in personal responsibility when it comes to the agreement to stop at traffic lights, or to drive in a generally responsible manner, or not to defecate in our neighbor’s yard. It seems BEAT’s point is that we might extend that sense of responsibility to our neighbors at large, and appreciate it when anyone experiments with technology whose goal is a healthier environment. Good for you, BEAT.

  • avatar

    re: hill climbing

    The reviewer notes 17.5mpg on a road that is 28km long, 6% grade, and climbs 1676m. To raise a car that masses 1325kg a total 1676m would require 21.76MJ of energy. Assuming the conversion efficiency is 1/3 (typical of ICE’s), this amount of energy maps to 1.8L (about half a gallon) of gasoline.

    Removing the extra gas due to the elevation change, I compute a fuel economy of mpg rating of 33.2mpg on the reviewers trip.

  • avatar


    Wow, glad you did the mathematics, not me! The Mt. Charleston trip (photos of it should replace stock photos here soon) averaged about 30mpg in spirited driving, not something a Prius, or an economically minded driver were designed for. But 30mpg, is still 30mpg, an average better than mostly… well… anything. It just wasn’t fun at all doing it.


    I’m really glad you brought some very intelligent points from a Prius owner’s perspective. Thats why I love how our site lets commentators debate in a conducive manner. I love the Prius intown, especially Las Vegas. The torque was awesome, and it nipped and tucked in traffic easily with its really, really light helm, just like you said. However, I didn’t like it at all when the roads started to twist and turn.

    That 150lb battery pack makes a HUGE difference when slung behind the rear axle. Most cars have that pack in the front, with the engine, but the Prius, slings it way out back, causing the rear end to swing out upon lift-off throttle applications. BMW and Audi do the same thing occasionally, but they put it slightly in front of the axle (on the ones I have seen… I believe some are way in the back), and they do it for weight balance, something they (well, at least BMW since Audi slings the engine in front of the front axle) are very concerned about. The Prius however wasn’t very well balanced, so the battery pack makes it worse. But, that wasn’t what the Prius was designed for, so my whole take on the Prius was from how I percieved it as a Porsche-minded car flogger. Hence, 3-star normal car rating.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    So the Prius weighs around around 3,000 lbs? For some reason I imagined it weighing more than that.

    At any rate, it would be interesting to see the corner weights on this car.

    Mike, now you need to do a comparison between the Beetle(original, swing axle rear end und all) and the Prius.

  • avatar

    Mike, now you need to do a comparison between the Beetle(original, swing axle rear end und all) and the Prius.

    Jordan makes an interesting point. The Beetle was a rather foul handling, noisy and slow car during most of the time it was in the U.S. market. It delivered excellent fuel economy, was viewed as “charming” by many of its drivers, and the same drivers were often seen as “smug” by contemporary drivers of ubiquitous Detroit Iron even when gasoline was only $0.30/gallon. Although the rear-engined Beetle had its winter driving virtues, temperature control inside the cabin was not one of them. It would take forever for the forced-air heating to warm sufficiently that the defrosters became effective. Its liabilities did not prevent it from becoming a landmark car which spurred development of the Corvair, Falcon and Valiant as American alternatives. Could be a very interesting comparison!

  • avatar

    I’m mixed on the Prius.

    I’d never drive one….maybe for the wife.

    My Main car gets 21mpg highway and 15mpg city (4 cylinder, turbo).

    My summer transport is 600cc costs just over $8k OUT THE DOOR and my last two trips were 42-44mpg averaging about 75-80 on the 42 tank and 65-70 on the 44mpg tank. Can’t beat that…..It also does a high 10 second 1/4 mile stock @ > 120mph with a good driver (not me…). I also did a trip last year where my hotel was next to the highway and came back from greenbay -> chicago and did 48mpg average at ~ 75mph or so.

    If I wanted to be fuel efficient for “around the town” I’d get a 250cc or 500cc bike for $5k or less. If I wanted something for my wife, I’d probably get a yaris. For $10k cheaper than the prius, that buys alot of gas.

    1) I have an M class and prefer that method of transport.
    2) Together I don’t think we drive 20k miles per year, probably more like 12, and that is split across 3 vehicles.
    3) Only one of us commutes to work (I walk or take the train)
    4) We have no kids and 2 grocery runs per month is fine.
    5) For hauling we have tons of rental trucks around us for $100 or less.

    IMHO the prius just doesn’t make sense for us.

  • avatar

    To Robert Farogo and Frank Williams
    and all my fellow car nuts…

    You must know that I find great pleasure in discussing the world of automobiles with your bloggers.
    In fact, I wish we could all get together for a TTAC convention.
    It would be my pleasure to sit around with these fellow nuts and talk car talk through the night.
    I wish you would consider such an event.
    I would contribute.

  • avatar

    Farago…sorry, Robert.
    I did it again!

  • avatar

    Sounds like fun. We’d have to wear our blog names on tags so people would have some idea who we are.

    How about somewhere in Missouri, since it’s kinda sorta in the middle of the country and therefore equal distance for most everyone?

  • avatar

    So after a few years of TTAC conventions, we’d all be known as TTAC-ies?

    I’ve been called worse…

  • avatar

    We were trading oil at $86 three months ago.
    Today its $124.Can anybody tell me truthfully…what has happened so drastically to make this happen?

    How about the Fed debasing the currency lowering interest rates at a record pace?

  • avatar
    kenn j

    Last November I moved from an 06 BMW 330i to an 08 Prius.
    When the Prius first came out, I did not like the styling, but after dealing with a Bangled (BMW) car and never really warming up to it, styling has become less important to me.

    A majority of my driving is within an urban area. I find the Prius to be just fine as a car. It has great features and some drawbacks. One of the first things I did was to pick up some 17 inch Scion TC wheels and tires from a guy who drove them about 5 miles before switching them out for some 18s. The handling of the car changed completely. I can take a dry freeway clover leaf at 50 miles per hour with no steering issues. Since my mileage average is about 43-44, I assume I am paying about a 4 MPG penalty for much better traction and handling. I’ll take that tradeoff.

    Two road bikes (with front tires off) fit into the back with the rear seats folded down. I can put most things in the back and it works just fine. There seems to be plenty of room in the rear on those rare times when I have more than 2 people in the car.

    I don’t like the rear view – the split window and the blind spot has made a for few close calls. I am now very diligent in using mirrors. It seems that issue could be cleared up with some redesign. How about a Prius Wagon Toyota?

    The seats are a bit tough to take after a few hours driving. It seems the adjustability and support could be improved, even if getting a “sport seat” was an extra cost option.

    I sometimes look wistfully at a new BMW 335 turbo, but the oil market etc. is a strong dissuader. I now recognize that market forces are helping me make the decision to drive an appliance but I can live with that in exchange for the benefits I get.

    I am curious about the next few years vehicle development. It will be interesting watch the auto industry competition get up to and past the magic 100 MPG mark.

  • avatar


    funny handle.
    I understand the manipulative and speculative reasonings for the price of oil.
    But this is not the case of oil shortages as we have been warned of.
    In fact, cutting back on production, holding back on shipments, storeing oil on ships at sea (Iran)…these are all further proof that the condition is a bubble…not a reality.
    Thanks for all you TTACies for responding to my idea.

  • avatar

    MO sounds good.
    I have a small house on a lake there in Terra Du Lac…all are invited(!?)
    Its a nice little area where me and my trashy friends hang out.

    But don’t drive your Prius…lots and lots of hills!!!
    And very hard to see much other than trucks driving ’round!

  • avatar

    I have to agree with the comments on interior plastics. The armrest console and door inserts look and feel pretty cheap. However, considering the R&D that had to go into the car, I’m able to forgive it in the name of cost savings. It isn’t “falling-apart-at-the-seams” bad and with the amount of door-slamming and crap-hauling I do, nothing’s managed to fall apart (yet). As for the car’s power, I’ve driven mine cross-country twice, drive it mostly in NYC, and it’s safe to say the car’s gotten its share of every type of driving imaginable. I took it to the top of Pike’s Peak last summer (it wasn’t the only Prius there, shockingly), and like the review says, the battery power was relatively insufficient. But after 50k miles and having only one negative experience on a 14,000 foot tall mountain, I don’t regret my decision to buy this car in the least. I also think that reliability is worth mentioning in these reviews. The Prius scores very high points in that department, and it’s especially significant given that the technology is relatively new. The car isn’t perfect, but assuming that Toyota’s goal was to create an affordable eco-machine, then some things were inevitable. There are trade offs, of course, but for me they’re worth it.

  • avatar

    [Note: I fly AWACS for a living.]


    Wow Mike, if you do in fact do the C&C function aboard those E-3s (or E-2s…I dunno) then the Prius central display should’ve been a no brainer for you. I can imagine how much of a pain it would be to ordinary folk (I fly and have limited glass cockpit experience so I kinda know what you’re getting at).

    I’ve test driven the Prius and agree that it can be tossable and slightly fun but didn’t get a chance to find out how it performs when the batteries are out of juice (blame the salesman for that).

  • avatar

    To Robert Farogo and Frank Williams
    and all my fellow car nuts…

    You must know that I find great pleasure in discussing the world of automobiles with your bloggers.
    In fact, I wish we could all get together for a TTAC convention.
    It would be my pleasure to sit around with these fellow nuts and talk car talk through the night.
    I wish you would consider such an event.
    I would contribute.

    I’m all for that…I love this forum!!!

    Name the time and place…get to it Farago!

  • avatar

    Well now you know why for the 09 Model Toyota is upping the HP as well as the mileage, not just making a crazy high MPG car with the current smaller engine. I believe there was a podcast to the effect that RF and Mr.B thought it was a bad idea and Toyota should just make it more efficient, that it didn’t need the higher HP? Now I guess that question is answered right here .

  • avatar

    Wow. Porsche flogger finds a commuter car optimized for good gas mileage in stop and go traffic does not drive like a Porsche. Who would’ve thought?

  • avatar

    Hey How About a 2009 TTAC Convention in Boston

    What do you think Mr. Farago?
    It is time to meet the person who is behind all of these great reviews and your fellow authors of course.

    I really do want to meet Meghan Benoit. @}–>—–

  • avatar

    Damn, where’s the world going when a Prius near the end of its life cycle generates far more comments than the brand new BMW M3?

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson


    You are right about the hyperbole. The Prius is much better than walking, but there has to be a better way to save the planet.

  • avatar


    With respect, I ask you (and anyone else) to watch the South Park episode “Smug Alert!” from Season 10 if you are able. Then, go back and read your comment to BEAT. It’s uncanny. I’m not taking a stand one way or the other right now, and I’m not saying that South Park is Gospel Truth or on a higher plane than anything else, but from an objective standpoint, your comment is so very amazing in light of that episode, especially your closer.

  • avatar


    Thanks for the reference to the South Park episode; I read the Wiki-summary and certainly enjoyed the idea and the humor. While this and most episodes of South Park make for great humor, that humor may not represent a philosophy which leads to positive change. My point is that it is really easy to agree that we think that most laws are reasonable if we are to avoid a return to a time when everyone accompanied their travels with a side arm. These days, we don’t seem to have a lot of disagreement about the efficacy of modern pollution controls on cars, yet 40 years ago there was a strong argument saying we cannot afford the technology to address the issue and that California’s anti-smog rules were totally over the top. These and subsequent national rules created competition among the world’s automakers to develop solutions, and there is virtually not a car built on earth today which does not benefit from this competition.

    The lesson we seemed to miss (or just forgot) from 1974 was that the pursuit of fuel efficiency was not only a means to perhaps nobly and “smugly” control our reliance on non-U.S. energy sources, but a real means to enhance the security of our country. Given the instability of the Middle East over millennia, our reliance on increasing supplies of oil sourced there seems to make far less sense on a fiscal basis, much less one of real national security.

    So, smug drivers or not, hybrid vehicles, whether from Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford or Tata, will provide a platform on which future cars are improved. Hybrid technology may be only a passing response to the problem, as Honda’s CVCC engine was, yet I still applaud those manufacturers who are investing time and money to develop products which can reduce oil consumption and improve the environment. And I can be just as cynical as South Park and believe that none of these changes really make a difference, yet the air quality in U.S. cities argues just the opposite.

    Smugness is just one of our all-too-human behaviors. The SUV driver who sits with a commanding view of traffic around him and a belief that he is safer, will rightfully feel smug next to a Miata in traffic. Motorcyclists (an I am one) are particularly smug that we can park and slide through traffic more easily than our car-bound fellow citizens (“cage” is smug motorcycle-slang for a car) and at no small risk use less fuel getting to our destinations. On a nice day, the driver of a convertible feels smug that he is out enjoying the weather when many of those around him are “trapped inside”. And anyone with good snow tires feels smug when driving past someone stuck because they figured their all-seasons would get them through the winter.

  • avatar

    bloodnok: very accurate take on this unfortunately trendy vehicle. having driven one & worse, been a passenger in the rear seats, i’d never have one. over-priced cheap garbage.

    Fascinating. Just how tall are you, bloodnok? I am 6’3″, and I frequently sit in a back seat of a Prius cab on my way from/to the airport. I have never been uncomfortable or offended by the interior.

    Are you sure you sat in one?

    Dynamic88: I don’t think Prius drivers are polarizing. I think there is a small but very vocal and very angry bunch who are for some reason anti-Prius. It’s the anti-Prius crowd who are polarizing.

    Certainly seems that way from this thread.

    I like diesels a lot, but I also like Prius. Essentially, I am against subsidizing ME terrorists. One day when batteries are perfected and we have nuclear power plants everywhere, I will stand in line to get a plug-in hybrid.

    I don’t understand folks who borderline consider it their patriotic duty to despise Prius. Take a queue from the former CIA Chief James Woolsey:

  • avatar

    I hope nobody really hates or feels its their duty to despise a Prius.
    We are passionate about cars, but its still all in fun.
    But let’s get real.
    Folks, buying a Prius ain’t gonna save the planet.
    Tell yourselves anything you want.
    Its like my old Maharishi Mehesh Frank Zappa once reminded me…
    I am nothing more than a fart in the universe and have no right to be here…or something like that.
    It all so hazy now.

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh :
    May 16th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Damn, where’s the world going when a Prius near the end of its life cycle generates far more comments than the brand new BMW M3?

    Your post scares me.

  • avatar

    Dynamic88 said:
    I don’t think Prius drivers are polarizing. I think there is a small but very vocal and very angry bunch who are for some reason anti-Prius. It’s the anti-Prius crowd who are polarizing.
    It’s almost as if the Prius reminds them of the unpleasant reality that dino juice is a finite resource.

    Well said. I noticed that too.

    There are some former Detroit minions angry at what Toyota has to offer. Since there is nothing from Detroit to talk about, they instead spend all day talking about euro this and diesel that. Completely ignoring the fact that diesel is a different liquid and you cannot compare the MPG results directly with gasoline. To make a fair comparison, you either need to take into account the energy density advantage (or the economic disadvantage) of diesel.

    If the general public of the US starts to buy diesel cars, diesel price will definitely sky-rocket, making it a less desirable alternative.

  • avatar

    I’ve never seen so many responses for a review on this forum. This car clearly polarizes people. Took a lotta guts to give the car a mediocre review, esp. since every other auto journalist gushes about the car.

    The author must’ve really been stressing the thing to drain its batteries like that. Still, I’m glad he did. That’s a real-world issue that no one has explored yet.

    Could the Prius wear a bumper sticker that brags, “This car climbed Mt. Washington” ?? Not bloody likely, I reckon.

  • avatar

    BMW M3? I’d never even look twice at it.

    Prius? Maybe next year…

  • avatar

    I have nothing against Toyota, I actually drive a Toyota Supra and I love my car. I don’t see why people are making the Prius a big deal. I mean it’s just like any other car, it uses gas, it get from point a to point b, what’s the big deal. Just because john across the street has a prius doesn’t mean that I have to go out and buy one. I think this is the biggest problem with people now days…..

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    miked and dynamic

    Miked is right (clearly knows more engineering than me) except ICE engine can make torque at zero rpm. Read a writeup on old Rolls, 1930s, reviewer turns on magneto and a spark flies on the cold, still motor, there is a quiet chuff, and it starts spinning, about 1/4 of the time. Sitting with fuel air mixture waiting for spark in one cylinder. Rest of time required silent starter motor to politely whirr for a second or two.

    Torque is strength of acceleration. Electrics accelerate fastest from zero. It instantly drops off at 0.0001 rpm, on a curve. When juice flows, electromagnetic pull yanks on magnets which are at rest with zero initial rotational friction. Maybe its really maximum at a fraction RPM , due to need to start shearing some lubricant films surface tension.

    HP is maximum movement against a load, when acceleration stops.

    These are two useful expressions of same power potential and the optics are distorted by type of powerplant and RPM range and measurement standards used.

    Try this.
    ICE power is maximum when it sucks in the most oxygen, burning the most fuel, at high rpm. Electric can draw huge current at 0 rpm. Lock the electric motor shaft. Flip the power on, and blow the fuses or watch it smoke, after it vibrates, hums and heats up and bends the lock.

    …Prius is OK but obviously not a drivers car. Toyota knows their market. Yes they will hit 1,000,000 a year if the world holds together a few more years.

    Corvette has low drag, a good thing. Corvette knows their market too.

  • avatar

    Yes… because we all climb Mt. Charleston every day, your 17.5mpg anecdote is SO relevant to the real world!

  • avatar

    The Prius is just ugly. That should at least take a way two stars!

  • avatar

    In a way the Prius is the ultimate sports car.
    You can drive real fast without feeling guilty about guzzling gas.

    I’ve noticed that nowadays often the Priuses are the fastest cars in the left lane, here in California. Other cars: the bigger they are, the slower they drive.
    Those left lane Priuses make me envious…

    (we’re talking 80 instead of 65 here; quite relevant for people in a hurry; that speed difference kills your mileage by 30% or so; which means quite a pile of dollars these days; making speeding decidedly unfun; for the same reason a Toyota Corolla is also a fine car to be speeding in, while certainly a Chevy Tahoe is not)

  • avatar
    David Yip

    The combination of buttons and touch-screen interface makes every adjustment– from the air-conditioner to changing radio stations– a tiresome two or three press affair. [Note: I fly AWACS for a living.]

    Best part of the article.

  • avatar

    fascinating review. I have long wondered what would happen when driving the Prius in mountainous terrain. As I feared… My only disagreement w/ Capt. Mike is that I don’t see why the styling needs to be refreshed. The Real Beetle remained basically unchanged for what, 50-plus years? (Of course, the Real Beetle had amazing artistic integrity, something I didn’t realize until I started photographing cars. It is actually in my opinion one of the best pieces of automotive styling ever. The Prius is good, but not great.)

  • avatar

    @ EJ_San_Fran,

    I completely disagree. The Prius would make for a horrible sports car. Its not fun to drive, at all. It makes for a great commuter car as its easy to drive in the city, and effortless, but for my kind of driving… no way.

    @ coupdetat,

    What about commuters from Golden, CO; or Woodland Park, or from Santa Cruz to San Jose, CA; or Moriarty to Albuquerque, NM; or people in any hilly terrain? And it averaged 30mpg for the Mt. Charleston trip, it was supposed to showcase that even at full-flog, it still returned a better mpg than a Yukon gets normally (guess you didn’t get the irony)

  • avatar

    Hybrid technology is the future.

    1 year ago:

    Germany Automakers’ Hybrid Efforts Plagued by Technical Problems: German automakers will introduce hybrid cars into the market later than planned. Carmakers underestimated the difficulty of developing the sophisticated, environmentally friendly technology.,1518,472189,00.html

    May 2008:
    Bosch aims to be leader in hybrid technology

    German arrogance is unbelievable, they just cannot accept that Japanese have a huge lead over them in this field. Marketing of German car companies today tells their customers something very different compared to the real behind-the-scene automotive industry news.

    PS! Take any car and go to a steep uphill climb with it – doesn’t matter what car it is, you can divide your ordinary mpg numbers by 2.

  • avatar

    David Yip: “The combination of buttons and touch-screen interface makes every adjustment– from the air-conditioner to changing radio stations– a tiresome two or three press affair. [Note: I fly AWACS for a living.]

    Best part of the article.”Except it omits the fact that both A/C and radio functions can easily and simply be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel once initial selections have been made via the touch-screen.

    Frankly, it’s as if the writer was predisposed to zero in on any and every possible negative aspect of the vehicle (while glossing over the positives) to come up with an overall mediocre review. Seems disingenuous, to me.

  • avatar

    rudiger: Except it omits the fact that both A/C and radio functions can easily and simply be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel once initial selections have been made via the touch-screen.

    I’ve never driven a Prius. However, you suggest that it’s only easy after you make some selections from the touch screen. My reaction to that is it should ALWAYS be easy to change such settings, not just after you’ve had to torture yourself with some damn menu system. Good ergonomics (in my mind) means being able to manipulate controls by feel with eyeballs on the road. Touch screens make that really difficult.

  • avatar

    rm: “I’ve never driven a Prius. However, you suggest that it’s only easy after you make some selections from the touch screen. My reaction to that is it should ALWAYS be easy to change such settings, not just after you’ve had to torture yourself with some damn menu system. Good ergonomics (in my mind) means being able to manipulate controls by feel with eyeballs on the road. Touch screens make that really difficult.”While true, the Prius’ touch-screen actually does not apply to many of the more frequently used controls.

    As an example, although the Prius’ touch-screen is used for initial radio presets, it is not used for radio volume. Instead, there is a good old fashioned knob on the dash and a toggle switch on the steering wheel. Manual tuning and scan are likewise done from a knob and button on the dash.

    For those features the touch-screen does control, Toyota did a good job of making it quite intuitive and easy to use. It’s actually not too far removed from setting the radio presets on the old analog radios that came in cars for decades. You know, where you use the knob to find the radio station, then pull out one of the six (or was it five) push-buttons, then push it back in to lock the station in.

    The problem with the above referenced quote from the article is that it implies that the Prius’ touch-screen is overly difficult and menu-intensive (sort of like the early BMW iDrive in the Bangle 745i) and controls more ancillary systems than it really does. For an automotive touch-screen, the Prius’ just isn’t are bad as the review suggests.

    I would even guess that many Prius owners rarely use the touch-screen once it has been used for initial adjustments. It’s also worth noting that the screen can be completely turned off, as well.

  • avatar

    Hideous looking…

  • avatar

    From that particular angle in the first pick of the blue model; it looks like a car version of the Aztec.

    I’ve driven a Prius and it seems like it would make a pleasant commuter car. I like not having to deal with the ignition key, and the stealthy moments when it’s on electric. Leaving for work at 6am, just jump in and go and no fuss. Nice and quiet for that early in the morning.

    I’d have to mod it for the electric switch. I’d also like a hot rodded version of it. They should do up a performance version of this car. Also a full blown electric version. Not to mention the lithium plus plug in version.

    The version right now is just plain, mediocre, and average. The price is nothing to get excited about. The prices on the “option packages” really blow. This site shows the option packages real well and the price for those packages(choose the nav package model):

    `08 model invoices for $20,864, but I get stiffed with a $55 “Destination Surcharge” and a $660 “Manufacturer’s Destination Charge” because of where I live(in the south) so that somehow brings the price to $21,815.

    Would this car be a different story if it had a Corolla like price of $14k? Some how I don’t think it would. Reminds me of the $9988 PT Cruisers. Some people just don’t want one no matter the price.

    Would I purchase a brand new Prius for $9988? MAYBE. And that’s a big maybe. Like I’d have to think about it for a long time. Do I want it? Do I need it? What’s it do for me? Is it worth it? I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. Speaks volumes about the desirability of the vehicle.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand how anyone could call this car ugly! It’s totally inoffensive and bland-to-the-point-of-invisibility, but not ugly. You might as well call water ugly. Pbbt.

  • avatar

    rtz: Speaks volumes about the desirability of the vehicle.

    No, it doesn’t. Sales numbers speak of the desirability of the vehicle. Last I looked there were waiting lines for it.

    Again, I don’t care one way or the other. If Honda Civic hybrid were offered in a hatchback style, I would probably pick the latter, but Honda doesn’t see fit to do that, so they will keep losing sales to Toyota. It’s called capitalism.

    As for the “ugly” argument, folks, that’s beyond weak. This is so subjective, it is impossible to quantify. Obviously the people waiting in line to buy it don’t think so. Personally, I find the new Chevy Tahoe and the Chevy Silverado to be gorgeous. If they had the same mileage as Prius I would pick either of the two Chevys in a heartbeat. IF. That shows what I consider more important – looks or practicality. I guess I am not the only one.

  • avatar
    Jon Paul

    Overall, I find this review terrible disappointing. To rate something, one should first consider what that something is attempting to be. The Prius is very simply an economical car for those who do the majority of their driving in stop and go city traffic. It excels at this. The reviewer, IMO, nitpicked details from an unfair frame of reference. Ooh, it doesn’t do well in the Alps. What’s next, will you review a semi with trailer attached and give it 2 stars because it’s so hard to fit in one parking space??? Yes, the Prius is awkward looking. It’s an appliance, and it looks like one. As for the interior, go climb in a Mustang or most any Chrysler, and you’ll think the Prius is luxurious. Clearly, if the majority of your driving is interstate or mountains, then the Prius isn’t the best car for you. That doesn’t make it a sh*tty tool.

  • avatar

    @ Jon Paul

    It might make a great commuter, but its still boring to me. A jack of one trade does not a good car make.

    @ rudiger

    Part of the interior review was deleted for space. In my original write-up, I mentioned how after getting frustrated at the touch-screen, I used the steering wheel buttons. However, you can only adjust temperature, and auto on/off. I like to manually adjust my fan speeds, and where the air comes out, hence accessing the menu (via touching the climate button to get out of the economy display), then touch the fan speed button on the screen. And I like to flip randomly between radio stations, not in sequence with the steering wheel button. Hence, more accessing the touch-screen. I didn’t like it, but thats my opinion. If it works for you, great, it didn’t work for me. But it is far, far better than iDrive, and MMI. Those are disasters.

  • avatar

    Regarding torque and electric motors. A motor produces maximum torque at zero RPM because torque produced is proportional to current (please, NOT “juice”) flow through the motor. At rest is when the motor has the ability to flow the most current because the motor’s coil assembly, or rotor, has its lowest impedance at rest, so therefore unless some attempt is made to restrict the current flow, it will reach its max flow when the motor’s rotor is stationary. As the motor begins to speed up, a counter electromotive force (CEMF)builds in the windings which counters the current flow in the motor, so current flow, and hence torque, decrease as the speed of the motor increases. This is why motors have such a high inrush current requirement. This inrush is managed in commercial applications with a variety of starter control devices. So, the torque characteristics of motors is pretty much the opposite of ICE’s.

  • avatar

    What I get from this review is that the Prius is a good city car, but it’s not much of an interstate cruiser or likely to thrill the typical enthusiast (ie, unless you’re a techno-geek. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Given that, I’m somewhat surprised at all the heat. Is this some kind of a shock? When the battery runs out, it’s a 76-hp hatchback. At least with a Civic Hybrid, when the battery runs out it’s a 110-hp sedan.

    That would be enough of a reason for me to pick a Civic over a Prius if I just had to have a hybrid, although there are others (like handling and comfort.) But one thing I don’t think anybody has touched on is this: you pay a hefty premium for a hybrid, and it takes a long time to earn it back. MSRP on the base Prius is US$21,100. MSRP on the most expensive Corolla is US$16,415. That’s a difference of $4685. Using EPA annual fuel cost figures, the Prius costs $1211 to the Corolla’s $1925, a difference of $714. At that rate, you have to drive the Prius six and a half years – 98,424 miles – just to break even.

    Now, those numbers will vary with the individual’s driving habits. Your mileage not only may but almost certainly will vary. And if you plan to keep the car a long time, you’re ahead after those six and a half years. Nevertheless, that’s the cheapest Prius versus the nicest Corolla. Buy a cheaper Corolla or a Prius with any options and it’ll take longer to make up the difference – maybe a lot longer.

    Price and value are not always equivalent, and every buyer has a different set of automotive values. But I’m not sold on the economics of hybrid ownership – I wouldn’t pay the hybrid premium. Of course, I don’t buy new cars, either.

  • avatar

    Price and value are not always equivalent, and every buyer has a different set of automotive values. But I’m not sold on the economics of hybrid ownership – I wouldn’t pay the hybrid premium.

    Your point (and cost numbers) are impeccable. While I don’t dislike the Prius, there are better small car values (especially those with a clutch).

  • avatar

    @Mike Solowiow:

    I call the Prius a sports car, because once it’s up to 80 MPH (never mind the number of seconds to get there), you can really enjoy it in your wallet to stay at 80 MPH. Not so for many other vehicles.

    Witness the many Priuses shooting by in the left lane, almost giving you the finger.
    As if saying: “Hey, dumb gas guzzlers, move over; I can go fast and still have money for beer left over.”

  • avatar

    @ EJ_San_Fran,

    I call a car that can handle without drastic understeer, a precise helm, and a decent suspension a sports car.

    Cruising at 80mph, thats just 80mph. A Jetta TDI beats the Prius in highway mileage by 3-7mpg observed, so then it ultimately should be the better “sports car” in your opinion. And you can row your own gears, hit an apex without wallowing into the hedgerows, and hit 80 in a much quicker time frame.

    But, if you enjoy cruising at 80mph as cheaply as possible, may I recommend a used Honda Insight?

  • avatar

    Just to pile onto this dead horse…

    I think the confusion about max torque at zero rpm is this:

    You can (and do with dc motors) have maximum torque at zero rpm, but without electrical or electronic controls you also have a dead short and max current.

    What you don’t have without movement (i.e. linear – along a line or rotational – think rpm) is either work or power (rate of doing work). Huh?

    If I lift 550 lbs up 1 ft (or 1 lb up 550 feet), I have done 550 ft-lbs of work. If I push with 550 lbs of force on something and it doesn’t move I have done 0 work (ignore internal deformation details).

    If I managed to lift that 550 lbs up 1 foot in 1 second, I have demonstrated 550 ft-lbs/sec of power – which just happens to be 1 Horsepower. When talking about this with rotation, work becomes so many ft-lbs of torque times the rotational amount (not speed) in radians. Rotational power (that we all love so much) is then ft-lbs of torque times rotational speed (radians/second).

    Sorry for the imperial units rest of the world, I engineer in Canada so I deal with both, but imperial is where my head and heart lie.

  • avatar

    While the Jetta TDI may beat the Prius on the highway for some people, it doesn’t according to the EPA; and the EPA’s highway numbers are likely low on the Prius (our experience is usually that highway mileage is actually higher than city – since most of our city mileage is ‘cold’, granted, but still – around here in Austin, I get about 55 on the highway – limit is 65 around here; cruising speed ranges from 60-70). Yeah, if you drive out in Montana at 90, I’m sure the Jetta opens up a gap on it – but that’s not even representative of most of our country’s highway driving, much less driving overall.

    Yet more FUD.

    And YES, the battery DOES help with highway driving – because otherwise you’d never be able to get a car this big to run on a gas engine that small. It’s got a Geo Metro-sized gas engine, remember. Nobody would be willing to buy a car that would take that long to get up to highway speed. The battery also helps keep the gas engine in its ideal operating mode more often when going up/down hills.

  • avatar

    Most car owners want as little pain and sacrifice as possible. Most car owners (not counting trucks) drive Camry, Accords, and even Impala type sedans. Where I live most people seem to enjoy driving 75 to 80 mph. The Prius asks for the least amount of sacrifice, hence its popularity. The insight asks for to much of a scarifice in utility. If one drives BMWs and Audis then the Prius probably asks for too much sacrifice for those drivers. Fortunately for Toyota thats not their target market. Its almost everyone else not counting truccks.

  • avatar

    Theodore, you’re conclusions appear sound except that you are comparing two size classes of car since the Corolla is a compact (or C class) car and the Prius is a midsized (or D cass car, in global-speak), plus Prius has the flexibility of being a hatchback.

    Compare a four cylinder Camry to Prius and the math is closer to reality.

    It is very interesting, though, that people NEVER do these cost-benefit equations when considering NON-hybrid auto attributes such as

    -buying that Hemi V8 vs.the adequate power V6
    -going for the nav system instead of buying a glovebox full of maps
    -leather upholstery with bun warmers and 8 way power seats vs plain cloth seats
    -those extra large aftermarket rims and 45 aspect dubs

    I started gaining straight away when I bought my first 2005 Prius, because I’d originally intended to buy a Hyundai XG350L with power everything, sunroof, leather, 3.5 litre V6, etc. for the same money as the Prius.

    So effectively I “chose” to eschew one set of attributes for others that I preferred, which wer

    -futuristic looks instead of ersatz Bentley looks
    -hybrid tech instead of V6 power (48 mpg vs 20)
    -extra safety and reliability (though the Hyundai was no slouch)
    -Toyota reutation for reliability vs extra lon g warrantee

    Does it tell you anything that I’m now on Prius #2?

    You pays your money and you takes yer choice.

  • avatar

    The Prius and Camry may both be nominally mid-size cars, but the Camry has gotten fat. I’ve found that the hybrid that usually gets cross-shopped against a Camry is…a Camry. Generally, Corollas get cross-shopped against Priuses.

    I do those cost-benefit equations. But that’s me. I’m not going to ding anybody else for how they spend their money. I mean, I’m thinking about a Miata to augment my old T-Bird. Talk about impractical…

  • avatar

    From Prius owners I’ve talked to, the real MPG benefits are greatest in city driving. If you do a lot of distance driving, the MPG differential (from, say a Corolla) is just not that significant. The long distance hybrid is waiting for a Diesel powerplant.

  • avatar

    Couple of observations from another Prius owner:

    1. Just drove across Sonora Pass last week. First time in nine months of ownership where I managed to drain the battery (this is a very steep 9000+ft pass). Car drove fine, just a little more noisy without the electric motor to help. Didn’t come close again to doing this on any other passes during the trip. It certainly isn’t a regular occurrence on hilly commutes.

    2. Averaged 51.2 mpg on an 800 mile mountain trip, going 75 on freeway stretches. The car actually gets better mileage in the mountains than on my relatively flat Bay Area commute.

    3. I am 6’4 and drove a BMW 325 before buying the Prius. While the seats are not quite as comfortable as the BMW’s, they were fine for four long days of much driving, hiking, and camping.

    4. My only gripes: no telescoping steering wheel means tired/sleepy arms for tall people. Also, if I slump a little I can knock the car out of gear with my right knee.

    5. It’s a shame the review did not say more about the usefulness of the car’s interior layout. The hidden compartment behind the rear seat is wonderful for storing small stuff that otherwise would be flying around the trunk.

    6. I hardly ever touch the touchscreen. The radio and climate controls (including temperature setting) on the steering wheel are sufficient in regular use.

    7. I love the smart key system. It’s one of those seamless features that you don’t realize you need until you have it. I would not buy another car without it. I don’t think a Yaris comes with one of these systems.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I drove a first-generation Prius across West Virginia to write an article about it for Conde Nast Traveler. West Virginia is considered to be a relatively mountainous state. I tried everything I could to drain the battery going uphill full throttle, hill after hill. Never came close.

    I’d suggest that crossing West Virginia is a more real-world exercise than is going up Mt. Washington or Mt. Charleston, both of which, I assume, are purely up-and-back scenic routes. (Certainly Mt. Washington is.)

  • avatar

    coupdetat :
    May 16th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Yes… because we all climb Mt. Charleston every day, your 17.5mpg anecdote is SO relevant to the real world!

    Some of us living in the foothills and mountains of northern California actually do find it relevant. Especially, when one of our cubicle mates has a Scion xB that gets better than 30 mpg on the round trip drives between his house at 2,500 feet above msl to the office at 600 feet above msl. Not to mention the problems of driving at low speeds up an incline on a two lane highway going up said mountain.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the Prius review. I think the Prius suffers most from a lack of competition in this segment. Where’s Honda’s answer? Their Hybrids do not compete when one looks at the only reason to own a Hybrid:FUEL ECONOMY
    This is a new segment and it can only get better as batteries and drive systems get better. At $4.00 a gallon is it time to jump into the Hybrid pool? Many are voting with their dollars as the Prius sails off dealers lots. I’ve talked with dozens of Prius owners and they all say they’re in love with the car. I can only speak for myself , but I think a wait of a year or two before going Hybrid makes sense. Bill C.

  • avatar


    You (and others) keep claiming that a Prius should rightfully compared to a midsize sedan like a Camry or Accord not to a compact like a Corolla or Civic. Two points:

    1) The Camry/Accord are larger inside and out than a Prius; therefore, no more comparable than the Corolla/Civic, which are slightly smaller.

    2) When cross shopping, most people will compare the Prius to a Corolla, Civic, etc. While this may just be perception (though I think Point #1 makes this perception at least as valid as comparing a Prius to a Camry), it is a real perception that sets what the Prius’ competition is.

    For these reasons, the Prius is rightfully compared to cars like the Corolla.

  • avatar

    Lumbergh, you are incorrect – most people cross-shop the Prius against Camcords, if they pay attention, because the overall combination of person/cargo space is, in fact, closer to Camcord than Civorolla.

    The Corolla or Civic could not have been our family’s only car for the last 4 years (we just got our 2nd Prius). The Prius could be and was.

  • avatar

    Some people get off on economy. Some people drive almost exclusively in local stop and go traffic rarely exceeding 50 mph. Some people don’t care at all about 0 to 60 times. Some people don’t have a need to carry 4×8 sheets of plywood everyday. The Prius was built for them. I think it is a butt ugly car with not a bit of appeal to me but I don’t drive in a way that would take advantage of a hybrid vehicle. I would never buy one, for myself. My wife would love one since she rarely exceeds 45 mph. I would buy one for her. Vehicles exist for a certain market and should be reviewed for what they are. Hybrids exist, SUVs exist, sports cars exist, muscle cars exist, Minivans exist, Buicks exist. They are not all the same and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

  • avatar

    Toyota evidently thinks that the Prius belongs in the Corolla category or their would be a hybrid Corolla instead of a hybrid Camry to complement the Prius. It could be that you are right and people cross shop a Prius and a Cmary not a Prius and a Corolla; Toyota doesn’t seem to think so, though.

  • avatar

    Lumbergh, I could just as easily ask why there isn’t a hybrid Corolla. Try again.

    The answer is that Toyota has two entries in the midsize market – the Prius and the Camry; the Camry being slightly bigger. has this:

    Passenger volume (ft3): Corolla=89, Prius=96, Camry=101

    Luggage volume (ft3): Corolla=14, Prius=16, Camry=15

    Prius is closer to Camry than Corolla.

  • avatar

    Its been my experience that price is a huge factor in cross shopping cars, People who are looking for a low 20 thousand dollar car may look at a mid teen car but not the opposite, So the Camry and Prius are more natural matches.

    These days I suspect there are more people downsizing for fuel economy that may actually cross shop the Prius and Corolla than in the past though.. Maybe on the next Prius topic we can ask dealers and salespeople which cars are Prius buyers actually cross shopping.

  • avatar

    Prius Dealer here.
    We have sold out of our Prius allocation and have enough deposits to sell out of our June, July, and August allocation. Toyota told us they are cutting back on Prius shipments to N. America, sending more to Europe. No increase in supply for next two years as the battery suppliers are maxed out and won’t build new plants.

    We are selling at full MSRP. People are placing deposits and settling for any color.

    Economically the Prius doesn’t make sense. A consumer could buy a new 2009 Corolla instead of a Prius. Total operating cost savings would be approximately $4,400.00 over 5 years. On a 3 year lease, the Corolla is $6,000 cheaper to operate.

    Corolla also depreciates less over time acording to ALG Residual Guides.

  • avatar

    M1EK: “If I were a Toyota dealer, I’d probably be selling up the Corolla right now too, except they’re probably going to be selling themselves soon. Maybe you should focus on a buy Corolla get Tundra free campaign or something.”Actually, the way it went during the last big run-up in gas prices during the early eighties was just the opposite: Buy a new gas-guzzler at full MSRP and get a stripped econobox at no added charge.

    In Toyota’s case, it would be to buy a fully loaded, top-of-the-line Tundra (one of those big-ass Double Cab 4×4 jobs) at MSRP and get a strippo Yaris 3-door thrown in for free.

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, that’s a load of BS – I did a spreadsheet prior to our purchase that showed the Corolla only a few hundred cheaper over 5 years at $3.75/gallon (that few hundred easily worth it due to the increased room and utility in the Prius). Your assumption about depreciation is dead wrong; the Prius depreciated less the last few years than did the Corolla.

    If I were a Toyota dealer, I’d probably be selling up the Corolla right now too, except they’re probably going to be selling themselves soon. Maybe you should focus on a buy Corolla get Tundra free campaign or something.

  • avatar

    Hey M1EK,

    I’d like to see your spreadsheet.
    Here are the assumptions I used in Northern VA.
    Gas year for 1 is $3.87, with a 50 cent increase each year for five years.(Probably too conservative)

    Base Prius Pkg 2 is selling for 2309.00 MSRP
    Corlla LE with pwr equip sells for invoice $16,300.
    With Virginia Taxes and tags the price savings on a Corolla is $7,913.

    Assume driving 15,000 miles per year.
    Assume Prius Avg MPG 46.
    Assume Corolla avg MPG 31.
    5 year fuel cost advantage of Prius is $3,842.

    Corolla advantage is still $4071.
    Add to that the interest cost on a 5 year loan.
    Also Toyota Motor Credit has a 2.9% rate on Corolla for 5 years.

    The numbers on a 3 year lease work even better because the Corolla has better residual values and a 3 yr lease rate 0f 2.5%

    Prius has no incentives, it’s lease residuals are lower than Corolla.

    Also, from an environmental perspective, the Prius has a far higher “cost per operating mile” than the Corolla by a factor of 3.5.
    (See CNW REport “Dust to Dust”)

    Hidden Cost of Driving a Prius:

    Dust To Dust Report on True Cost Per Mile

    Don’t get me wrong, we love selling the Prius, but from a cost savings vs. benefit analysis the Prius doesn’t make sense.

    From an environmental perspective, Prius has a higher environmental cost to society than would you believe it,… The Hummer! (See CNW “Dust to Dust”).

    Most people still buy cars mostly under the influence of emotion.

  • avatar


    My point exactly. There isn’t a hybrid Corolla because toyota has the Prius for that market. There is a hybrid Camry to compliment the standard Camry. Obviously, Toyota felt there was a need for a hybrid Camry, but not a hybrid Corolla. The most logical reason is that the Prius already fills the hybrid Corolla market.

  • avatar

    No, Lumbergh, the point is that they can make a lot more _money_ on the hybrid Camry. The profit margin on the Prius is already pretty small. If they had to stick the HSD into a car which needs to slot $5000 less, it’d have been a sure-fire loser back then. (Maybe now; but these were decisions made 5 years ago).

    Look at the sizes; it’s quite obviously and objectively closer to the Camry in size. For you to continue to hold to this position is pretty strong evidence of bias.

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, again, you’re dead wrong about depreciation – the Prius was the tops for least depreciation just a year or two ago.

    Here were my assumptions on the last run, still saved in the sheet:

    Gas averaging 3.75. 10,000 miles per year. (a lot more than I do now, but I’m having to drive into a new office, which is why we needed the 2nd car to begin with).

    Prius price 25000 (we wanted the package with VSC and I think floor mats was the only other thing)

    Corolla price 20000 (based on attempt to configure the same stuff; I assumed a small discount, if any, off MSRP). This is the part that I’m least comfortable with.

    Corolla mileage 29, Prius mileage 50 (based on my likely achievable mileage in each)

    3.25% interest on loan (financed through family), finance term 5 years

    Depreciation: Corolla depreciates $1500 more than Prius. This is the part I feel most conservative; the actual observed depreciation difference was higher than this already, even now.

    Total 5 year cost difference: about 1000 (cheaper for Corolla).

    My conclusion was that 200/year was worth it for the greater space and utility, and as a gas price hedge.

    Since this time, of course, gas has actually moved past the 3.75 figure. Oops.

  • avatar

    Oh, and anybody who cites that Hummer study obviously has an axe to grind – it’s been debunked by everybody short of the third grade science fair by this point.

    Have to wonder whether you really DO work at the Toyota dealer if you’re willing to peddle that pack of lies.

  • avatar

    Some useless observations:

    I’ve driven both the latest Prius and HCH and both are not performance cars by any stretch of imagination. The HCH handles better but the Prius has the better interior configuration. My stint with the Prius was about 50/50 hwy/city and I averaged 40MPG for 400 miles. The HCH was worse at 37 mpg and that was mostly highway. I drove most of the miles by myself. In the bay area we have lots of hills to climb even on the hillways. On highway 280, I set the cruise control on the HCH and the poor car kept having to downshift on the long stretches up the hills. For those familiar with 280, think of the hills after the splits at 380 and 92. I didn’t take the prius up these hills but I did take it up some hills coming back from Salinas to SF and the car is more silent than the HCH. It’s rather interesting watching the video display in the Prius. Actually, it’s kind of fun to watch and makes trying to save gas a game. But I digressed..

    I didn’t try anything special to try to obtain better gas mileage. Go to Priuschat for those tips.

    Around the beginning to summer of 2007 a Prius could be had for under MSRP. In CA, Toyota was given away certain packages to stimulate sales. I haven’t checked lately but I am sure those days are gone with gas approaching $4.00 a gallon. A HCH could be had for a discount as well but that’s probably gone too.

    While I am not in the market for a new car, I can’t wait to see what next year will bring with Hybrids and Diesels.

    For the those who haven’t a Hybrid, try to rent one and see if you like it. If not, wait for one you do like. I think Hybrids do serve it’s purpose but it’s not for everyone.

  • avatar

    Re: is the prius closer to a camry or a corolla?

    I think Toyota justified making a hybrid Camry over a hybrid Corolla, because the Prius is already an “economy” car (just look at the spartan interior). It is as cheap and weak engined as they can make a hybrid.

    Doing a Campry hybrid would appeal to those folks who must have a sedan and perhaps want a little more luxury and a little more pep.

    Re: patriotic duty to hate on Priuses.
    There is no shortage of people bashing hybrids and hybrid owners here it seems. The cost of buying this car might not be re-couped by money saved on gas, but for those who just want to use less gas to be a better steward to the environment by helping extend the availability of a finite resource, this is the best vehicle available.

    It is fuel-efficient, reliable and has a practical size unlike previous hybrids. It doesn’t look like an econo-box. It is not sexy, but it is not bland either. Plus it will probably go down as a historical piece of engineering. It kind of symbolizes hope that we are on our way to toward moving beyond our reliance on oil. That’s why it is so cool to own a Prius. I don’t think it is that hard to fathom. won’t save the earth by itself, it won’t bankrupt terrorists by itself, and yea, we gotta figure out how to dispose of/recycle the batteries more economically and safely. But dagnabit it is does symbolize progress like no other vehicle of recent note.

    Re: Smugness of Prius Owners
    I think this has been overblown by the media and right-wings. And people here are just apeing what they’ve heard. If a Mustang or BMW owner can feel smugly prideful of owning their car, why isn’t it OK for Prius owner be allowed feel a little superior about his car?

    Seroiusly the world would be a better place if smugness was wiped off the face of the earth. But since it isn’t illegal yet, Prius owners are not doing anything that demands public scorn.

    Not a Prius owner. Just being fair minded.

  • avatar

    The car is on a back order for 12 month. It is 25000$ and you can get 10 year waranty on everything. I dont know if the price you pay over corolla will be made up in gas.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    This is such a silly argument. We of all people should understand that very few people choose a car specifically because of its 0-60 time, the diameter of its wheels, the volume of its trunk, its top speed or its mpg rating. All of them factor in, of course, but–as has been pointed out by others–people buy Priuses for a large variety and combination of reasons, and few of them are running spreadsheets to make their choice.

  • avatar

    Hey M1EK,

    Thanks for taking a mathematical exercise and turning it into a personal attack on whether I’m telling the truth. The site is called The Truth…

    Your analysis is flawed because it is subjective. Obviously you purchased a Prius for personal reasonds and you don’t need to justify why you purchased it. Most people that purchase the Prius do so because they get an emotional or mental payoff of owning the new technology, they like the attention, or it just feels good.

    All I’m saying is that if your intention is strictly to save money, it does not make sense in my market which is Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. Other markets may be different, but not by much.

    Watch carefully, no sleight of hand, and I’ll use your numbers.

    Driving YOUR 10,000 miles per year at $3.75 per gallon. Go to the web site and compare a new Prius to a Corolla and plug in those numbers on the “Side by Side’ comparison page.

    You will see that according to the EPA, the annual fuel savings of the 2008 Prius over the 2009 Corolla LE is $335.00.
    Multiply $335.00 by 5(years) and the Prius has a five year fuel savings of $1,675.00 vs. Corolla.

    Now, in our market Prius is selling at MSRP. The least expensive Prius you can buy in our market is the Package-2 which is $23,909.00 and it has Vehicle Stability Control. In our market you can purchase a 2009 Corolla LE with VSC for factory invoice of $16,710.

    Using Virginia Taxes of 4%, and using your 5 year interest rate of 3.25% with Zero down payment, the Prius has a payment of $450.31 vs. Corolla at $320.15. Over the term of the loan Corolla saves you $7,809.60 in payments

    Let’s do the math:

    Corolla Pmt. Savings: $7,809.60
    Less Prius Fuel savings: $1,675.00
    Corolla Savings: $6,134.00

    Using YOUR numbers and a comparably equipped Corolla with VSC saves you $6,134.00!

    Some Things to Consider:

    1. With the top of the line Prius and Corolla the numbers remain the same.

    2. In the real world the avg. interest rate through Toyota Motor Credit on a 5 yr loan is around 8.5%. In my market most people belong to a Federal Credit Union and can get 4.9% on a five year note. Most consumers don’t get a family subsidized loan of 3.25%. Either way, Corolla Wins. Even more so for the average person.

    3. Even if you can personally tease more fuel economy out of the Prius than the EPA suggests, the same holds true for the Corolla so it’s a wash.

    4. Even at 15,000 miles driven per year Corolla still wins.

    5. If you do more highway driving the advantage shifts even more to Corolla, Prius gets better economy in the city.

    4. If you drive 10,000 miles per year, with 55% in the city and 45% on the highway, and gas were a consistent $10.67 per gallon for 5 years, then Prius and Corolla would break even on a 5 year note at 3.25%. (Including taxes). Check for your self.

    The above numbers are YOUR numbers M1EK, and you can go to to check the fuel economy numbers and use their calculator.

    As I said originally, In my market, if a consumer wants to strictly save money, the Prius does not make financial sense considering the host of other cars in that segment that offer the same or more amenities

    Corolla offers more horse power and torque. Performs and handles better when loaded with four people or cargo. Has more towing capacity and even has active head restraints, an important safety feature not available in the Prius, and currently only available on our Land Cruiser.

    Also The 5 year residual value on a Corolla LE is 40%, The Prius top of the line Pkg 6 is only 35%.
    If you plug that factor into the equation Prius makes even less sense economically. (See ALG Lease Values or Toyota Motor Credit, or call your local dealer).

    Now, please, without getting personal, refute my numbers with pure data that you can back up. If you don’t believe me about the invoice pricing email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you a Toyota Invoice.

    I know you enjoy your Prius, and it was a good decision for you, and I’m sure that saving money wasn’t the only reason you purchased it.

    My numbers are strictly for people who are interested in conserving cash, not fuel.

    On The Front Line

  • avatar

    On The Front Line, when you refer discredited garbage like the Hummer study, you lose credibility. Even most of the fairly venomous anti-Prius folks here won’t drag out that hoary old piece of garbage.

    Again, I based it on conditions here, and I gave you my numbers. The subjective parts were clearly identified as such (my guess on depreciation is one – but far more defensible than your guess given the fact that the Prius won the least depreciated award more than once recently; how much extra money the extra space is worth is another). You’re gaming the comparison in favor of the Corolla, though, by using the LE, and invoice. Corollas aren’t going for invoice around here, and I doubt very much they are where you are either.

    I also left out cruise control (by accident) – my bad.

    When I do a “build your own Corolla” with the XLE and VSC+cruise, I get 18,765.00. Lower than my estimate in the spreadsheet by a bit, but then again, so was the Prius we actually ordered. I may have been rounding up (to 20K for Corolla, to 25K for Prius) to include TT&L; hard to remember now.

    Even Yahoo, likely out of date due to recent gas runup, doesn’t think you’re going to be able to walk out with one of these for closer to invoice than MSRP, BTW.

  • avatar

    I get the sense, by the way, that we’ll see a lot more US dealers talking down the Prius given the long waiting lists. Better to sell a Corolla than to risk a Prius buyer going somewhere else.

    When we picked up our new one about two weeks ago, the waiting list had ballooned to 5 months, essentially every 2008 model they were expecting to get has already been sold.

    I also find it interesting that you’ve just let your initial claims about residual/depreciation continue unchallenged, when it’s a fairly large component of the difference between our two spreadsheets.

    (CR’s link aged out):

    “1. Toyota Prius Ongoing demand for this thrifty gas/electric hybrid and excellent reliability give the Prius the best depreciation rating among all currently sold models. In addition, many owners are hanging onto them, so good luck trying to find a used Prius. $22,000.”

  • avatar


    As suspected, using your own numbers you cannot refute my analysis.

    1. Check my website I’ve got roughly 77 Corollas in stock. I will sell any one of them to you or anyone on this board for $500.00 below invoice this weekend, at invoice next week. If you don’t believe me, pick one out and send me a check and it’s yours. It’s the same for dealers nationwide because ’09 production is up to speed and we can get Corollas all day long, as many as we want.

    2. On depreciation: Looking at past depreciation is 20/20 hindsight, especially in this market with volatile fuel prices and rapidly changing technology. All estimates about future depreciation are just a guess. The only depreciation numbers that are real are the ones coming from the Finance companies that put their money where there mouth is by GUARANTEEING the future value of the asset. Those numbers show Prius with good depreciation, but it doesn’t beat Corolla. Just the facts. 5 years from now, the Prius might be worth more, or it could be made irrelevant by vastly superior technology. I trust the insurance companies who guarantee the residual values with CASH, not awards, trophies, or news articles.

    Even if I build an XLE and compare it to a $27,884 top of the line Prius Pkg-6, the numbers are still the same.

    As far as the CNW research. If you judge my numbers and logic based on my casual reference to a report that bears no relationship to my 5-year cost analysis, that proves that you still lack the capability of proving your position with real numbers and factual data, so instead you revert to personal attacks, and obfuscation of the truth.

    Speaks volumes…

  • avatar

    For anyone that wants to know, the retail price of a 2003 Prius battery is $3,000.00 not including installation. I was just curios so I checked with our parts department.

  • avatar


    Actually it is very difficult to convert a Prius buyer to a Corolla. In my experience the Prius buyers dominate buying motivation is not fuel savings. Good fuel efficiency is the intellectual motivation which causes them to investigate the Prius. The dominate buying motivation is more emotional, more esoteric, it’s a personal statement. I had one customer that knew it didn’t make financial sense, but she just wanted to “do her part to save the environment”.

    When you try to convert a customer to a Corolla you lose them because they are emotionally invested in owning what they perceive to be a unique piece of technology. I’m sure we’d sell fewer Prius’ if they did away with the video display screen on the center dash, which adds nothing to the fuel efficiency, but certainly appeals to the emotions when the car is test driven. About 35% of our customers that get excited and plunk down their deposit, cool off after two weeks they call and cancel the order. They get a non-hybrid because the emotional excitement wears off.

    We are telling people thewait time is several months.

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, I wonder how you sleep at night while purposefully misrepresenting the truth like this.

    I chose the XLE because the built-ins and performance match the Prius with package 2 most closely. Not the 6. Try again.

    From the Hummer story to this depreciation nonsense (yes, the real world data is, in fact, very relevant here) to obliquely bringing up the “but you’ll need to buy a new battery” FUD to the XLE vs. Package 6 thing, you’ve been proven a shill – not an objective participant in this discussion. And it’s quite obvious you have a strong motivation to slag the Prius now that you can’t sell any.

    Here’s the thing, though: like old GM salesmen who would talk down their compacts in favor of higher profit vehicles, you’re about to learn the painful lesson that when you slag one of your own offerings to try to get people to buy another product you sell, many of them are going to walk to a different manufacturer instead.

    As for your “do her part to save the environment” customer, yes, it does, in fact, do more for the environment than does the Corolla. Lower emissions of everything, especially CO2.

    Finally, as for your claim that the pretty screen brings along a lot of customers, for me, it was the rear legroom and interior cargo volume with rear seat down – neither one of which the Corolla can come remotely close to matching (nor can the Civic Hybrid which we were shopping against in 2004 as well). The Corolla is a fine commuter car; but for a family car, it’s far less useful than the Prius, even if you don’t consider mileage at all.

  • avatar

    While saving fuel is good for everyone’s wallet, driving a Prius is also better for the environment in terms of pollution. In fact, driving a Prius:

    From California to Florida, approximately 2,700 miles (4345 km), would produce fewer smog-forming emissions than emptying just one can of air freshener.

    For 8,000 miles (12,874 km) — about eight months of normal driving — creates less emissions than spilling a cup of gasoline.

    For 53,000 miles (85,295 km), the equivalent of twice around the world, generates fewer emissions than painting a bedroom.

    All emissions calculations are based on California Air Resources Board Standards for NMOG, NOx and evaporative emissions.
    1 Based on the legally allowable VOC emissions limit for a 9-oz (266 ml). can of two-phase aerosol air freshener.
    2 Based on the legally allowable VOC emissions limit for 1 gal. (3.8 l) flat, satin, semi-gloss or gloss paint with an average coverage area of 500 sq. ft (46 m2)

  • avatar

    By the way, I’m driving a 08 Prius and have been more than pleased with it. IMO the build quality is great, the ride is smooth and quiet, the air blows cold and the stereo sounds fairly good. It has plenty of pep, Keyless Go and idle cut out are just icing on the cake.

    I have no idea what the talk about depleted batteries and reduced performance is all about and the hatchback suits me to a tee, because I can’t buy a Saab with one any more.

    I am seriously considering purchasing it when the lease is up to replace my wife’s Saab and getting another.

  • avatar


    You haven’t refuted my math or my numbers yet, or my original premise. An LE Corolla even equipped with VSC and Cruise Control matches a Prius Pkg 2 almost feature for feature and delivers more drivability (Pwr/Towing, performance) and saves you more money, thousands more.

    I understand you may find the Prius more comfortable. I had a customer last night who fit into the Prius, but could not fit into the Corolla because of his knees. That goes to my point. Now your talking about non-efficiency related buying motivations, again proving my point.

    As far as saving the environment with a Prius don’t kid your self. Every gallon of gas you don’t burn just means that someone in China, India, Indonesia, Africa, etc is going to burn that gallon. Probably in a less efficient manner because they don’t have smog controls like we do. The Chinese are building Coal Fired electric power plants and coal fired locomotives like crazy. They will burn the gasoline you conserve. You may burn less personally, but it is all going up in smoke sooner or later. It’s just a question of who burns it more efficiently.

    Finally it’s been an interesting exercise, but I’ve really got to figure out how we’re going to move these 5.7 Lire V8 Tundra’s in this Market, Oil is at $135.00 a barrel today!

    Good luck to you, and congratulations on your Prius.

    p.s. The battery post had nothing to with my previous post. I have a customer who is trading in a 2003 Prius with 75k miles. Another customer was considering buying it and she asked me how much a new battery cost and I didn’t know. So today I checked with my parts department and found out and thought I would share.

    Out of three Toyota dealerships in the area not one has replaced a battery under warranty. My hunch is they will go way beyond the 100,000 mile warranty. That’s a good sign.

    It was a pleasure.

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, you haven’t proven anything other than that my impression of most car salesmen was right on the mark.

    1. XLE is the most appropriate Corolla to compare because of power/trim. Even to the base Prius. Note things like keyless entry. Still have to add a few things to bring it up to Prius pkg.

    2. Depreciation is obviously less for Prius – independent, real-world data has shown this.

    3. You brought up the discredited Hummer study.

    4. You brought up the battery – the implication was obvious, especially given #3.

    5. The Prius is cleaner even for each gallon of gasoline it burns than are its competitors, including Corollas. So even the oddball right-wing interpretation of “if I don’t burn it, somebody else will” still fails, crashed on the rocks of reality – when I burn it, less crap goes into the air. And, frankly, the argument is stupid anyways; every gallon of gas we burn in the US makes some very very bad people a bit richer, and us a little more reluctant to make them behave.

  • avatar


    When someone brings up the CNW Marketing “Dust to Dust” study, it says that they’re either extremely poorly informed or have a distinct agenda.

    As a Toyota rep, you should be offended by the idea that CNW assigned a life of something like 100K miles to the Prius and 300K miles to the Hummer. Clearly BS.

    The CNW is not only obviously bunk but people who probably have better things to do have had to waste time addressing it. Here’s one of the more comprehensive and polite debunkings:

    Pacific Institute

  • avatar


    Thanks for sending me a link to refute the CNW study. Mentioning the CNW study was premature on my part, but it was ancillary to the point that I was making. Your approach to the subject by offering an alternative verifiable view is a welcome respite of rational discourse.

    I have no distinct agenda in this subject matter. The plain truth is we will sell every Corolla we get allocated and our Prius allocation for 2008 will be sold out shortly.

    My original comment about the Prius not making economic sense in my market if your goal is to save money over 3-5 years is a simple reality, especially on a lease. Six months ago you could purchase a Prius for invoice or $500 over. In today’s market you pay MSRP, that’s a lot of “Blue Sky” for which you receive no value in return.

    We are fielding hundreds of calls and test drives from people who claim their initial motivation is to save money by getting better fuel economy. When they do the math, most of them balk at the purchase.

    A smaller segment that actually buy the Prius want the Prius for different reasons, and it is not to save money or conserve cash. They make up the bulk of Prius buyers.

  • avatar

    @ onthefrontline and M1KE,

    LOVE the debate! Thats why we have these comments (but remember, keep it civil, you are both educated adults).

    I see both sides of the argument, and am glad ya’ll are having it. These topics need to be discussed as the Prius, no matter what your position continues to be the most polarizing car on the market.

    While I will never buy one as I find it extremely boring to drive, where I drive (I don’t have stop and go commutes, and being an aviator, my accelerator tends to be pushed to the carpet more often than not), I welcome the little thing to the market, and am fascinated by the technology. Toyota made one heck of a little car, for a certain demographic.

    One thing you haven’t brought up yet, or discussed, the batteries. What about disposal, battery life, and if they rupture in an accident? I’m not very knowledgeable on any of these points. I hear stories of batteries leaking after a severe crash, and the toxicity of them becoming a hazard for disposal companies. I welcome anybody with knowledge on this to contact me via e-mail!

  • avatar

    People who calmly and civilly willfully misrepresent the truth are doing nobody any favors.

    The CNW study was discredited all over the internet by everybody with a shred of reputability for months on end. The depreciation data (Prius being the least depreciated car overall) was available for years. The fact that the batteries simply aren’t wearing out has been known for years.

    What do we call it when people continue to say things they know (or ought to know) are false in order to try to sow confusion? Anybody have a nice, civil, term to use?

  • avatar

    In civil terms, I think “disinformation” fits the CNW study. This can of course be abbreviated “BS”.

    While I wondered about the massiveness of the original Prius, set in the amazingly light, spacious and incredibly ugly Echo chassis, it has become apparent that the diversity in technology is of ultimate benefit to a planet which has become addicted to transportation.

    The Prius may or may not make sense as a cold hard cash transaction, but if people enjoy the economy and buy them, we will all enjoy the fruits of the knowledge which will surely accrue as more experience is gained in the design of more efficient transportation.

    Most of us have read enough accounts of the early days of the automobile, when they were ridiculously complex compared to the horse alternative, and certainly not economical to see the similarities in the arguments against the Prius of today. Similarly, at its birth the computer was viewed as a curiousity. I seem to recall that predictions were made that the world might get by on three or four of them located in strategic places around the globe.

    Interesting debate, however.

  • avatar

    Just heard from our Toyota Rep:

    Apparently Toyota has 20,000 Batteries left for the ’08 production of Prius worldwide. We are now writing “08 or 09” on our factory orders and the price is unknown.

    I don’t know how true this is but it comes from our Toyota Rep today.

    I also saw that Toyota is building a new battery plant so they can increase production:

    From LA Times Article,0,5437081.story

    “Buyers spooked by high hybrid prices should consider high-mileage conventional cars, such as the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Fit, the Mini Cooper or the Ford Focus, which get 28 mpg or more but can cost thousands less than hybrids, some experts advise

  • avatar

    I had one customer that knew it didn’t make financial sense, but she just wanted to “do her part to save the environment”.

    That’s funny, because a lady I work with recently bought a Civic Hybrid. Wehn I asked her how much more it cost than a standard Civic, she told me $5,000. Followed by, “I know it doesn’t make economic sense, but I just want to do my part to save the environment.”

  • avatar

    I think one thing has been settled here if nothing else, M1EK likes stirring the pot. See his last several posts.

    I actually think that a Prius may finally make economic sense. I evaluated it by taking the price differential between the Prius and Corolla (adjusted for features that the Corolla doesn’t share with the Prius) and assumed it would be conservatively invested then compared that to the gas savings assuming an average annual increase in gas prices of 10%. I hadn’t considered it from the lease or loan aspect of purchasing, as I don’t borrow money to buy a car. But, maybe onthefrontline has a valid point when viewed from that angle. The more that he is attacked on a personal basis rather than a demonstration of how and where his calculations are incorrect, the stronger his position becomes.

  • avatar

    Lumbergh, there is no point debunking things which have been debunked dozens of times all over the internet – and when his calculations, and the rest of his position, rests on things which have already been debunked, and he keeps it up anyways, it’s unreasonable to expect anybody with any value for their time to continue down that same path.

    Kind of like how I proved you were wrong when you implied the Prius was closer to the Corolla/Civic than the Camry/Accord, and you just moved on to the next topic without blinking an eye.

  • avatar

    I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that this ‘onthefrontline’ character is just some Toyota salesman who thought up this clever little routine he uses to try and convince prospective buyers of the Prius (now in short supply with a waiting in list in many locations) that the Corolla (which are plentiful and in stock everywhere) is a better purchase since he can sell them one of those right now.

    There’s nothing particularly wrong with it since a Corolla isn’t a poor car purchase by any means, but it is in keeping with the traditional deceitful auto salesman demeanor and he chose the wrong venue to attempt to convince other, more astute auto aficionados of his ploy.

  • avatar


    Apparently you did not read my previous posts about what motivates our buyers that choose a Prius.

    We basically get two kinds of people who come in on the Prius. The first are very serious about getting a Prius. We don’t sell them a Prius, they are already committed to buy before they walk in the store. They don’t even suggest that we discount the car off of MSRP. They don’t care that it may take 3-4 months now to get a car. They don’t care that we cannot guarantee their color choice. We are now telling customers that we don’t even know what the price will be because there may be one or two price increases, and they may end up with an ’09 model by the time their Prius arrives.

    Yet, they still put a $500.00 deposit down on a ‘maybe’ color, and an MSRP of who knows, and they’re willing to wait until who knows when.

    This type of customer CANNOT be converted to a Corolla by “deceit”, nor by rational economic persuasion. They want a Prius for reasons that are inextricably intertwined with their self-image. Only a fool would try to convert someone who is willing to pay you MSRP and wait until you call them. End of story.

    The other type of customer has no emotional or ego-identity investment in the Prius. They are curious about the car and want to drive it. After driving it and looking at the monthly payments they decide it is not the car they want. We don’t decide for them, nor do we convince them through deceitful methods. They already know the Prius is not the car for them. They either don’t like it because of aesthetics, drivability, or it doesn’t make economic sense for them now – today.

    This customer might buy a Corolla or a Yaris because they are payment conscious and they’re concern for the environment does not overcome the needs of their family budget.

    Ridigar, we don’t deceive our customers. Our store is located less than 2 miles from the Pentagon in Crystal City. Crystal City is headquarters to the Military Industrial Complex.
    Almost every defense related company has offices within 1 mile of our store. Our average customer is graduate educated, engineers, MBA’s, Lawyers, CEO’s, very high ranking military officers, Cabinet Officials, Whitehouse staff, etc. We sell to Congressman and their staff, and other high ranking Gov’t officials. They all have access to Federal Credit Unions which provide extensive consulting and financing of automobiles. If we were deceitful, word would spread like wild fire. Deceit is immoral and counter productive.

  • avatar

    samadams :
    May 21st, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I set the cruise control on the HCH and the poor car kept having to downshift on the long stretches up the hills.

    Well, except that the Civic hybrid has a CVT and can’t shift… (the first generation also had a manual option.)

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, there’s only one explanation for somebody doing what you did:

    1. Posting the Hummer study
    2. Bringing up battery life (implying the batteries age out before the reasonable life of the car)
    3. Claiming Priuses depreciate more than Corollas

    All are FUD. All are false.

    Sorry; if the shoe fits, wear it. And if I lived in your neck of the woods, I’d be telling my friends and colleagues to avoid your shop because of it.

  • avatar

    It seems like many Prius drivers feel just as passionately about their vehicle as the import tuners, Harley riders, and Airstreamers feel about theirs. Making any negative comments about the vehicle seems on par with insulting a religion, like you’re not commenting on someone’s car but their entire lifestyle.

  • avatar

    @ trk2,

    DING! You observations are very astute. See BMW 135i review for another example.

  • avatar

    So, I don´t know what I am doing differntly, but I consitently get 48 to 50 MPG in my ’07 prius. And it is not like I don’t cane it either, the commute home is the classic california “0 to 80 Dance” along 280 or 101, yet every reviewer I’ve read can only get 40.

  • avatar

    from todays’s Automotive News

    “Toyota aims to sell at least 1 million hybrid vehicles a year from the early 2010s.”

    “Toyota is in talks with General Motors about producing the hybrid Prius at their joint production venture in California, a newspaper today”

    “The automaker said this month sales of the Prius had topped one million vehicles since the launch in Japan in 1997, followed by North America, Europe and elsewhere in 2000.”

    Toyota has recently reached an agreement to build two NiMH battery factorys and one Lithuium-Ion Factory for the next gen Plug-In Prius.

    It took Toyota from 1997 to present to sell one million Prius, and they intend to sell one million a year from the “early 2010’s”. Anybody want to hazard a guess as to how that will affect the depreciation on the current generation Prius, especially if you pay sticker or close to it? The 2010 models will be much more advanced and fuel efficient, and they will be Plug-ins that will probably travel 30-60 miles on battey power alone!

    What do you think?

  • avatar

    onthefrontline, you misleading rascal, you, it’ll depend on demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Toyota’s track record on forecasting demand isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than GM’s; so I doubt very much whether the demand for used cars with good fuel efficiency will suddenly crash.

  • avatar

    Eh, it’s just another smoke-and-mirrors attempt to steer people into a Corolla which is in plentiful supply: “You know, on top of having to wait for a Prius, by the time it comes in, Toyota will be close to releasing a new, much improved version, which will dramatically drop the resale value of all the old ones.

    Now, this here Corolla that I have lots of in stock and can sell you right now is brand-new, gets nearly as good gas mileage, and should hold its resale value much better…”.

    The current high price of gas has made the short-supply Prius something of a ‘halo’ car for Toyota in that it draws people into the showroom so salesmen can sell them something else.

    It’s almost the ‘anti-Viper’, a highly impractical, expensive, gas-guzzler that few people can afford but draws them into Dodge dealerships to look at. That’s when the salesmen pounce on them and try to sell them a craptacular Caliber or Caravan.

  • avatar


    At least now you’re only calling me a “rascal”!

    Just for your info, we have 2005 Prius with cloth interior and NAV with 47k miles. We are asking $22,995.00. I’ll let you know if we get that much for it.

    We also just got an 07 Prius with 2,000 miles package 1, asking $25,900.

    My guess is they will command the price.

    We’ll see what the market bears.

  • avatar

    I recently drove a rented Prius for 4 days and fell in love with it. The gas mileage was unbelievable. The only drawback was going up hills. The gas engine did strain. But I am close to retirement and need a car with great gas mileage. No hills here in my hometown of Ogden, unless I want to go up through the canyon to the other side of the mountains, but I have a Toyota RAV4 SUV with 269-HP for that. With the high cost of gas these days (and going higher every day), the 50 mpg average of the Prius is very appealing, especially to someone who will soon be living on a fixed retirement income. I hope the 2009 model has some improvements.

  • avatar

    The Prius isn’t perfect, but I’d still love to own one. It brings about a certain geeky enthusiasm in me that I haven’t felt since the DeLorean. Too bad it’s a pain to buy one.

  • avatar

    Did you know women find it more interesting to talk to a guy with the latest hybrid versus a sports car?

    Check this idea for a commercial.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I’m not going to bother to watch the YouTube thing, but that’s been true throughout history. Hugely attractive women are drawn to interesting men with a good sense of humor who aren’t full of themselves and who have a “feminine side.” It has always stunned the musclebound studs that the sexiest woman in the room will not be drawn to the person who assumes he has the largest member or fastest car but to the skinny guy with glasses who tells wonderful stories, listens well and–most important–makes them laugh.

    The exceptions are gold-diggers who gravitate toward money and thus find an SL or a Ferrari irresistible. It’s not the guy, it’s his wallet.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    Dudes, I live in the Seattle area, and the streets are simply overrun by Priuses with Obama stickers on back. It’s almost comical how popular this car is here.

    I generally like the prius, which is weird because tire-shredding, turbocharged mayhem excites me. What I like about it is that it’s a sign of progress. We need new technology on the market to find out what works. Of all the “hybrid” vehicles for sale right now, only the Prius delivers any real fuel savings.

    However, when it came down to it, I didn’t but one, and not just because I like to throw cars around corners with reckless abandon. I didn’t buy it because it was too expensive. The fuel savings were appealing, but I just couldn’t afford the initial sticker price. I did some quick math and figured out that in order for the gas savings to make up for the initial cost over, say, a Honda Civic, you would have to drive it for about ten years. The Prius has not been in production long enough to know about its long-term reliability.

    The thing that really disappoints me about the Prius and other “hybrid” vehicles? They STILL USE GAS!

    I’ll get excited about electric cars when auto makers can actually produce a practical, AFFORDABLE car that doesn’t need gasoline at all.

  • avatar

    I agree with the review – the stock handling is terrible, but it can be fixed up to a point. I own a Prius and the first time I was hit with a crosswind at 80+ I was blown across two lanes with no warning – I’m thankful I was the only car on the freeway at the time. After that I immediately upgraded the tires (wider) , installed braces (strut tower, front lower, rear subframe – all by Tom’s Performance), and upgraded the swaybars.These mod’s stiffened up the structure immensely and let the suspension work – Toyota should have built the car like this in the first place. The cost was ~ $1K and mileage didn’t change. The car is now much more stable in crosswinds and highspeed (for a Prius) sweepers, but still gets out of shape if you lift in sharp corners or make fast high amplitude inputs not unlike many cars. You can’t cheat the angular momentum of the battery pack unless you go lower and stiffer with the shock/spring package ( coilovers anyone) at the cost of everyday comfort. Hopefully the 2010 version will take care of the handling issues without the need for aftermarket help. The interior is another issue ( particularly the seats ) that needs fixing….. but it can be done.

  • avatar

    You review mirrors my experience. I rented one for a weekend after putting a down payment on the wait list last summer. Returned it within 8 hours and got deposit back. Dangerously slow on long highway upgrades. Life is already too short….

  • avatar

    I just test drove a 2006 Prius (it only had 53000 km on it)for the first time yesterday, did mostly highway and some city driving (total 188 km). Set to cruise control at 100 km/h to go and 105 km/h to come back. I avg 48 MPG for total trip. Outside temp was between 1 and 4 degrees celcius, I was alone in the car (I’m a small guy). Although that is very good I would have really liked to go 50+ MPG due to my very conservative driving. I get 36 MPG with my Pontiac Vibe driving the same way. There was a few hills, not too steep but good hills enough still and had no problems at all with them. I wasn’t trying to go uphill at 140 km/h either and thats not the purpose at all in the fist place..

    Overall I liked the car, I didn’t notice the handling issue too much like some talks about, but I didn’t “race” the car either nor do I do it with my vibe. I have to agree to a certain point though that if you would need to make a quick turn to avoid an object it doesn’t seem as reponsive and quick to act. Only once I can remember in the last 10 years of driving where I really needed to apply very quick movement to avoid a bad driver, it was an extremely close call and I will admit that if I would have had the prius I’m not so sure i would have missed the other car (I may have briefly touched it thats all, compared to my vibe)..

    But the handling issue alone wouldn’t really have an impact on buying the car. I’m not an expert with cars but it seems just normal due the size of the car that it would not be as quick for fast turns to as compared to a smaller car thats just common sense to me, try doing a quick turn with a big boat in the water and then do the same thing with a smaller boat to see which one will be easier to turn..

    As far as cargo room goes there is nothing to complain about here. With my pontiac vibe I find I have LOTS of cargo room and its one of the reason why I bought it (MPG and cargo room combined with excellent reliability). And the Prius interest me for all the same reasons (cargo room, MPG and excellent reliability).

    I find I have just a little more cargo room with the vibe, the trunk is about the same size but deeper. The Prius has the battery underneath hense the not so deep trunk.

    I haven’t read all comments here but quite a few and couldn’t help but notice the comparision with the Jetta TDI, although the Jetta seems to do excellent MPG I can’t agree with the reliability. When I talk to friends about their TDI they all say how tough it is yet they tell me about the “only” parts they had to replace (car with less then 250 000 km). I dont consider that “normal regular maintnance”. Dont believe me? Go on and lookup for used 2006 jetta TDI (or other years) and you will notice a LOT of adds include things such “New transmission, new clutch, new waterpump, new engine” ect ect.. That my friends is NOT GOOD RELIABILITY!! Now go back and make a search for a 2006 Pontiac vibe or matrix (or other years, I use 2006 because thats the one I checked more). Most of the adds you will never see any parts changed.

    The Prius also seems the same by what I have seen, I don’t see any mentions of major parts that has been changed). As far as my vibe goes, I bought it at 170000 km and now have 287 000 km and to date have not had to replace ANY parts on it yet. The only big expense to date (last week) was repainting the top of the car due to some starting rust (started bubbling) ($700 total cost). Other then that oil change and tires thats it!

    All this to say that I’m still undecided to go with the Prius only because the vibe is so dependable and cheap to operate and I’m hesitant to make the move. The only reason why I’d get the Prius would be so that in the long run (within the next 5 to 6 years) I save more money vs owning my vibe and It doesnt seem that would do it.. My car is paid for now but high milleage enough so I wouldn’t get much money for it, a used 2008 that I am interested in is $10 000 (170 000 km on it). So at the end of all this, I calculated it would cost me around $9000 total for the trade. And that I’d be saving $85 – $110 per month in gas.

    The most common complaints I’ve heard about the prius is about their failing headlights.

    Anyway if your looking for a Prius and the reasons behind it is to save on gas and you don’t buy it for “performance” I think its a great choice. If your looking to drive a car that will be cheap to operate in the long term and give you lots of cargo room I have to recommend the pontiac vibe (used). The matrix is the same car but you will get a better price on the vibe just because of the pontiac crest even though its the exact same car.

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