First timer describes his experience with a Toyota Prius.

Matt from over at has an entry up on a week spent driving a Toyota Prius rental car.

The Prius is the first car I’ve ever seen that comes with a quick-start guide — a small tear-off sheet giving startup instructions. Starting the car is different enough from every other car I’ve ever seen that the clerk at Enterprise had to walk me through it.

Check out the key. It provides a subtle break with reality as you know it. This plastic, electronic key looks like the remote doorlock and trunk control of a more traditional car. In fact, the engineers at Toyota essentially built the car key into the remote control. The result says, This is not your father’s Oldsmobile. And thank goodness for that.

The key device, which is about the size of a small box of wooden matches, slides into a slot in the dashboard. The next step in starting the car, according to the quickstart guide, is to press the POWER button. I had to laugh — this car boots up. I really enjoyed pressing that button.

I’ve been debating getting one of these vehicles for awhile now. I’m definitely a point-A to point-B car owner as is evident by my appreciation for cars other folks tend to hate such as Pontiac’s Aztek. In addition to being better for the environment and easier on the gas consumption, the Prius also has a big pull on my Gadget Geek side. The main thing that’s keeping me from making the plunge is the fact that A) I still haven’t fully paid off the Grand Prix yet and B) I should probably get something that has more capacity for hauling crap around inside it as whenever we need to move something we end up calling on friends and relatives. But I can always dream.

4 thoughts on “First timer describes his experience with a Toyota Prius.

  1. I was given a Prius last month as a loaner when my Jetta requried some emergency repairs. (MY VW Dealer uses Enterprise for its loaners).

    I was surprised that it was as ballsy as it was, not as fast as my jetta, but hell it was faster than I expected the hybrid to be.

    One thing that was disappointing was the gas mileage…. the rental twit was telling me I would get like 50mpg in the city.. BS, I got closer to 30mpg … a huge difference over my jetta’s 20-22mpg or say my friend’s SUVs at 10mpg but not nearly as good as it should have been.

    Another bonus about owning one, aside from the geek factor, is the tax breaks for owning a hybrid smile  Anything I dont have to send to DC is a good thing &tm;

  2. Hang in there Les, it looks like your wish is Ford’s command. They have licensed the hyprid techonology and are using it a SUV type vehicle. If it sells, and I think it will considering the waiting list for the Prius, you’ll see all sizes of vehicles as hybrids.

  3. There’s been reports of many hybrid owners who aren’t getting the mileage they expected, but as it turns out a lot of your mileage will depend on your driving style. If you’re fond of aggressive driving styles with lots of quick starts and hard braking then your mileage won’t be all that great. Hybrids work best with a driving style that involves smooth acceleration from a stop, coming to a slower stop when braking, and coasting. I tend to drive that way anyway so my style meshes with the hybrid pretty well.

    Matt talks about that in his entry and he mentions that he was able to get an average of 53.9 MPG by the end of the week. Now, it’s also true that the nature of EPA testing is such that it results in inflated mileage estimates, but that’s the fault of the EPA’s testing methods (which involves measuring emissions as opposed to how much gasoline is actually consumed) than it is the hybrid.

    QM, yep, I’m familiar with Ford’s upcoming Escape Hybrid and I’m keeping an eye on it.

  4. My wife and I went to look at the Prius a couple of months ago and found out there is an 11 to 12-month waiting list.  Then I find out people are getting closer to 40 mpg.  The mileage is actually less for highway than for city (due to regenerative braking, engine shutoff at stop, use of electric motor, etc.).  Since she travels mostly highway we can get something like the Toyota matrix (which still has the conveniance of a hatchback) for several thousand dollars less and still get 33-34 mpg highway. 

    Be carefull going for the hybrid simply because of the gas mileage.  When you factor in ‘cost of ownership’ (cost of vehicle, cost of fuel) you may end up spending more on the Prius than for a similarly sized car.

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