Monday, January 14, 2008

Prius Evaluation Last Day

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This morning we returned our Prius to Hertz after driving 220 miles and getting an average of 45.6 mpg over that distance. Before turning it in we performed what we call the "glider test" which involves Bob testing the accessibility and usability of the cargo space by loading his radio controlled model gliders. As you can see above there was no problem and the cargo space was larger and easier to access than our PT Cruiser. With the two back seats folded down the cargo area is actually quite large.

Back in our PT Cruiser. The seats in the PT are not as comfortable as those in the Prius. It is much noisier than the Prius and of course only gets 20 mpg as compared to the mid 40s on the Prius. Since the PT is a manual transmission there is not the smoothness of the Prius which has a continuously variable drive system that has no shift points. If we had to make a choice on the spot between the PT and the Prius the Prius would win hands down on many points. Towing with the RV would be an area where the PT would win for ease of hook up. The PT is hooked to the tow bars and put in neutral. The Prius would require the purchase and use of a front wheel dolly system. It cannot be towed with all four tires on the ground. I think we would still choose the Prius due to its economy, ease of use, smoothness, and quiet ride in spite of the dolly requirement.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


After a few days of hard city driving we are showiing 45.1 mpg. We have intentionally not been careful in our driving accelerating hard to get on the interstate and a lot of stop and go driving. This pattern is probably typical of about ninety percent of our driving. We like the car. It is functional and easy to drive. We still find the interior of this particular model plain. It is a rental car though and they usually have the most basic models. This particular car has about 23,000 miles on it and is solid and tight.

Today is our last full day with the car so we plan on putting some more highway miles on it. We will probably take a short day trip somewhere just for fun.

Finally, we find the controls on the center console and the radio cd player easy to use. Not fancy but functional. Actually using the display console to control the AC and fan is quite easy. Much easier than the more conventional mechanical controls found on other cars. Our biggest complaint so far is the lack of tinting on the windows, an easy fix.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hybrid Mileage Database - GreenHybrid

Hybrid Mileage Database - GreenHybrid

Here is an interesting web site where users report the mileage they have gotten with their hybrid cars. This will make a believer out of you. 122,276,536 mi · 77,553 tanks · 6,108 cars · 1 database

Prius Evaluation Day 3

We have spent the week running our normal errands around town, taking our granddaughter to her pre school, and not really trying hard for good mileage. At this point we have covered about a hundred miles of every day stop and go driving and our cumlative mileage is 45.6 mpg. We have become totally comfortable with this car and would probably be happy with a Prius except for one thing. To tow it behind our RV requires a dolly to get the front wheels off the ground. It cannot be towed with all four wheels on the ground due to the regenerative process that happens when the front wheels are turning.

The car seats we used for transporting our granddaughters are easy to install in this car. My four year old granddaughter said that it is easier to see the road when riding in this car than when riding in her daddy's car. I guess that is an interesting viewpoint that I had not thought about and relates to the massive amount of glass in the Prius. One thing that we worried about was blind spots since our PT Cruiser has some bad ones. Probably the worst view out of the car in my opinion is the rear view as it is interupted by a spoiler bar across the back hatch. I think this may have been improved in the 2008 models.

We are still having fun driving this hybrid and have a couple of more days left to enjoy it so we will keep reporting on our impressions. I did notice that Consumer Reports says that this car has the highest owner satisfaction of any they tested.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Toyota Prius Evaluation Day 2

Our weather has been fairly cool but one thing we both noticed is that there is a lot of glass on this vehicle. The windshield has a long flat aerodynamic shape but that also makes it a perfect solar collector. If we got one of these we would definitely have to opt for some serious windshield and window tinting. Either that or I will have to up my visits to my dermatologist to once a month instead of once every six months.

It is pretty easy to get comfortable with the technology in the Prius. Basically, you just turn it on and go. Nothing more complicated than that to worry about. It is all starting to seem very natural and the quiet smoothness is addictive. It is interesting that my initial impression was of confusion because of the vehicle's simplicity. That is a comment about how accustomed we are to complexity in our vehicles.

Mileage has dropped to 42 mpg today. Never thought I would say my mileage had dropped to 42 mpg. More on Day 3 in another post.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Toyota Prius Evaluation Day 1



A few days ago Barbara called me into the living room and said, "Watch this," as she rewound the Tivo and played back a Hertz commercial advertising their new "Green" rental program. In it they talk about their new fleet of low carbon impact vehicles. Since we have long been curious about the Toyota Prius I picked up the phone and reserved one for us to evaluate. We picked it up today. On the way home from the rental agency I noticed that we averaged 52.6 mpg. Not bad.

About the biggest challenge was figuring out how to make the thing go. It has no transmission as such. It has no starter. I suppose we are used to complexity because it took me a while to figure out that the big round button on the dash labeled "Power" was the trick. So, first impressions can be summed up by Barbara who after driving it said, "That is about the strangest vehicle I have ever driven."

Why so strange? The eerie silence when it starts off in electric power for one thing. Another is the unnerving shutdown of the engine when you pull to a stop. If you happen to be running on engine power, it switches seemlessly from engine to electric, the engine will just shut down when you stop. It is unnerving because being used to conventional cars the first reaction is to reach for the ignition switch but of course there is not one.

The gauges are embedded at the base of the windshield almost like a heads up display on a jet fighter. They are bright, large, and easy to read. The central display unit in energy mode does remind one of the Starship Enterprise with all of its energy arrows showing flows to and from the battery and the engine. The radio and AC controls embedded in the steering wheel hub are nice and easy to use.

The interior would be disappointing to a luxury car enthusiast. At least in our rental version the furnishings of the cabin are quite Spartan. Not sure if that is for weight savings or if it is just the version purchased by Hertz.

This is a great way to evaluate cars and just plain fun too. Some people even get paid to do this kind of thing but we figure living with various cars in this way for a week at a time is far better than a round the block demo at the dealership. We are having fun and will continue to report on our experience over the next week. Oh, and so far that 52.6 mpg average is not bad.

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� Top 10 sites to debunk urban legends | Tech of all Trades | TechRepublic.com

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