I don’t do many consumer related blog posts at PB. This one, however, is quite positive compared to what you may be used to. [cough… Tim … cough … AT&T…]

I recently purchased a 2010 Toyota Prius. I’ve wanted one since they came out but always had some kind of new minivan for transport of the b?b? kids that required a decent payment and was never in the position to get rid of my so-called beater car.

Until now. The story of how I came to need a new car despite having just purchased a new minivan for chillin’ transport is indeed a funny one. My latest beater was a ’95 Toyota Camry. It was a decent car. Did the job. Nothing fancy. It began to have those nagging issues any 10 year old plus car does. The last episode was a suspension issue what would literally cause the car to “turn” in an unexpected way. Very disconcerting when you are traveling at 50mph on a freeway entrance ramp trying to merge into traffic. It got bad enough my wife wouldn’t drive it with kids along.

The final straw problem was a sunroof that had a mind of it’s own. This winter one day wife calls me in hysterics. At first I thought they were the “something bad just happened” type of hysterics, but quickly realized she was LOL. “The sunroof just opened driving down the road and it WON’T CLOSE!” she said. It’s December. She got it home and I figured out some voodoo combination of button pressing that got it closed. All good.

The very next day I take it to Cleveland and it does the very same thing. Only this time no amount of voodoo button pressing will make it closed. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Long story short I drive 2 hours in the freezing Ohio winter with my sunroof down.

I’m done. Next day car shopping.

Obviously the first thought was a Prius, having wanted one forever. It also happened to be a great time to wheel and deal for one. Toyota dealerships were freaking out over the recall over-hyped madness. Which meant I got a Prius for $3-4,000 less than I otherwise would.

The car is great. Everything I would have imagined having wanted one. The very first tank of gas I averaged 48.9 miles per gallon. Astonishing. That’s easily more than double any other car I’ve ever owned. I’ve averaged right around the 48 mpg mark ever since. I was surprised initially to learn that the gas tank only held 10 gallons. Two five gallon containers. You notice that when gas is $2.50 and it only costs you $25 to fill the thing up. Yet you drive what seems like forever on that amount.

One of the first things I noticed about the car is that it completely changed my driving habits. I was a total red light to red light flat out heavy braking driver. Tim would say I’m scary to ride with. LOL. Right away the feedback the car gave me in it’s heads up display changed that. I was so focused on keeping the little indicator in the “Eco” range and squeezing the absolute most out of my MPG that I did not notice I became a calmer – and better – driver. Probably safer too. It almost helped to slow my life down a bit. It’s a conservation versus consumption mindset.

There are surely political reasons that I like having it. It makes a statement about my values. It’s a personal way to do my individual part to lessen our dependence on foreign oil (or any kind of oil). Another big reason – and possibly more important – is that the financial implications for my family are entirely positive. We only take the minivan when we need to transport all 5 of us. If it is less than that (especially when it’s just one) we take the Prius. Hell, I can in my neighborhood even switch the thing to EV mode and run it like a golf cart at about 10 mph. Zero gas usage.

It is weird getting used to a car that makes almost no noise, shuts off at red lights, and starts with a power button. There is nothing weird about using as little fuel as possible when driving and spending as little money as possible on that fuel.

I give the Prius 5 out of 5 stars.

PS – No, it doesn’t accelerate other than the times I press the pedal on the right. 😉

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  • mvirenicus

    entertaining and informative read. my personal vehicle is a flexfuel taurus in which i put nothing but E85, but there are downsides to that option too, both financial and environmental. i've thought of buying a prius, but our goal is now to get our arses to minneapolis where we will live in a neighborhood where we can walk to the co-op grocery store, co-op restaurant and mom-and-pop coffee shop to hang out with the twin cities hipsters without any need for a motor vehicle, period. glad you're happy with your prius and wish you much joy in adapting to its features. nice purchase.

  • LisaCD

    In December I traded in my mini-van for a Honda Civic hybrid and have almost no regrets. I do sometimes miss having the space of a studio apartment, but spending less than $30 on gas every week cures that problem. I will miss having space for all the political bumper stickers and it did hurt to peel the white Obama sticker off the van. I'll be driving this for quite a while.

  • Shameless Agitator

    In October 2002, we traded in our silver Chrysler Town & Country minivan (19 mpg) for a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (45+ mpg). I added the “How many lives per gallon” bumper sticker to protest bombing Afghanistan. In 2005, we bought my blue Toyota Prius (48+ mpg). In 2008, my husband opted to buy a silver Toyota Pruis (50+ mpg) instead of the Honda Accord Hybrid. The Accord hybrid didn't get what we considered “good enough” gas mileage, and the interior specs were not that different from the Prius. My daughter now drives the Honda Civic Hybrid.

    We love having three hybrid cars in the family. My experience is that Toyota has the better hybrid technology. As far as the acceleration issues, I have practiced three ways to turn it off while it is accelerating. All worked like a charm.

    When it is time to buy another one, I am intrigued by the Nissan Leaf.

    Your mileage should improve as you “break in” your engine and alter your driving habits. Enjoy!

  • Thanks SA. Great stuff! Toyota surely is the leader in hybrid technology, thus the many license agreements with other manufacturers. Do me a favor and shoot me an email on the 3 things you've practiced so we can be fully informed as well. 😉 eric@plunderbund.com

  • Awesome! I wish they could come up with a hybrid minivan of some sort. I know the weight challenges preclude this.

  • Thanks man. I have a biz partner and high school classmate both in MSP. They seem to both love it and I hear about walk and bike friendly neighborhoods. I think my next transportation purchase will be a bike with a rack on the back. It really makes zero sense that those of us who live within a quarter mile of the grocery drive there. Of course I can do it in EV mode, but still. Nothing like transportation by exercise. Burn calories, not gas!

  • mvirenicus

    the nearest grocery store is 1.4 miles from my house so i usually try to make any stops there on my way home from work. but i feel very guilty driving that 1.4 miles for the oddball purchase that pops up on occasion. then again, my neighbor had a BOWLING BALL thrown at him from a moving vehicle while he was bicycling several years ago. ohioans suck, and yes, the twin cities are very bike and walk friendly.

  • LisaCD

    Can you post them for everyone? I'm always looking for 'hypermiling' tips. Here's one: make sure your AC is completely off and just use the air exchange for cooling while the weather is still comfortable. That's made a big difference since I discovered it.

  • Shameless Agitator

    (1) Firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal. (Stepping on the brake pedal will disengage the accelerator)

    (2) Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop. (I found that I had to hold the gear selector in the neutral position a second or two to get it to engage. A quick flip will not work.)

    (3) If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF by firmly and steadily pushing the engine start/stop button for at least three seconds. (Do NOT tap the engine stop/start button – hold it down for the full three seconds.) This will cause loss of power assist to braking and steering.

    I practiced all three methods in a parking lot. They all worked just fine for me.

  • Thanks for this. Pretty funny that this was precisely what I would have done by instinct alone. I should look more into these cases of acceleration to see what really happened. I continue to find it hard to believe that you can't stop a car even if the accelerator is stuck. Basic physics says the acceleration would not overcome the braking system.

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