|The Really Important Stuff|
|Engine||1.5 L I4 + 500 V Electric Motor|
|Power||110 hp @ 5000 rpm|
|Torque||82 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm|
|Fuel Economy City/Highway||60/51|
|Curb Weight||2903 lbs|
|Base Price When New||$23,070|
|Market Value (Excellent Condition, 100K miles)||$10,520|
I started my Driver’s Education class in the summer of 2007, and after a couple hours of class work, my instructor put me behind the wheel of a brand new Prius. This example was designed specifically for driving instruction, since it had a second brake pedal for the passenger and “Student Driver” decals along the sides. My initial snail-pace cruise around the parking lot was, at that moment, the most fun I had ever had in my life. I relished the feeling of being in total control (save for the occasional stomp on the passenger-brake by my instructor when we got too close to a curb).
The experience of driving a modern hybrid was a bit disconcerting for me as a novice driver. Most of the traditionally mechanical controls were electronic in the Prius. The parking brake, gear selector, and starter were all buttons on the dashboard. Speed was indicated by a digital display, and the tachometer was absent entirely. Acceleration was silent (until the gas engine started), and the brake pedal provided no feedback. Driving the Prius felt more like operating a computer than controlling a vehicle.
The Prius had a back-up camera to make up for its poor rearward visibility, but since this was a luxury most cars didn't have, the instructor kept a towel draped over the screen, requiring me to turn around and look out the split rear window to reverse. It was only after driving my Mom’s Corolla that I finally got accustomed to what it felt like to drive a "real" car.
This car was not one that I would ever choose to drive of my own free will, but it provided a door into a world that I would soon fall in love with, and so I have developed a respect for it (with mild reservations).
- Smooth ride and control response.
- Epic gas mileage.
- The split rear window could be a deal-breaker due to the severely compromised visibility.
- It's a computer that could be mistaken for a car to the untrained eye.
- Drive-by-wire controls mean zero feedback.
- The amazing fuel economy will probably never make up for the premium you will pay for an overpriced hybrid.
The Bottom Line: Buy it if you absolutely must have the best fuel economy, or want to present an eco-friendly image.