Thursday, December 5, 2013

2007 Toyota Prius Touring

The Really Important Stuff
Engine 1.5 L I4 + 500 V Electric Motor
Transmission Automatic CVT
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.

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