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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I'm very seriously considering the 2005 model (which I'll probably really get in 2005, that's a LONG wait!). We currently have a 2003 and I have absolutely zero complaints except for the horrible way it handles in certain wind conditions. The only car I've ever driven which is worse is my 68' VW Bug (Original bugs are always bad, the light front end gets blown around in winds. I never expected anything like that from a modern Toyota!). I've been hearing a lot of complaints here about the 2004 however, and may therefore consider a used 2002/2003. So, 2004 owners, how would you sum-up your major gripes? Here's a couple of things I've read that would really annoy me:

1) The fuel gauge in the 2004s appears to be highly inaccurate. How bad is it? I can routinely drive my 2003 over 400 miles (and sometimes more than 500) before I get the "ding". Is this a problem with all the 2004s? Has anyone figure out how to fix it?

2) The 2003 already cuts the ICE in *way* too early in my opinion. (Hey, wait, that's a second complaint. It's a minor one though). I hear that the 2004 is even worse? What has your experience been?

3) Economy. My dealer is actually honest (go figure). He loves the Prius but says that his "upgraders" are only reporting about a 3mpg difference between their original (01-03 model) Prius and the new one. What has your experience been?

4) Oh, yeah, how is the 2004 in winds? We get a lot of wind off Lake Michigan here...

Any other weird problems you've had that would appear to you to be a design flaw rather than a random issue?

(October 2004 UPDATE): After reading an newer similar thread, I thought I should update: The Prius handles somewhat better with better tires, but still poorly on grooved pavement or in heavy winds. I think it is actually *worse* than my '68 bug in wind conditions, yet I know it is aligned properly - no unusual tire wear, drives perfectly well when wind conditions are good. I think it has something to do with the electric power-steering system - maybe a design flaw.
 

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Panjandrum said:
I've been hearing a lot of complaints here about the 2004 however, and may therefore consider a used 2002/2003.
People complain, but that doesn't make it a bad car. It's an excellent car with a great record and solid stats. I complain, but I wouldn't sell my car to anyone for twice the price.

Panjandrum said:
1) The fuel gauge in the 2004s appears to be highly inaccurate. How bad is it?
The gauge is not linear and the reserve tank seems to be rather large compared to most cars I've owned (including a Camry). The fix is just to use your range and mileage as a guide. If you're getting good mileage, 500 miles is going to be just fine. Who knows, Toyota may fix this. It's annoying, but it's not unsafe.

Panjandrum said:
2) The 2003 already cuts the ICE in *way* too early (in my opinion). I hear that the 2004 is even worse? What has your experience been?
Once the car warms up, I can go a full 10 minute cycle without it coming back on. Even without the EV button, I'm able to "find" stealth mode rather easily provided I'm wearing the right shoes.

Panjandrum said:
3) Economy. <snip> What has your experience been?
I'm getting 45 MPG - I drive very short trips - usually 4 miles or less. I'm happy with it. It does very well on the highway trips (about 52 MPG) and about 55 for longer around town trips. But I have less than 2K miles so far, so I'm hardly broken in yet.

If you want to talk about the pure economy aspects of it - get a classic. The mileage bump you get on the 04 is not significant if you're talking about overall cost. If you need the room though, get the 04.
 

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Panjandrum said:
2) The 2003 already cuts the ICE in *way* too early (in my opinion). I hear that the 2004 is even worse? What has your experience been?
That's a strange opinion! Are you basing it on any engineering considerations or just esthetics? How many fewer miles per gallon do you think it should get and/or how many $1000's more in batteries do you think it should carry to cut in the ICE later?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Strange Opinion?

Why is it a strange opinion?

I'm relatively confident that due to my driving style and the area I live, that if the ICE didn't cut in so easily I would get better economy. At least, I would like to be able to TRY. I might certainly be wrong, it's based on my "feel" of the car. Here's something I posted over in one of the technical forums:

==============================

Well, I'm interested in "chipping" the Prius to make it "perform" worse. I would like to be able to put the pedal down a reasonable amount without the ICE always kicking in. This has to do mostly with the region in which I live (Western Michigan). What we have here are numerous 55 and 70 mph speed zones which are broken by widely spaced stops. This is also a flat area, which isn't really ideal for the Prius (I consistently get better economy in rolling hills). The Prius seems designed to work best in true city driving. It *assumes* that it can't just go ahead and use up a bunch of the stored battery power during a single acceleration because you'll be doing it again and again. This isn't true here in West Michigan, where we're frequently accelerating from a stop right back up to highway speeds. If the Prius would just let me do that as much as possible on just the electrics I'm sure (well, I theorize) my economy would improve considerably. The battery would have plenty of time to recharge because it is likely going to be 5 to 10 miles before I hit that next stop sign...

The acceleration would be fine on the just electric. Go to an empty parking lot, put the Prius in reverse and hit the gas. See how fast you hit 25mph? But getting to 25 mph in drive without the ICE kicking in, is almost impossible (unless you're willing to create a traffic hazard).

==========================

Everyone drives a different way, and that makes a huge difference. For example someone already wrote back in another thread saying that the Prius works *best* in country driving. That certainly isn't true here in West Michigan, for me, in my Prius. I get better gas-mileage literally everywhere else I drive the car.
 

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1) The fuel gauge in the 2004s appears to be highly inaccurate. ...

2) The 2003 already cuts the ICE in *way* too early in my opinion. ...

3) Economy. ... "upgraders" are only reporting about a 3mpg difference ...

4) Oh, yeah, how is the 2004 in winds?...
1. The "guess gauge" is a joke, but I can live with it. It never hurts to put gas in too soon.

2. I trust Toyota's engineering dept. Fuel economy, battery life, performance, are all being balanced out. Yeah, it would be cool to be in stealth more, but it's a secondary geek-factor item. Not important.

3. Economy. It's too early to say. Folks in hot climates are reporting excellent economy.

4. Wind. Definitely the Prius's weak point. But ND is extremely windy, and I do okay with it. Maybe that's my biggest complaint. I'd like it to be more stable in a cross-wind.

Bottom line: I would not trade my '04 Prius for any other car on the road today. It's a fantastic car and I love it.
 

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I concur, for the most part, that wishing for the ICE to delay longer before cutting in is probably not the best way to look at that issue. I assume that the Prius Engineers know a hell of a lot more than I do about what is the most efficient way for the system to work.

That said, there is a fix. Just install and EV button when you get your car and you can stealth away at will. And, if your assumptions about being able to drive more efficiently are correct you'll be able to realize that.
--evan
p.s. I'd give 50:50 odds that Toyota will include the EV button in the '05 or '06 models anyway.
 

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Hi Panjandrum,

As I explained more fully in response to your other post, if you avoid running the ICE during moderate to heavy acceleration, you're avoiding your best opportunity for efficient use of the ICE.

Battery storage only returns something like 85% of the energy you put into it, and while it's true that some of that energy comes from braking, most comes from the ICE. So you don't want to use the battery except when the ICE would be really inefficient due to low load.
 

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I wanted the Prius 2 years ago but did not purchase it solely because the cargo space was not good enough for me. I love the 2004 model and am happy with the change in design to accommodate better cargo space and the usage of it. As a result the car is larger and I am happy that it's a better than break-even trade with the Classic on gas mileage.

I haven't had to deal with high winds yet, but I can tell that it will be a weak point.

I agree that the gas guage thing is a bit confusing, but it's not that big of a deal to me to just make sure I fill it within a reasonable time of getting the ding. I am experiencing ding at about 400 miles and can put in 8 to 8.8 gallons. I suspect that I am not filling the car to capacity or not filling it evenly, but again, I am willing to live with this. Not something worth a complaint from me.

My biggest complaint for the 2004 model? Well, I understand the availability problem, but since all the US cars are the same (no special emissions package for us CA folk), then it should be much more equitable across the country for how long the wait is. I ordered my #9 Seaside Pearl on 11/19 and I got it on 2/14. I have seen where others have ordered my exact same car EARLIER than that and still don't have the car. Toyota Corporate does not have an equitable program for dealing with the demand issues.

Bottom line... I LOVE the car and would not sell it for any price right now. I hope I still feel this way in 5 years. We'll see. Toyota has a good reputation, and I'm counting on that.
 

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I own an '03 (20,000 miles) and an '04 (5,000 miles)

1) The fuel gauge in the 2004s appears to be highly inaccurate. How bad is it? I can routinely drive my 2003 over 400 miles (and sometimes more than 500) before I get the "ding". Is this a problem with all the 2004s? Has anyone figure out how to fix it?
Yes, this is the only issue I really have. The '03 is MUCH more consistent and accurate. I just fill the '04 up when the bar starts flashing to be on the safe side.

2) The 2003 already cuts the ICE in *way* too early in my opinion. (Hey, wait, that's a second complaint. It's a minor one though). I hear that the 2004 is even worse? What has your experience been?
It takes a VERY light touch on the '04 to keep the ICE off as much as possible. My wife doesn't pay as much mind to mileage. In the '03 she averages around 48 and in the '04 around 42. When I drive I them I get about 50-52 in the '03 and about 52-54 in the '04' ( although the 'or is doing better as the weather has warmed). So I think someone who is not "gas" conscious will probably do worse in the '04 than the '03, at least in my experience.

3) Economy. My dealer is actually honest (go figure). He loves the Prius but says that his "upgraders" are only reporting about a 3mpg difference between their original (01-03 model) Prius and the new one. What has your experience been?
I would agree with that assessment.

4) Oh, yeah, how is the 2004 in winds? We get a lot of wind off Lake Michigan here...
The '04 is MUCH more stable in winds, although I didn't find the '03 as bad as you seem to see it. I owned a '62 Bug - now THAT was bad. We get Santa Ana winds here in So. Calif (60-70 mph) and the Prius has performed well, but the '04 has performed better.

All that being said, the '03 and the '04 are very different cars. The '04 has a MUCH larger feel, better ride, more space inside for people and for stuff (my neighbor who owns a big Lexus thinks my '03 is a toy, but was incredulous over the space inside the '04). The '04 rides and handles better and is a much more versatile car. You need to drive one to see what it feels like. I got to drive one at the Prius Launch event here in LA and knew by the end of mile 1 that I wanted an '04!

I agree with Daniel - wouldn't trade my '04 OR my '03 for any other car on the road today.
 

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wind

My 2001 Prius used to be rather stable
in winds - I didn't know what others were
talking about when complaining about
wind stability.

Then my 2001 got a new set of tires
through the Supplemental Tire Warrany...
I don't know if it's the new tires,
or if my alignment changed thanks to
the new tire installation, but I have
problems driving my car over about 60MPH
with any winds (get buffeted all over
the place). It's only been since the
new tires were installed... (or I
could've just hit a pothole right
after the installation last winter, don't
remember...)

Since I don't drive on an interstate
that often, I haven't gone for an
alignment check... I probably should
see how my tires are wearing, and
decide from that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
October 2004 Update

(October 2004 UPDATE): After reading an newer similar thread, I thought I should update: The Prius handles somewhat better with better tires, but still poorly on grooved pavement or in heavy winds. I think it is actually *worse* than my '68 bug in wind conditions, yet I know it is aligned properly - no unusual tire wear, drives perfectly well when wind conditions are good. I think it has something to do with the electric power-steering system - maybe a design flaw.
 
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