Toyota Prius Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently tried very hard to look at all the existing American autos to see if there were any I'd overlooked. I studied the Consumer Reports reviews, road tests, and owner based reliability ratings. The following are my personal conclusions.

Comparison criteria:

Average or preferably above average gas mileage sedan, hatchback, or other reasonable commuter vehicle of street parkable size. (Have garage but still drive to places without parking lots) Under $30K. Reliability and warranty important. Technical innovation and build quality important. Exterior/interior styling, ride comfort somewhat important. Enough power for freeway driving/merging. AWD would be great, but it usually reduces mileage and seldom is offered in the vehicle class I'm interested in, except for Subaru and some Audi.

I looked at about 15 "American brand" vehicles for comparison. I found they consistently scored lower for reliability, had reduced build quality and drive comfort, reduced technology and features for comparably priced foreign makes. A couple contenders to mention are the Ford Focus and Chevy Malibu.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Focus had quite good handling, and might be a good competitor with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in that range to buy American if willing to take a slight reliability hit. It certainly doesn't have reliability equal to similar Japanese offerings like Corolla and Civic. However, I also discovered the Focus engine is made by Mitsubishi. In addition, the styling is ok but not great IMO. The Focus looks a bit toylike, sort of square and boring looking, being styled but not much so it fells sort of half-way to me. A friend recently bought a Focus hatchback and is generally pleased with it.

The Malibu had much lower reliability than comparable Japanese cars, and is otherwise a mediocre offering imo, although it was one of the best American offerings I could find in that class. Handling was fine. It lacks many features the Prius has stock and option. It’s body style is starting to show some European influence, although it already looks a bit dated and again mediocre. In general I notice American headlight and taillight design is IMO boring to ugly. The Malibu has nice curves from come angles, but it has a huge chrome strip across the front with the giant Chevy logo in gold, tacky combination IMO. Similarly the new VW offerings are using more chrome up front which I dislike, but I still think it’s better styled than the Malibu by far.

On practical features the Prius has VSC, TRC, & ABS, and altogether good handling for its class. It has maximum side airbags safety and scores well in crash tests. It gets almost double the gas mileage as competitors in real world applications. It has truly excellent maintenance reliability, scoring well above the competition. Some propagandists circulated rumors that the Prius would have battery issues or be unreliable. In fact, research shows the battery is rated to the life of the vehicle, has performing very well over the years, and is also recyclable. In regards to cost, if one factors in the options then it's quite a good price, for its class. Tax incentives can save $3000 off the vehicle price, and fuel savings can be $600+/yr which makes it very competitively priced. Additionally there is Toyota legendary reliability to factor into vehicle lifetime cost. even better the Prius engine runs almost all the time at low stress RPM, and the CVT has few moving parts to break compared with an automatic transmission. Adding all that up, I'd say that the Prius is a best buy in its class, certainly better than any American offerings.

On semi-subjective points, the Prius engine noise is often silent, and reasonable at its loudest, while all competitors in it's class tend towards engine noise. (luxury vehicles have more insulation and larger warmer sounding engines, but that's irrelevant) The Prius interior is larger, with a huge amount of storage for a vehicle of its size. The design touches such as the dual glove box, cup holders, etc are high quality and seem durably built. Then there is the backup camera and large LCD, which aren't vital but are nice extras. The Prius is loaded with nice extras and excellent build quality.

On totally subjective points, I really like the Prius exterior design. IMO it's elegantly streamlined, a great case of form following function. I like the interior whichis both attractive and functional. The MP3 capability combined with the LCD screen is great. The steering wheel controls are both cool and practical for driving safety.

A few minor criticisms and suggestions for improvement:

A premium quality tire would barely increase production cost, and could even be a nice factory option. Improved under carriage aerodynamics and protective shell would be nice. I notice some new Hondas have encapsulated most of the undercarriage in protective cladding, including the engine compartment which can only help protect it, keep it cleaner, and dampen sound. The Prius exhaust line is very exposed and I wouldn’t want to take it on heavily rutted un-maintained dirt roads on the way to remote camping locations and such. Nor drive it over obstacles like curbs or parking blocs for that reason.

The little buldge in the middle of the hood is a bit unaesthetic IMO, but that’s a really minor issue and probably has aerodynamic purpose. My wife thinks the tail lights are too big, personally I like them. I think the 2006 lights are slightly improved, for example the tail light tops are now lighter which work better on lighter colors and equally well on dark colors.

I like the digital speedometer and that eyes don’t need to refocus between them and the road. However, an analog indicator has the advantage of readability (approximate) in peripheral vision. For that reason, an additional color coded digital or analogue circular meter would be a good. Additional sound proofing is always welcome. Replace the center interior glossy panels with a matte/frost panel that shows dust less. More tactile protrusions on the centerline console buttons for no-look operation.

Increase forward visibility (especially left) with a see-through roof/windshield strut such as the new Volvo concept vehicle has. Motorize seatbelt top attachment point, to slide forward when door is opened. Add side mirror blind spot indicators, both convex mirrors and electronic indicators.

Overall though, it’s really hard to find fault with the Prius. One gets the feeling Toyota went all out in design, and there was a lot of love/polish put into it. Prius is just a remarkably well designed vehicle where they seem to have gotten everything good to excellent. It’s an excellent automobile and I’m hard pressed to pick a better car on the road in any class. It’s probably the most technologically innovative vehicle on the road in many respects, and it has the advantage of being partial zero emissions, so it’s good for the environment, and its great gas mileage is both patriotic and a common sense way to do the right thing for the world. I was telling my wife the other day I don’t think I’d rather drive any other car currently in existence, regardless of price.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
hyperion said:
It will be interesting to hear your opinions of the Prius once you have purchased one. Just hope you are not six feet tall.
Actually the Prius has plenty of head room in front comparable with other sedans in its class. Last year the rear seat headroom was a little low, this year they've fixed that by lowering the rear seats to give more head room.

I notice you always seem to have something negative to say about the Prius, which is pretty unusual considering the Prius has incredibly high owner satisfaction. Considering this is a Prius forum, and you have 1300+ posts, that makes me wonder what you're doing here.

Why do you have an axe to grind with Prius? Are you a stealth marketer to disparage the Prius? Or just an axe grinder by your own volition?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
581 Posts
Funny, all the data that I can find indicate that the Focus is/was a German based design and US models are built mostly in Mexico. When did Mitsubishi (normally associated with Daimler-Chrysler) branch over to Ford?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
hyperion said:
It will be interesting to hear your opinions of the Prius once you have purchased one. Just hope you are not six feet tall.
HEY! I'm 6-2! My head fits throught the roof just fine! :shock:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,873 Posts
I guess that at 6 ft I am the only one that find with the seat far enough back so that my knees do not hit the shift lever my arms have got to be completely outstretched to reach the wheel. (something you would have to drive the car to discover) No one has ever complained about headroom. Sure you can get accostomed to anything but never the less after a short while the position becomes uncomfortable. Honda recognized this problem with the Civic and put in a telescoptic wheel. I've read this complaint here for over a year and thought it would be addressed with the 05 mod and surely with the 06. (nope).
I like my Prius for it's advanced technology but recognize it does have some faults and it's just not in my nature to be a yes man. I've posted this several times on several subjects, I was taking a position of "devils advocate" and if it really rubs Niameka the wrong way, "so be it." The rest of the folks on this site have been accepting it fairly well for over a year now. Stir the pot if you like but please be honest about it. I find that you are NOT.
I've critisized not as much the car which I feel does it's job completely for what it is. A mid-size, compact, economy car with a fantastic power system. Owners seem to want an improved suspension system, four wheel disc brakes, better OEM tires, ect; but the car was made to sell for $19,995 dollars and that's it's market place. It more than meets it's market design. If you want to load it with "bell's and whistles" you can get the price up to about thirty thousand, but basicly you are still driving around a twenty thousand dollar car. (From the info I read in 2003 the Prius has been subsidised by Toyota and we really are driving around a twenty five thousand dollar car.)
I like mine but do recognize it's weaknesses and accept them because of the synergy system which is not available in any other car as yet. "Nor announced to be, in print." Not even in the Camry hybrid to be built in Kentucky. No mention yet if Toyota is going for a performance car similar to the Accord or a high milage car like the prius.
Like I say, folks here have gotten used to my rants and niomeka, you will have to also. Personal attacks are not accepted on any site I follow, and especially on this one, where a lot of intelligent people who have purchased the predecessor to the car of the future follow.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
As for seat adjustment for tall people - I guess it really depends on how you are built. are you all legs, or all torso?

A college friend of mine bought his (2001? 2002?) Prius because it was about the only car he could fit into without having to tilt the front seatback back or do any other modifications. He's in the 6'8" or 6'10" range (I don't recall which). (We used him as a unit of measurement at college.)

Meanwhile, I've seen posts on the Prius boards of people in the 6'0" range who tried a Classic Prius before buying it, and they just couldn't fit comfortably (knees hitting dashboard). Some others have had to remove the left kickplate to give their left leg some more room, or do some seat modifications (change the angle by adding washers, or pull out stuffing from the seatbottom).

I don't think anything has changed much for the front seat between the Classic and current Prius. Tall people did better for headroom in the Classic as opposed to the 2004-2005 Prius, even though the specs were the same. 2004-2005 Prius has more rear legroom, though, for those tall people. Supposedly the 2006 Prius has changed the seating angle of the rear seat, so it is supposed to be better for tall people again.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top