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I am interested in test driving a Prius but of course cannot find one. Please comment on how the Prius compares to conventional vehicles. I have a Grand Prix with a 3.8 engine. Would I be disappointed with the performance (acceleration, etc.) compared to my current vehicle? What vehicle would you compare it's size to since I have only seen pictures of one? How is the interior room? Describe your first experience driving a hybrid vehicle.

Thanks.
 

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I had a Grand Prix, too!

Hi!

I had (still have - I'm trying to sell it) a Grand Prix with the same engine as yours.

I've had my Prius for a week now, and here are my observations:

  • It doesn't have the same *oomph* as the GP, but it certainly is adequate for normal driving. You won't win any races, but if that's what you want to do I wouldn't think you'd want a Prius anyway. If you drive normally, you won't be disappointed. As other owners will attest, once you get the Prius you'll be more concerned with how to drive more efficiently, not how to get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible.

    The interior is as roomy, if not roomier, than the GP. It's not as wide, so there's less space between the driver & the front passenger. You won't rub elbows, but it's a little narrower. However, I always felt that the extra width in the GP (despite Pontiac's "wide track" marketing) was wasted space. The space for a third rear passenger is tight, too, but I doubt that a 3rd person in the back of the GP would be very comfortable, either.

    I really like the hatchback design. It gives plenty of storage space with the seats folded down. I missed the ability to do that in the GP - that tiny litlle "pass thru" door was a joke!

    On possible strength of the GP is the feeling of "heft" that it has - the doors are thicker and heavier, and it just seems more solid. However, that bulk is part of the reason why I only got 24MPG in it (compared to 50 in the Prius).

    The exterior is a lot smaller than the GP. I haven't measured it, but it seems like I've gained at least 2 feet more space in my garage!

    The first time I drove a hybrid was when I picked my car up at the dealer. I didn't even take a test drive - I signed the paperwork, hopped in, and drove away. Thanks to all the rave reviews at this site and PriusChat (http://www.priuschat.com), I felt confident that it was a great car.

    The biggest shock I had was the rear visibility - it takes some getting used to the horizontally-split rear window. Now that I'm used to it (after only a week), it's not a problem at all.

    Another thing that takes getting used to (if you have it) is the Smart Key system - I'm always wanting to pull the keys out of my pocket to get in, or to take them out of the (non-existent) ignition when I'm getting out :D
All that being said, I'm totally thrilled with the Prius, and I can't imagine ever buying a non-hybrid car again!
 

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Speed

I'd agree that off the line the Prius isn't what you're use to but I'd have to say that once it's going a few miles per hour...hold on. The electric motor provides LOTS of torque. I'd say this vehicle has all the power of a strong V6. Additionally, going up Cajon Pass (a steep mountain pass in California) my Prius had absolutely no trouble doing 75 mph. In fact I had to keep an eye on the speedometer to keep it at 75. This car drives very easy at higher speeds with lots of power to spare.

The one thing that will really jump out at you is you will not feel any transmission shifting. When I get in my wifes car (automatic transmision)and go somewhere I'm bothered by the constant up and down shifting and the engine rpm constantly changing. The Prius is SMOOTHE!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Kurt for your reply. Your description of the acceleration is very helpful. The smooth performance of the transmission is something I was not aware of and an added benefit. The more I learn, the better it sounds. I keep waiting for the down side but everything I discover is positive.

Bcool talked about the split rear window as an annoyance that is easy to become accustomed to. Today I looked for pictures of the Prius but could not find a good one of the window. Could you, bcool our anyone else elaborate on the appearance of the window?

How is the ride, does it take bumps in the road well?
 

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There naturally isn't a Prius to test in New England but when my Toyota dealer found I was willing to give him a deposit to get on his "list" he gave me the keys to a new Camry and said "take it for a ride" it is practically identical with the performance of the Prius. (without the gas milage of course) Actually the car is similar to my Buick in everything but "bulk"
 

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Waiting

The back split window: Rear visibility is as good as any car but when you add the lower window I believe it adds even more visibility. Also, the split, as you view it from your rear view mirror usually blocks the glare from the headlights from the car behind when you're driving at night. I don't think it was meant for that but it works that way.

I previously drove a 20 ton Crown Victoria. I don't think the ride is quite that good but it's darn close. The Prius is a much lighter car with a shorter wheel base. I'd say it's right in line with the Camry.

One last thought. My neighbor has an $80,000 Jaguar and my Prius has more options on it than his. The last Jag he bought for around the same price, he kept it for 4 years and traded it in for $18,000.

Best of luck on whatever you decide!!
 

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Here's the best picture I could find to give you an idea what the rear window looks like: http://www.priuschat.com/forums/album_pic.php?pic_id=69

The dark area right below the spoiler is actually tinted glass - it's essentially a vertical window. When looking through the rear-view mirror, you have the regular, sloped window at the top, then a solid horizontal strip (which is the spoiler), then you have the lower, tinted window. Although you don't have an unobstructed view through the glass, you actually have better visibility behind you because of the lower window. It makes it easier to see objects (small children?) that are behind you.

It just takes a bit of getting used to - that solid bar (the spoiler) that bisects the window is unusual.
 

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im glad to hear that you are interested in a Prius. if hotrodding isnt in your future, i think you will find the Prius very capable for all your needs. its interior room is about the same as a camry. it does come up a bit short on headroom and the front passengers do get an inch less space. but i had 3 in the back of my car several times and had no problems.. but they werent large people either.

one thing you need to watch is that the Prius is sneaky fast. the smoothness of the tranny will lull you into speeds most likely much faster than you want to go. i was very surprised at how effortlessly i merged onto the freeway when taking my car home. it wasnt straining and i was up to 75 mph before i knew it.

the rear view is a bit cluttered, and the side posts are thicker than i would like but the windshield partly makes up for that with a very large viewing area. also the split vertical window in the back is just above bumper level which makes tight space parking a breeze.

throw all the bells and whistles on it with the #9 (or #6 in 2005) package and you got a car that doesnt take a backseat to much as far as gadgets go no matter what the price.
 

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I have had my Prius more than 5 months now but I just went on a 200 mile drive today with 2 other passengers...and let one of them drive part of the time (because the arm-twisting was too much to bear) so I got more experience as a back-seat passenger. A few things I noticed:

(1) The back seat legroom is really quite amazing. Admittedly, I am fairly short and so were my fellow occupants. But, just comparing it to other cars...I was in the backseat of a Subaru Outback on a Labor Day trip and today's experience only confirmed what I told those Outback owners at the time, namely that their car simply does not have the backseat legroom of my Prius. I don't even think it is particularly close.

(2) I had a couple more opportunities to pass on a 2-lane road (which have been infrequent because of where I've driven over the last 5 months) and I am always amazed at how much zip it has to pass. (Admittedly, my last car to compare with was no hot-rod...It was a Plymouth Colt, but it did have a manual transmission which I thought gave it at least decent passing acceleration. But, the Prius is clearly better.)
 

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The view out the rear window on my 2004: you can see much lower items, compared to my 2001 (where the trunk is "in the way"). So, much better downward view in the 2004. I find the left/right view out the rear a little smaller than on my 2001, but the side mirrors, when properly aimed for the sides, more than compensate.

The only rear-view shot that I have where the rear hatch is closed on a 2004: http://www2.kluge.net/2004/hg-Pages/Image70.html
 
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