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Having driven my proud neighbor's 2004 Prius, and as the owner of a 2003 PZEV Ford Focus, I have difficulty understanding exactly why anyone would spend so much more on a Prius. Equipped with the sole option of A/C, my Focus cost $9900 plus t/l, albeit the sticker price was $14,390. It's an excellent commuter car! At 30+ mpg, I can drive my focus well over 150,000 miles before I reach the price of the Prius.
I can also merge onto the freeway with greater security, as my car will reach 60 mph in the mid-7s. A Prius running on a full battery charge will do 60 in excess of 10 seconds, which is not horrible, but what happens when the battery is depleted? Why would I drive a car whose ability to accelerate is variable, making passing a potentially dangerous proposition?
Why are the regenerative brakes of the Prius so annoyingly non-linear? Why is the handling of the Prius so vague? I understand that the Prius is a showcase of hybrid technology, but that doesn't excuse it's near utter lack of driving precision. The Focus, by the way, has excellent road manners.
Has anyone in the Prius crowd figured out the eventual cost of replacing the battery pack or the two electric motors/generators? How about the environmental impact of the spent batteries (which, I assume, will become a greater factor as hybrid technology becomes more commonplace)?
While the image of the 2nd generation Prius is severly overhyped, as it shows no real net advantage over other economy cars, it is still a significant vehicle, a great novelty transportation appliance, and an indicator of future automotive technology. Still, hybrid technology has an enormous amount of maturing and cost reduction to endure before it becomes a logical choice over a pure IC car.
 

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RE

Your post makes a lot of sense. I picked my Prius up yesterday and love it.

I have seen a T-Shirt that is put out by Harley-Davidson. It says:

If I have to explain.....you wouldn't understand.

I have owned several Hondas and Suzukis. They are much more practical and less expensive than a Harley. However, I own a Harley and enjoy it more than I ever did the "more logical" bikes.

However, your choice is a good one... it's just not the one for most Prius owners.
 

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I love the environmental aspect of this car, and I love the design and the toys inside. The SS/SE is the greatest feature I've ever had on a car - I love pretending that my car recognizes me and only me. I didn't even consider the Prius before this second generation...good idea but I wasn't ready to be one of the first to take the gamble.

Here's the part I'm actually a little ashamed of. I wanted to own one. That's it, that's pretty much all there was to it. I see about 15 Hummers a day, and they cost twice as much. I've seen three other Prii in the, what, six months since they hit the road? It's like driving a Ferarri, in a way. People want to know what it is, how it works, how my gas mileage was on this tank. It makes me seem simple I guess, but I like standing out. The Ford Focus is a good car, and I'll admit one of the few Ford models I've ever seen that doesn't leave me cold (most of their cars are a bit frumpy), and the Civic Hybrid is undistinguishable from a regular old Civic, but the Prius gets noticed. I love that, and that, paired with the low emissions and the fun of trying to keep it in stealth, made it worth the extra dough. (And I have been getting about 50 MPG, that doesn't hurt.)
 

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I always wonder why someone feels the need to step into a topical discussion group, with the explicit purpose to defame the topic at hand, insult the people involved in the discussion, and pass off personal opinion as fact.

Do you really need to degrade an entire group of car owners just to feel better about your own purchase?

Psychology can be fun.
 

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Reliability...

I rented a Focus, which was indeed a very nice car to drive. However, look at reliability reports. There just isn't any comparison, the Focus simply not been a very good car. Pick up a Consumer Reports and check it out. In fact (and this is very sad), the "American" manufacturers still can't come close in terms of quality and reliability. Fun to drive? Sure! Cheap? Sure? A good value? Not unless you're very lucky...

Also, that sweet little Cooper Mini? Oh, I really wanted one, but look at the reliability reports, a NIGHTMARE!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hoagie said:
I always wonder why... ...Psychology can be fun.
Oh, Hoagie, I did not insult your choice of vehicle, so much as I questioned its value, and fun-to-drive quotient, both of which are subjective. If you are insulted, you may wish to lighten up, as insult wasn't my intent. Yes, psychology can be fun, and I was hoping to see anyone answer the questions I posed regarding future costs and battery waste. So far there have been no takers. I also wanted to find the motivation behind such a purchase, since I could find no measurable advantage to purchasing a Prius. If it's about the looks of the car, power to all of that opinion. If it's about "saving the environment", I don't see a clear advantage. Compare a 30mpg PZEV to a 40-50mpg (plus battery waste and ozone generation) PZEV Hybrid, and I do believe it's a wash. I think I also wanted to see if Prius owners are as self-righteous as rumored. I'm working on that answer.
 

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Re: RE

stancy said:
Your post makes a lot of sense. I picked my Prius up yesterday and love it.
Stancy,

Very good argument. If the car calls to you, it must be love... That's the best reason of all to purchase anything! You are more enlightened than most! Sometimes, I guess, it's the quirks that can make cars, cycles, and people either more endearing or more annoying.

Best of all, it sounds as though you weren't trying to make a social statement with your purchase. Enjoy the miles.
 

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frzivko,

Congrats on your new car!

I think the Focus is great. I love the fact that an efficient, low-polluting car is available at such a reasonable price. Whenever I see one on the road, I feel a kinship with them, they've made a great choice ... whatever the reasons.

As for the batteries in the Prius - they are warrantied in CA for 150K miles, so I'm not terribly concerned. They have a very long life (there are already classics that have gone over 200K on them without incident), are already shown to be dependable and are highly recyclable.

As for my my choice - I bought the Prius because I wanted to invest in a technology that I believe in. The Prius is not the goal in high-efficiency, merely a small step forward. I hope that it demonstrates that efficiency and low emissions can be achieved without sacrificing creature comforts and flexiblity. Was it expensive ... sure, but I'm willing to make that contribution.

Reliability ... I've owned one Toyota (Camry) before and one Ford (Escort), I found the Toyota to be far more trouble-free.

As for your concerns about merging and power, I've not experience any troubles with it and I have driven the Focus quite a few times (when I rent, it is always my first choice). But every person needs to be comfortable with the capabilities of their own car, I think it's one of the most important safety features. If a person is frustrated with the stopping distance, power or visibility, then it's not the car for them.

Regards,
 

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Re: Reliability...

Panjandrum said:
I rented a Focus, which was indeed a very nice car to drive. However, look at reliability reports.
Panjandrum,

Having worked the automotive service industry for thirteen years, I must share something with you: Consumer Reports is not the automotive Bible. The real world will tell you quite a bit more. While transitioning the Focus to their plant in Mexico, Ford had teething problems with the car. Nothing fatal, mind you, but there were numerous recalls. Recalls, however, are how manufacturers correct post-production, and engineering issues that often are not accounted for in prototype testing. Often, recalls have little to do with long-term reliability. In the case of the Focus, it was a proven European car, now being built in North America. Reliability has been very good overall since the initial production issues were ironed out.
While it's true GM and Chrysler can't build a quality economy car, I can't hang that on the Focus. It's as well-engineered as any Corolla or Civic.
And the MiniCooper? Cute. Fun to drive. A tad overpriced. Average initial reliability. Questionable long-term reliability (rattles and squeaks are really common!).
 

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I traded a 2001 Focus wagon in for my 2003 Prius. Why? Because it was about to set a new record for new car re-calls, got terrible gas mileage (it was an automatic), had an extremely noisy interior and had to be refuled two to three times a week due to the small gas tank in relation to the mileage it got. It did drive very well and probably would have been a really good car if it was manufactured by anyone other then Ford!
 

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cybele said:
Congrats on your new car!
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, and for sharing the information regarding the battery system. Thank you for echoing some of my sentiments regarding both cars, and for sharing your insight regarding your choice. Thanks for understanding that my observations are subjective, and for not taking offense to my questions. I'm just a car nut, trying to absorb as much as I can in a lifetime!

Enjoy your Prius!
 

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Hi Everybody: As a very old timer (I'm old enough to have driven automobiles for 65 years) I must tell you the American auto industry should be ashamed of itself. I'm very proud of my country in all aspects except one; the automotive industry. Ever since the stock market crash in '29 American automobiles became junkier and junkier. It got especially bad during the fifties. Under powered engines with oversized bodies and tailfins protruding so high the cars looked like a fighter planes. Carburaters made of pot metal that allowed fuel to seep through their sides. Door handles made of alloys that disintegrated after a few years. Chrome peeling off the bumpers in sheets. Door knobs, radio knobs and other fixtures made out of soy beans and other untested materials that turned into powder in vehicles parked in the hot sun. And every new car delivered had to be tested with a garden water hose because they always leaked. Even today, there isn't a single design improvement that hasn't appeared first by foreign manufacturers. If the American automobile manufacturers permitted the advanced concepts young American designers were creating, the foreign automobile never would have captured the market it has today in this country Look at how our manufacturers are stalling today on the hybrid by promising hydrogen fueled vehicles, but doing nothing. Now Toyota is converting its entire line of cars to hybrid which can then advance even further into alternative fuels. However there is one exception to my lament. Our American military vehicles are second to none. That tells me something. War is for keeps and we don't like losing. Whatshisname. :roll:
 

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frzivko said:
Oh, Hoagie, I did not insult your choice of vehicle, so much as I questioned its value, and fun-to-drive quotient, both of which are subjective.
Perhaps not "so much as" but your original post was insulting and an obvious attempt to engage Prius owners in a flame war. You came here with an agenda predicated on prejudice against a stereotype. Read on and it will all be made clear.

If you are insulted, you may wish to lighten up, as insult wasn't my intent.
Your subjective use of semantics is simply clever obfuscation.

Yes, psychology can be fun, and I was hoping to see anyone answer the questions I posed regarding future costs and battery waste. So far there have been no takers.
This smug rejoinder reveals an assumption that a tepid response confirms your biased opinions. Actually, your questions are tired and have been rehashed countless times--as you well know--without drawing an irrefutable conclusion. Again, you are dancing around your true intent.

I also wanted to find the motivation behind such a purchase, since I could find no measurable advantage to purchasing a Prius.
See, you've already conducted your own research, so you've not come here seeking "discussion" at all. This was transparent from the first sentence of your opening message.

If it's about the looks of the car, power to all of that opinion. If it's about "saving the environment", I don't see a clear advantage. Compare a 30mpg PZEV to a 40-50mpg (plus battery waste and ozone generation) PZEV Hybrid, and I do believe it's a wash.
Yes, if a wash can be found when comparing apples to oranges, while knee deep in sour grapes. This still isn't what you're really after, but we're getting close.

I think I also wanted to see if Prius owners are as self-righteous as rumored.
Ya think? I think the ugly truth has finally reared its naked head.

I'm working on that answer.
No, you answered that one a long time ago. Again; my sympathies to your neighbor.

Drive happy (and far, far away),
Moo :)
 

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frzivko said:
Oh, Hoagie, I did not insult your choice of vehicle, so much as I questioned its value, and fun-to-drive quotient, both of which are subjective. If you are insulted, you may wish to lighten up, as insult wasn't my intent.
No offense taken.

The issue with your original post there is that you were not asking inquisitive questions to seek feedback. Your questioning was very offensive (as in aggressive); which is not a stance normally taken by someone simply seeking feedback.

I was hoping to see anyone answer the questions I posed regarding future costs and battery waste. So far there have been no takers.
The "future costs" of the car are no more then any regular car; much less in many cases.
[*] Regular maintenance are recommened at intervals twice as long as most other cars.
[*] The HV battery is warrentied for somewhere around 200k. If you just want to throw the battery in your back yard, sure the environmental impact might be there; your flowers will most likely die and you might want to worry if the chipmunks' eyes begin to glow. Proper recycling allows the batteries to be reused.
[*] The battery does not deplet itself, as the system keeps it charged and does so very quickly. In the event that the battery does get rather low... the system makes sure it charges.

Per your first post...

Why are the regenerative brakes of the Prius so annoyingly non-linear?
I've noticed no anomolies with the brakes and the battery charging. Based on the amount of energy produced during various stages of the braking process a graph of those forces would not be linear to begin with.

Why is the handling of the Prius so vague?
I owned two manual Trucks over the course of 12 years before purchasing my Prius. I hate(d) automatics as I always feel out of control in them. I pulled the Prius out of the lot and have felt in complete control ever since.

I've certainly noticed differences (and still do after 6 months of owning the car), but I've never had a problem with the car failing to do something within what Toyota has claimed it capable of.

but that doesn't excuse it's near utter lack of driving precision
I've not noticed any issues. The car responds exceptionally well to whatever I have asked it to do.

I also wanted to find the motivation behind such a purchase, since I could find no measurable advantage to purchasing a Prius.
... but you didn't ask that before.

The topic of the post seems to also imply that you are infact not seeking feedback of any kind from the Prius populous. "Why buy a Prius? There's a better-driving PZEV alternative." -- is rather exacting as to what the original message portrayed.

I think I also wanted to see if Prius owners are as self-righteous as rumored. I'm working on that answer.
Don't understand that one. Are there other automotive discussion groups which frequently whisper about the Prius snobs standing over on the other side of the room?

Both this forum, PriusChat and the mailing lists have plenty of discussions regarding other vehicles; be they more tuned to the economical varients rather then the latest 10 MPG SUV. I've noticed that the regulars around here are very eager to talk about everything in non-Prius, while keeping within the "theme" of the board.
 

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whatshisname said:
I must tell you the American auto industry should be ashamed of itself.
Amen to that!

Thankfully, the American industry is starting to wake up. They are loosing ground and they are starting to take notice -- they've been loosing ground for years, but I guess they've finally lost enough to finally feel threatened.

A few months before I purchased my Prius I mentioned my plans to an acquaintance who I then learned worked for local American car plant (can't recall what it was... GM, for arguments sake). We had a very similar discussion about the state of the American automotive industry.

I wouldn't mind at all if the American industry got together and started building Hydrogen refueling stations now, so I have someplace to gas up my water making uber car in 10 years. ;)
 

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Prius life-cycle assessment:
http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/k_forum/tenji/pdf/pgr_e.pdf

2004 Prius uses bio-plastic (made from plants!)

The NiMH battery pack is highly recycleable, with no toxic materials, so I have no concern there.

The thing that sold me on my 2001 Prius was the fun factor when driving it on my first test drive. So quiet, so smooth (my wrists rarely ever bother me when driving now, as opposed to the constant vibration and lurching from my previous vehicles, which were fine-running conventional automatics). Plus, even a base Prius comes with many great safety/security features that you'd have to pay extra for on an "economy" car, or has features that are only available on high-end luxury cars (like SE&SS).

Is the PZEV Focus available nationwide yet? Most PZEVs don't see outside of CA (even for those of us in states that use the CA emissions standards, like MA where I am). The Prius sold in CA is the same vehicle available in the rest of the continental US.
Other PZEVs:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/ccvl/2004ccvl.htm

My recollection is that the Focus has been hit with numerous recalls (just like other Fords that have been in my family). There has been only ONE recall on any Prius, and that was for ~1,750 early 2001s (power steering rack).

My 2001 Prius has been the most reliable car I've owned. So much so, my second car (my husband's car) is a 2004 Prius.
 

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FORD = "Fix Or Repair Daily."
Toyota = Reliability.
My last car was an '89 Civic. It was a great car, but the Prius has considerably more power and torque. (Not to mention double the mileage and a lot less pollution.) I think the Civic was a bit more nimble, but the Prius is still very responsive (I think it improved greatly when I increased the tire pressure from 35/33 to 42/40). But the Prius, at $20K base, is every bit a $20K car. The "green factor" is pure gravy. The Focus may be good enough if all you can afford is $10K.

Comparing the Focus to the Prius is like comparing Tang to fresh-squeezed orange juice. Either one will quench your thirst, and Tang is cheaper. But if you can afford feesh-squeezed o.j. it sure tastes a whole heck of a lot better.
 

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Whoa-ho! Moocatdog, there's no need to be cranky. Take the opportunity to make a friend, not an enemy.

I bought the Prius out of techno-geekiness and to help push the technology. As it turns out Toyota didn't need my help.
 
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