"I believe it is difficult to find a Prius owner that does not love their car. Toyota's standards for quality and reliability and well known and extensively touted in pretty much every consumer car buying periodical there is so I'll focus this review on what I like most and what I'm most disappointed about.
It's important to note that what I like most is more significant than what the one downfall I've experienced.
As with pretty much all new model Toyota cars the key to operating 85% of the vehicle is located at the driver's fingertips in that almost everything one needs to operate in the car is on or around the steering wheel. The driver controls the climate control system, radio, CD player, rear and front defrosters, and integrated bluetooth telephone all on the steering wheel. Consequently once the driver familiarizes themselves with the multi-function steering wheel they know how to operate many of the important functions by touch. For example the rear window defroster button is recessed whereas the front defroster is not.
The car is very high tech and if you have the navigation system it's well worth the time and effort to study up and learn how to use it to its full extent as you can literally tell it (i.e. speak to it) where you want to go.
The only disappointment I have is that for the first year and a half of ownership my gas mileage always exceeded 40 mph. Now, during the colder months I sometimes average 39 and that bugs the heck out of me. I've tried different gasolines, thinking that maybe the less expensive gas staions such as Costco, may be putting more additives in their fuel, which would reduce mileage but I find it doesn't matter. I can buy the more expensive, Chevron, Texaco, or Shell, etc and there's no effect on the mileage. I have not tried a higher octane (premium unleaded) so I don't know if that would make a difference so I cannot speak to whether or not paying the premium for the fuel "pencils out".
I know that buying a hybrid may not "pencil out" when compared to a comparable non hybrid Toyota. But car buying decisions are not strictly financial decisions. If they were, there would be no market for hybrids or luxury vehicles. A knowledgable student of economics will realize that such decisions are based upon individuals "utility curves" and those vary which each and every person.
I've owned 5 Toyotas, a couple of Mazdas, two General Motors (and had a third as a company car), a Chrysler mini van, Lincoln Town Car, a "pre Ford Volvo" a Volkswagen, and a Nissan during my lifetime. That Toyota is now the world's largest car company is no surprise. They make a terrific product. Having said that, I also own a 1995 Mazda Protege which I bought new. It has 250,000 miles on it and runs like a champ. I wouldn't take it on a "road trip" but the Japanese know how to build reliability into their vehicles. After being burned twice by GM I swore I'd never buy one of their cars again. Fortunately, although these cars and its parts are designed and manufactured primarily in Japan, they are, I believe, assembled in the U.S.A. I believe that when one buys an "American car" one is often buying parts made in China. So, who is to say that buying GM, Ford, or Chrysler is "buying American" anymore than buying a Japanese manufacturer's car?"
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