Prius Envy – Part II

It looks like Don Hammonds of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and I were on the same wave length (and publication deadline) last night. My comments in response to Don’s article (even though he or you didn’t ask) are these:

He’s right that the Touring package has the niftiest features at the highest price tag of all Prius models. I did not get the Touring version; I opted for one of the packages next in line, the eloquently named “Package 4.” (Marketing geniuses!) As a result, I didn’t get the larger wheels and spoiler, or the navigation system and leather seats, but this package has many of the other Touring features, including the upgraded stereo, MP3 plug-in and the Bluetooth, which, again, I’ll rarely use because no one calls me. I can still sound cool talking about it.

I happened to get the car during a promotion with a great financing rate. I was also floored at the trade-in value for the Outback, so price-wise I was quite happy. Look for possible deals throughout the summer and around July 4 or Labor Day. Also note that you can still get about a $700 tax credit for purchasing a hybrid vehicle – Prius, Camry, Honda or other. It had been twice that before April 1, and I heard our forward-thinking U.S. government is going to phase out the tax credit entirely in the next few years. Glad they’re not designing the next generation of cars for us.

I agree the split-style rearview window is unusual, but I don’t notice it much now. I don’t feel like my view is obstructed, and the back-up camera can help. However, it takes some getting used to as its currently designed.

Gas mileage? Please, people, don’t be greedy. If you’re getting 68 mpg you probably started at the top of Jack’s beanstalk and are just coasting downhill until you crash. As Don pointed out, it depends on how and where you drive. I definitely am more conscious about my driving style now, using more “feathering” of the pedal than the lead foot approach.

I’ve never had any fancy displays in my other cars, so the display screen showing the Energy consumption/flow, plus the smaller-than normal steering wheel with control buttons, took some getting used to as well. After a day of driving, I had it all down. I’ll say, though, that on one hot day when the A/C was blasting, I couldn’t help but watch the lines on the battery monitor disappear one by one. I started to panic and drove under (under!) the speed limit so I could coast more to regenerate the energy-battery-thingy. I thought, “Surely the Japanese wouldn’t let my battery die after 5 minutes because I don’t like to sweat…right? They know how stupid Americans can be about our A/C.” After reading the manual, it appears they wouldn’t let the battery die. Apparently, they do realize how stupid we can be.

As I said before, the Prius is a great, not-so-little car with a lot of zip. Looks like Don Hammonds and I were sharing a few brain waves after all.

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