Introduction and Some Questions

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by css28, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. css28

    css28 Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Hi folks,
    Briefly, I'm new here and toying with the idea of a Prius as a commuter vehicle. My nature and experience lean me towards a 3 to 5 year old model, from the standpoint of thrift and my inclination towards self-repair. Looking back, my most anxious periods of car ownership have typically involved dealing with warranties and dealers. Beyond that, I get great satisfaction out of doing my own repairs and maintenance, when practical.
    My commute is actually nothing to complain about-- a mile and a half from home to freeway ramp and 3/4 of a mile from the other ramp to work. Total distance ~25 miles each way. This takes about 25 minutes in the morning and 35 coming home, a little less than that if I actually push to the speed limit of 70 mph, but I prefer the right lane between 62 and 68. I currently commute primarily in a 2002 Chevrolet Venture short wheelbase minivan that gives me an honest 24-26 mpg on the drive, depending on the season and fuel mix. I also have a '97 BMW 328i that I coax to 28-31 mpg on the same route. At this point in its life I prefer to limit the BMW's use to nicer weather.
    Considering other errands and side trips, I figure we could cut our gasoline use in half (comparing to the Venture) with a Prius.
    Beyond fuel mileage, the Prius appeals for its relative ease of entry and exit (my wife and I are big-boned!) and general hatchback practicality. I would be looking at this vehicle to replace the minivan. The GM U-vans (Venture, Montana, Silhouette, Sintra) were among the last of the moderate size minivans. The modern ones are too huge and bulky for my tastes.
    Based on various reviews I've read, I find myself a little concerned about reports of lousy handling and vague steering. I guess that's something I'll have to experience for myself. I might look into suspension and tire improvements for some improvement.
    I'll want an '07 or later for the side curtain airbags. The instruments and controls appear a little nicer in the '10+ models.
    I realize that my timing probably stinks (better to buy for mileage when gas is cheap) and, honestly, the minivan's performing its job very well. I work a mile south of the General Motors tech center, so this area isn't a hotbed of Prius ownership. While I might get some dirty looks on the way, I don't buy my vehicles to impress others--I buy based on the product design and function.
    Anyhow, I'll mostly lurk from now on, and see if this makes sense after I've read up more.

    Thanks for your attention.

    - Chris
     
  2. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    The 2005 models may also come with side curtain airbags front and rear. It was an option back then. If the car has HIDs then it has side curtain airbags. I'm not sure about the 2004 models.

    Toyota is always blamed for numb steering. If you're coming from vans then I don't think you'll care. Handling is indeed rather mushy. Try airing up the tires to around 40psi before you make any decisions. Factory set tire pressure makes the car feel like it is riding on marshmallows.
     
  3. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    Vehicle:
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    Model:
    II
    Welcome aboard! Sounds like your commute would fit the Prius well. You just need to test drive one to feel for yourself.
     
  4. css28

    css28 Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Suburban Detroit
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    There's a possibility that this car could end up doing replacement duty for a Subaru Outback that my son sometimes hauls a stringed bass in. Does the front passenger seat back fold forward for carrying long things?
     
  5. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    ^ only a little but you can fold backwards in the gen3 such that you can lay things flat up to the passenger seat.
     
  6. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers, Nadir of Wrongness

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    Vehicle:
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    I have a 2009 Gen 2, I can carry 8 foot lumber and not touch the dash, a single 10 foot 2 by 4 can barely fit inside.
     
  7. dustoff003

    dustoff003 Blizzard Brigade #003

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  8. css28

    css28 Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    A follow-up. You'll see from my summary info that we now own a (new) 2011 Prius III w/sunroof package. I took my wife to a dealer a couple of weeks ago so she could see and sit in a new Prius to make sure it would be a good fit for her. They had a 2012 Prius 4 on the floor with the plus performance package, and she was very happy with ingress/egress ease, seat comfort and roominess. At the time I was concerned that she might want a Prius v, for the extra utility and space but she was happy with the hatchback model.
    What did catch her attention was the availability of the solar sunroof package. While our summers here are very mild, she has an extreme sensitivity to heat and a love of sunroofs in general, so this became a desirable feature.
    I then set out to try to find a used 2010+ with sunroof package but we were also motivated to get a color other than white/silver/tan/black, from esthetic and visibility concerns. Long story short, we were too picky to make any headway in the used market.
    This being my first new car purchase in over 12 years, I decided to swallow hard and get what we wanted. I can claim no negotiating prowess in this case. The dealer had a Blue Ribbon III with the sunroof package in stock and we decided to go for it after we sold one of our household vehicles.
    I am blown away by the efficiency and sophistication of this drivetrain. The ride's a little harsh, but the steering and handling are ok. I tried to arrange for a new car tire swap to something with better wet/winter traction (we have Goodyear Triple Treds on our minivan) but the dealer wasn't motivated and I wasn't up for searching for a tire dealer to do this with, so we'll use the Yokohama Avids for now and see how they do when the snow flies.
    As an unexpected side effect of the way things work, I'm changing my route to work from all freeway to (uncrowded in the morning) surface streets. It saves about 5 miles of distance each way and yields an indicated bonus of 7-10 mpg. I have a few hundred miles left till the first fill up, but if I add the miles covered with distance to empty on the MFD, I'm looking at about 580 miles total range. I have to note that this week has been June-like for temperatures, so that has no doubt helped the performance.
    Did I say "long story short"? I guess not. Sorry about that.

    - Chris
     
  9. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Congrats on the new car!

    We have not experienced and hot days here in NorCal since I purchased my 2012 with solar roof. The few days where the temps has reached the 60s was enough to engage the solar ventilation system, however. The car felt nice and cool which was a surprise as I didn't think it would make much of a difference in such mild temperatures but it did. I'm very happy I purchased this option.

    As for the tires, please keep in mind that below about 45F a tires stopping ability is severely compromised so when driving in snowy conditions it is not just forward traction you should be worried about. The tires elasticity is drastically reduced so stopping distance increases by quite a bit. That is one of the biggest reasons to get a set of dedicated wheels for snow tires. All-season tires just don't cut it in terms of overall safety in cold temps and snow.

     
  10. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Woo hoo! It's all good :_>
     
  11. M8s

    M8s Retired and Lovin' It

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    Wow, what a great read. Thanks for the interesting story and perspectives.
     
  12. css28

    css28 Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    I'm finding myself looking forward to my daily commute.
    I think I mentioned that I'm taking a slower route to work now. It's a few miles shorter in distance and in the mornings it's easy to hypermile without inconveniencing my fellow commuters.

    My first tank came in at a calculated 53.7 mpg, thanks largely to the *warm* weather that we had the first week of ownership. The colder weather has definitely had a negative effect, but my techniques are improving almost enough to compensate. I also upped my tire pressures to 40 psi.

    For anyone familiar with this area, I've found Woodward Ave. and 12 Mile Rd. to more relaxing in the early light traffic than the I-75 and I-696 grand prix.

    With respect to hypermiling techniques, I never thought I'd be googling anything like this: hobbit sweet+spot, but I recommend it. I was a little apprehensive about what would turn up in the results, but fortunately the world hasn't gone totally strange. :)

    Thanks for listening.

    - Chris