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Considering buying a Prius....

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by caluah6089, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. caluah6089

    caluah6089 New Member

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    Hi all! I'm in the market for a new vehicle. I was originally considering a Jetta TDI, as they have everything I've been looking for, but I have read a few reviews that scared me. I live within a mile from where I work, and the speed limit never goes above 45 on my trip(s). I visit my parents house which is about 15 minutes away, max speed limit on that trip is 55-60. But I only visit them once or twice a week at the most. Sometimes on the weekends I make the drive to a friends house about 30 minutes away (mostly highway driving of 60+ MPH). But the majority of my driving is spent under 40 MPH in either stop and go traffic or VERY short trips. I cut out the idea of a TDI Jetta after reading that the filters can get clogged easily and quickly if you drive at speeds under 55 MPH on a regular basis... but what is considered a regular basis? Daily? I've also heard that their repairs are really costly (whose aren't though!?).

    But a friend of mine that works on cars and attended Wyotech informed me that Prius' can have really expensive repairs as well. (If I remember correctly it was "$800 to have a headlight bulb replaced because the entire fender has to be removed"). YIKES!! I'm used to doing most of the minor repairs myself, (like headlight bulbs, tire rotation, oil changes, fuses, relays etc. etc. etc.) ... but I don't think I'd be able to go through all that without seriously screwing something up. I've gone through countless bulbs in my 2000 Toyota Solara... I won't be able to afford $800 each time! He also added "Hybrids suck" so.... I'm not sure how much credibility I give him since it seems he's speaking from personal preference rather than truth.

    I'm looking at buying used. I've had my current car for 9 years, so I'm not one of those people that buys a new car as soon as they pay off their old one. I'd like to keep this for at least another 9 years, since I will be making payments for at least 5.

    What are some pros and cons of owning a Prius? I like the look and the extra space from the "hatch", but there are some details I wish they had that some other cars in my price range offer. (Auxiliary hookup, sun roof, heated seats etc.) I know that all of these are purely things I want rather than things I need. Anyway... some opinions, advice etc. would be great!! I haven't driven either of these cars yet, but from what I can tell from reviews and what not these are the 2 I'm stuck on. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer to this newbie! :D

    -Caileigh

    EDIT: I forgot to ask... would anyone recommend leasing a new Prius rather than purchasing a used one? I've never leased but the thought of not having to pay out of pocket for maintenance expenses sounds pretty alluring... Any thoughts?
     
  2. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Ok, the headlamps your friend was speaking of are the HID bulbs in the 2006 - 2009 Prius which had that feature.
    3rd gen 2010+ Prius uses halogen which are cheap to replace and the top model gets LED lamps.

    the HID lamps were having a lot of problems in failing. Toyota sent a letter to owner's stating they would charge no more than $150 per side to fix the HIDs (owner's were reporting like $500 to fix both sides).

    My pros and cons after 1 1/2 in 2011 Prius

    Pros -
    Great on gas, yeah it gets me 50 MPG
    super easy to use with smart key entry on doors, push button start
    hatchback utility
    * very reliable so far
    * insurance very reasonable
    * 3rd only needs oil change every 10k miles although others do it more often
    seats 4 great. Driver's seat pretty comfortable, but driving position a little awkward.
    * smooth and quiet on smooth freeway pavement. Things get worse when bumpy or gritty pavement - fair amount of road/tire noise gets in.


    Cons -
    * in my opinion, a little overweight / underpowered for climbing freeway grades, find my self changing to slow lane to climb grades.
    * Engine not particularly fun to listen to when it's spinning high going up those steep grades.
    * speeometer to the right of center not cool. yesterday hit 80 mph briefly and didn't know it til glanced 8 inches to right to see speedo. last thing I need is a ticket.

    * Interior full of hard plastics, futuristic but not sexy by any means. Floating bridge console is 'novel' but reaching under it is a minor pain.
    * has torsion beam rear suspension found on lower priced cars (nissan Sentra). All higher priced cars have independent rear suspension. makes car handle better.
    * some call it fun to play 'beat the mpgs' but I drive to go places, not play games.
    * I don't get many compliments on the car, but others say it is comfortable.
    * I think it is a good car, great on gas, but I'm sure all the 4 door midsize sedans drive better ... and drink more gas.
     
  3. caluah6089

    caluah6089 New Member

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    Thank you cycledrum! That makes me feel much better about the headlight situation!
     
  4. mrstop

    mrstop PWR Mode

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    I'm similar to you in my car purchasing and also do my own repairs. I think there is a lot of misinformation on the Prius in this regard. Overall, the Prius has above average reliability. This is especially compared to VW TDI's. I almost went that route myself until I saw how real and expensive the repairs are. My opinion of VW is that they make great new cars, but lousy older and used ones.

    Your buddy is blowing smoke. The headlight bulbs are accessible via the engine bay and fairly easy to get to and replace. Even if you have to replace the whole headlight assembly, it's maybe a 15 min job as you have to loosen the top of bumper (most cars will require some form of bumper removal today).

    Generally repairs should be less frequent on the Prius as it doesn't use the brakes as much, there are no belts and it has a simple driveline. Parts prices for the Prius are comparable to any other car.

    I ended up going new on mine. I would have preferred pre-owned, but the prices I saw on used were too close to new when I bought.
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    you should get a pip. you can drive electric for most of your trips, and when you go beyond 10-15 miles, you have all the benefits of a standard prius plus some.
     
  6. caluah6089

    caluah6089 New Member

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    Thanks for your input mrstop! I completely agree about the prices. I would prefer to buy new, that way I have more time under warranty etc. but the new Prius prices shocked me at first, and they don't depreciate much!
     
  7. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    You may want to research leasing. I heard the terms can be more complicated.

    In 4 years driving Prius (2 1/2 on 2009) and 1 1/2 on 2011, I've had no mechanical problems, but there is a minor rattle that's a little annoying with this 2011. happens under light throttle application.

    Can't speak of Prius with lots of miles, but many here can.

    Keep on thing in mind - hybrid and other advanced technology is changing fast. If you get one, it might be wise to buy used, because in just over 2 years there witll be a 4th gen Prius. and it's sure to be quite a bit better than the current one.

    Hatchbacks, hmmm, that's a smaller market.

    toyota Matrix is just ok, not great.
    -------------------------
    Mazda3 five door is well known as fun to drive, semi sporty hatchback. Rear seat room is tight and cargo room less than Prius. They have a Skyactiv version that supposedly averages over 30 mpg now, but it's not as peppy as the 2.5L, but that likely doesn't beat 26 ish MPGs.
    -------------------------

    doesn't Hyundai have an Elantra GT that's a hatch? the elantra Touring hatchback a couple years ago was pretty impressive to sit in. hardly see them though.

    VW GTI is classic hot hatch.

    Ford Focus hatchback is pretty popular. smaller backseats and cargo area than Prius.
     
  8. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    You're friend was right about having to remove the bumper in the 06 -09 Prius to change HID capsules. I think there was a simpler way to do it, but that wasn't trivial either. Owner's manual said 'see dealer' for changing HIDs.

    Pretty sure 3rd gen owner's manual shows an easy diagram for changing halogen lamps.

    ---------
    bisco means Plugin Prius (pip). See that section if interested. Not my cup of tea.
     
  9. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    I have had my Plug-in Prius for a year, and based on the driving you describe, I would suggest you consider the PiP. Deals can be made on them bringing the price down close to the standard car with comparable equipment. You would probably run on EV most of the time, saving on gas and limiting the $$ you send to OPEC.
    As has been pointed out, someone is blowing smoke in telling you the repairs are costly on a Prius. There is a video showing a woman at Precious Garage, a repair shop in the S.F. area, changing a headlight bulb in about 5 minutes, without removing the bumper or fenders.
    Normal maintenance calls for tire rotations at 5K intervals and oil changes at 10K intervals. This is my third Prius and I have had no major repair bills on any of them.
    If you decide to lease, you may wish to buy the car at the end, as you will have very low mileage. Keep in mind that leasing is just another way of financing. From time to time Toyota offers very low or zero interest.
    Finally, you don't indicate where you live, but if you happen to be in California, Dianne Whitmire of Carson Toyota near Los Angeles is wonderful to deal with and makes competitive deals. She participates on this forum. You can also check around for dealers recommended by other posters here who are in your area. Good luck, whatever you decide.
     
  10. Munpot42

    Munpot42 Senior Member

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    I would second the idea of buying new over buying 3 gen used, you can get a new 13 model 2 in the $22k range and having a new car warranty is worth it, plus lower financing rates on new cars helps...good luck.
    That said, your driving pattern won't give you the epa numbers for mileage, probably more in the mid 30's range, but it will still be better than any other car except perhaps a plug in.
     
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  11. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    I had a 2009 Prius with HID headlamps. Owners manual said 'see Toyota for changing headlamps'.. 99% sure the procedure was to remove a bumper assembly to change them. ... and both sides cost something like $500 for the job.

    toyota sent letter in 2010 saying they would charge no more than $150 per side for the repair.

    Notice HID are not available in 3rd gen? They gave many owners fits.

    I would see 2nd gen drivers using HID during the day like 'daytime running lights'.. They are nuts, not knowing it costs $$ to repair those.
     
  12. caluah6089

    caluah6089 New Member

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    This is the kind of information I was hoping to get! Thank you everyone!! I live in Asheville, North Carolina (Western North Carolina) so there are steep hills, curvy roads etc. etc. I don't encounter any "difficult" terrain on my daily commute because I live "in-town". But getting out of Asheville to travel to South Carolina or Tennessee (which I do about once every 1-2 months) can be scary if you can't get up to speed when you need to. I'm very interested in the PiP idea. There is a very reputable Toyota dealer in Asheville, not sure if anyone is familiar with it or not Jim Barkley Toyota. Jim Barkley's lease terms are great. Nothing due at signing which I love because I wouldn't have to trade in my current Toyota to lease. The only thing that makes me nervous about leasing a vehicle is all of the fees they try to tack on when the lease is up for what most people would consider normal wear and tear. But I'm getting off track... I want the reliability and customer service that I'm used to from Toyota... but I'm afraid I can't afford it unless I lease... =/ Everything's so expensive now! I got my 2000 Toyota Solara with 60k miles on it in 2004 for $10,000! What happened to those kind of prices!? haha!
     
  13. caluah6089

    caluah6089 New Member

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    I also found a 2010 Camry Hybrid with 50k miles for $18,990... any opinions about other Toyota Hybrids? It gets 33 city and 34 highway... which is better than the 25 MPG city that the 2012 Camry gets.. (I drove one of my friend's 2012 Camry LE's for 7 months while he was deployed and it got 25 MPG consistently regardless of the driving). It made absolutely no difference, it never got anything other than 25 MPG.... anyway.... Camry Hybrid... any info?
     
  14. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    Oops! I called it "Precious" Garage, and it was actually "Lucious" Garage in S.F. Here's a link to the video:
    or search "changing headlight bulb in a Prius."

    Don't know what happened here; looked fine when I posted the link. Then it showed the video ready to view, and finally the message that the webpage couldn't be found. Help!
     
  15. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    Well, the nice thing about leasing is that you can return the car at the end of the contract, and assuming you have taken good care of it, owe next to nothing. (I think there is usually a lease return fee, why I don't know.) And if you still want to keep your car nine years, then you have a pre-established price at which you can buy it. If something newer grabs you, then you turn the old one in and lease a new one. I have never leased a personal vehicle, but as a corporate executive chauffeur, used to make the lease deals for my boss for business vehicles.
     
  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    my wife has an 08 camry hybrid with 60,000 miles. it's like brand new. we just took it to orlando and back, 3,500 miles, it's like riding in a lexus compared to the pri and we got between 38 and 40 mpg on fill ups. if they came out with a plug in camry, we would trade tomorrow.
     
  17. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    With the short distances you mentioned, that is not an ideal situation for the Prius (sans the PIP). The prius has to warm up to get the low emissions it is famous for. During that time, the fuel economy (FE) is low. So for your typical commute, you will not realize great FE.

    A bike would be good.
     
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  18. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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  19. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    But still, wouldn't a Prius be as good or better than any other car under those circumstances? He's driving a nine year old Solara currently. On a commute of less than one mile, seems to me any ICE powered car is going to pollute more until warmed up. OTOH, he needs a car for those longer trips. Biking or walking less than a mile to work would certainly be better for the environment and personal health, no question there.
     
  20. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    :ROFLMAO: Now that one I got!