Prius vs other Toyota hybrids

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by MayCaesar, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. MayCaesar

    MayCaesar New Member

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    Hey guys,

    I am a new driver (I know, it is long overdue given my age, but hey, it happens) and will buy my first car around Christmas. My budget is around $15-20k, and I mainly need a car for regular long cross-country trips. I also need the car to offer very low maintenance and fuel expenses, since, as a grad student, my funds are somewhat tight.

    I've been looking at the used Toyota hybrids for a while. I definitely want a Toyota hybrid for their reliability and gas mileage. Mainly 4 models are under consideration:

    1. 2016 Toyota Prius Two Eco
    2. 2014-2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
    3. 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
    4. 2013 Lexus ES300h Hybrid

    Now, the Lexus may be a bit too expensive to repair in case something breaks, and the 2014 Avalon doesn't have folding seats, which is a big deal for long trips (I'd like to be able to comfortably sleep in the car). This leaves out the Camry and the Prius.

    Now, initially I wanted the Camry for its roominess and comfort. However, recently I've been looking at the Prius more and more. While the Camry looks like a more rounded car, the Prius seems to be a better long-term investment. You can't beat the mileage, and as a single person I might not need the size of the Camry to feel comfortable while driving. The huge Prius' trunk space is also a boon, as a lot of camping supplies can be fit in that big guy.

    I absolutely do not mind Prius' inferior handling and acceleration: my idea of a fun drive is cruising leisurely and enjoying beautiful landscapes, not racing the roads. However, I have several concerns with regards to Prius which, I hope, you guys can lift.

    1. Road noise. I've heard a few people say that Priuses are pretty loud compared to, say, the average midsize sedan - but other people said that it is a non-issue. Is the road noise a real annoyance on long trips?
    2. Interior size. Now, as a single person, this probably isn't something I should worry about. From various reviews, it looks adequate. However, the Camry still has a roomier interior. How do you find Prius interior in terms of comfort, compared to larger cars?
    3. Winter performance. I live on the Midwest, and it gets pretty crazy here in winters sometimes. How does Prius perform in deep snow? I'd imagine the low ground clearance would be an issue, even with winter tires on?

    I really love an idea of owning such a technologically advanced vehicle, and unlike the other 3 options, the Prius really excites the nerd inside of me. Should I just go for it and grab the little guy? :) How does it compare to the Camry?

    TL;DR: Prius or another Toyota hybrid (Camry) for long road trips on a tight budget?
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome!

    about how many miles per year will you be driving?

    prius seat can be very uncomfortable for some people, you should rent one for a long test drive.
    it is certainly the most noisy of the vehicles you propose.

    ground clearance can be an issue if you have to get out on unplowed roads, and you'll want a set of snow tires.

    have you done the gas savings calculation to see if it is worth it over a non hybrid?

    who will maintain your car when it gets older? dealers are expensive, and hybrid shops are hard to find.

    all the best!(y)
     
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  3. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    Just a heads up, the Two Eco has no spare or rear wiper.
     
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  4. lostinheadguy

    lostinheadguy Junior Member

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    Ow. No rear wiper would be a deal-breaker for me.

    You won't be able to completely extend yourself for sleeping in the Camry hybrid. While the rear seats do fold down, the pass-through is so tiny that it might as well not even be there: https://www.truedelta.com/images/mk_reviews/1429602539-Camry-Hybrid-trunk-seat-folded.JPG

    That being said, the Camry is more of a cruiser car than the Prius is, so it will be quieter and more comfortable on the highway. It's also more of a traditional car. The nerd in you will be able to play all the fun nerd games that you can in a Prius, it's just that the tech-y stuff (like the power meter) is just worked into the traditional instruments of the car. You've heard of "sleeper" performance cars, the Camry hybrid is a "sleeper" hybrid, especially if it's in the SE / XSE trim. Normal people have trouble discerning it from a regular old Camry.

    I would add the later third-gen Prius liftbacks (2012 - 2015), the larger Prius v wagon (2012 - 2017) and the "regular" non-Eco fourth-gen (2016+) to your shopping list. If you go for a third-gen Prius liftback or v wagon in the same model year range as that Camry you're looking for you might find one that has the cool tech features you want like active safety and a head-up display.

    I'm definitely partial to finding a better-equipped slightly older model than the cheapest new one. It's your call though. Good luck!
     
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  5. MayCaesar

    MayCaesar New Member

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    Thanks a lot for the replies, they are extremely helpful!

    I would expect to drive around 25,000 miles per year for the first several years, at least. From my calculations, buying a hybrid over a non-hybrid would save me approximately $1,500 a year, and moving from a regular hybrid like Camry to the Prius Eco would set it at around $500 a year. The latter doesn't seem to be much - however, I would like to keep the car for a long time, at the very least for 10 years, and the total savings would be pretty significant.

    Now, moving from the regular Prius to Prius Eco lowers the yearly savings to less than $100, which is insignificant. I am not sure why my mind is set specifically on the Eco model; maybe this is something I should reconsider. :unsure:

    Regarding the maintenance, there is quite a few repairs shops in this city, and a lot of people drive hybrids and seem to have no trouble getting them repaired - I still see 1st gen Prii on roads regularly, so, I suppose, they have found a way. Granted, in 2-3 years I will probably move to one of the southern states, so I can't be sure about the maintenance there.

    My thinking is that the lack of the spare tire increases the trunk space, which is a decent compensation. Regarding the rear wiper, my impression was that Prii don't really need them due to their shape that prevents the water droplets from sticking on it - is it wrong?

    Ah, I see... :( I suppose then that all the options other than the Prius won't be very comfortable for sleeping. People seem to still be able to sleep on the backseat even in compact cars (I saw a video of someone sleeping in an old Honda Civic), but the Prius definitely wins in this regard.

    With regards to the Prius V wagons, I was turned off by the fact that they offer (officially) only marginally higher MPG than the hybrid sedans under consideration: if we are looking into that MPG range, then it might make sense to buy something like the Camry. Given what you pointed out about the Camry's folding seats, they could be worth considering as the compromise between fuel efficiency, roominess and utility.

    And I'm definitely of the same mind with regards to the older/newer models: I would rather buy a 2014 Prius Five, than a 2017 Prius One. I can see quite a few offers on Cargurus on 2014 Prius V Fives set at around $14,000, which in my eyes is a great price.
     
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  6. lostinheadguy

    lostinheadguy Junior Member

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    Unfortunately the only thing you can do is go to a CarMax or other dealer that has one and actually crawl around in it. The reason why I say CarMax is because those salespeople don't ever pressure you into a purchase, so you can basically test drive / test sleep the car and then just leave. The closest one to you is in Merrillville and they appear to have a third-gen liftback on their lot at the time of this writing. But if you can put up with a RAV4-sales hungry salesperson, any dealer will be fine.

    Other than that, any Camry of that era (model years 2015 - 2017) will do to test those backseats. The Camry will definitely be wider if you intend on sleeping sideways across. There are also plenty of examples around here of people sleeping in their Prius liftbacks and v wagons forward with the rear seats folded down, in some cases with a mattress too.

    As for the fuel economy penalty of the v wagon vs the regular liftback? It's noticeable but certainly not bad. I've been averaging anywhere between 42 and 44 MPG between fill-ups on "non Eco" tires. I'd test out a liftback first and only decide to move up to a v wagon if you really need the extra space.
     
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  7. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    We just bought a new Prius c. 40-60mpg depending on trip type- lower for long xc runs, higher for short trips.

    They are smaller and lower-tech than the other models you've listed, but they are available brand new with 0 miles and full warranties with half of its trim versions landing in your price range.

    While the car is small, I'm 6'3.5" and comfortable driving it for 3+ hour stretches. It definitely exhibits the small-car bonus road noise, but it is on the lower end of such. I'm really impressed by how quiet the cabin is under most circumstances. Very little wind noise.

    We fully expect to equip ours with snow tires later this year. I just don't see it handling our intended winter usage without.

    Of note, I recently discovered that this same car is sold in other countries with a lifted suspension for better rough-road handling. I don't know if any of those lift parts are available in the USA but we can hope.

    We also own an Outback. The AWD is nice, but it's the high, long-travel suspension that really gets us where we want to go.
     
    #7 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    racking up that much mileage, and keeping the car for ten years, i can only recommend the newest, lowest mile vehicle you can afford.
     
  9. shrek

    shrek New Member

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    I would not get hung up on the spare tire of the eco 2017/18.
    How often do you have a flat.
    Also not having a wiper in the rear is a non issue for me. I have one but I never use it
     
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  10. MayCaesar

    MayCaesar New Member

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    I was also thinking of possibly renting a Prius for a couple of days to see how it holds on lengthy trips - but unfortunately, I can't find any rental companies nearby that allow you to rent the exact car you want, and especially hybrids are very difficult to find for rent. Thank you for the advice on CarMax, I will give it a try!

    From what I've seen, sleeping sideways isn't very comfortable; definitely not something I'd like to do on a week-long trip. It might be a bit more comfortable in the Avalon or the Lexus, I suppose, given their size. I cannot find any information on this, but is there any chance the Camry, the Avalon or the Lexus offer also folding front passenger seats?

    Prius C definitely looks interesting, but I think its space might be a bit small for relatively long trips, when you have to carry a lot of supplies with you. I am somewhat set on buying a used car, since depreciation makes them much easier to afford with all the bells and whistles. :) How would you say Prius C compares to a regular Prius?

    I assumed that Prii are very reliable, and some people seem to rack up as much as 300k miles before any major repairs need to be done. Would you say that a 2016 Prius V at around 80k miles is a decent choice?

    Honestly, the lack of available top-trim features in the Eco bothers me quite a bit more than the lack of a spare tire or the back wiper.
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i can't tell you what total repair costs from 80,000 miles to 200,000 miles would compare to other reliable cars like corolla and camry.

    i can only tell you what i see here. some who go 300,000 miles without too many major expenses, and others who get hammered with extremely high repair bills for batteries, brake actuators, a/c compressors and etc., especially if they have to rely on a dealer.
    for instance, someone in another thread is complaining that a dealer wants $800. to replace the spiral cable in her steering column because e the horn doesn't work on her 2011.
     
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  12. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    I would recommend a Two or Three over the Eco for camping. The reason is that you might want a flat floor for sleeping (by folding the rear seats). Models without the spare tire are about 2-3" lower so you'll have to compensate that height difference with something (wooden blocks or large pieces of foam).

    1. Out of the 4 cars you've listed, the Prius will be the noisiest (no surprises there - all the other ones cost more than the Prius when new). Toyota has improved the Gen 4's sound insulation so it is quieter than the Gen 2/3. I'd say it's about average for its class (but note that the compact class is improving generation over generation and the latest Corollas/Civics/Elantras etc are quite quiet compared to themselves a generation or two ago). Note that the One/Two/Two Eco is the "noisiest" of the Gen 4s. The Three/Three Tourings add sound insulation in the firewall for less engine noise and the Four/Four Touring add acoustic front door window glass.
    2. I think it's a preference here. The size is definitely adequate. The higher roof over the front seats give a sense of spaciousness and for one person, it's more than plenty. The Camry is definitely spacious and it's sometimes nice to have a larger car (larger, more comfortable seat). I sometimes miss the size of our 2002 Camry but the Prius is more than enough. The front seats of the Gen 4 is comfortable to me and wrap around nicely to my body form. It may be different for you. I find the Camry's back seats more comfortable than the Prius (just more padding and more legroom to stretch out).
    3. Get winter tires on dedicated rims. (Nokian R2/R3 or Michelin X-Ice xi3). I ran the first gen Nokian R for 6 years and it was fantastic from -40 to freezing and up to about 10cm (4") of loose snow. I usually drive on packed snow. (even in the city as they want to reduce wear and tear on the asphalt so they plow down to 5cm/2" and smooth out the road surface)
     
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  13. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    That was my strategy for my last few cars. But in recent years I'm finding that "all the bells and whistles" aren't actually features I want, apart from maybe split zone climate and (usually fake) leather. Built in navigation systems and hi-power infotainment have proven to be a bust across all car brands. They're awful compared to even no-name cheap aftermarket setups. Worse, many are so tightly integrated that there's no upgrade path, you're stuck.

    Tough to say. I rented a regular Prius (multiple, different generations) over the past 10 years- completely by random assignment. Either way I didn't pay too much attention, I just drove them. I remember viscerally hating the cockpit of what I think is the 3rd generation... the one with the "flying buttress" center console.

    I love the traditional floor-mount shifter in the c, and slightly prefer the old-school metal ignition key ours came with. We did not consider any of the other Priuses when buying this one- we wanted a small car, so we compared it to the Accent, Yaris and Fit. I view it as a next-generation Yaris with a much better transmission than the actual Yaris.

    I haven't driven a V, but I have been a passenger in several and liked the interior layout.

    Not at all scientific, but my impression is that the reliability/endurance records are being set on cars that are driven a lot right from the get-go. Age takes almost as much of a toll as miles. Use it or lose it.
     
    #13 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jul 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
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  14. MayCaesar

    MayCaesar New Member

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    Thanks a lot everyone for the replies so far; a lot of the questions and concerns I had are much more clear to me now. For now, in order of preference, this is the list I came down to:

    1. Prius V
    • Pros: roomy interior, extremely large cargo space.
    • Cons: none that I can think of.
    2. Prius
    • Pros: incredible fuel economy, sufficiently large cargo space.
    • Cons: some features (sunroof, for example) are not easily available, at least, on the used market. Smaller interior and cargo space than in Prius V.
    3. Avalon Hybrid
    • Pros: very comfortable and roomy interior, for an affordable price.
    • Cons: much smaller cargo space than the Prius, less comfortable for camping.
    4. Camry Hybrid
    • Pros: quite a bit cheaper than the Avalon, and in the XLE trim most Avalon features are available.
    • Cons: same as Avalon, a bit more so.
    5. Lexus ES300h
    • Pros: most comfortable ride of all.
    • Cons: same as Avalon. Also might be very expensive to maintain.
    Ultimately, I think any one of these cars will do, and in the end the choice will depend on what deals are available on the used market - but overall, Prius V seems to be the best choice by a large margin.


    Purely in theory, I suppose the Prius should cost about as much to repair as any other Toyota hybrids, shouldn't it? Since the hybrid system is the same, and most of the parts are the same or similar, I see no reason for any significant difference to be present. I didn't really factor repair costs in my choice, with the exception of the Lexus which features similar parts to the Avalon, but increase service fees significantly.

    Yes, I'm starting to leaning towards non-Eco models for this and other reasons. Thanks for the advice! It seems the difference in prices between different trims for 2+ year old models is relatively small, so it makes sense to aim at the highest level trim available for the given model. Both Prius Five and Prius V Five from 2012-2016 look very attractive.

    Regarding the noiseness - just how much noisier is the Prius compared to, say, the Camry with a comparable trim level? Is the noise tiring in long distance highway drives?

    Oh, we are definitely on the same page here; I do not find the infotainment features that important. What I am more interested in, however, is practically noticeable features such as leather seats, panoramic sunroof, sound isolation and security features (ABS, LDA, etc.). This is one of the few aspects where I am leaning towards the non-Prius Toyota hybrids: what in Prius is available only in the highest trims, for example, in the Avalon is present even in the low-end models. That said, Prius V Five seem to have all the features one could ever want.

    From what I can see, the C has similar EPA MPG estimates to the regular Prius, despite being a bit smaller in size. Does the real world MPG reflect the EPA ratings? I would expect the C to be a bit more economical...
     
  15. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    yes, if you want a hybrid, they will all be similar in repair.
     
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  16. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    I've done plenty of road trips with my Gen 3 and you'll get used to it. It's not like the 90s compact sedans or anything. It's just that those cars have improved and are comparable to Camrys of the early 2000s so the Prius just seems behind on the times. This is with the regular Prius Liftback. I haven't taken a long journey with a Prius v but from my experiences in the taxis on the highway, it seems fine.
     
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  17. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I'm pickin' up what you're layin' down... and I wholeheartedly agree. Put the Prius powerplant into "a car" and the result is more desirable than an actual Prius.

    Of note, the USA is the only place where the Prius c is actually labeled as a Prius- it's either a Yaris Hybrid or an Aqua everywhere else.

    We've seen 40s-to-60s, and we just drive it. No special consideration to hypermile techniques, no button pushing strategy, 'murican-style air conditioning and we even play the radio* loud :whistle:

    Definitely towards lower end on long highway runs; the high end is only seen on the quick grocery gets around town. I gather the MPG isn't much different than the larger Prius, but on the other hand this older 1.5L design was considerably cheaper to buy, and that counts too.

    *The stock radio lasted 4 days; I chucked it in favor of a nice aftermarket deck that does modern appy stuff. We saved a couple grand doing this vs. buying an up-trim car with that stuff built in. And it actually works. :sneaky:
     
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  18. farmecologist

    farmecologist Senior Member

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    I agree...the Prius v (wagon) has decent gas mileage. However, compared to our 2010 liftback it is no contest. I am actually a bit disappointed that I can't get better in the v (wagon)..but I think I was expecting a bit too much. The 200+ lbs extra curb weight takes it's toll...that's for sure! ( 3,274 lbs for the 2012 v wagon vs 3,042 for the 2010 liftback ).
     
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  19. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Here are a few additional points that has not been made.
    1. Road noise is mostly an effect of tire quality than car, IMHO. Also any car tend to become noisier with time due to break in seals.
    2. Camry is a sedan, I don't think you can actually lay it's seats flat.
    3. I have been driving Gen 3 Pri and now Prime in NE winters. As long as roads are plowed, Prius is capable of handling most of winter condition, but this again depends mostly on tires not the car. Prius equipped with good snow tires are far better in driving on snow than SUV with worn out all season tires.

    Good luck in finding your dream car.
     
  20. MayCaesar

    MayCaesar New Member

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    Thanks for confirmation!

    That's good to know. I am generally pretty sensitive to noise, but my small experience in modern compact sedans left me perfectly satisfied with the amount of noise - and if the Prii aren't much noisier (they don't seem to be according to the published cabin noise tables, at least), then this is a non-issue.

    The mileage is really impressive! Do you generally drive in the Eco, or in the normal mode? I'm also curious as to how the MPG will be affected by the snow when the time comes.

    To be completely honest, had it not been for the larger cargo space of the Prius and how the seats fold down (for most trims/models) in line with the trunk, I would prefer one of the hybrid sedans over it, even despite the slightly inferior fuel economy. Are there any technical reasons as to why sedans tend to have such a poor integration between the cargo space and the interior, compared to hatchbacks/liftbacks and SUVs - or is it simply a manufacturing tradition?

    Keep in mind, however, that as the MPG increases, the returns become lower and lower. What I mean to say is that at the mileage level the Prii populate, the differences between the fuel costs between different cars are much lower than, say, between the Prii and non-hybrid cars. 40 MPG over 30 MPG results in exactly as much yearly savings as 60 MPG over 40 MPG. So the fact that you are getting a few MPG below the regular Prius shouldn't be too concerning. ;)

    Thanks for the insight! With the Camry, it seems that the seats can be laid flat, but there is a very narrow passage between the seats and the cargo space. It seems to be different for the latest 2018 Camry, but that one is quite a bit outside of the budget.

    We have quite a few Prii in the area (they seem to be very popular among students), and they seem to be able to keep up with the traffic during winters overall - but we have very heavy snowfalls a few times over each winter, and the snow is only really plowed around the downtown. Of course, in those conditions even SUVs struggle, so regular front-drive cars can be excused. :)
     
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