The good, the bad, the ugly (or my 18 months with a GIII)

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by dhs, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. dhs

    dhs New Member

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    I am not trying to flame the Prius...just posting my experience. And, financially, the Prius saved me a few thousand compared with keeping my previous car. Now for my story....

    On June 29, 2009, I purchased a Gen III prius, replacing a perfectly fine Subaru Forester. On Dec 16, 2010, I was in a hit an run accident during a minor snowstom (1"). During the incident, my right front tire went off the road while braking, and what I think happened is the VSC realized that one wheel had traction (right front), and tried to have it do all the work. I think he fact that the braking was now asymmetric (braking force not parrallel to the direction of travel) on snow covered roads resulted in the car spinning and riding up an embankment, placing the car at a a high angle. The car then rolled on its side onto the road, drivers side down.

    I was traveling less than 10 mph when the incident began.

    Bottom line is the car was totaled. That was two weeks ago. I have replaced it with another Subaru, primarily for safety and AWD, but also the Prius did not live up to my expectations for gas mileage on my commute.

    For the good: 1) the prius value held up very well. The Insurance Company's valuation was about 2K less than I paid, with 16,000 miles on the car, or $0.125/mile. 2) The highway mileage was better than expected. On trips longer than 100 miles, I routinely got 60+ MPG (traveling at 65 mph).

    The Bad: When examining the damage of the Prius after it was in pieces, I saw that, while the body did not look bad, the supports on the drivers door had buckled. Granted, it was supporting much of the cars weight, but there were minimal dynamic forces in this accident (it was a slow roll). That worried me in how much protection there would be in a side impact collision.

    The Bad (Part two): When I bought the car, my logic was with gas at $3/Gallon, at 50 MPG, it would reduce my fuel expense by about $100/month. For the first year I had the car, I was able to average 50 MPG on my city commute. However, last summer, my destination changed to back roads out from the city, same distance, but 15 minutes instead of 45 minutes. On the new commute, I was averaging about 45MPG in the summer, and about 38 MPG once it got cold. The car I replaced it with gets 22-23 MPG on the commute for a much more substantial car (Subaru Outback 4 cyl).

    For the Ugly: Really only have three issues: I do not like the way th car handles bad weather. I knew that going in, but figured VSC would help. I do not think it helped. 2) visibility out of the car is terrible...I never knew where the edge or back of the car was. I could not see into the blind spots, and this car needs a backup camera. Finally, 3) The toyota dealers in the DC area are not good...they gave me grief for the two (minor) warranty issues: the cigarette lighter failed, and the dash was not put on correctly. They tried to blame me because I hooked up a scan gauge.


    Overall, my total cost of ownership was $3983, including fuel, oil, one tire, and depreciation. Or $0.25 per mile. Had I kept my Forester, based on past performance, depreciation, fuel, insurance and repairs would have been about $5000 - $6000, depending on the required repairs. So it cost me less money to buy the Prius and hold it for 18 months than to keep the Subaru
     
  2. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Just out of curiousity, I assume you were driving on the provided tires and had not switched to snow tires?

    If so that might of made a huge difference in how viable you felt The Prius was for winter driving.

    It's funny, where I live in Oregon the two most popular cars seem to be Subaru's and Prius....
     
  3. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    You'd better buckle up there shipmate!!
    You're in for a pretty rough time when the Prius Police read this!! :eek:


    Actually, I think the Prius will enter economic viability pretty soon if gas goes from 2.88 to about $4 a gallon. It's a car that's actually much better than the Prius haters out there say it is....although you're right about some of the flaws!!! It's not NEARLY as good as the Prius Cheerleaders say it is either...:D

    I find that the handling is OK during inclimate WX. No...not Forester OK...but satisfactory. I'm also finding that my personal mileage is about 55-MPG and climbing(lifetime average in 3,500 miles....) Better than the EPA says.


    Best of Luck to you!!!

    Don't feel bad about reverting back to a Subaru, no matter what others say. They're pretty good cars too---and as they say in the motorcycle world, "You have to ride YOUR ride!"
     
  4. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    +1
    Nothing is as good as it's fanbois :cheer2:say it is.:eek:
    It's nice to see a critical review that states why the conclusions reached were reached. I wish him luck with his Subbie too, not that they require much luck.
     
  5. bretaz

    bretaz Member

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    I think if I lived anywhere with with weather like yours, I personally would not consider anything but a 4wd or awd vehicle. Subaru makes a nice ride, and should serve you well.

    Glad I live here in warm Phoenix where it snowed yesterday and the temps were in the 20s last nite. :eek:
     
  6. caffeinekid

    caffeinekid Duct Tape Extraordinaire

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    +1

    I have always wondered why people living in areas where the cold lasts as long or longer than the warm/hot would drive a Prius. IMO, the Prius is an ideal amiable temperature vehicle...provided that frequent rainfall is not part of the climate. With it's little generator-class ICE, low-resistance tires and slender disposition, I would imagine that it could easily get eaten for lunch with any kind of real snow|ice|slush mileage. I know that some of the Subarus aren't much beefier, but the AWD sure makes them a better contender.
     
  7. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi Caffienekid,

    Well, in typical years here in Chicagoland, below freezing weather does not start till after Thanksgiving, and lasts to the end of March. In my 2006, I could hold better than 60 mpg tanks when the weather was warmer than freezing. So, as December, January, February and March is 4 months, and last I checked there are 12 Months in a year, your comment does not make much sense. Even in the extreme nothern parts of the US, there are still more months warmer than 32 F, than cold months...

    One would have to be well north in the mostly unpopulated portions of Canada for there to be more months below freezing, than above....
     
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  8. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi DHS,

    Hmm, you are implying that the same thing would not have happened in your Suburu. Which is not really provable, without replicating the conditions. Suburu probably come with VSC now too.

    Without a whole bunch more details about the road surfaces themselves, its a little unfair to the Prius to imply it was because it was a Prius that the car spun and rolled. Most likely, any car would have spun and rolled. And it was the conditions of the roadway, and shoulder, and letting the car get off on the shoulder and continuing to brake that was caused the spin and roll. Next time, steer back onto a consistent surface before applying brakes.

    There are many many northern weather condition people with Prius who come on here and praise the Prius for how it handles such surfaces. Being in Virginia, and being as your having a Wisconsin winter there this year, I gotta think you need some training in how to handle driving, and how fast to drive on winter road surfaces. Even 10 mph is too fast for some conditions.

    This would have been a good accident to have the Toyota investigators come out and check.

    There is a radio show about cars on PBS called Car Talk. They advise a simple way to adjust mirrors to overcome the issue with blind spots. Check out there website. Yea, a backup camera is handy. I got one on my car. Although, I never backed into anything with my 2006. Believe it or not, most SUVs have a longer blind spot rear distance than a Prius. And that has not stopped people from buying them.
     
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  9. caffeinekid

    caffeinekid Duct Tape Extraordinaire

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    Well, I wasn't referring to only the freezing temperatures. And I lived half of my life in the same region as you and am quite familiar with the seasonal weather in the greater Chicagoland area.. It got "cold" in October and lasted through April. It has been my experience with the Prius that "cold" matters (as opposed to simply freezing) in mileage performance. For some strange reason, I have never gotten > or = 50mpg in mixed freeway/rural/urban driving here in Texas. When the T is below about 50F, the mileage gets to be around 40mpg from 46mpg average. And I tend to drive more along the conservative side of things.
     
  10. timo27

    timo27 Member

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    Not sure what you mean about rainfall being an issue... And in VA (where the OP lives) 'winter' usually really only consists of a few weeks in January and February--or more accurately, if you mean snow-covered roads, a few, few-day periods over those few weeks. (Last year was a big exception, I admit).

    IMO the biggest issue w/ the Prius in the snow is ground clearance--a factor, to be sure, if you intend to drive it in deep, unplowed snows. As far as AWD goes, though, it is great for getting going but has absolutely no advantage for cornering or handling over 2wd, perhaps some active-management versions on high-end cars (like Acura's cheesy-sounding but pretty slick "Super Handling AWD") being an exception. Mostly it just adds weight and--less so in a Subie or other AWD *car* as versus a big-ol' truck--generally comes with a higher center of gravity as well. Obviously this cannot be demonstrated, but I'd be surprised if the OP's rollover *wouldn't* have happened in a Subaru or any other vehicle. IIRC, he got hit by another vehicle and knocked off the road, and rolled.

    Now if I lived in the Great Lakes snow belt or the Adirondacks or something like that, it might be different, but IMO in the metro DC/MD/VA area to me, AWD with its added fuel economy hit isn't worth it. Typically we might get a couple of snowstorms a year where it could make a real difference (it does not in 2", if you have decent tires, or, for that matter, especially if you don't). Most of the time, you're just unnecessarily lugging around that extra 500 lbs at a higher center of gravity for about 360 365ths of the year, but getting reduced fuel economy (hybrid or not) *all* year. And, anecdotal this may be, it is my observation that 4WD/AWD seems to engender overconfidence and often just makes things more dangerous in slick weather. I usually see far more SUVs than cars in ditches in icy weather around here. Our worst winter weather is usually freezing rain rather than snow, and I don't care if you have eight-wheel drive, if you don't have studded tires you're going nowhere fast.

    Everyone has their own comfort level though, and no doubt AWD will get you going better in the snow. Just don't count on it to do anything for you when it's time to stop or turn. A better bang for your buck would be a set of good winter tires. But even then, in most of this here frozen, uninhabitable, blizzard-struck wasteland that is the United States north of, what, I-40 or so (?), most of the time during winter you'd be driving them on clear pavement and just wearing them out. (Oh, and all that white stuff people have been spinning their wheels in around here for the last week? It's salt ;)).

    btw my intent here isn't to go all 'huzzah' on the Prius (which I don't particularly consider to be the ideal snow machine) nor is it to bash Subarus (which I think are good cars, too)--I'm just pointing out the realities about AWD.

    Happy New Year to all,
    ~T
     
  11. coach81

    coach81 Active Member

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    Getting my popcorn now..
     
  12. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Why not? I've lived in places with both of your scenarios (the rainy Pacific NW and a place where it can be below freezing for 6 months or more) and the Prius works quite well. The wipers are effective and the improvements on the Gen 3 mean that that I can get similar mileage as our Gen 2 despite much colder temperatures (0F vs. 45F) and a super short commute (5-6 miles).

    You need the proper tyres for your area. Both ours Priuses have tyres that match the weather.


    Not necessarily. The capital of Alberta, Edmonton, is fairly far north and is a large population. Saskatoon in Saskatchewan is a little further south but is just as exposed to the cold, arctic weather. Prince Albert, just north of Saskatoon has a recorded low of -50C.

    This is odd. I remember early in the PriusChat days that most of our 60mpg tank members were from the south.. Texas, Alabama and Florida. I can't remember if there were any in Arizona but I can't see why not.
     
  13. dhs

    dhs New Member

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    OP here: I am not going to defend my snow driving, rather to say that prior to moving the Northern VA, I lived 8 years in the snow belts of upstate NY, and never had problems.

    My point was not to say AWD vs FWD, or Subaru Vs Prius, rather to examine the Prius after the fact.

    The Prius is amazingly engineered for some conditions...snow and cold are not one.

    Also, frankly the local dealer network negatively clouded my view of the Prius (and all Toyotas).
     
  14. timo27

    timo27 Member

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    My apologies for being an accomplice in the hijacking of your thread;) . Best wishes on your new car. Also, I'm glad for your sake that the insurance co. totaled your car--I'd not have much confidence in the structural integrity of any vehicle--at least a unibody--that got rolled onto its side, no matter how low the speed. Evidently the insurance company feels the same way.
    Cheers,
    ~T
     
  15. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    Wow, that's an extremely faulty logic you have there, basing your fuel expense on the advertised mpg on whatever destination you feel like, however long the duration is, and whatever temperature is out there for the entire year. I find that too many buyers fall into this trap, thinking that they ought to get the advertised mpg whether with 5 minutes or 1 hour of driving, regardless of snow, rain or shine. Averaging 50 mpg with 45 minutes of city driving and 45 mpg in 15 minutes are perfectly normal. Your expectation was way too high to begin with.

    What's wrong with maximizing mpg even if it's cold/snowing year round? It's not like any other cars can achieve better mpg in the snow and the Prius does just fine in the snow with the appropriate tire/wheel setup.
     
  16. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi c..k...,

    Grill blocking helps allot. Also, as the temp gets colder, one needs to keep after the tire pressures.



    Hi Tideland...,

    I did say "mostly"....


    Irregardless, braking on varying surfaces is fraught with hazard. And most of us up here will practice a few times before we risk anything each new season. It takes some time to retune the senses and reactions.
     
  17. dhs

    dhs New Member

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    I based my fuel cost on actual mileage, not on EPA numbers. One thing is, prior to buying the car, there is no indication that the ice has to warm up prior to utilizing the hybrid technology. That means if your driving profile is a series of 10 minute trips, you are better off with an efficient conventional car, or possibly a PHEV or EV.
     
  18. Sporin

    Sporin Prius Noob

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    dhs,
    Glad you weren't hurt and glad you were taken care of by your insurance company.

    I know first hand how a bad dealer can sour you on a car, I'll never own another VW because of how the only local dealer treated me back in 99. If I can't get great service locally then I'm not buying that brand, period.
     
  19. dhs

    dhs New Member

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    The part that was ignored in the response but in the op was it was a hit and run. It would have been much worse if I did not brake hard.
     
  20. Sporin

    Sporin Prius Noob

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    3 weeks+ with my car and the temps have only risen above freezing in the last few days. I'm getting just shy of 40mpg calculated by Fuelly (see sig).

    That's a whole lot better then the mid-20's you'll get in most cars this size, in this weather. And in better weather, I'll get even better mpg. 15 minute commutes in a Subaru aren't going to warm up the ICE any better then 15 minute commutes in a Prius. It's not an ideal commute length in sub-freezing weather no matter what you drive.

    As for AWD, it's great to get you going, but no real advantage for stopping and changing direction which, imo, are far more likely to get you out of a jam on bad roads. I've been driving front wheel drive cars with snow tires for nearly 2 decades all over NH & VT, and unless you are on dirt roads a lot, or climbing a very steep road daily, then AWD is nice to have, but far from necessary. Also, it's mpg penalty is year round.

    My new Prius, on proper Hankook iPike snow tires, has exceeded my expectations for bad weather handling. We've had a snowy couple of weeks since I got my car to put it to the test and it handles as well as any other fwd car I've owned (again, on snow tires)

    I'm convinced the Prius widespread bad rep for "winter handing" is a function of it's LLR tires. I don't know how anyone trusts those ball bearings to get them around in cold and snow. The already hard LLR biased rubber compound loses all pliability in the cold, and the tread is just too shallow and edges to rounded off to work well in the snow.

    I wouldn't even take delivery of my car on those tires (3 weeks ago here in VT). My OE tires came home in the hatchback and will be used in the summer only.
     
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