Sunday, September 13, 2009

The First 30 days

We've had the car for a month now.  We've driven up hill and down dale.  Fast and slow.  On interstates and dirt roads.   In urban and rural traffic.

Here's our preliminary review:

1.   Mileage:  Getting 51 mpg does not require much thought or effort.   When I watch those computer displays and don't rest my foot on the accelerator pedal, we get 60-65 mpg.   When we're birding (ie, driving very slowly), getting more than 75mgp is not unusual.  GREAT!

2.  Battery:  Forget the EV (all electric) mode.  Don't touch that button.  The ability to go a half mile using only the battery really doesn't amount to much.  Don't get me wrong:  getting 60 mpg is great.  But the battery-gas engine synergy works best when you drive from point A to point B.  Driving slowly (ie., while bird watching) and stopping alot gets great mileage, but it also drains the battery .  Every time we spend a couple of hours on Rustic Road #107, the gas engine has to kick on - when we least expect it - automatically.  It's noisy and jarring.  I have to turn the car off to stop it.   

2.  Acceleration:  I haven't had a problem with on-ramps and the passing lane.   The few times I've put the pedal to the metal, the Prius has not let me down.  It automatically kicks into the "power" mode.   GREAT!

3.  Interior Design (back of the car):  There's plenty of room in the trunk and back passenger seats.  The seats fold down, so there's room to carry stuff.  There's a "secret" compartment under the rubber mats in the rear cargo area and a removable cargo cover.  One caveat:   Be careful not to block the battery vents when you pile stuff in the back seats.  I love the rubber (not plastic) floor mats.

4.  Interior color & Seats (front):   Our car came with a "misty gray" interior.  If we had a choice, I would have picked the darker colors (bisque or dark gray).  The whitish interior is quick to show dirt, fingerprints and shoe scuffs.  The front seats are very comfortable.  We haven't had a reason to turn the seat heater on yet.  

5.  Center console:  Beyond providing two cup holders in the center console and "bottle" holders in the front doors, storage in the front is limited.  I want a place for my maps, coins for the tolls (they fly out of the little pocket by the window levers) and a tour book?  It's an awkward twist for me to access the console storage compartment between the seats.   And what can you stow in the skinny "space" under the shift module?   

6.  Shift Lever:  It's not complicated - but I grew up with the "H" gear shift configuration - where reverse is bottom right.  The back-up beeper helps me remember that "reverse" is left and up.

7.  Back-up Beeper:  The Prius "starts" in the electric mode.  It's so quiet people (and wildlife) don't hear you.  So I understand the safety rationale for the car to "beep" when you back-up in a crowded shopping center parking lot.  But when you're watching wildlife, it's like "Beep Beep the roadrunner" (as in the Wylie Coyote cartoons) screaming "outta my way."

8.  Cleaning:  After our trip out west, the car was covered with dead insects.  It was summer, no big surprise.  I figured there'd be some bug carcasses on the radiator too.  So I popped the hood and checked it out.  The radiator was covered.  Problem was, I couldn't access the radiator to remove the exoskeletons.  That wouldn't have bothered me, but ever since I had to replace the radiator in my Honda CRV, I pay close attention to radiator hygiene.   I'm sure it's nothing to worry about, but I do.

9.  The Blind Spot:   I don't get the same kind of "view" through the back window as I get with my CRV.   Removing the back head rests helps.  And I am careful to take a second look before I back out of a parking space.

10.  Windshield Wipers:  The front wipers and squirter work fine.  I don't "get" what the engineers were thinking with the rear wiper.

and one more thing:

11.  Ground Clearance:   There is very little ground clearance - as in 6-inches or less.  So be very careful when you encounter road construction, uneven road surfaces and potholes.  The sickening sound of the scrape...

Over-all rating so far:  Great! with just a few caveats.

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