Prius at 10,000

Our 2005 Prius has just passed 10,000 miles, and we’re generally very happy with it. We made it to 5000 in only 3 months, but 10,000 took another 5 months thanks to our use of the vanpool to work.

Gas mileage is the most prominent feature of the Prius, so I’ll start with that. I didn’t expect the 60/51 EPA estimates and have been pleased to average around 45 MPG. Since the Prius gives you per-trip historical mileage information, you can see some trends in mileage, and the main trend is that the mileage sucks when the engine isn’t warm. That’s likely true of all cars but may be more pronounced on the Prius since it has to warm up the engine so it can be turned on as off on short notice. As a result the first five minutes or so of any trip generally produces only 25 MPG or so. And if you’re making a lot of of short trips, it brings down the average. Highway mileage is pretty consistently been around 50 MPG.

Prius Mileage 97.6 MPGHowever, on my last trip to Florence, SC, I got the 97.6 MPG on flat surface streets for the first 7 miles after filling up. I have to be suspicious that the fill-up may have interfered with the mileage computation. But maybe the route was particularly suited to the engine battery usage—it must have been similar to the EPA test course, at least. For the next 200 miles, I got 56 MPG, mostly on the interstate.

Engine performance and handling have been fine. I thought I would have to give up some acceleration with such a small engine, but I haven’t noticed any problems. Seems as zippy as our 150 HP Passat. My only complaint is that the traction control is not as good as on my 1995 Saturn, but it’s only kicked in a couple of times, and maybe I’m just not used to it. The engine’s ability to switch between power sources smoothly is still amazing.

Controls and Gauges
While the engine computer is impressive, the user-side of the computer and the interface in general is a bit of a let down. The LCD screen is excessive without the GPS option and the trip computer has fewer features than the one on our 2000 Passat. And it doesn’t have a “miles remaining before empty” indicator that many cars have these days.

Prius Steering Wheel ControlsThe controls aren’t that great either. Take a look at some of the steering wheel controls. The notion of up and down are represented in three different ways. Vertically with dimpled “+” and “−”, horizontally with flat “â‹€” and “⋁”, and diagonally with dimpled “â‹€” and “⋁”.

The mostly annoying gauge is the digital fuel gauge. I don’t think I would mind it being digital if it were linear. As it is, the first bar lasts about 100 miles, and each subsequent bar lasts 20-30 miles. I don’t know how long the last bar lasts, but when I fill up I can only add 8-9 gallons to the 12 gallon tank. So either the tank isn’t getting full or there’s plenty of gas left when the gauge gets down to one bar.

Air Conditioning
The temperature control can be manual or automatic. The manual is inconvenient to use since the controls are virtual buttons on the LCD panel instead of knobs you can feel. The automatic works well, but you can only set one temperature for both heating and cooling. You can’t set a range or tell it only heating or only cooling. So if I leave it set at 70° in the winter and the car gets warm from sitting in the sun, when I turn it on, it will start cooling the car to get it back down to 70° even though it’s 50° outside.

Controls aside, the air conditioning works really well. It heats up and cools down quickly without any noticeable affect on the mileage. (I’ve read that the air conditioner is more efficient than most since it runs directly off of the battery.) As a nice touch, when it needs to heat up a cold car, it doesn’t start the fan until it can actually blow warm air.

Interior Room
I’ve always liked the utility aspect of the hatchback form factor, and the Prius lives up to that expectation. We’ve been able to carry some pretty big items with the back seat down. For seating, the interior is pretty roomy. The backseat has lots of legroom, but it’s lacking on headroom because of the sloping roofline. I don’t think passengers over 5’8” or so would be happy for long in the back seat.

Bottom Line
Still fun to drive and performing well.

3 thoughts on “Prius at 10,000

  1. Pingback: Concerned Citizen
  2. Nice review Xan. Reads like something out of the automotive section. My truck is still getting about 12 mpg, but the tank is so big that the gas gauge moves slowly… so it feels like its efficient! Its also great for hauling mulch and pine straw. Truth is, since I work from home, I don’t drive it very often.

    On a separate note… still trying to find a “California Contemporary” house in Athens, OH… elusive so far.

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