Prius: So Far

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I recently picked up a 2010 Toyota Prius III.  Here’s what I think about it.

Feature Review

Feature / Details Reaction I Wish…
45MPG in WINTER! BIG SMILE on my face.  No regrets.  Looking forward to better numbers in summer.
SKS (Smart Key System)
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I don’t need to put a key in the ignition; just have it on me as I approach the car (Driver’s side only in my trim)
I LOVE this.  I’ve started trusting that the Key is In My Inside Pocket, and just go use the car.  The best part is not having to fumble to unlock the car as I walk to it. The better trim levels have this on all doors and the hatch; I’ve found myself wishing I had the upgraded trim – like when approaching the car with groceries.
Having an Electric Motor.

Note that any power to the electric motor was at some point power from gas; either recycled from the brakes, or directly charged from the gas engine.

Parking Lot Stalking with Cool Whizzing Noises, up to 35 mph (slow acceleration)

Dead silence when stopped.

LOVE IT!  It would be nice to have a larger electric motor; I believe the Plug-In-Hybrid does this.
Navigation System
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I’ve had better in a Garmin.  $150 to update unless I can find a year old DVD on eBay.

DVD-based NAV system; 2D only; some voice command stuff

NICE: exclusion zones. 

Regretting getting this option; however, having a NAV screen built in is nice.  I do like the use of the same screen for all the other functions (Bluetooth, Sirius, rear camera)
Backup Camera
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Using it every day!  Very good idea of where the back end of my car is.. little things like stopping before backing out of the driveway and pulling through parking spots. I might be adding a little marker to denote where “center” is on my screen.  Clear plastic overlay, of course.
Premium Speakers Maybe a little tinny (I had to turn treble down), but the Bass is nice and full. No regrets.  And the dial goes up past 11.  I’ve had it up to 42.
Sirius XM
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Disappointment!  The signal fades in and out all the time; at first, the sound was worse than FM.   Also, the SCAN system can’t jump past gaps in blocks of channels. PriusChat (link) yields that the antenna is crap.  Can be replaced.   I might punt this feature entirely, just get a portable player with its own antenna.
XM Nav Traffic
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It adds an overlay of traffic and provides road construction warnings.
Currently in a free trial mode.  Will continue to use and evaluate. It only covers the interstates around here, which I mostly stay off. Probably won’t keep this subscribed.
Bluetooth Integrated Phone
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As long as I initiate Siri from the phone, I’m fine.  I avoid the Bluetooth phone controls on the car steering wheel; they only dial phone calls.  I hardly ever do phone calls.  

The in-car phone audio quality is wonderful.

I wish there was a dedicated Siri button.
The car acts as both a Phone-receiver and as a audio-player for the phone; there’s some confusion when it tries to control the phone and Siri gets involved.
Bluetooth Integrated Music
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(This was streaming from Pandora)
I’ve used it with Pandora and some music playlists so far.  Have to be careful, as soon as I select the BT tab, it starts playing music on the phone – not sure  which app sometimes. (answer: the last app that was playing music) I sometimes miss text messages because there is no ding on the phone anymore (if I’m not listening to music on the phone).  i might need to turn auto-connect off and try that for a bit.
CD / Mp3
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The 3-CD-Changer  loads behind the NAV screen; I haven’t played with this yet (and may not, as I have my iPhone) I’m thinking about putting together some DVD’s of my favorite MP3’s and leaving them in my car
Double Glove Compartments
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Molly gets the top one, I get the bottom one.  No more jockeying for space.

Have to be careful when opening the bottom one, it just drops (and hits Molly’s knees)

LOVE IT! No regrets
Heads Up Display – Speed
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I like it.   Although its not that much different from having it behind the wheel.    Digital readout takes a little getting used to.. can’t “feel” the needle move. I wish it were easier to turn some of the detail off – there’s a separate HUD button in later years (2012?)
Heads Up Display – HSIimage Very necessary for doing Pulse-and-Glide (link) and other Prius driving modes Mine has some screen burn in from this screen.  It interferes with the next screen:
Heads Up Display – Consumption
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At first I did it with 1 minute intervals; then I relaxed down to looking at 5 minute intervals.   
Heads  Up Display – Trip History
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Every time I fill up for gas, and I reset trip A, I’ll get a new bar!  I love it! I have this history available for both Trip A and Trip B.  My plan at the moment is Trip A = Gas Tank; Trip B = road trip.
Heads Up Display – Energy Monitor
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Now that I have a feel for the car, I don’t use this display.  
EV, ECO, Power, and Normal modes
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These only change pedal response;  Ie, how far do you have to push in to register a certain level of “driver demand”.   I use Eco Mode to fine-tune when doing fancy Prius things; If I want to feel peppy I switch back to Normal.  If you put pedal to the metal, you always get the same power.

Image source: priuschat 

Solar Package
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Supposedly, runs the vent fan to keep the car cool during hot Arizona Days.

Its Winter.  I haven’t tried it. 

Louisville doesn’t have much direct sunlight.  Cool idea, but I’m not sure i did the right thing paying for a car which had this package. 
Sunroof I love opening the sunroof and windows during summer. no regrets
Dedicated USB Port I use this to charge my phone; leaving 2 12V slots still available for other stuff. no regrets
Non-circular Steering Wheel
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I find I like it.  It gives me a larger steering wheel with good leg room, and when I’m turning it, it has a sturdy grip on the bottom.  The slight difference in feel is a good non-visual feedback of where I am in a turn. no regrets
Push-button Park
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I love being able to go from Drive into Park without stopping in Reverse.  Use this all the time at the Sonic Drive Through line when getting my wife some Tea. no regrets
Two rear windows
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I like it! in some situations, I can position my eyes so that the bar obscures bright headlights behind me. no regrets
Climate Control
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It runs on electricity, not a belt – so the Gas Engine does not need to be on.  So, I could leave the car in Park for an extended time, with climate control, without wasting gas. no regrets

Note: Heat depends on the engine being warm.

Stuff I do not have on the car that I would consider in a future car

  • SKS on all doors – definitely.  I might even do the home-replacement-of-door-handles to make this happen.  Maybe.
  • Lumbar Support – this comes in at the Prius IV level and up.  Goes with Heated Seats most of the time.
  • Auto Cruise Control – If I drove the interstate for my commute, I would use the snot out of this.  It is basically a “slow down and follow” option while you’re cruising.  (I use cruise control all the time)
  • Parking Assist – I doubt I’d pay for this package, but I’d sure like to use it at least once.   It automatically steers your car into a tight spot.
  • Lane Keep Assist – It watches the road, and if it finds you drifting over, it moves you back to center.  This would be good for me, as apparently my steering drifts if I’m looking around / at something else (according to my wife).
  • Holy Shit Don’t Die Brakes – It watches the road, if a collision is unavoidable, it does the best it can to kick the brakes in and pre-tighten seatbelts.     There’s a warning: It might get confused if you pass somebody on a curve. 
  • Power Seat Adjustment – Its a simple thing.  Its no big deal.  But its nice.  And its also only in the advanced trim levels.

Summary

I like this car.   I had a slight case of buyer’s remorse on the options I didn’t get, but that’s fading pretty quickly. 

Planned Modifications

WeatherTech Floor Mats and Cargo Mats – at some point.

http://www.weathertech.com/product-education-center/floorliner-digitalfit/gallery/

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Antlers – when I find them.  They are somewhere in the basement.

(not a picture of my car, but close)

I checked the basement.  Not found.  Maybe next year!

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Upgraded NAV DVD if I can find one for under $50.  (Not having the Westport road exit is annoying) image
Separate Satellite Radio System (maybe) That maybe is growing smaller and smaller.  I think it might be replaced with a Pandora One subscription.
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