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In Praise of the Toyota Prius - Five Myths Debunked

Updated on June 30, 2008

Debunking Five Prius Myths

With gas selling at $4.00 a gallon and crude oil going beyond $135 a barrel there’s a lot more talk about hybrid cars and we see more of them on the road. We also hear statements about hybrids that are either misleading or just plain false. So, here’s a little straight talk from someone who knows the truth first-hand.

We bought our first Prius in January of 2002 (the second year they were sold in the U.S.) and were one of only two families in our area of 35,000 people to own one. In March of 2007 we bought our second Prius. Based on our experience of driving an average of 2,000 miles per month, here’s what we’ve learned.

Myth #1 - Gas savings won’t pay for the extra cost of the car.

Of course not, any more than the value of the free toothpaste and brushes you get from your dentist will pay for your dental care! But you will save money, lots of it, plus have fewer fill-ups, drive more miles between gas stops and pollute far less than other cars. And, as for the extra cost of a Prius, read on . . .

Myth #2Hybrids are too expensive to buy and the hybrid battery system too expensive to replace.

Our 2007 Prius listed at $23,650 – but we were given $1,500 more on a trade-in than we were offered just two months earlier, another $1,000 was deducted from the cost of the car, and we are paying for it in 24 months at 0% interest. In effect, we bought the car for about $900 over the dealer’s cost – and did well because we bought it at the end of the last week of the month, when sales quotas were being tallied.

Many cars without comparable features cost just as much to buy, with far fewer advantages. As to hybrid battery replacement, we’ve never met a Prius owner who had to replace their hybrid system and our first car had 106,000 miles on it (6,000 over the extended warranty) when we traded it in and was just fine – after a thorough maintenance check at 100,000.

Myth #3Hybrids aren’t as well equipped as other larger cars.

You be the judge. We purchased a class one 2007 Toyota Prius (least expensive) yet it came equipped with: smart key entry/ignition (no key to bother with); digital touch-screen that displays continuous MPG usage for a 30 minute period, energy sources/battery storage; backup camera images; side air bags, two glove compartments, two extra storage areas (one for coins, one for garage door opener); cup holders front and back; a center console with lots of room and a top moveable tray; power windows, doors, locks, outside mirrors; front and rear wiper/washer systems; tire pressure sensors; reminder light for oil changes before 5,000 miles has been driven; automatic transmission; lights and mirrors on back side of visors, plus interior lights; CD/AM-FM with six speakers . . . and a whole lot more.

Myth #4Better mileage in the city than on the highway.

Six and a half years of driving a Prius confirms to us that we get as good or better mileage than is advertised. Currently we average 54 MPG combined, and generally do better on the highway (62.2 MPG on a four hundred mile trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario in June of 2008). Our best long trip equaled 68 MPG.

In western Pennsylvania, where we spend spring, summer and fall, we get about 52 MPG in town (lots of hills) and 54-58 MPG on the highway. During winters in Florida we average 55 MPG in town and 58-60 MPG on the expressways (fewer hills, none large).

Myth #5The ride is too cramped and uncomfortable, with little luggage space.

For ten years we drove a Dodge Intrepid. Our Prius has more head and legroom, curved seat backs with built-in lower back support, and more knee room in the back seat (with front seats moved all the way back). We’ve driven as far as 715 miles in a day with no stiffness or aches – making fewer rest stops than with other cars.

In addition, the back seats fold down (60/40 split), the cargo area is accessible via a hatchback lift lid, there are metal loops for tie-downs and a mesh net for loose items. We’ve hauled a small weaving loom and a half-dozen bins of yarn and fabric, plus all our clothing and personal effects needed for six months to and from Florida (1,170 miles). Occasionally our son has carried a floor burnisher/buffer to work sites (he runs a cleaning service business) and all his waxes, sprays, vacuum cleaner etc. – with room to spare.

To sum up (and debunk a 6th myth) – no, you don’t plug it in! All told, the above information should be enough to give anyone Prius-envy!


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      Al 5 years ago

      I have a Prius too. One small factual flaw. Technically the Prius transmission is a cvt, or continuously variable transmission, which to the driver is "automatic" but is vastly different than an actual "automatic transmission".

      Also, the actual mpg is heavily affected by the driver's habits. If someone sticks to old habits such as flooring it off the line, braking hard at stop lights, etc they will get a "measly" 40 mpg... Though to debunk another myth, they will find it quite capable "off the line"

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      jessica 5 years ago

      I just bought a brand new Pruis and I love it. I was spending over $200 every other week on has and now I'm spending $67 every 3 weeks. I have no complaints at all. Toyotas are very reliable cars and they are affordable.

    • 02SmithA profile image

      02SmithA 9 years ago from Ohio

      Anything anywhere near 60 miles per gallon is amazing. No wonder the Prius is such a success!