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The Toyota Prius: Nature’s D Student

Prius 3After a mid-summer hiatus I’m back with a post I’ve been putting off for a while now.  Let’s get something straight right from the start, I have nothing against hybrids.  I have made my peace with them.  Nor do I have a problem with Toyota.  2000 GT, Supra, and the Lexus LFA all great cars.  I also love my Lexus IS 300.  I do have a problem with the Toyota Prius though.  As some of you remember in my intro post I referred to the Toyota Prius as “the embodiment of pure automotive evil”.   And I mean every single word of it.  Nothing, not one single item about the Prius is fun, interesting or remotely stimulating.  It’s hideous on the outside.   The interior is bland boring sterile and in some cases massively confusing.   Their ad campaign is infuriating.  Honestly every time I see a Prius commercial I go blind with anger.  The Prius is a giant unwavering middle finger to car enthusiasts everywhere.  It is the most hateful thing on 4 wheels.  And yes I am painfully aware the Mustang II exists.

The Prius looks like the bastard love child between a Triumph TR-7 and a Cargo Van. Both as ugly as they are woeful. I never thought someone would be so stupid and take Triumph’s “Shape of things to come” ad campaign seriously.  And yet, Toyota did, with gusto.  For a small car It looks big and ungainly.  A block of cheese on tiny wheels with equally unimpressive tires (more on that later).  The front makes it look like it’s an idiot.  And whoever thought it was a good idea to have a bar going across the back window, completely hindering rear visibility needs a smack to the back of the head.  Who looked at this car and thought, “Yes, that is a job well done”?  Put it all together and the looks garner no excitement.   Unless you consider being made physically ill exciting.

Prius 1The interior, which is a symphony of blandness.  A sea of grey with a dash of plasticy terribleness.  I must admit it’s not as bad an assault on the senses as the exterior, but my God is it dull.  Pretty sure the meeting to decide the interior took about 5 min and consisted no original thought.  Which brings me neatly to the shifter.  Prius shifterWHAT IN GOD’S NAME WERE THEY THINKING OF HERE???  What exactly was wrong with a normal automatic shift pattern?  It’s incomprehensible.  Am I in drive?  Reverse?  Am I on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise?  Is the car even on?  It wouldn’t be so bad If it didn’t default to that center location.  You have to rely on the dash to tell you what gear you’re in.  Just take my word for it, it is needlessly complicated and frustrating.

So far the Prius is an ugly, boring, confusing and awful car to look at.  Perhaps you think it might have at least one endearing feature.  Naturally you’d be…

prius 4Words can not accurately describe how unfun the Prius is.  Icebergs accelerate quicker.  You’d be able to stop quicker if you stuck your feet through the floor boards and stopped Flintstones style.  It handles about as well as the block of cheese it was designed to look like.  Its terrible.  Honestly I’d rather ride the fix geared bicycle all Prius owners have, everywhere then the Prius itself.  The only way to ever get through the endless boring mind numbing, torturous miles is to defy the Prius’ very dna.  I am saying the only way to enjoy this car is to drive everywhere deliberately seeing how low you can get the mpg.  Even then it gets boring rather quickly.

While you take a moment and digest that, enjoy this brief video.


– Watch More Funny Videos

Ok, so that was the Gen 1 Prius, but still a fantastic idea.

Speaking of mpg, lets address the elephant in the room.  Economy and eco friendliness.  Let’s start with the tires.  To save gas they are deliberately designed to have as low rolling resistance as possible.    Sounds smart, less resistance on the road saves fuel.  That works in theory.  So does Communism.  Neither actually works in the real world.  Simple fact, less resistance also compromises braking.  Yes, on average it’s only a difference of 10 feet or so and that doesn’t seem so bad in everyday life.  Until you have to execute an emergency stop.   Guarantee you’ll notice it then.

canada nickel
No this isn’t actually a picture of mars. It’s Vale’s Goro nickel laterite mine in New Caledonia, British Columbia.

So now you’re thinking so I replace the tires, the Prius is still more economical than all other cars.  You might think it’s worth the $5000 premium because you’ll save that much on gas in no time.  You might think you’re helping the planet.  Really?  Come on now, do I need to bring Dr. Cox back again?  Yes it gets good mileage and yes it’s better than most gas powered cars, but not by much.  Certainly not enough to warrant that price difference.  If you’ll permit me I need to be a little boring for a moment.  A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has shown hybrids, like the Prius, require more energy to produce than conventional cars.  They emit more greenhouse gases and burn more fossil fuels during the manufacturing process. The production of hybrid batteries requires much more energy than producing a standard car battery and results in higher emission levels of gases like sulfur oxide.  Up until recently the Prius was using nickel batteries. To give you a rough idea how bad for the environment nickel mining is I need to enlist the help of NASA.  Yes that NASA.  One nickel mine in Canada where the Prius got all of its battery goodness is now used as a testing ground for NASA’s mars and hostile planet rovers.  That’s right, all the chemicals and byproducts from mining the nickel necessary to make the old Prius’ battery caused the surrounding landscape to be a baron wasteland for miles.  In the interest of fairness the new Prius uses a lithium based battery system.  However, just ask Boeing how safe and reliable those are.

Here’s a top tip, if you want to save gas, want to be gentle to Mother Nature, buy a small Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.  The MPG won’t decimate your checking account and you won’t render enormous plots of land into a Mars substitute.

As a rule I like cars to be as fast, loud and fun to drive.  If I can’t have the first 2 at least give me fun.  The Prius does none of these things.  It inspires no automotive enthusiasm.  To say I hate the Prius isn’t entirely accurate because hate isn’t strong enough.  I mega loathe the Prius.

What do you think?  Let your voice be heard.  Love it or hate it, I want to hear it!

chad@shiftinglanes.com

Written by Chad Kennedy

Chad burst from the womb wearing a racing suit and a helmet. Chad's passion for cars is in his very DNA. His father was a gear head and passed on the tradition through owning such classics as a '66 Mustang and a '59 Corvette all while taking him to various race tracks in the area. Chad likes to wrench on his rides whenever possible, forgoing the stealership. Chad is an avid motorsports fan with particular interest in endurance/sports car racing. When not online writing for Shifting Lanes, you can find him working at the local golf course teaching people how to swing or hooning a golf cart at impossible speeds.

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  1. Amen. My thoughts exactly. The only fun that can possibly be had with them is to smash them to tiny little bits with sledgehammers. No?

  2. I actually like my Prius V 2015. The tech is pretty cool. It’s a nerds car for sure. The power button actually gives the car fair pickup but the eco button kills the acceleration big time. I have driven mine in power mode for a full tank full of gas several times and saw little mileage change so the power button works for me. I actually read recently that the Prius will be collectible and at car shows in less than 20 years? Well I doubt that one myself. Mine is metallic blue and has the awful plastic hub caps removed with center hub inserts in the aluminum rims. It actually looks like a somewhat sporty wedge shaped automobile???
    I do prefer my favorite automobile the 65 Mustang fastback several times over however the Prius V is a great economical and comfortable daily driver. Maybe I’ll save it for a future car show!!??
    Anyhow really cant disagree with you on anything in your article on the first gen Prius except the greenery is returning in Sudbury ON, now that the sustainable green program has been going on since the 1970’s. Its a slow go though!
    Well enjoyed your article on the Mustang II as well. I owned a 1974 and it was every bit as bad as you say! 🙂

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