2004 Toyota Prius Long-Term Road Test

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2004 Toyota Prius: It's Been a Good Run

July 03, 2011


Car pool sticker 2.jpg

This will be read with sympathy by some and detacted amusement by others. I've been kicked out of the carpool lanes. I'm back to the real world which, in Los Angeles, means being stuck in traffic, slogging along in stop and go (mainly stopped) traffic. I'm once again one of thousands, sitting in a little box staring at other stopped boxes stretching off into the distance.

Last night was my final commute in the carpool lanes and, wouldn't you know it, traffic was horrible in regular lanes and just fine thank you in the carpool lanes. When you're going 45 mph past miles of stopped traffic, it feels like you are traveling at the speed of light. It feels like you just busted out of jail.

The whole idea behind riding solo in the carpool lane was to incentivize the purchase of hybrids to save the environment. But they've upped the stakes now -- the only way to get into the carpool lanes is to have an all-electric or natural gas car. The incentive worked on me. I'm getting a 2011 Nissan Leaf, hopefully in July.

I bought our long term Prius back last October because it had new tires and carpool stickers. At that time I felt July would never come. But it is here and now and all I have to look forward to is the delivery of my Leaf and the carpool stickers it will eventually bring. Meanwhile, all I can say is, it's been a good run.

For anyone still interested in this 2004 Prius, it's been a great car in every way. I've put 8,161 miles on it and only had one issue. The brake lights came on when the car was parked over night. Toyota did the repair for free since it was part of an ancient recall. It now has 94,578 miles and all I can complain about is that the car has a generally loose feeling to it. But on the last tank of gas I got 49.4 mpg and at $3.99 a gallon that is some consolation for losing carpool lane rights.

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 94,578 miles

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2004 Toyota Prius: Life after the Long Term Fleet

December 27, 2010

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Ever wonder what happens to the long term test cars after the editors are finished with them? This is your lucky chance to hear from the old 2004 Toyota Prius after leaving the fleet last Fall. That's because it was purchased by yours truly, Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor.

I bought the Prius two months ago and I've already put 2,000 miles on it. It successfully survived the torrential rains of last week's historic storms. For Christmas the Prius received a new set of factory beige floor mats which brighten the interior greatly. I'm also happy to report that I've only discovered one defect.

Some mornings when I come out the brake lights are on. Yes, just the brake lights. Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing, suggested it was a faulty brake light switch under the brake pedal. I jammed a shoe under there one night and, sure enough, no morning brake light. I'm going to get it fixed as soon as I get around to addressing a recall I received for the pump that cools the hybrid system. Until then, I keep a strap in the car and attach the brake pedal to the steer wheel at night.

With access to the car pool lanes and gas prices climbing to $3.25 a gallon in California, I'm really glad I bought the Prius. After driving 385 miles, I rare put in more than eight gallons. While despised by car enthusiasts for its light steering and floaty suspension, it remains the easiest way to get from home to work and back easily, quickly and cheaply. For me, that's a priority right now.

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2004 Toyota Prius: The Bar Graph, Old vs. New

October 14, 2010

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I've always dug the "last 30 minutes" efficiency bar graph display in our 2004 Toyota Prius. However, for the third generation (2010 --), Toyota switched to a smaller, less colorful dash-mounted display (after the jump).

The idea behind the new display, of course, is to keep your eyes pointed closer to the road ahead, rather than on the navigation screen, as you're playing the fuel economy/recharge-the-battery-pack game. I'm sure Toyota's legal team prefers the new display.

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2004 Toyota Prius: Fuel Economy History

October 05, 2010

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In the previous Open Thread post for our 2004 Toyota Prius, commenter liquoredonlife asked what was the worst MPG it has ever gotten. We've just posted last month's fuel economy of our long-term test cars so you saw that the worst for the Prius was, gasp!, 18.5. But I was curious about how many times during its six years with us we've gotten its mpg below 20.

Turns out that 18.5 was a miscalculation that arose from a previous "short-fill" situation. Once we threw that one out, the correct value for lowest mpg ever is 26.7.

Head for the jump to see a breakdown of our Prius' fuel economy history ever since it first arrived in our fleet.

0-10000
miles 9989
gallons 238.32
avg 41.92
min 28.14
max 57.57


10000-20000
miles 9965.3
gallons 242.52
avg 41.09
min 28.26
max 59.27


20000-30000
miles 9859.5
gallons 243.08
avg 40.56
min 28.71
max 52.44


30000-40000
miles 9995.4
gallons 236.53
avg 42.26
min 28.26
max 59.27


40000-54000
miles 9961
gallons 254.18
avg 39.19
min 26.73
max 51.32


54000-64000
miles 9826.1
gallons 241.21
avg 40.74
min 30.20
max 49.85


64000-79000
miles 9947
gallons 256.99
avg 38.70
min 28.62
max 50.12


79000-85000
miles 5130.4
gallons 133.13
avg 38.54
min 33.79
max 50.83


The last time we had that high 59.3 mpg was back in October 2004. And we haven't really gotten that close to that number since. Second best mpg was 54.8 that same month.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 84,963 miles

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2004 Toyota Prius: Higher Age, Lower Fuel Economy

September 14, 2010

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Yep, we still have a 2004 Toyota Prius in our long-term fleet. It may not have as many miles as some out there, but we recently broke the 80,000-mile mark. We used this as an excuse to compare the first 10k of Prius fuel efficiency to the last 10k.

1-10,000 miles
min: 28.1
max: 57.6
avg: 41.9

74,000-84,000 miles
min: 18.5
max: 50.8
avg: 37.3

Our lifetime average in the Prius is still 40.4 mpg. But after roughly 5 years of ownership our average fuel economy is down about 5 mpg (for reference, our 65k-Flex shows no mpg degredation between similar intervals). Imagine this is your Prius. Would this trend concern you?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 84,033 miles

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