I'm a retired car dealer so having always had access to a car, I left my family scratching their head when I bought my first new one in about 30 years or so. Even crazier was the fact that I was the co-owner of a Honda/Acura Dealership during the 90's. I was attracted to the Prius because of it's 21st century styling and the experiences I had with them while out of town and using one as a rental. I never had to put gas in the darn thing, the needle never seemed to move. That was the real motivator for me ... "cheap to drive".
Having traded in a 2005 Civic Hybrid after putting over 150,000 miles on it and have been driving Honda's for 20 years, I purchased a 2010 Prius II. The new versions of the Hybrid Civic can not come close in MPG. After having the Prius for months and 7000 miles I can report the Prius rides better, is more powerful (in regular and PWR mode) more stable on the road, quiter, and is more roomy. with at least 50 MPG commuting and carpooling over 130 miles per day. The late versions of this model only goes to 9 mph in EV mode and not 25 mph as advertised.
If you get it, please get the extended warranty!! It is the only thing that has saved us. This Prius was the WORST purchase I have made. I bought it fresh off the boat, we actually waited two weeks after purchasing it for it to arrive. Everything was great for about two years. I always took it to the dealership for oil changes and regular maintenance. Then the cooling fan for the hybrid battery makes a puttering sound when you accelerate. It is random, some days are good others are bad, with same use or no use of the heater/ or AC. I have had it replaced three times and its making noise again, except I'm now out of the extended warranty and it will cost me $500 to replace. Then the vehicle was burning oil. We never smelled it, there was nothing on our driveway that would indicate there was a leak. took it to the dealer and was told I was low two quarts and they didn't fill it. they said to take it home and come back in a few weeks when they could work on it. I had to ask them to top it off and they were surprised I asked. I ended up having the motor rebuilt because there was so much damage.. again.. EXTENDED WARRANTY!!! Then we had electrical issues. The vehicle suddenly died after my husband dropped me off at the hospital while I was in labor, to pick up our oldest from school. Inverter failure. Then the starter battery died at day care which I knew we would have to replace someday, that was $275, except after it was replaced, the horn goes off when the E brake is on. Just one loud, continuous noise. Dealer can't fix horn issue unless I authorize 5 hours of labor @ $108/hr and I was given a 'heads up' that the hybrid battery lasts about 8-10 years and it costs 2-5k to replace, (it covered under warranty for 8 years or 100k miles) so I may want to start saving up for that. I told a co-worker who owns the same type of vehicle about it and he mentioned he had already replaced the hybrid battery on his (it was 3K), and when the hybrid battery goes, the vehicle starts acting erratically and even accelerating on its own at times.
Loved it at first, now I absolutely hate this car.
written on 11-27-2012
Don't get me wrong, the Prius is a great car to get from A to B. But it has so many faults, mostly in the way it drives, that I had to get rid of it after 30,000 miles. For efficiency of fuel and space, it's unmatched. It's roomy and gets great mileage. But... The auto on/off of the engine is choppy, the brake feel is eneven, rock hard seats, the steering is numb, the ride is harsh, there are a ton of rattles throughout the car, and the car feels like it weighs twice what it does. Just a terrible driving experience. I was getting about 39 mpg consistently. No reliability issues whatsoever. But in the end, life is too short to drive a car like this. That's why I got rid of it.
I went from owning a Bentley GT straight to a Prius III (for cost cut back reasons). All my friends of course laughed and the surprise was fun for everyone. But the choice was truly a good experience. I have to say the hybrid tech is what all cars should have today and this car has the best, seamless integration. Of course the MPG is what people buy this for and yes it does go forever for $20.00. This car is a no brainer to buy for anyone who would like to spend next to nothing. I bought this car used with very little milage. In my opinion I would not recommend to pay MSRP for this car if you are considering it, simply buy a few years older with little milage. I cannot recommend its asking price because you just wont feel good about laying down 35+K for this if you are a car guy. As far as performance, there is none, forget it. Its extremely slow and sounds like the little 4 cylinder is having a hard time. Interior works but its extremely plain and feels like tupperware. Plastics all around. All of the interior fabrics are awful especially the light tan, stains extremely easy and turns dirty. I recommend seat covers. The seats are also not comfortable at all especially for long drives. There is zero luxury in this car, literally none. I dont' care if you go for leather seats option, there is nothing about this car that says luxury. You will feel simple, like your wearing cheap shorts and a t shirt from Walmart. If you are a self respecting person and want to feel great, do not get this car. The hatchback design with seats folded down means you can pretty much stuff your whole bedroom in it, there is a LOT of space. I put a 70" TV in plus more, the room just never runs out, which is awesome. But, I do have to say that this car is bulletproof and will never let you down. You can do whatever you want with her and she will just work. If your looking for a car for extremely long road trips and getting around town for 2 weeks on one tank of gas you cannot go wrong. If you are a car guy and expects to fall in love with the car, good luck.