2016 Toyota Prius: Monthly Update for April 2017
by Caroline Pardilla, Copy Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
I'd wager a guess that the 2016 Toyota Prius is probably not the first car that comes to mind when one thinks: "Vegas road trip car." The dependable hybrid hatchback just doesn't inspire an enthusiastic "Vegas, baby! Vegas!" But as something to drive for 270 miles and then forgo valet to just self-park in a casino/hotel garage, it works just fine.
Besides, our long-term top-level Prius has all the things a couple of road-trippers need for a comfortable four-hour-long haul, including a USB port and charging pad to keep devices all charged up and satellite radio for an uninterrupted soundtrack (Siriusly Sinatra and Elvis Radio for the win!). The only real nits I'd pick are the skittish adaptive cruise control and the multitude of audible alerts the car has for every occasion, including leaving the windows down when parked.
Other than my Vegas run, our Prius spent most of its time shuffling around town. Commuting, groceries, the usual daily driver stuff. Nothing too memorable, so excuse us if we don't have many comments from those trips.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Since my Vegas trip was during the middle of the week, I didn't encounter the usual stop-and-go traffic one suffers through on the weekend exodus to Sin City. Although it was mostly highway, I only used the Prius' cruise control intermittently during long stretches with no one in front of me. That adaptive cruise is so jumpy. Any time a car was within 13 car-lengths ahead of me the cruise would kick the speed down. But I learned to switch off the cruise whenever coming up on another car or when one started to switch lanes in front of me.
Despite that, I managed to get the third-best mpg in the Prius' lifetime at 53.8. Also surprising considering my lead foot tendencies.
Average lifetime mpg: 48.2
EPA mpg rating: 52 combined (54 city/50 highway)
Best fill mpg: 57.2
Best range: 497.8 miles
Current odometer: 10,438 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
About a couple hundred miles outside of Los Angeles, the maintenance light flicked on. My passenger immediately dug out the owner's manual for answers but found a generic one about taking it to the dealership. So I chalked up the alert to simply being triggered by the odometer clicking to 10,000 miles.
Sure enough, back in Santa Monica, Vehicle Testing Assistant Michael Massey shuttled the Prius to the dealer and discovered it was simply due for its complimentary 10K-mile service, which included an oil change.
"I don't know why anyone who actually likes driving would purposely drive in the Prius' Eco mode. It was my first time in the car so I didn't know 1) that the car was in Eco mode and 2) how to disable it. Since I was just getting on the freeway I didn't want to take my eyes off the road to look around and figure it out. So I drove home in rush-hour traffic like that. It felt like driving through molasses: heavy and sluggish. But with no real power I wasn't motivated physically or mentally to be a proactive driver as I normally am, getting around slower cars. Instead I resigned myself to the lane I was in, also making sure to hang back since the brakes don't stop smoothly enough to inspire confidence." — Caroline Pardilla
"One great thing about this Toyota Prius for a road trip is that there is no shortage of ways to keep your smartphones charged up with both a charging pad for Android phones and a USB port. The charging pad for the Android phone is super easy to use: Hit the power button and place your phone on the pad. The only downside is that the phone has to sit squarely on the pad or else it won't charge — a position that can be difficult to maintain in a moving car. I would have to look down after every stop or turn to make sure my phone was correctly seated. Also the phone got pretty hot after charging for some time, so during a long road trip it would be a good idea to remove it once it's charged up. As for charging my iPhone (yes, I have two phones) via the USB port, I found that sometimes it wouldn't register the phone at all. This wasn't just in the case of my phone, however, as my passenger tried using the port for her Android phone, too. But later when I tried using it again it worked." — Caroline Pardilla
"The Toyota Prius has an excessive amount of warning beeps that may be great for those who love reminders (and a stern nanny). But then why does it have to sound off when the car is put in reverse? You may guess it's so those outside can hear the silent Prius coming but actually only those in the car can hear the warnings. The sound isn't emitted outside the car at all. To add fuel to the annoyance fire, the obstacle detection beeping goes off with the backing-up beeping. The least that Toyota can do is make it less shrill. Maybe take a cue from Mercedes' soothing bong?" — Caroline Pardilla