Car Shopping - Prius
Monday, Oct 27, 2003
Weekend before last, my Mom flew up from LA to visit. Rachel and I made house for her and I picked her up at the airport on Saturday. This was the day after the Prius was officially released (though I've been on the wait list for two weeks already), and so we took the chance to go to the dealership for a test drive.

The Prius is a pretty car. I've been putting off all test driving for weeks because until that Thursday I didn't have a valid interim license (different story, DMV is evil, doom doom doom, all that stuff). They had one on the lot, in a powder blue with the beige interior. It's roomy, pretty, different in the way that the New Beetle was different, but with more function behind its form. We saw the tiny engine and the bigger liftback.

We took it for a test drive.

First off, it has more power than my Civic EX. Yes, the EX has 124hp compared to the Prius's 110, but in the low ranges the torque of the electric motor has my VTEC beat. Maybe it's because my car's nearly 7 years old, or just because it needs an oil change, but I don't think it could make 0-60 in 10.9 seconds.

Second off, the car is nice. The seats feel more like suede than fabric, and the interior really looks like it was built for people. There's almost nothing within reach that isn't either open space, a control, or a storage compartment. the dashboard is disturbingly deep, but the windshield has better visibility than anything else I've driven and though the split-rear-window has been disparagingly compared to the ill-fated Aztek, it more closely resembles the liftback of a Mercedes C320. Visibility is a little low in the back, but it's above the horizon and the increased forward and side visibility afforded by the design makes up for it. We took it on the freeway and brought it up to a quiet 75mph with no problem at all. I've read the top speed is about 103mph, and considering that I've only broken that with my Civic maybe four times in the last seven years I don't think it's a big problem.

What can I say that you can't read in all the reviews? We saw another one at the lot, since the dealership got two. The second was in the red, and it was stunning enough for me to switch my order from the black to the red. That car was being driven off the lot as we were leaving, purchased by someone willing to spend $2,000 above sticker to jump to the head of the three month waiting list. No honor among thieves. Err, car salesmen, that is.

Leaving the dealership Mom, Rachel and I went to Steven's Creek to check out Subarus, since they're my other interest and it makes sense to drive both in quick succession for comparison's sake.

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