Home » It’s Time For The Car Enthusiast Community To Apologize To The 2nd-Generation Toyota Prius

It’s Time For The Car Enthusiast Community To Apologize To The 2nd-Generation Toyota Prius

Gen 2 Prius Apology Ts3
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The second-gen Toyota Prius (2004-2009) was cyber-bullied for years, particularly by automotive journalists. I was not one of them, but I did not stand up and defend the poor little hybrid hatchback; instead, I sat there and laughed. Laughed. Like some kind of heartless schmuck, I probably even commented about how much of a “beigemobile” this “anti-car” was. But now, over a decade later, I can no longer hold in the guilt — I need to apologize to the second-gen Prius on behalf of the car-enthusiast community. We need to make this right.

If the second-gen Prius never forgives us, I’ll understand. Even if its owners were often entitled greenies perched on the lankiest of high-horses, why does the car deserve the hatred? Like a person can’t choose their parents, a car can’t choose its buyer. And yet, we ragged on the poor Prius. For years and years. It was brutal and unjust.

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So I don’t open up too many old wounds for the Prius, which is no doubt traumatized by the years of harassment, I’ll cite only a few examples of this unfair Prius harassment. December of 2011, my friend Raphael from Jalopnik wrote the Answer of the Day article Ten new cars we’d take to a demolition derby. Look at entry number eight:

The Prius is not the best car to enter into a demolition derby. The overhangs are tiny, they’re going to get crushed into the engine, and you don’t even know what’s going to happen to the hybrid drive.

The great thing about the Prius is, even when you lose, everybody wins.

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When Jalopnik wrote Ten Worst Cars To Have Sex In, it of course included the Prius. Why? Well, because anyone driving such an “uninspiring object” clearly won’t know how to have a bit of fun. From that story:

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Let’s just get this right out of the way and acknowledge that no one wants to have sex in a Prius. First of all, it’s tough to get your swerve on in such an uninspiring object, something that’s more consumer good than car. Second, you risk bringing a new life into the world, which will certainly be a waste of precious resources. Third, if you’re a Prius owner, the idea of a car being fun is completely alien to you so you have your 20 minutes of lights-off missionary-position relations in the futon like a proper citizen anyway.

When Neal Pollack wrote Screw You, I Love The Prius back in 2012, a Jalopnik editor had to write this note right up front:

(Part of encouraging a diverse, intelligent car community is attempting to understand those with alternative points of view. In that vein, I invited humorist, car reviewer, Prius owner, and alterna-human being Neal Pollack to write up an explanation for why anyone might love the Prius.

Specifically, I told him over drinks that he was basically a terrible person and completely wrong for enjoying a beige hybrid and he told me to go to Hell. Here’s his half of the story. — Ed.)

Here’s what Johnny Liebermann wrote on The Truth About Cars (one of Jalopnik’s biggest competitors back 15 years ago) in 2008:

As many of you know I manage Autofiends.com . Our unofficial motto (can’t get the tech guys to change the site…) is “No Boring Cars.” Which means as the news of the day rolls in (grist to the mill) I need to parse it to determine what is and what isn’t “boring.” For instance there’s those pics of the new Prius that Jalopnik has whipped itself into its daily frenzy over (). And through the magic of search engine optimization Autofiends could probably get some decent traffic out of the post. More traffic makes the boss happy and (maybe) gets me more money! Only problem: the Prius is dull. Like, rock in sand dull. And not fancy Japanese rocks in Zen sand, but regular Texas Hill Country rocks in Great Plains dust.

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The thing about these early car blogs is that they had absolutely absurd amounts of influence on what people thought of certain vehicles. Millions of people read just a few blogs, and the young 20-somethings behind the keyboards often spouted out all sorts of hot takes and random thoughts. Readers couldn’t help but be influenced by these, well, influencers. I was one of these readers; I nodded along every time one of my favorite writers called the Prius a “blob” or a “jellybean” or a “beigemobile.” As a result, for years, in the car enthusiast community, the vehicle was considered the anti-car. But this morning, Matt Hardigree wrote something in The Morning Dump that reminded me of my guilt; here’s the operative quote from his piece:

Then, somewhere along the way, the appliance-like dustbuster second-gen car appeared and it felt like I was supposed to dislike it. In retrospect, that car was cool and I was the dork. I don’t think anyone views hybrids that way anymore, and it’s kind of amazing.

Obviously, I will keep beating the hybrids-are-good drum like Samantha Maloney, but it’s still amazing to me that there’s been such a turnaround.

Matt’s totally right. We were the dorks, and the Prius was the cool kid.

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The hate for the Prius was wrong. Obviously, as I said before, much of it stemmed from the holier-than-thou attitudes of its environmentalist drivers, but some of it also stemmed from weird styling and poor vehicle dynamics. Still, we should all have realized what the Prius was: A technological marvel. Just look at the love the BMW i3 gets. It’s a car journalist-favorite; I am about to buy my second because I’m an engineer and I think the i3 is an absolute engineering masterpiece. But why didn’t we see the Prius in that same light 15 years ago?

The thing was fascinating; its powertrain featured an eCVT that — along with world-beating aerodynamics — helped the car get roughly 50 MPG all the while scoring top crash-test scores from IIHS when equipped with its optional side-curtain airbags. I strongly suggest you spend about 8 minutes watching this video, because the eCVT’s function is truly fascinating, using two electric motors and a planetary gearset — all embedded inside the transmission housing — to propel the vehicle forward, either alone or along with the assistance of a 1.5-liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine:

Total output from that tiny 1.5-liter engine is just 76 horsepower, 82 lb-ft of torque, but motor output is 67 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque, yielding a total system power of 110 horsepower (the two are not additive) — I’m not sure what peak torque is, but it’s probably pretty high given that motor output figure.

Powering the electric motors in that eCVT are 28 7.2-volt Nickel Metal Hydride battery modules (which each are made up of six 1.2-volt cells) that together yield an 86 pound 201 volt pack with a capacity of about 1.3 kWh. It’s an air-cooled pack, as you can see in the image below (those are the ducts on the right side of the pack):

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Screen Shot 2024 05 17 At 8.59.19 AmBut it’s more than just the tech under the hood/rear bench that makes the 2900-pound hatch compelling; the car’s looks have grown on me (just as the i3’s have), it’s legitimately comfortable and practical, and I think the car is a lot of fun to drive.

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I had a chance to pilot my friend’s Prius in Germany, and I was fascinated by the screen that showed me you when I was driving full-electric, when I was generating electricity via regenerative braking, when the gasoline motor is assisting the electric motor, and on and on. It was juts fun to see what was happening, and to adjust my driving accordingly:

I reached out to my friend, Andreas (who has written here before — he’s shown with his wife Josi in the image below) to ask him for his diehard car-enthusiast take on the Prius, and whether or not the thinks the enthusiast world got the Gen II Prius wrong. Here’s what he told me:

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I absolutely do and I did so myself before I got one into my life.

I feel like most arguments I can bring for the Prius sound like stereotypes, but I guess they are stereotypes for a reason. It’s simply a bulletproof vehicle that still after all these years has decent fuel economy for it’s size. It’s a roomy car after all (for European standards). It’s comfortable and quick enough for daily driving. And it has it’s own “aura of enthusiasm”, it’s hard to describe but while other cars motivate you to go faster and drive crazier the Prius motivates you to chill and to hypermile.

That may also come from the CVT screaming at you whenever you punch the gas, but you get used to that fairly quickly and once you’re on the autobahn it gets a quiet bachground noise anyways. And I’m still surprised on how technologically advanced it was all these years and how many firsts it had. Keyless entry/go, big touchscreen, navigation, …. I’m not lacking anything even though the car is 20 year old now. I even think it looks pretty good now, maybe that’s because the car industry overall got more and more alien-looking over the years, but I like the clean look and even the stance, especially with the factory magnesium rims. And while it seems a complicated car to work on at first it’s just a regular toyota and parts are cheap and simple. and remember, I even repaired the HV battery.

Yes, that’s right, Germans apparently spell the word “background” with a “ch.” That’s the power of Magnificat.

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Andreas continues:

So on behalf of all car enthusiasts who besmirched your name for no good reason, dear gen-two Prius, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies.

Images: Toyota

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Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
2 months ago

I drove one of these as a cheap in between car. It was not inspiring to drive. The only game was to see how high you could average your MPG. But not matter what the journalists said, the car sold. I have a taxi mechanic friend, and he liked working on them, because they were easy to find parts for, ran forever and as a taxi worked great.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

The Prius is fit for purpose. And, David, remember that one (albeit with an obscure European lift kit) actually made it over the Rubicon trail—which feat prompted much gnashing of teeth in the Jeep community. I’ve already told my parents I want theirs when their mechanic says it’s time is up. I plan to lift it and go exploring trails I’m not quite willing to take the shabby wrx up.

See you in Moab in a few years? 🙂

Kirk K
Kirk K
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Yeah, I tow motorcycles with mine with a 2″ lift, it’s fine off road, it’s never been stuck. Lift was like $100. Plus great camping vehicle since it’s a near silent 5kw generator that only needs to come on about 10 minutes every hour. Great for charging he electric bikes/motorcycles and just having all day AC while you are at Moab. Takes about 2 gallons to sit 12 hours in 100⁰+ providing AC all day.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

“Matt’s totally right. We were the dorks,”
Don’t sell yourselves short guys, you’re tremendous dorks.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Also: they were the dorks, but they also still are the dorks.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago

I have a 2013. I bought it back when commuting racked up 22k miles a year on my car. It also put me in the HOV lane to save time. I didn’t want a Prius, but it made sense to buy one.

I call my Prius the ultimate transportation appliance. It starts every day. It sips fuel. It has needed routine fluid changes, tires (15″ wheels too..no unnecessarily huge tires to buy), 1 set of front brakes in 160k miles. The 12v battery was good until last summer when I realized it was over a decade old and decided to proactively change it. I’ve carried home big garage cabinets in it. 8′ pieces of lumber can fit with the tailgate closed. I take it to the landscaping place and load it up with bags of dirt/mulch/whatever. It has probably done more “hauling” in its life than half the pickup trucks on the road.

I posted this in the recent “the i3 is awesome” article, but you can appreciate the engineering that goes into the “ultimate transportation appliance” that “just works” and gets 50 mpg just as much as anything else. The Prius does exactly what it was designed to do. Just like a Lotus Elise takes corners, or a Challenger Redeye does the quarter mile.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Good grief no. Every time someone drives one of these a piece of their soul dies. This is a wheeled tub of store brand vanilla ice cream. It’s a car for people who find stamp collecting or knitting a bit too exciting. Every 2nd gen Prius left on the face of the planet should be rounded up, cubed and that cube fired into the sun. It’s the only way to be sure.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

One of these days your sentence for being the crotchety old man of the Autopian staff will be to drive a lap of Britain in one of these. Better yet, write a story about it. Like David living in an Aztek.

Goof
Goof
2 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

I’ve got an even better one than an Aztek.

I’m pretty certain they built the Chevrolet Vega in the UK for the UK market, at least as the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega. A British-built Chevrolet Vega, built in 1970s Britain. Imagine how much of a winner that thing would be!

Drive it around the entire perimeter of Britain, camping in it and all.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Goof

Drive around the perimeter of Britain and sample some hotels and that’s an article I would write. At least the Vega Cosworth is interesting and fun.

Goof
Goof
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Wait, no, Cossie Vegas might be maintained. Can’t have that.

Alright, how ’bout a 1972 Vega, with 1972-ish build quality, and the only food you have on the trip is from Frankie and Bennies?

Also, absolutely no hotels. Sleep in the car!

Maybe as a bonus, the number plate can be, UWOTM8″.

Last edited 2 months ago by Goof
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Goof

No deal.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  Goof

How about a black Prius with gold Cosworth decals?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

I have already told Matt they need to hang onto the Aztek so I can drive it.

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
2 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Would pay to view.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I disagree, primarily because I’ve driven the ToyoHog:

https://dailyturismo.com/2k-toyohog-2008-toyota-prius-harley/

Felonious Thunk
Felonious Thunk
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Fortunately, I really like good Vanilla ice cream. Toyota is certainly a better car brand. And my 07 Prius has 467k on it. Still running fine with just the routine consumables occasionally replaced. No engine or transmission needs. All original. I do have an 07 Lexus RX400h if I need to put on airs.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Alright Flanders isn’t it past your bedtime?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago

That’s a lot of miles! Taxi? Courier?

Felonious Thunk
Felonious Thunk
2 months ago

No just use it. Will replace it after it hits 500k.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

You know, if you want to save money, you can swap out the engine/transmission in your Ferrari for a Prius powertrain. You’ll save on gas AND you won’t have the trouble of shifting gears anymore. Isn’t that great?

Or if you don’t want the trouble of doing an engine swap, you can get this ‘Ferrari’:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Justrolledintotheshop/comments/14rvg6z/so_this_rolled_into_our_shop_today_i_couldnt_help/

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

That’s it. You’re on The List.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Is that a list of people your fixer needs to visit?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Do you want to be on The List as well? Because asking questions is how you end up on The List.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

The List of people with Excellent Ideas that you Love?

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago

We all must door penance.

JT4Ever
JT4Ever
2 months ago

My 15-year-old is convinced that the 3rd-generation Prius is the apogee of automotive engineering. Coincidentally he stands to inherit one when he gets his license, and replaced the head gasket on it last summer. I wonder if there is a connection there…

Felonious Thunk
Felonious Thunk
2 months ago
Reply to  JT4Ever

In 2010, Toyota started using an “improved” head gasket. Second generation head gaskets almost never fail while Third gens are a profit center for service people.

JT4Ever
JT4Ever
2 months ago

Yeah, ours went at 180,000 miles which seems to be incredibly common. Toyotas seem generally well made, but this was a big mistake. Good way to keep a 14-year-old out of trouble for a summer though: give him a Prius with a bad head gasket and some YouTube videos. Runs like a champ now.

Felonious Thunk
Felonious Thunk
2 months ago
Reply to  JT4Ever

That is very cool. Impressive wrenching! Once it is done with a proper HG, it is pretty bulletproof.

Harmanx
Harmanx
2 months ago

Here’s some delightful news: That CO2 emissions graph plot over time — the one that resembles the Earth’s warming graph over the same time period… one would think with all the talk in the media of green energy/vehicles blah blah in recent years, that there would be some little suggestion in those steep lines that the scary trend might be starting to taper (and then maybe a future leveling off, and then things eventually heading back down). NOPE. CO2 emissions are accelerating. Our piddly efforts aren’t doing squat. If somehow all automotive/industrial emissions ceased this afternoon — the warming would actually likely continue for decades (and not cool back down for centuries or longer, depending on the model) — that’s if all emissions magically stopped this instant. We’re not going to attain the 1.5C goal or the 2.0C goal.

A lot of articles here get all excited for the year of the hybrid. If not for the money-driven actions of big oil and automotive corporations (and not helped by things like the Jalopnik pieces referenced in this article), the year of the hybrid could absolutely have been 15 to 20 years ago. If that had happened, the tonnage prevented in atmospheric CO2 would have been massive. If that had happened, we would have had the gradual building up of battery production and charging infrastructure to get us to where we need them for full BEVs — perhaps even by 2018ish. There’s no great celebration warranted for this being the year of the hybrid.

Detroit Lightning
Detroit Lightning
2 months ago
Reply to  Harmanx

Counterpoint: there are several studies indicating that they expect CO2 to peak in 2025. So while you’re not wrong with most of your points, nothing can be done with what’s already happened 1520 years ago, and some of these recent actions just might actually be working.

Harmanx
Harmanx
2 months ago

Emissions are accelerating. NASAs got more data than you can shake a stick at — brought to you by PhD’d Earth scientists with years of lab/field research, continually churning numbers provided by incredibly precise land/sea/air/space-borne instruments. There aint no peak gonna happen next year, except in the minds of politically deluded pundits and those they’ve brainwashed.

JT4Ever
JT4Ever
2 months ago

The largest decrease shown in the referenced plot was in…2020! So it only took a pandemic to make a difference. But, this chart actually shows US emissions decreasing over the past ~30 years or so, along with Europe and South America. It’s just that those decreases are masked by increases in Asia/China, India, aviation and shipping. I agree with the overall point, I don’t think we are going to hit the 1.5 or 2 degree targets, and that truly terrible levels of warming and change are already inevitable. But I also think it’s not true that tighter emissions regulations in the Western nations have not had an effect:

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/annual-co-emissions-by-region

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

I just want to clarify that the Prius is a perfectly fine car to have sex in. Driving one probably won’t lead to sex, but that’s a different point.

MGA
MGA
2 months ago

I mean, they exist, I guess.

There’s an argument to be made that any not-so-compelling car becomes way more compelling after time and depreciation have set in, leading some units to be “drivers/beaters”, which have their own inherent level of fun associated with them. My dad owned one of those Mercury Capri convertibles when I was in high school. At the time, it was already a 10+year old POS car. Would I have bought a FWD Miata new? Hell no. But as a $1200 5 speed beater to run to the beach with in senior year, it was a hoot. My friends and I made a point to never open the doors to enter the cabin if the top was down.

The Prius could have some of this, I suppose. But to me, it doesn’t. It’s strictly an appliance. The guys who build on these things do so as anomalies, doing it *because* it’s weird, not because they found some secret vehicle nobody knows is actually really good on a track or a trail. Let’s respect those guys for what they are: big kids. And I’m all in support of them! Hoovie putting F&F decals and nitrous on his was entertaining BECAUSE it was obviously ridiculous.

However, I’ll question the overall judgement of someone who wants to make the case that a Prius is an enthusiast car. Reliable? Yup. Efficient? Definitely. Point A to Point B? All day long. Quirky? Sure, why not? Fun to drive? You’re losing it.

Last edited 2 months ago by MGA
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  MGA

I’d argue that someone into hypermiling qualifies as an enthusiast: not every gearhead lives life a quarter mile at a time or lives to carve corners.

-yes, I’m being a bit contrary—but the Powers That Be here have declared this an inclusive site and invited all to fly their freak flag high. Whether you rock crawl, drag race, or race lawn mowers, gearheads are just converting potential energy into their kind of fun. 😉

MGA
MGA
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Totally fair point.

But those are still of the “novelty” group. You’re not going to hear your neighbor Karen tell you how her Prius commuter is so cool.

Well, if you did, you’d laugh.

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
2 months ago

I was out of car culture for a while, so I was unaware of the depth of the hate for the Prius at the time. I always really liked them. I even liked the airfoil-like design–I appreciated that the engineers worked hard to cut out a little more air resistance, especially as SUVs were getting bigger and more monstrous. Our family had a series of 2nd generation Priuses, and we loved ’em for their efficiency, reliability, and interior space.

And on the topic of interior space…it turns out if you flip the back seats down, there’s actually plenty of room to, um, practice your night moves in there. So take it from someone who knows: it’s probably one of the best cars to have sex in.

Last edited 2 months ago by Luxobarge
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

2 things:

1). I will always love the second gen Prius because my buddy had a beige on beige one that we ghost rode through the parking lot of our high school senior year. It was absolutely hilarious and we almost got in huge trouble for it. Fortunately the staff member who got called to see what all the fuss was was my wrestling coach and I managed to talk him down. I cannot overstate how funny the entire situation was.

2). In my aging I have come to appreciate the utility and joy of a good appliance car. Do I love sporty cars? Duh. But you know what? I quite frequently find myself sitting in horrendous traffic in my Kona N, getting like 15 MPG if I’m lucky, getting ejected out of the damn car with every minor road imperfection, and increasingly getting more frustrated every second.

You know what might be nice? Having a car that lets you completely shut your brain off during those times that stays out of your way and handles the whole ordeal super efficiently. Not only have I come around to the idea of hybrid commuters…I now find them downright appealing.

And they’re now kind of, vaguely, sort of, cool! Everyone wants them. Climate change has us sitting like crabs in a barrel waiting to be boiled right now. I personally don’t feel great driving a gas chugger around every day, especially when it’s not very good at the thing it spends 75% or more of its time doing…sitting in traffic.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Lightning
Lightning
2 months ago

I always had an eye for aero ever since I first got into cars in the early ’80s and the aero concepts in the magazines were my favorites. I also have always favored wagons and lift backs roomy enough to put skis in the trunk (without needing to fold down the back seat) and car camp in. So the styling and shape/utility of the second and third gen Priuses were always very attractive to me. The cute, friendly appearance rather than angry was a plus too, and I get/agree with what Andreas says about the stance. I thought they especially looked nice lightly modded JDM-style/race car-style with aftermarket wheels, etc. The Japanese loved their Prius race cars.

The second gen was the best generation with, I think, the highest sales, and good reliability. The Gen 3s, on the other hand, typically had head gasket issues once above 100k-200k miles. I probably dodged that when my Gen 3 was totaled out by a caribou collision at 180k miles. (And Mercedes probably dodged that with the one she bought too.) Though the new Prius is finally getting respect from auto journalists, I don’t like what I’ve read about the reduced interior passenger and cargo room compared to Gen 2-4.

Not talked about a lot, but my favorite thing about the hybrid system is the car camping ability, which combined with 50mpg made it an awesome road trip car. If you leave the car on, the engine turns on by itself automatically as needed, about 2 minutes per half hour (depending. . .) while giving you full climate control with minimal gas consumption, whether that is to heat, cool, or just keep the windows clear while sleeping. It’s also essentially a “dog mode”, so your dog is comfy if you have to run in the store on a road trip, though you need to put up signs so people don’t think you are cooking your dog. I suppose all EVs and hybrids have this ability—but it’s the only non-ICE car I’ve had, so it was notable for me.

My main complaint with my Gen 3 was that it was poor handling and the A-pillar blocked vision, particularly on tight switchback corners. I know reviews say handling was much improved for the fourth and fifth Gen.

That One Guy
That One Guy
2 months ago

I still think it’s ugly, it’s not fun to drive, it’s not even comfortable. Overall it’s not nearly as interesting as the i3. However I’ve always respected it (and even recommended it) because it does it’s job very well. That is to transport people and things at up to highway speeds safely, reliably, and economically. That’s exactly what most people want and as much as anyone truly needs. It also keeps getting better at this, to the point that I hear the newest ones aren’t even as ugly or boring to drive!

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago

My problem was and is (until the current model) that it is absolutely hideous and there’s nothing that can be done to fix it without it making more sense to start with something else. It’s not merely ugly, but goofy. Following that is the awful interior and I will never accept a central mounted gauge cluster unless the steering is central as it’s f’n stupid, looks terrible, and limits options to do something cool with the vehicle (even though it’s precluded by the hideosity of the exterior). I would love an interesting fun vehicle that was reliable, cost nothing to operate, and wasn’t so infested by the rage-inducing, insulting, poor-performing nannies even if it meant being a bit slow (even after chopping out a bunch of weight), but the looks and interior would require too much to allow these cars to be that, at least for me.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago

The 2nd gen Prius is the only car yet to grow on me. I used to think these were rather ugly, and now i think they’re almost(not quite) good looking, conveying purpose and prioritizing aerodynamic efficiency over looks.

Still not really a fan of non-plug in hybrids though, or 2000s Toyotas in general.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Non-plug-ins make a lot of sense for a lot of people. Me and my friends live in apartment complexes where we can’t charge anyway. I work from home, so I’m usually only driving an hour or two on weekends to see friends/family.

Jatkat
Jatkat
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Non plug ins make sense for people who want good economy, but don’t have a place to plug in. I’ve got a Volt, but I have a place to charge both at home and at work. I think where a conventional hybrid makes the most sense is if you a lot of city driving. They do great in those environments. If your driving mostly consists of highway, then I think they start to make a little less sense. An efficient gas only (or especially a small diesel RIP) car would probably be a better choice. Less complexity for about the same fuel economy.

Jatkat
Jatkat
2 months ago
Reply to  Jatkat

Electricity is so cheap here and gas is so expensive (NW WA) that a plug in starts to make legitimate financial sense over one of my shitboxes in a fairly short order. I did some conservative math, and in fuel alone the volt should pay for itself in under 5 years.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Jatkat

Thats exactly why i’m not a huge fan. Basically no efficiency advantage over something like a TDI except maybe in horrendously congested city driving where a car isnt even the right choice anymore. And significantly increased cost, weight, and complexity along the way.

Plug in hybrids, on the other hand, actually allow you to drive without gasoline power, which is potentially a huge advantage.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Diesels added weight over an ICE version as well. Cost and weight are no longer significant increases in a hybrid over a nonhybrid counterpart and also typically bring benefits to acceleration and overall driving feel. The combined fuel economy ratings certainly show improvements in efficiency, typically 25-30% or better.

Plenty of Toyota hybrids have demonstrated the durability and longevity of the tech over the last 20 years, and not like diesels were known for being noncomplex in the last several years of their run.

Who Knows
Who Knows
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Even back in college, I always wondered what kind of fuel economy these 2nd gen priuses would get with a small diesel engine (now, could be a small gas engine as well given the efficiency increases over time). For taxi duty or something similar where it is constantly driven in stop and go traffic around town without time to charge, the hybrid system makes sense, but for highway driving and road trips, there isn’t much to gain. For short drives around town, a bike would be better for a lot of use cases.

Years ago, I had a couple of rental cars with a 1.2L turbo gas VW engine in Europe- the Skoda Fabia got 40ish MPG on a trip rallying the crap out of it over mountain passes in the Dolomites, and a Polo on a trip around Norway got 50 mpg, so the 45-50 mpg efficiencies from these aren’t terribly impressive from a world standpoint, we just don’t get these other cars in the US.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
2 months ago

My only real disagreement with this is that the back seat of my friend’s 2nd gen Prius is one of the most depressing places I’ve ever been. There’s no shape to the seat, the cushioning is absurdly firm, and the feel of the vinyl was sub-Granada. I assume it was driven by weight savings, but it was a staggeringly un-premium experience.

I was very open to replacing our Passat wagon with the Prius V (or whatever that wagon was called), but after riding in one, the idea was too profoundly depressing. Sorry, Mother Earth.

Goof
Goof
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

Don’t disagree. The 2nd gen Prius interior felt VERY cheap. You knew that the interior is where the budget wasn’t allocated, and it all went to the power train. Some thing like the center console lid can rattle, the plastics aren’t great, etc.

The 4th gen is when I felt the Prius interior was fine. The 5th is solid.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

Hmm. I was never in the back of a 2nd gen. I did try gen 3 and Prius v’s before settling on the v (driver headrest wasn’t quite as stiff).

I really liked how much legroom there is in the back, plus the reclining second row meant I have great sightlines most of the time.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

My only real disagreement with this is that the back seat of my friend’s 2nd gen Prius is one of the most depressing places I’ve ever been. “

I recommend sitting in the back seat of a Chevette for a while. It will make the Prius feel like a limo by comparison.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago

Good. Older Priuses need more love.
(Except the fuel bladder. I hear their 12-gallon fuel bladder shrinks in the winter and only holds maybe 10 gallons then. That sounds awful to me.)

What I like about Priuses, too, is that there’s enthusiasts for them anyway. Prius Offroad will gladly sell you skid plates, 1.5″ lift kits, roof racks, lift springs, ditch light brackets, front license plate light brackets, and–just recently–bolt-on tow hitches.
(I’m not affiliated, but I do like their stuff.)

I’m maybe 1/4 of the way to having the pimpingest Prius v on the East Coast.

When the HV battery finally dies, I’m planning to go Project Lithium for the replacement.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Like a frightened turtle!

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

….I suppose that’s one way to look at them….

Jatkat
Jatkat
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I mean 10 gallons at 50 mpg is 500 miles… Even at 40 mpg thats pretty good range! Meanwhile, my K2500 with its 32.5 gallon tank can do a whopping 325 miles.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Yeah I am not interested in Project Lithium until they figure out the whole fire thing.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Very few comments from the OP and Jack (of Project Lithium). I dunno, at least he refunded it immediately? I’m hoping I can wait until V3.0 comes around or something. Besides, how many people have installed these packs? What does this represent as a % failure rate?

My eyes glazed over as soon as I saw a bunch of comments from black_jmyntrn. I know he runs a site that ripped off Prius Offroad products, and he showed up a lot in r/Prius when people talked about problems and lack of communication/shipping orders. And then those posts would mysteriously disappear.

The Dude
The Dude
2 months ago

My main issue with the Prius of that era were the drivers who would use their HOV lane pass to then camp out and clog up the lane going under the speed limit.

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
2 months ago

They’re durable and efficient but irredeemably hideous. If I was in a pinch and needed a transportation appliance one could do a lot worse and for that they get my respect. But goddamn they’re ugly.

Steve's House of Cars
Steve's House of Cars
2 months ago

When they first came out, my college got a couple into their motor pool. We had to take a trip for the lab I worked at and we had four good sized dudes riding together for a few hours. Three of the four were car guys but the guy responsible for the car procurement wasn’t so he “pranked” us with getting a Prius.

We all hated how it was rather gutless and boring but were fascinated with the technology still, and tried everything we could with it. Tried to max out the battery charge, then see how quickly we could deplete it, who could get the best mileage over a given distance, even roll backs (hint: it won’t). Ultimately, it was still an econobox but as engineers we were impressed with the technology. I can’t say it made any converts though, each of the car guys went on to buy something with a V8 for our next purchases.

I recently drove one again, my neighbors, and was immediately reminded of something I’d forgotten about them. It drives like a golf cart. The steering was over boosted, you heard everything due to the minimal sound deadening, it felt oddly light and yet bottom heavy. I haven’t driven a third or later generation yet myself but I understand they are more “car-like” in that regard, which is about the only way I think I could consider owning one.

Now that hybrids have been embraced as “power adders” and not just “fuel maximizers”, I think I would be happy to own a hybrid, especially a plug in one. Much more targeted to my market segment. That said, I still don’t have anything but a V8 in the driveway, with my most recent purchase being a 2023 300C… Fortunately I don’t have far to drive!

Goof
Goof
2 months ago

I’ve rebuilt two 2nd gen Prius battery packs. Even when you factor in refreshing the pack after 15 years (which when I did them, might amortize to only +$10/mo) they are ludicrously cheap to operate.

I just recently got to really dig into a friend’s 2024 Prius Prime, and I mean it when I say, “dig in.” I basically ripped the entire cargo area and rear seating out (and put it all back, with nary a squeak afterwards), and I very quickly realized I could solo DIY a pack replacement on the Primes in addition to the normal Priuses, Lexus RXes, etc.

I’m getting older, so when I approach 50 I might be less willing to walk everywhere (esp. with a large grocery haul), and honestly I’m strongly considering the current gen Prime when they’re 6-7 years old. So a pack refresh ~10 years afterwards, and probably run the thing until around 2055, because I KNOW it’ll get there without any real fuss.

I’ll do a 2nd set of much lighter 17″ wheels (use the OEMs for winters), brakes and probably the suspension (comfort, handling, and probably lower for a bit more efficiency) and that’s it. That’s the toastermobile I know will cost me nothing, and this mentality is why I get to have (1, but eventually 2) ultra crazy toys.

Ryan L
Ryan L
2 months ago

2008 thats still getting 42mpg in the summer. Man I love it. My wife drives it but I’m insanely jeaolous each time I go to the pump and it’s like 18 bucks to fill up.

I’m on the original batterys minus the starting battery and I think we have around 170k on it. Brakes have been done once at around 128k I think because regen braking saves the pads.

All my coworkers hated on it but when they rode in it they all had the same exact experience “not that bad” That sums up a gen 2 prius – not that bad and really it’s all I want in a vehicle and frankly its basically toyotas mission statement.

I will say snowtires or at least 3 peaks are a must in a northern climate as the binary torque of the electric/hybrid makes standard hypermiler tires prone to spinning.

Joke #119!
Joke #119!
2 months ago

My son has a 2004, gift from his uncle. Still works, but nearly every warning light is on. Brake light is on. Anti-lock brake light is on, VSC light on. The dash screen works about 1% or the time. The dash screen controls the climate controls and some audio stuff (not the radio or volume, though it indicates what station is on, but only when it’s working).
But, still drives well with 200K+ miles, and zero depreciation since it was a gift.

Bryan McIntosh
Bryan McIntosh
2 months ago

Here in Winnipeg, as the price of fuel skyrocketed in the late 2000s the taxi fleet switched pretty quickly from Crown Victorias to a fleet of second-gen Priuses. These cars get ABUSED on our roads that are reminiscent of one in Afghanistan after an IED has gone off, and see temperature extremes from -30° to +40° C. Then as they finally aged out, they got replaced with third-gen Priuses that keep on getting abused as cabs, sitting in unexplainably heavy traffic (our city has under 800,000 people; how is traffic as bad as it was in Boston when I lived there?!?), and ploughing through and into snow banks and shrugging it all off.

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