I was fortunate enough to have Toyota Canada loan me a 2015 Prius to test drive for a week recently. I live outside of Toronto and commute about 200 kilometres to and from work daily (I get how crazy that sounds but if you look at the home prices in Toronto you’ll understand why) and this test was to see if the car would fit my commuting needs, if I liked driving it and to see if it really was good on gas.
The model I received had the Moonroof Upgrade Package, which includes a power moonroof, integrated garage door opener, a navigation display, SiriusXM radio and a few other goodies. There was about 7000 kilometres on the car when I picked it up from Toyota’s head office in Scarborough and I added just over a thousand in the week I had it.
Here are eight observations I made while I had the Prius for the week.
It can be distracting
One of the greatest things about the Prius is how much info it gives you about the car and your fuel consumption while you’re driving. That info is displayed on multiple screens though, and the amount of buttons and gauges the car has can be potentially dangerous. It took me a couple of days before I was able to safely adjust the heat and change the radio station while also monitoring my speed and mileage. I never did get used to the split back window, however, which is a terrible design flaw in my opinion.
It takes time to get used to driving
The biggest misconception of the Prius is that it’s slow. This is not true. The car is, in fact, very similar to any other midsize car and can get up to high speeds quickly if desired. The problem with driving it like a normal car is that you start to see your mileage slip in real-time. Once you get used to it though you’ll know how to drive it for optimal performance and fuel consumption. It took me about three days before I was averaging 4.4 l/100km and during one commute I was able to get 3.8 l/100km (photo below).
It makes you a better driver
As mentioned above, once you get used to driving it you’ll see better mileage and in turn you’ll start driving better. This means not driving with a heavy foot, keeping a consistent speed and not tailgating people – all things most of us should be doing on the road but usually don’t. The few times I was aggressive in passing someone I immediately noticed a drop in my available kilometres and adjusted my driving to make up for it.
It really, really does save you money on gas
I drove 700 kilometres on my first tank of gas and still had about 30 kilometres available when I filled up for $34 (at .95 per litre). That is a huge savings on gas, especially if you commute a long distance for work each day. The second tank of gas was giving me an average range of about 770 kilometres before I had to return the car.
The car has a lot of room inside
During my time with the Prius I went to Costco to get some big items, including three bags of water softener salt and a 12-pack of paper towels. It all fit nicely into the massive trunk and I still had room for other grocery stops I needed to make. Being a tall guy (6’5”) I also found I was comfortable inside the Prius and had more than enough headroom and room to move around.
Not all features of the Entune navigation system work in Canada
For the most part Toyota’s built-in Entune navigation system works great and I admit it was nice not having to mess around with suction cups and extra cables dangling from the windshield in order to have GPS. But certain features, like live traffic updates and music streaming support, don’t work in Canada. This was a real letdown that needs to be addressed in order to make it a perfect system.
FM sounds like AM compared to XM
Speaking of the Entune navigation system, after listening to SiriusXM for a week I’m shocked at how bad FM radio now sounds. It’s like going to AM after listening to FM. I also don’t know how I will survive without Backspin because nothing on the FM dial comes close to the playlist they have.
There needs to be more incentive to buy a hybrid in Canada
After seeing both the environmental and economical benefits of driving a Prius firsthand, it saddens me that more people don’t have them for commuting purposes. I normally drive an older Toyota Matrix — a small compact car that I have to fill up with gas a few times a week. Driving it seems like such a waste of resources and money now. In order for more people to move towards vehicles like the Prius I feel the car companies need to drop the prices of the vehicles closer to the same level as a regular car or the government needs to offer some incentives for drivers to purchase one. I’m sure many people would run out tomorrow to buy one if they could, myself included.
Are you a Prius driver? Thinking about getting a Prius? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @bamcat.