Monday, December 7, 2015

Judging out of context

Over and over again, since I started paying attention more than ten years ago, car reviewers, newspapers, magazines, all the various flavors and breeds of media seem, most of them, seem to miss the obvious about the Prius. Most of them take great pains to find comparisons to vehicles which (usually) aren't good comparisons (but they're always convenient). They write volumes of cliches on why the Prius isn't like this car or that car, or never will be, or could be if Toyota would just do this one thing... But they don't and in the end, most of it is just blather.

Did I say blather?

Which brings me to USAToday. McNewspaper and CNN/Money teamed up to get some basics about the new Prius wrong. Please allow me a moment to make my case.

"A car that shouts practicality — not necessarily style — is suddenly becoming a little more heart-tugging for its next generation."

Well, if you look at owner surveys, the Prius is already one of the most "heart tugging" vehicles out there. But please, don't let that get in the way of your cliche and narrative. You were saying?

"For those who never wanted to be caught dead in America's best-selling hybrid, take heart."

It's obvious that Toyota desperately wants that market. It's been clear for years that "mainstreaming" the Prius has been one of the main missions of Toyota. That said, and I personally think this is a deeply ingrained part of American car culture, those people who never wanted to be caught dead in a Prius still don't. And never will be. And, if you're trying to make the Prius palatable to them, you'll lose all of your original owners and fans. It's sort of obvious, isn't it? ""We'll be hoping to broaden our appeal a little bit," says Bill Fay, a Toyota group vice president." We get you, Bill.

"Toyota has restyled the Prius to make its shape less odd, less of a car to love or hate. It's not as jarring to the senses."

Well, not really. It features the Prius's low co-efficient of drag and mostly, the same shape. What Toyota is add in a lot of the design vocabulary they've been using all over their model line up, whether it's a lofty Lexus or a lowly Scion. So yes, the Prius has been jazzed up, considerably while still being aerodynamic but it's still, well, distinctive.

And that is, somewhat bizarrely, about where the article ends. There's an accompanying video at the source link but it's annoying and frankly, the site is stuffed with ads and video you don't want, I only recommend clicking on the link if that's the only way to satisfy your OCD.