Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Truth About Confusion

According to The Truth About Cars, the new 2016 Prius is...

-"the seats were quasi-uncomfortable"
-"the dash was the color of unroasted tofurkey (which I love, by the way)"
-"the Prius looked like a space egg on low-rolling resistance tires"
-"The last Prius came in 2009, which was timed worse than a teenage pregnancy"
-"Its exterior isn’t completely different (it still looks like a space egg)"
-"that’s the best start for a car that was once ahead of its time, but now behind the ball in the eyes of eco buyers."
-"the new, fourth-generation Prius may be guilty of trying too hard."
-"Thankfully, the 2016 Prius picks up and goes beyond the call — albeit a little unfortunately."
-"The use of high-gloss plastics seems … unfortunate."
-"but I’d prefer not to see a shock of white brighter than Billy Idol’s hair. A definite miss."
-"It’s worth noting (repeatedly) that it still takes two button presses to bring up a map"
-"There’s very little surprise left"
-"There’s still somewhat of an awkward “shelf” in the cargo area, though." (me here-truth is, I've seen the vehicle and I have no idea what this guy is talking about)
-"Could they apply the “new math” to the old car to figure the actual difference? Unpossible, say engineers. Sure, whatever you say."
-"Around town, the Prius is decidedly sharper and more fun than the lazy liftback it replaces."
-"Aside from handling characteristics that very few new Prius buyers would ever notice"
-"the 2016 Prius comes loaded with safety features that make sense in a car desperately in need of bleeding-edge tech."
-"Those features don’t make the 2016 Prius the best, but it is much better."
-"The 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle-style four remains, although power is slightly lower over last year."
-"The electric motor is slightly smaller this year than last year. A 71-horsepower, 53 kW motor replaces the old 80 horsepower, 60 kW unit, which is effectively negligible according to the butt dyno. Toyota admits that the 2016 Prius is slightly down on power, 121 combined hp vs. 134 combined hp"

Photo from The Truth About Cars

Here are the "positive" things...
-"I’ll say it to a priest without breaking a sweat: Driving the 2016 Prius isn’t completely boring."
-"My notes read:
Better braking and a little more planted than 2015. W/O nanny state shit, the Prius on no-grip tires is actually fun. No kidding."
-"was suddenly a Hollywood starlet and a Conservative America villain, all at the same time."
-"Inside, the Prius is completely new and that’s the best start"
-"Its sharper nose, sleeker hips and tidier glutes are the good news. The blacked-out C-pillar, angled sheet metal and oh my goodness, those tail lamps."
-"the 2016 Prius looks remarkably lower thanks to the new, angular nose."
-"the new Prius sports nearly 4 more cubes in cargo area over the last generation."
-"Similarly, the dash in the 2016 Prius appears to be something put together by designers instead of overly tired engineers."
-"Toyota’s Entune system is rock solid and dependable, just like taxes."
-"In the highest trim, Toyota will cram in its 10-speaker JBL premium audio system in the thin doors of the Prius, but the system actually sounds better there than a similar system in the new RAV4 — or even the Mark Levinson system in the Lexus ES 350."
-"The repeatable feat of eking out more than 50 mpg = doesn’t feel like holding your breath anymore. It’s actually comfortable in the 2016 Prius."
-"the 2016 Prius is something, and that’s a marked improvement for this eco-friendly pod."
-"Those features don’t make the 2016 Prius the best, but it is much better."
And the final line...
-"Which means that Toyota got the memo: the 2016 Prius needs to be a better car, not a better Prius. Toyota delivered."

Some of the most laughable lines from this blathering, "The time is right for a new Prius." Because yeah, $1.85 per gallon gas, increased financing opportunities and significantly increased competition from other gas sipping or gas completely avoiding vehicles, but now is the time. Uh, sure. And then there's, "Toyota’s Entune system is rock solid and dependable, just like taxes." Hilarious. Entune stills gets lost during basic commands and feels as slow as a 90's IBM PC. But yeah, taxes are fun, like Entune, get it? And then, not long after the previous statement, "Better minds have argued the Prius doesn’t lead with its Entune system — rather it follows closely behind with a repeatable system that lacks flash and flair, but adds repeatable, consistent performance instead. I won’t argue with that." I'll argue with that. By any metric, Entune is a failure and Toyota, not unlike Honda's far too long affliction, err...affection for IMA, has hung onto Entune long past its "dead by" date. If Toyota's deal with Telenav doesn't yield significantly results Toyota risks forever losing the crown of technology leader for not taking the obvious move of integrating Apple's CarPlay and AndroidAuto like most of their competitors. Well, and alienating most customers who use Apple or Android mobile devices. But that's not very many people, is it?

So yes, I've used some lines in both places. Other than the somewhat annoying overall tone, a lot of that article is like that. It's a pretty typical (for Prius reviews) collection of backhanded compliments and scathing criticisms Prius car review. But, unlike many things posted here, this isn't really about the writer or the article, it's about the overall tone I'm seeing from nearly every article about the 2016 Prius. It's a mixed bag, apparently a very mixed one. And if the best you can do, as a writer, trying to write something compelling, is alternate sentences of faint praise with lambasting the thing you're writing about well, it's probably mediocre and you just don't want to come out and say that.

I can't say. While I've seen and touched the new Prius, I have yet to sit in it or drive it. So, for now, I'm keeping my opinions off screen until I can base them on actual, first hand experience.