Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Let's Talk Prime

I'm still working on my video for the Prime debut but I wanted to share some thoughts and some observations in the meantime.

Visually, and of course, this is highly subjective, the Prius Prime looks great. This is not meant as a negative comment but it's the next, evolutionary step in Toyota's design. It's the natural prgression after the 4G Prius. I think it's better. The interior looks good and the touch screen is a vast improvement over all previous Prius displays not just in size but most importantly responsiveness. I'm still concerned about the software Toyota is deploying in this car but there's really no choice and even though I think much of their infotainment and telematics software are deeply and fundamentally flawed, there are incremental improvements in each generation. An example of this might be the responsiveness I see in new Toyota Bluetooth interfaces at the same time as there are still numerous and unexplainable bugs and just plain weirdness with it. It got faster, it's still buggy and bizarre.

MPG and EV range. I don't agree with Toyota's positions here but it doesn't matter. We have to judge Prime not on what we wanted but on what Toyota is delivering and it's ok. I'll be interested to drive this vehicle, see how it performs both in terms on drivability and in terms of efficiency. If this vehicle does what Toyota claims it will can do, it be an interesting competitor.

In the end, what does it all mean? Unlike authors on book tours, I'll tell you. I think it means this car, based on what we know right now, isn't strong enough to for a recommend...yet. But, I think it could be a highly recommended vehicle depending on the details we don't know yet, one big one being price, the other being performance. Maybe. What we do know right now is that the Prius has taken another very interesting and rather fetching step forward and, at least this far, I'm willing to follow.

Disclosure: I want to thank Toyota for bringing me to New York to see the debut and see the rest that NYIAS has to offer. As always, their generous hospitality makes it possible for me to write these reports based on actual observation of things in the real world, not squint at videos and make empty pronouncements. So big thanks to Toyota for everything.