Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Do Some People Hate The 4G Prius So Much?

I could rant for hours but I'm going to keep this simple (but not very short).

This was inspired by this article.
From the article...
So how far can the new fourth-generation Toyota Prius travel purely as a zero-emission EV? If the first part of your drive is a climb up a steep hill like here at "Casa Owen" then you'll be lucky to reach the end of your street before the 1.8-litre petrol engine has to fire up and begin burning all those nasty hydrocarbons again
Yeah, well, that example is a little more extreme than it sounds but at least the author is coming from a good place, not wanting to burn oil.
It's this lack of a useful Electric Vehicle (EV) mode that classifies the newest Prius more as a user of 20th Century hybrid powertrain technology than one taking full advantage of the latest advances. Without a plug tofully exploit the cost-effective electric-power alternative, or a lithium-ion battery to allow more efficient storage of accumulated energy, the days of the Prius being the poster vehicle for the hybrid movement are now well and truly over.
Ouch. That hurt. And while describing it as a 20th century powertrain might sound unfair, it is Toyota's continued and strenuous resistance to plug-ins and EVs that led directly to that author writing what he did.
The newest Prius might be a smidge more efficient than the third-gen vehicle that precedes it, and it is a far better drive, but it can no longer live up to a model name that is the Latin word for "to go before".
I'm guessing he hasn't seen that soon to be award winning series of fun Prius commercials demonstrating the Prius is the perfect vehicles for a number of things including robbery and escaping the police.
Automotive leadership in reduced environmental impact now belongs to either the pure electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf (still available here as an $18-$25k used import), or plug-in hybrids like said new Beemers and others that can lead air quality-promoting double-lives as EVs over their entire weekly home-work-home commuting duties.
Now the delay on Prius Prime is really stinging.
Of course, none of the above really matters. For the only people who are really passionate about the Prius these days are taxi drivers. So during my time with the GX, I went down a line of taxis waiting for customers at Auckland airport to quiz the drivers about how they felt about their petrol-electric Toyotas.
Now that's pretty ridiculous. I mean, it's just blind to a huge swath of Prius owners who are passionate about their vehicles. But sure, whatever...
To a man (and they were all men), those who drove a Prius were all hopeful of one day being able to graduate to a Camry hybrid (better room and comfort for all, they said).
And I would bet, if we asked some more probing questions  and dug into this the main issue would be, as mentioned, size and comfort, not the lack of more EV technology on Prius.
Lowest in the pecking order on the rank were those who drove the third-generation Prius. For these vehicles were scorned by drivers of the second-generation Prius because their batteries weren't as durable.
These latter taxi professionals were immensely proud of vehicles that had travelled 400,000km-plus and were still using their original batteries. In the eyes of the average taxi driver, the second-gen Prius is the pinnacle for its bulletproof reliability and hyper-mileage economy. Coincidently, it's also the Prius we all think of whenever anyone mentions the name. You know, the one that looks like an overripe zucchini on wheels.
Ouch.
Into this context of a model already viewed as going backwards by those who appreciate its virtues most, steps this, the fourth coming of the Prius. Perhaps we should call it the Imperial Stormtrooper version, given that the interior of the GX reminds of a Star Wars costume party with its eye-searing white plastic decoration.
"Eye searing". Yeah, sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp.
And this is definitely no great leap forward in taxi technology either. Most of us will experience this Toyota from the back seat, where we'll feel claustrophobic thanks to the reduced height of the window glass. And spare a thought for the groomers of the taxi fleet, given that quite a lot of Friday Night Excess can no longer be accurately expelled out of the smaller rear windows and is therefore more likely to be deposited on the floor.
Ok, now we're getting too deep. Which follows with two more paragraphs of why this new Prius isn't the greatest taxi on the planet which, as I seem to recall, was not one of the main criteria Toyota used to design it.

But then we get to this, at the bottom of the page, almost at the end of the story.
But, while the latest Prius isn't a better taxi, it is a far better car. Built on a new platform and now possessing fully independent suspension all round, it even drives like a car these days where the others handled like golf carts mounted on bicycle wheels. And, what's this on the centre console? A selector for a sports mode? Be still, my beating heart. 
Where the back seats are Spartan with their furnishing, the ones up front are comfy and squeeze and support in all the right places. Ride quality is now up with the very best-suspended medium sized sedans, and while twirling the tiller still represents sensory deprivation, there is now a biddable handling balance on offer. To the point that this was almost a Prius that I could contemplate as my own at a personal outlay of $47,490.
Then I quickly snapped out of this semi-scary prospect. If I ever buy a hybrid, it'll definitely come with enough lithium to glow in the dark, OK? And a plug. 
So, good and bad. Sort of.

But at the top I was trying make a point, wasn't I? I think I was. Here is the succinct reasons I think writers, reviewers and bloggers hate on the Prius as they famously do at times:

-They've always hated Prius and this is just a new opportunity to use all the same old tropes they've been wallowing in for more than a decade and half.

-They are actually right about some specific things but take it too far and generalize about the entire vehicle.

-They are just assholes.

-Link bait.

-They wanted to write about, rant about or review a different kind of vehicle but their editor told them to do the Prius thing and shut up.

-They really hate the Prius and can see nothing good about it whether it's there or not.