Posted on October 31st, 2012 No comments
I just finished my seventh as second driver to the new Prius c. It’s a package IV in black metallic pearl with a sunroof.
But that’s not my problem.
It’s not Priusy enough. For me.
My wife, who is first driver, loves it. I don’t. I don’t dislike it. I enjoy driving it. The MPG we’ve pulled out of the car without really trying is fine. Consumer Reports just rated it as one of the most reliable cars you can buy right now.
My problems are mostly my own. I hate the floor mounted shifter. I the computer system in it is slow and the touchscreen is more of a push hard screen. The telematics are better, in many ways, than other previous Prii but also worse. The nav is slow, clunky and neutered by a “Confirm” screen as well as being disabled while the vehicle is moving (as it is with all other Prii).
For me, it’s the conscious decisions Toyota made to make this vehicle more “mainstream” that frustrate me. The stuff other Prii have that this one doesn’t. Some of the little technological flourishes like the ceiling mounted LED spotlight in my Gen2.
That said, I don’t hesitate to recommend the c to new, potential Prius buyers. I’m fairly sure they would not see the things that annoy me as annoying having no history with Prius.
I’m working finishing several video reviews one of which will detail my ownership experience with the c, coming soon. Then you can hear and see all my little gripes and see all the good things about the Prius c. As usual, you can then make your own judgment.
Posted on February 10th, 2012 No comments
Posted on May 23rd, 2011 No comments
From my friend and What Drives Us co-host, Danny Cooper. It’s a great review and interesting since we basically spent the entire together examining and driving various V models.
Posted on May 23rd, 2011 No comments
You want to know about the first and newest member of the Prius family? Of course you do. I got to drive the v and spent some serious time taking it apart and learning about it. What I saw is at the page below.
Posted on July 23rd, 2010 No comments
A first: Lincoln hybrid costs the same as a gas-only car
Really? The cost is the same? Or do they mean retail price? And I’m not just nitpicking here. Ostensibly, CNN/Money is a financial news service and one might reasonably make the presumption that a financial news organization would be in tune with costs versus retail price.
But let’s dig further.
The sticker price will be $35,180 — exactly the same as the non-hybrid version of the car.
So it is retail price, not necessarily “cost”. Ok, cleared that one. It’s just the headline which is stupid. Or is it?
Hybrid cars generally cost considerably more than non-hybrid versions of the same car. In many cases the extra cost of the car can cancel out what the owner saves on gas.
Over the years here we’ve been down this road so many times that I would think most news organs would just avoid this. Yet, here it is again. The old trope that hybrids cost so much more than “regular” cars. Not true and not true.
The rest of the article isn’t much better. It’s basically press release and some mindless rumblings from, oh god save me, an analyst.
Here’s my take on it. Ford probably makes a decent amount on the MKZ. If not, they’d be GM. So the idea that they’re giving a few points in profit to price these cars equivalently isn’t a big deal. In fact, said analyst says,
It’s not unheard of for a hybrid and non-hybrid versions of a car to be priced close to one another, Toprak said, but not exactly the same and not in the luxury market.
So aside from refuting the earlier part of their story, this analyst says something I don’t get at all. While it may not be standard practice in the luxury market, that sector is the one that can most easily absorb this kind of strategy because of the higher retail prices and the larger profit margins. That’s kind of obvious, no?
I guess not.
Posted on April 13th, 2010 No comments
(photograph courtesy of Toyota)
Earlier today Toyota unveiled the Prius PHEV within the confines of the tony Torrey Pines Lodge in San Diego. An exclusive list of invited media attended and had a chance to drive the PHV as well as participate in some seminars on “sustainability”. Festivities continue through tomorrow so I imagine the news stories will start flowing between now and then as it appears Toyota has not embargoed driving impressions of the new Prius (somewhat surprising).
Here’s Toyota’s FAQ on the Prius PHV.
While I languish at POG HQ here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my partner in crime, Danny Cooper of priuschat.com and co-host of What Drives Us is out there suffering through San Diego weather and what is surely an onslaught of underpriced media dinners. So, that means a full report on this week’s What Drives Us which should hit the streets in the next day or so (once we get this week’s podcast done). And yes, the What Drives Us take on the Prius PHV will be the definitive one. I would put forth that we might be only two reviewers who also own 2010 Prius (since the PHV is based on the 2010 Prius).
Check back soon and hear me grill Danny on the new PHV and whether or not he was able to sneak off to In-N-Out (it’s only a few miles down the road from your hotel Danny!).
Posted on February 19th, 2010 No comments
Play the latest What Drives Us episode
This week Danny and Russell joined by Tony Schaefer to discuss, sorry, more on the Toyota recall, ton foil hat conspiracies, why does “sudden acceleration” occur (hint: it has to do with the gas pedal), more on the Nissan Leaf and the return of Maximum Bob Lutz, GM’s prognosticator supreme. We also pass along our most sincere sympathies to the families and staff of Tesla Motors for the tragic loss of three of their engineers in a terrible plane accident.
Download it through iTunes here.
Posted on February 9th, 2010 No comments
This article from Reuters says Toyota will file a recall notice at 420 GMT (about twenty minutes from now) on the 2010 Prius. Mentioned also was the Lexus HS250h.
Toyota said President Akio Toyoda and Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki, in charge of quality, would hold a media briefing at 3:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) in Tokyo regarding the recall.
It will file a recall of the 2010 Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid car, “and other models” at Japan’s transport ministry at 1:30 p.m. (0430 GMT), a spokeswoman said. Details will be announced at 2 p.m. (0500 GMT).
The article mentions that the Kelly Blue Book is cutting used Prius values by 1.5 percent “on concerns around the growing supply of unsold Toyotas on both dealer lots and at auctions.”
Posted on February 8th, 2010 No comments
This story on Prius Chat makes me happy and worried at the same time.
The ad agency representing 173 dealers in 5 Southeast states has told the local ABC affiliates to pull their commercials. The agency told ABC affiliates last week that the shift was due to “excessive stories on the Toyota issues.” Instead, the dealers have shifted their commercial time buys to non-ABC stations in the same markets, “as punishment for the reporting,” according to an ABC station manager.
Southeast Toyota (SET) comprises 173 dealers in Florida, Georgia, North Carollina, South Carolina, and Alabama.
On one hand, it is certainly their right and given the coverage, I’d say it was about time these dealers did something. The coverage has been insane and, what really irritates me, much of it contains numerous factual reporting errors. So these people are just protecting their own businesses. Good for them.
I do find it a little odd they’re moving the ads to other stations. What stations/networks? Fox affiliates here have been banging this story just as hard and just as stupidly (which is pretty standard for Fox stations).
Why not take that money to another venue entirely? Like, dare I suggest, the internet? Direct mail?
But I do find it disturbing that this is an attempt further blur the lines between editorial and advertising something which, as someone who has a lot of ties to both things, are already far too blurred together.
In this instance, it’s totally appropriate. In the future, who knows?
Posted on February 5th, 2010 No comments
There was time when America was informed by newspapers. Don’t get me wrong, half-assed journalism has always been with us. There never was a “golden age” where all journalists (in any medium) were daring and sought naught but the truth. But I would contend there is a reason that newspapers have been declining in readers steadily for the last twenty-five years.
Kiah Haslett of the Chicago Tribune contacted me via email yesterday about the Toyota recall. I called her back while on my way to a job (I’m a working photographer, but no, not for a newspaper, I do commercial work). I spent probably twenty minutes chatting with her in detail about the 2010 Prius and carefully explaining the “brake problem”. I thought we were really communicating. Maybe we were. But if you read this story, it’s difficult to to tell.
The lead off graph is about how a man is “distraught” and cannot relax since the recall. Lucky man if the worst thing in his world is a car recall in a year when the economy is cratering, hundreds of thousands die in natural disasters and we’re still involved in two wars which kill Americans nearly every day.
Which isn’t to say that the gentleman Haslett profiles in the beginning of her article is foolish for being concerned about his daughter. That’s natural. It’s the way he characterizes and what he thinks the solution is that is downright stupid.
Lucy Liu says she’s getting rid of her Solara and doesn’t want another Toyota. So she’s buying a Lexus. All that beauty apparently surrounds less than a probing intellect. That’s sad.
We get a one liner from another Toyota owner and then, me.
The problem with doing a “phoner” is that I didn’t record my end so I can’t compare how she quoted me to what I actually said. Suffice to say, I thought I spent more than enough time trying to explain the situation and the jumbled mess there attributed to me makes it seem as though I’m comfortable with brakes that don’t work so much as entertain.
The finale of Haslett’s article is a redux of the distraught man from the top. He says complained a problem to the dealer but the dealer said it was ok. Well, what was the problem she complained about? Is it too much to ask a reporter to report critical details? Is he alleging the dealer ignored an out of control acceleration issue? or something else? Readers of the Tribune won’t find out.
The article ends with this plaintive but utterly pointless quote,
“When I signed for the car, I didn’t sign for this,” he said.
Does anyone ever buy a car thinking it won’t be perfect and trouble-free forever? However unrealistic that is, I get it, but so what? It’s silly to think that way. There’s a reason why car companies offer warranties and reason why car buyers love them. Because we live in an imperfect world. But that’s trivializing the issue and I’m here to do that. I am here to point out how shallow that ending sentence was.
Look, I’m not minimizing how much it sucks to have a car recalled especially for something potentially serious. That said, out of millions of Toyota out there, we’re talking about, quite literally, a handful of complaints. To my knowledge, no accidents or injuries have resulted. Again, that’s not to minimize that a recall sucks but let’s be adults here. We live in a world of mass produced goods. Sometimes, with some of the things we buy there are problems. To expect otherwise is to live in some odd fantasy world filled with marshmallow clouds and unicorns. Cars get recalled all the time. If this were a Chevy recall, it wouldn’t be a story. Want me to prove it?
This week the NHTSa announced it was investigating 1,132 complaints about steering defects in four model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt affecting more than 900,000 cars.
Have you heard about that on the Today show?
Maybe the president of Chevy made a video and apologized for it?
Maybe your local news station went to their Chevy dealer to ask about it?
None which makes the Toyota recall any different but it does highlight the unique nature of this story, something which I think, is fueling this media feeding frenzy. It’s weird. Toyotas don’t usually have problems. Toyota isn’t typically involved in a mass recall such as this one. So it’s different. So it deserves the insane amount of coverage it’s getting, right?
So, back to intrepid reporter Kiah and the Chicago Tribune. Sure, as the story headline makes clear, many Toyota owners are frustrated. Some of them are downright nuts (see the idiot Tundra owner in the post below). But for most of us, it’s an inconvenience and not much more. And that’s the way it should be. Since we can’t expect any manufacturer to be perfect, we hope they are very, very good and when there is a problem we want to them to solve it quickly and effectively. Which, curiously enough, is exactly what Toyota is doing. And yet, the news cycle grinds on.
As I try to wind this epic screed down I want to specifically address the 2010 Prius “brake problem” and compare and contrast this with the accelerator recall. I’m also going to toss a little gasoline on this fire.
Keep in mind, the accelerator recall only involved Toyota’s made here in the US and the part specifically involved is also made here in the US. Toyota’s made in Japan are not affected by the recall or, apparently, afflicted with this issue. Funny how that gets glossed over, eh?
All Prius currently come from Japan, so conflating this “brake issue” (and I’ll get to why I keep putting that in quotes shortly) with the accelerator is really mixing two very different issues together as one.
Ok, here’s the deal on the 2010 brakes and Prius brakes in general. Prius uses a system common to most hybrids where the brakes are a combination of two things, a generator and the standard friction brakes common to every car. The generators are used during the first part of the braking procedure. The generators reduce the speed of the car in the same manner standard friction brakes do but, unlike standard friction brakes, they generate electricity which is used to keep the hybrid batteries charged. Standard friction brakes only generate heat and wear down the braking surface. It’s one reason why most Prius owners don’t replace brakes for 100,000 miles or more.
Now, there is a transition, when braking where the generators are no longer engaged and the standard friction brakes are. Let me put it another way. If you were to index the pressure you apply to your brakes from 1 to 100. As you apply pressure that index number increases. In Prius, you’re not using the standard friction brakes until you hit about index number 80 or so (depending on how you apply them, this is much simpler than the actual process is). From 80 or so onward, the regenerative braking is no longer engaged and the standard friction brakes are.
With me so far? It’s pretty simple actually. The whole thing is controlled under a very much more than I bothered to explain set of computer instructions that react much faster than you possibly could. This computer also takes into consideration whether or not all the wheels are turning (if you were sliding for instance). All in all it makes the Prius brake system very safe and extremely efficient (like the rest of the car). This isn’t much different from the standard ABS braking system. It’s a lot tougher than it used to be to stand on the brakes and make the car skid around. That’s an improvement, not a defect.
So, where “issue” comes up is this. There are times when applying the brakes in Prius, if you happen to traveling over a broken road surface, a pothole or, something that happens to me all the time because of where I live, if you’re going over something like a railroad crossing. If you’re applying the brakes steadily as you go over this surface sometimes you will feel the transition between the regenerative system and the standard friction system. It’s a weird feeling, somewhat akin to being in free fall for a brief instant, then, the friction brakes kick in and you continue to slow down. It’s a fraction of a second but an intense fraction of a second. Next time it happens, you think to yourself, “Oh yeah, that.”
I first noticed this in my 2005 Prius and I’ve noticed it in my 2010. We have especially mediocre roads in Lancaster. Some Prius owners have never noticed it. The thing is, it’s not necessarily a “problem”. It’s not a “defect” in the general sense. It’s the way that braking system works.
Allow me to make a final analogy.
Let’s say you’re a Prius owner. Maybe a new Prius owner. Maybe out for your first drive in your new car. You’re driving away from the dealership and and you see a red light ahead. You stop at the intersection and as you do, the gas motor in your new Prius stops running! Dead silence. You can’t believe it. Your Prius just stalled. When the light turns green, you press on the accelerator and glide through the intersection.
Now, did you just experience a “defect” or a “problem” or was it the normal behavior of Prius?
The answer is, of course, it’s the way Prius works. Same goes for the brakes. Yes, it’s different from “standard” cars. Yes, if you don’t know what’s going on it’s weird as hell. But it’s not a problem.
Did you know that more than three quarters of the people who drive a 2010 Prius are brand new to hybrids?
All of which is to say, Toyota is being unfairly lambasted for this 2010 brake issue. I don’t think it’s an issue at all. And I very much hope that the solution is not something which kills the regenerative braking system, one of the great things about Prius.
We, as the public, must grow up and not be lemmings eager to hurl themselves into the sea at the slightest provocation. We need to demand, because as customers, we deserve to know, good explanations and complete resolutions. But we also need to be reasonable and fair. Acting like a spoiled child may be satisfying for some but it’s not any more appealing than it sounds. I know a lot people at Toyota. To a person they are nice, reasonable people who work very hard to build honest cars at a good value. History shows us that they’ve been successful at it for a long time. Toyota builds a lot of cars here in the US. Toyota employs tens of thousands of Americans. This isn’t about bashing a “foreign” car company. When Ford builds the Fusion in Mexico and Toyota builds the Camry in Kentucky, we have to revise our thinking on who is “foreign” and how that word even applies anymore. Piling on Toyota and allowing a pathetic media to do so is not good for us. It doesn’t inform us. It’s infantilizes us. We’re not spoiled children.
A long time ago one of my bosses told me, “No one is perfect. To err is indeed human and what distinguishes us is how we deal with those imperfections both ours and of others.”
Wise words indeed. It’s how we fix mistakes that distinguish as human beings both good and bad. Expecting things to be perfect isn’t human. It’s just stupid.
If you have questions about your Toyota drop me a line. I’m always here to help.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 No comments
Most importanly, if you have questions, go here: http://www.toyota.com/recall
Chances are the media have it wrong.
Priuschat is reporting via an anonymous source at Toyota that a “fix” is imminent.
Ok, fair enough, I guess but I’d really love to hear what exactly is being viewed as the “problem” right now. I understand that because hybrids don’t work in exactly the same manner as grandpappy’s old Buick, some people feel their cars are defective. Sadly, just explaining that situation isn’t enough.
Or, is there really a problem with some 2010′s? All 2010′s? My brakes work just fine.
One thing is for certain, we’re getting a lot more heat than light from most of the media who either don’t understand the issues involved or don’t want to bother with explanations that are longer than most peoples’ attention spans. Oh. I wonder if I just nailed that one?
Suffice to say right now all we official know is that both the NHTSA and Toyota are looking into the “issue” of 2010 Prius brakes.
More here, of course, when it is available.
(hint, might be a good thing to have your VIN number handy)
Previous eight models of Toyota recalled for accelerator issues
As I understand the replacement parts are on their way or have already arrived at dealers now. The training for technicians was this week. We should start seeing dealers reaching out to owners to schedule replacements next week.
Try not to do what this idiot did…
A Toyota Tundra crashed into the showroom at All Star Toyota in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. Officers said a customer tried to return his truck following a recent recall on the accelerator. According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the general manager offered to fix the truck and repeatedly offered to give the customer a loaner in the meantime, but the customer declined and left the building. Police reported the man then drove his Toyota into the side of the dealership, causing major damage to the truck and the building. The customer claimed his accelerator became stuck, causing the crash. All Star said the truck was purchased last March [emphasis added] and did not have any records of mechanical problems.
Police added the accelerator was not stuck when they examined the truck after the crash, but they could not find any evidence that the crash was intentional. The driver was not ticketed.
It’s this kind of dishonesty from a customer that doesn’t help anyone, anywhere in situations such as this. Yeah, sure dude, your accelerator stuck.
Posted on January 12th, 2010 No comments
Normally, I’m the guy whose words tend towards the, shall we say, harsher end. So it’s especially nice to see someone else critical of something. Danny Cooper’s take on the new Honda 2011 CR-Z hybrid is refreshingly subtitled “-Another Honda Fail?” Go read his first glimpse review of the CR-Z.
After reading through the Priuschat news post on the new Honda I have to agree with what he wrote. If those are indeed the performance specs of the car this is another potentially huge fail for Honda. And I have to add here, I don’t get it. Honda is a great company and they make excellent products. They were first to market with a ground breaking hybrid but apparently they’re stuck with IMA and can’t seem to get better performance from it outside of the original Insight (which was a great hybrid).
I don’t know. The CR-Z certainly has the buzz. The legendary CR-X descendent has been eagerly anticipated by a lot of people but it appears that their waiting may have been in vain. That’s a shame.