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Well I did it, I went and test drove a 04 Prius to see what all the fuss was about, and I gotta say I really liked it. If you have been avoding it you owe it to yourself to go check one out if you can find one. Dealerships are selling them as quickly as they can get them in.

Myself and my grandfather had decided to go take a look at one. The closest dealership happened to have one with options package #9, loaded in silver. We went over there and they had it parked right up front under the cover of the building right where everyone could see. An older gentleman (this deslership is at the edge of Phoenix's huge retirement community) was already there with a salesman looking it over. We started looking it over and had another salesman come out and start telling us about it. I already knew more than he did for the most part.

Initial impressions: Build quality is very very good. The fabric on the seats and arm rests in the door panels is nice and soft. The seats are firm but comfortable. Getting in is easy, you just sit down, it's up much higher than the Insight, visability is better, espeically for backing up. The back seat has just as much room as the front it seems. 4 large adults could ride in it very comfortably for an extended period of time.

In the back there is a large storage area under the hatch back. It's probably only slightly larger sizewise over the back of the Insight, but much taller. Plus when you fold the rear seats down, wow you could put a lot of goodies in it. A small family could easily do a road trip in it.

Ok so the other guy had gotten back from his test drive. We had copies of our drivers licenses made and the key flob was handed to me. I was kind of suprised as the other guy that was test driving it was not allowed to drive it off the lot, apparently they trusted my backing abilities over his. I was already in the car, but to open the door it's neat. You keep the key flob in your pocket and walk up to the door, when you place your hand behind the handle it unlocks automatically before you pull the handle, very cool.

The drive: Foot on the brake I pressed the start button, hit the parking brake button and moved the toggle switch to reverse. The salesman was trying to explain it to me, but I was already moving by the time he was half way done. He goes 'ohh, you know how to do this." The car moves in electric only mode under low speeds. The engine didn't even fire until I had already went a quarter mile away from the dealership where I could get out on the main road. Under acceleration the engine finally decided to kick in. It was a short burst of acceleration and deceleration. The engine barely came on. We got on the freeway for about a mile, acceleration was very smooth. The only indication you have of where power is comming from is the screen, otherwise you'd never know.

It was beautiful, at freeway speeds road noise was nothing. Silence, we were able to carry on a converstion easily, it was very smooth, the car doesn't follow ruts in the road, and they have moved the speedometer from the middle of the dash to in front of you. You can read it without looking down more easily than the Insight. Of course i was somewhat distracted by the screen trying to see what kind of mileage it was getting. As soon as I got off of the freeway and was decelerating the engine had already shut off (I think) as I did a nice long regen. Also, the regen is variable, not all or nothing, however it does go pretty deep in it's capability, but you can't really tell when friction brakes come in to play.

I pulled over in to a neighborhood and let my grandpa have his turn. As we went back to the dealership. He was more interested in the performance than I was. Acceleration was actually very nice. When you get on it it kicks the engine and motor in together and it's actually quire torquey off the line. I believe same 0 to 60 as the Insight. I had also reset the mpg readout before we left, I got 47 mpg and was holding about 60+ mpg going 60 on the short stent of freeway so I think I could get some decent highway numbers as well. Overall including the brisk accelerations it had averaged 45.5 mpg. This mind you is on a brand new not broken in car on a very short trip. Honestly, I doubt the Insight would have gotten much better (possibly not as good) mileage on this short little ride.

Now other features. Even on the base model you get a lot of features. The ever so novel concept of cruise control is standard! You get the screen, which ehh I could live without, but I know it could be adapted for playing DVD movies. A 6 speaker CD stereo is standard, and you can get an upgraded one as well which actually is very nice. Navi is an option for those who want it, I'm presonally not sold though on that. HID headlights, optional but worth it, I'd get em, heck I've been wanting them in my Insight. The coolest feature by far was the smart entry and start though. And it comes with electric air conditioning too, all standard stuff. Side curtain air bags can also be had which is a nice saftey feature. Don't kid yourself people, the Insight is pretty bare compared.

Of course it is not without it's faults. Their hybrid system I'm sure would be a nightmare to work on if something broke, although their warranty is better than Honda's even. And I've never heard of a Prius having battery problems, especially heat related ones like Honda's. Of course it lacks the coolness and distinct look of the Insight.

If you've read this far thanks, I didn't write this for nothing. Anyways, I'm very very impressed with what Toyota has come up with. I mean throw leather in one and it's luxury far beyond all other hybrids. Considering the MSRP is the same as the civic hybrid there would be no question in my mind that hands down the Prius would be my choice between the two. The only issue would be availability at the moment. They today show that the car's been sold. Also they were asking $6000 over msrp! They are very proud of the car. It's probably worth msrp, but not that much. Really though, I'm gonna see how much I could possibly get one for with an option package more to my liking and plug the numbers and see what it comes out to. I think I may want one.
 
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Hi Rick:

___A very good mini-review! I don’t blame you for considering one either ;)

___Since I believe in an automobiles TCO over and above most other attributes, the 04 Prius doesn’t pay off when compared to a Camry or Corolla but it has its own unique look and you can always hang your hat on its PZEV-AT/ SULEV high mileage green-ness. There is a bit of controversy over a few items in the $20,000 to $26,000 hatchback (Torsion rear suspension, ~ 10.5 seconds to 60, rear drum brakes, no driver’s side height adjustment, no SR or Leather as you have already mentioned, no DRL’s, fuel tank capacity < then stated in cold weather in particular due to bladder shrinkage, and lower mileage then EPA estimates) but in comparison to the HCH, it is clearly a step above. Honda is in trouble with its Hybrid program with the release of the 04 Prius and its sophisticated HSD IMHO. I hope Honda has something up their sleeve because even though I don’t think the 04 Prius is worth the money, if you are going to purchase a new Hybrid, this is the one to own for all the reasons you have already experienced.

___If you do end up purchasing one, please keep us informed as to your city/hwy mileage in particular. The 01-03 Prius owners that have traded up for the 04 may know how to squeeze their cars for mileage to some particular limit but there is no way they are ever going to compare to any of the Insight Central members and their strive to maximize that attribute I have read about, that is a guarantee ;)

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:htmp7u7s][email protected][/email:htmp7u7s]
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well if I did get one it'd be a while probably. I'm guessing several months at least to get what I would want. I'm just exercising the possibility at this point.
 

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"...it's up much higher than the Insight..."

Not a plus, IMHO.

"You keep the key flob in your pocket and walk up to the door, when you place your hand behind the handle it unlocks automatically before you pull the handle, very cool."

Yuck! That's worse than those stupid electronic key gizmos - yes, I know the Insight comes with one, but I don't have to use it. And indeed, I'm not real sure where mine is, maybe in the back of the junk drawer...

I'm sure the Prius has a lot of nice features, and some good engineering, but why the heck can't they put them in something I'd want to drive?
 

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I must agree on the advantages of the Prius. One of My co-workers told me that the local dealer had one he was interested in buying,sooo being curious I dropped in after work and checked it out, this was approximately 3 weeks ago. When the salesman noticed me park in front of the door with "Mizr" he asked if I was interested in a test drive, I couldnt resist. I was very impressed with the acceleration and the "comfort" of the drive. This unit was loaded to the fullest extent (nav system, premium sound system and all the bells and whistles (which the unit with navigation system will play DVD's. I took it down and let the wife see it and try it,her responce was "can we trade the blue Insight in on it?"(she was refering to her 2001 Monte Carlo Blue CVT Insight). I was estatic that she was interested, but fate wouldn't allow it as the dealer would only give me $6000 trade in on the Insight, which I thought was a little low for a car with less than 14000 miles on it and in excellent condition. But I may still sell her Insight myself and order one for the wife, but MIZR will never go untill his time has passed (hopefully at about 200000 miles).
 

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Thanks for the commentary on the Prius, Rick.

I love my Insight, but I wanted to at least try the Prius so I'd know how it compared to the Insight and the Civic hybrid.

However, in my area of Ontario, there isn't an unsold Prius. They're ALL sold, and they go straight to the new owners as soon as they arrive.

No test drives for me :(

I got the impression from the guy at the local Toyota dealer that they're kind of sorry they aren't getting more Prius in. They're getting a ton of inquiries about the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, kinda a little update today. The one I test drove was gone by the next day. A dealership near my school's web site showed they had 3, one which was blue so I kinda wanted to go see what they looked like exactly in that color. When I arrived a eager sales man approached me (kinda suprised, I look like a punk kid today too) and I asked if they had it still. He said they must have not updated the site because it had been gone before it was really even in if they even did have it. All well, but they did have a silver one that's sole intent was just for test drives. It was not for sale which was kinda cool because that way people can at least see the car.

Also, interestingly enough, they are asking msrp for the cars. I mentioned that the other dealership was asking 6000 over msrp and he just kinda sighed and said that they were the only dealership not doing that. So I guess if I decided I wanted one badly enough thats where I'd likely go to get one. I dunno, it lost it's initial coolness, I might just put some Goodyear Integrity tires on mine and see if I like the ride more.

Good luck finding one to test out opal.
 

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Our local (1 1/2 hours away) Toyota dealer is asking sticker and there is a three month wait. He claims the cars are only coming over three ways, base, mad, and high end. The base selling for about the same as a cvt Insight. They do have a demo they are selling January 1 for sticker. After a lot of soul searching, I'm still looking for a great deal on an 03 Insight.
I did find the engine on the toy noisy, maybe it was just the demo or the fact that we insulated our Insight as soon as we got it.
Rick
 
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Hi Ecfool:

___First off, I am sorry for going OT …

___Even though the 04 Prius has many advantages over any of the Honda Hybrid’s, it still doesn’t have the fuel economy (EPA estimates anyway) of even the CVT based Insight. I know the Insight CVT and 04 Prius are very close … In any case, I really want a 5-speed for its possible 75 – 85 mpg economy because of my monster 180 mile round trip commute and its Ok acceleration. Even so, if you are interested in selling your Blue 01 w/ CVT at some point in the next few weeks/months, I might be interested if the price is right.

___I know this is the wrong place to talk sales but I cannot send a PM for some reason?

___Rick, I could use your expert assistance about now as well? Gas is at $1.37 just north of Chicago now.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:h5h8m7dl][email protected][/email:h5h8m7dl]
 

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> but why the heck can't they put them in something I'd want to drive?

HSD (the hybrid system in Prius) is scheduled for installation in 2 other vehicles next year. (Actually, 3 if you count the version Ford will be using.) And it will be installed in at least 2 more the following year.

Power/Efficiency/Emission ratio levels will vary, as well as the body they'll be installed in. You can expect a variety of option packages too.

Then in 2006, Nissan will be offering HSD in one of their vehicles. More Toyota vehicles are expected to offer it too. And of course, we can expect an IMA equipped vehicle from Honda.

In other words, the market is going to be flooding with choices in the next couple of years.
 

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Prius blah...

Well let us not forget that this is an Insight forum and though the Prius may well be a good car the insight still has the best mpg period.

My only wish lists for the insight is that they used lithium ion batteries instead of the nickle metal hyride ones and that the hp on the electric motor was higher... I can only imagine how much better the insight would be ...
 

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Lithium Ion batteries self-discharge. That fact is really a pain with notebook computers. I can't imagine having to deal with that in a hybrid.

Supposedly, someone invented a membrane that could be used to prevent the discharging. It hasn't made it to market yet though.

Price is rather expensive too.
 

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Re: Prius blah...

meow77 said:
Well let us not forget that this is an Insight forum and though the Prius may well be a good car the insight still has the best mpg period.
I welcome the introductions of new or upgraded hybrids. I'm just thinking when some of you watch football this weekend, are many of you going to compare a wide receiver to a tight end or even a lineman? Ridiculous - they do different things, do some things better than the rest of the team. I submit that comparisions between the Insight and Prius is also an apples vs oranges comparision.

Essentially the 2004 Prius is being compared with the 1999 Insight. Five years is a very long time for an automaker to make improvements. That the Insight still has the best mpg during this period is a tribute to Honda, but an embarrassment to the rest of the auto industry. Toyota is the only competition and also deserves a bow. In fact the 2004 Prius was named somebody's Car of The Year and the Top Ten in a list not by Letterman. :D When the IMAS is introduced, it will likely have features no other car has.

The Prius was intended to carry a family - the Insight is a proof of concept commuter that has a lot of acceleration for it's class. My critical eye is not on Honda or Toyota, but the automakers on the sidelines, particularly Detroit. Currently there is only three choices: Insight, Civic, Prius.

The other thing I look at unfavorably is how slow the hybrids are being accepted. I put a thread about an MSNBC auto reviewer reporting only 42 mpg in a 2004 Prius. His article was better than it started, but a number of reviewers have reports mpgs so low that it's apparent they don't understand hybrids.
 

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I don't mind people talking about other hybrids or electric cars or what-have-you, though I think I still like the Insight better. It's not as nice looking as the J-VX concept it evolved from, but I still think it's leagues ahead of the Prius style-wise. I think the Prius looks like a peanut.

Having said that, I think they took the right direction in trying to improve the performance, if it wasn't so ungodly heavy it would probrably be a much better choice in my eyes.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok the coolness kinda wore off on me. I'm back to keeping the Insight now. I'm probably going to just put some quieter tires on it early next year and suck up the mileage drop and be happy with it.
 

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The one thing I can't get past on the Prius are the taillights. I think the "Altezza clears" scream "rice" more than anything else. It's unfortunate that this trend seems to have caught on with some of the import brands (Lexus?!?).

I wonder if APC is working on some "DOT approved red tails" for the '04 Prius.
 

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Rick said:
Ok the coolness kinda wore off on me.
That's ok, Rick, it was still a good review to read. I encourage you to play around with your Insight tires; I'm appreciating the traction on mine, despite the mpg drop it is still a wonderful car.
 

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Would cranking up the stereo and leaving the tires alone be an alternative? :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Delta Flyer said:
Would cranking up the stereo and leaving the tires alone be an alternative? :D
No thats the problem I have really. The road noise makes me turn up my music to drown the road noise out and by the time I get to each end of my commute I can feel it in my ears. If I didn't have that much road noise I wouldn't run my music so loud (most of the time) thus in theory saving my ears. I think with the Goodyear Integrity I have picked out I will only loose a few mpg, but gain a whole lot of comfort with them. Plus, Willie runs them on his rear wheels and says that took care of most of the following the ruts in the roads.
 

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Rick, I enjoyed reading about your experience with the Prius. The majority of people will never buy an Insight. After I show them mine they get that look in their eyes that says there is no way they'll get the kids and the dog in there, or pull the boat, or convince the spouse. Most people want or need what the Prius has to offer so I tell them about the Prius and they look relieved. In the next couple of years there should be many other hybrid options. Like a hybrid CRV with better mileage than a standard Civic perhaps? :roll:

Have you tried sound insulation? 30 pounds of the right stuff would make a noticable difference and wouldn't significantly change youre mileage. I put some in mine. :D
 
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