Anyone who spends $30,000 on a car which is not a Toyota Prius is a making a huge mistake. This car is the coolest thing I have ever owned. More importantly, the “bang for the buck” on this car is off the scale in my opinion. If I just had to guess the price based on seeing and driving it, I would put it much higher.
Aside from being a gas/electric hybrid thus giving you phenomenal gas mileage, this car just blew me away with all it’s cool features. Ever since we got it I’ve break out into spontaneous fits of joyful giggling. I find my self wanting to go places now because driving is no longer a utilitarian necessity, but something I actively enjoy.
The experience starts as you walk up to this totally cool looking machine with the “smart key” in your pocket. As you grab the door handle, it senses the key on you and automatically unlocks the door. After getting, press the brake pedal, and push the big “power” button on the dash (with the smart key still in your pocket, purse, on the seat next to you, or anywhere you want to put it, including into a slot on the dash if you really want to be so boring and conventional). The various controls and readouts come to life like the cockpit of some star fighter. Strangely even though the dash indicates “ready” you will hear almost no sound from the engine. You just have to trust that the car is running (which it is).
There is a small shift stick on the dash that you push over and up for reverse or over and down for drive. As soon as you let go the shifter returns back to it’s starting position (the car stays in gear but the stick returns to it’s starting point).
The touch screen in the center of the dash is where you control just about everything. The GPS navigation, Radio, 6 CD changer, cassette player, climate controls, information screens, etc. There are also controls directly on the steering wheel to control most of the major things you will need while driving such as volume, temperature, audio modes, and map/info displays on the screen.
The GPS unit is, in the words of Peter Griffin, “Frickin’ sweet!” It’s loaded with the whole U.S. To To set your destination you can punch in an address, intersection, latitude and longitude coordinates, call up one of your customized memory locations, look up “Points of interest” such as restaurants (by type if you like), hotels, airports, or you can just touch a place on the map screen. This thing is incredible. We’ve used it to go just about everywhere since we got the car (not because we needed to, but to test it’s ability and because it was fun). It has tons of really advanced features that I won’t bother going into here (the GPS manual is almost as thick as the car manual). It often took us on routes we never would have thought of. It also gives you a choice of routes: quickest, shortest, or you can customize your own. This car is begging for a long road trip.
The climate controls are the same as just about any car (except they’re on a touch screen), however it can also do “automatic” mode. This is just like the air conditioning in your house where you just set a temperature and it does whatever it needs to maintain that temperature. No fiddling with the fan speed or other sliders.
There is an awesome set of “information” screens where you can see exactly what you current gas mileage is and a graph of your mileage in 5 minute intervals, or you can see a diagram of the hybrid system and exactly how energy is being transferred. You can visually see when the electric motor is supplying energy, when the gas motor is supplying energy and when the electric motor is being recharged from either deceleration or from the gas motor.
There is also a set of screens where you can keep track of all your maintenance such as oil changes, tire changes, air filter, and pretty much everything else you should be doing on a periodic basis.
If you have a bluetooth capable phone, you can make and answer calls through the screen using the car’s speakers and built in dash microphone. This microphone can also be used to issue voice commands while driving. Instead of pushing buttons on the dash you can press one button on the steering wheel and say “CD” to change to the CD player or “home” to automatically change your destination to your programmed “home” location. Again, most major functions you would want to access while driving can be accessed via voice commands if you wish.
There are many storage areas including two “glove compartment” areas, one which opens up and one opening downward, ample drink holders, an overhead sunglasses storage area, and side pockets on the doors with special wider areas for storing things such as water bottles. There are 2 12V power supply ports, same as a standard “cigarette lighter” (no 120V power, sorry Dave!) Much to my surprise, however, there was no actual cigarette lighter or ash trays in the car (I personally thought that was cool).
I could easily go on for days, as ever single detail of this car seems incredibly well thought out, impressive, and over all, just very cool.
Jess and I both love the way it drives. Though we are both “conservative” drivers in that we try to accelerate and decelerate in a slow, smooth manner which is best for fuel efficiency and long term durability of a car, I don’t find that it lacks any pickup if you want it. We both found the field of view took some getting used to as it has a more “closed” feeling than a lot of cars. The side borders between the windshield and side windows are quite thick, and the back window seems small when looking in the rear view mirror, but neither so much that it actually bothers us.
Speaking of the mirror, it automatically darkens at night if someones headlights are shining in your eyes, and it has controls which can be programmed to open your garage door, security gate, and such if you have them.
The nine speaker JBL sound system sounds excellent, and oh how I love finally having cruise control.
If you’re ever in the market for a new car, I can’t express strongly enough my recommendation for this car. For all my raving I’ve still probably left out at least that much raving or more. If there is any way possible you can get one, do it. Sell things. Give blood. Work overtime. Use your psychic powers or time traveling abilities unscrupulously to win the lottery. Get you hands on a Prius.