View Full Version : Toyota Prius Rental: Some Driving & Feature Operation Impressions

07-26-2008, 03:25 PM
On a recent repeat business trip to L.A., car rental co. didn't have the category size that I reserved available, so they "upgraded" me @ no extra charge. Due to higher than national average gas prices, the Toyota Prius hybrid is more in demand, and was to be my "wheels" for the next 24 hrs.

My immediate impression (besides being an odd looking car) was that interior room for my 6' plus frame was adequate, if not generous for driver. As I didn't have any baggage, I didn't thoroughly investigate trunk space- needless to say, it's not a "golf clubs & beer keg" kind of car, but again intended forte' is a commuter car.

I'm tempted to nickname it "electric car"- AND for reasons other than hybrid status. There are no "keys", only a cracker-sized "fob". You can put fob in slot to right of steering column, OR simply leave in your pocket. (presumably, former option would keep fob battery charged??). To start, put foot on brake, and depress start button. You'd never know that car started if not for the "READY" light on right side of panel. You could also start car with xmission selected in Drive or Reverse. Initial acceleration is hesitant/sluggish for a half second, but once up & running midrange (25MPH & up) felt just as good/even better than other economy/intermediate cars. General handling seemed bland/predictable, almost like an electric golf cart- again fine for a commuter car.

This particular car was "loaded"- had nav touch screen & backup screen that appeared whenever transmission mini-lever (to right of fob slot) was selected in reverse. Initially, I didn't fool around with nav features, as I was eager to get to one of my fave clubs }:D quickly, & I know the way to club like I know the back of my hand;D . I confess to being a car nav "rookie", so I'll just categorize the pros & cons from operator/user standpoint.


1) If you forgot exact hotel address, but know about where it is, you can drag icon over to street intersection, click "enter", then click "travel" icon, then "hotels", finally the appropriate hotel that comes up(there was 4 hotels near my inxn.)
2) On programmed address/route, the street/road/highway that you are on will be boldly displayed on bottom of screen.
3) RE #2- While on route, prominent restaurants, or gas stations will be displayed as you come up on intersection- a good form of positive feedback, plus nice to know if car or stomach needs "refueling".
4) Nav was very effective/anticipatory for negotiating multiple ramp entries (eg- a right-left-left from Sepulveda to Century) voice chimed in a timely manner.
5) Should one miss a turn (as I deliberately did), you won't be scolded. Within 5 seconds, an alternate route will be displayed to destination.


1) In free map mode (no destination) scale is OK for city driving, but for freeway driving, wouldn't have minded being able to move scale "ahead" a little for better anticipating turnoffs.
2) This nav unit is fine for residential addresses, but not sufficiently refined for finding a place in a "business park" or maybe even a mall type of area. In 1 case, I was driving westbound on Main Blvd. - voice announced arrival at destination 50' prior to appropriate turnoff, actual hotel was located a further 75 yards back. In another case, I deliberately disregarded instructions, went backway, but kept getting alternate instructions to a more roundabout way back to Main Blvd. I made a left into side entrance to hotel without any guidance/input from nav unit- and pulled right up to main lobby entrance with no announcement that I'd arrived at destination. (Picky, Picky).
3) I found myself going "heads down" more than a few times- potential distraction as much as aid. In all fairness, unit was higher up on center panel than some other cars.

GAS MILEAGE- FWIW ( and its not much), I had to put in 1.7 gallons, vs 1.9 gallons for a Toyota Corolla that I rented on prior trip- driving nearly identical "profiles". The "out" mileage was incorrectly recorded (I'm guessing I drove 45-50 miles- I didn't bother with trip computer). Although gas gauge read Full, we all know that can be off. All in all, I would rent this car again. I know little/nothing about ownership/reliability issues- I'd give this car serious consideration if I mainly did local urban commuter driving.

07-26-2008, 07:40 PM
I rented one last time I was in California. I did quite a lot of driving up and down the coast while I was there as well as some trips to some inland spots I missed. Gas Mileage was very good though I wasn't factoring in the balloon payment later to replace the battery.

All in all it's a boring but quite livable daily driver. Nothing really wrong with it, nothing that special either (well other then the gas mileage of course). Typical Japanese quality, which is very good even if nothing about the car makes say "wow".