Why all the Hate on the Toyota Prius?

2017 Toyota Prius Three
2017 Toyota Prius Three

American drivers have taken heartily to the Toyota Prius since it was introduced as the first mass-market hybrid automobile, while automotive enthusiasts have continued to see it as a pariah.

 

What is it about this car that garners such strong emotions?

 

Is it the design? Now in a third design generation, this hybrid that started a revolution has developed a more futuristic look than the rather a dull looking small econobox that first showed up in 1997. Today it is a cross between an emoji and spaceship styling, almost a throwback to the 1950’s when cars had fins.

Since inception, this successful model line has morphed into a sedan, mini-SUV, even a smaller hyper-miler version and now a fanciful Prime model. First gens are still on the road today which shows that Toyota has earned its legendary reputation for longevity, reliability and road worthiness.

Toyota's Hybrid power-train has led the industry in this high mileage segment.
Toyota’s Hybrid powertrain has led the industry in this high mileage segment.

Is the emotional response to the Prius
because it is different on so many levels?

Nothing in the automotive world has moved the needle more than the hybrid combination of gasoline and electric to power a vehicle. And today some twenty years later hybrid technology is available on almost every mainstream brand. Increasing miles per gallon has staggered for years until Toyota brought this economy car to market. We were getting in the high 40’s as we drove the 2017 Toyota Prius Three for a week.

 

Toyota's Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.
Toyota’s Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.

As American’s we love all the
technology, so it can’t be that!

Technology is not just propelling the vehicle down the road, it is also benefiting the driver from the extensive operational data to little things like the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger in the center console. From the backup camera to the heads up display. Toyota’s Saftey Sense ™ Pre-Collision system w/ pedestrian detection, lane departure alert auto high beam adjustment and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control all in a car that stickers at $30,186 including delivery.

 

 

Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.
Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.

 

Being different is not a bad thing.

Interior has flowing lines, though the choice of contrasting colors and fabric on the seat may be a bit garish, the heads-up display and controls were easy to use.

 

 

Prius's gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.
Prius’s gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.

The only thing I had some issue with was the gear selector, a lever that went over and up/down to select Drive or Reverse, then a separate button off the stalk for Park. Once placed in reverse it prompted an obnoxious beep, like that of a construction vehicle, but only on the inside. Understandable as quiet as the vehicle is when powered on, the driver may not know it is in reverse. If the occupants are being alerted, why not those outside the vehicle too?

 

Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.
Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.

So it is not a sporty performance car,
it was never designed to be one.

So this is not a muscle car or even a sports car. And it is light enough to be buffeted by a windy March day. My take is that while it may not be a luxury or a sexy sports car, it does exactly what it is designed to do, which is move occupants and their gear economically and safely from place to place without any fanfare. So there is nothing to hate on there.

 

The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.
The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.

As a guy born and bred from a time when muscle cars ruled the American road and someone who loves technology, I was excited to get the opportunity to spend some time in the Prius. It brought back the memories of the first “foreign car” my family owned, was a 1970 four-door Toyota Corona. At the time it was the latest and greatest, small classicly designed car that costs $1995.00. For its time, it had very modern amenities like bucket seats, automatic transmission, and what they marketed as very customer focused, a power outlet in the glove box for a 12 v trouble light as standard equipment. Today what car company would even want you to think you would ever need such a thing?

So maybe it is the attitude of the Prius driver, which I too had in making a right on red when a big SUV came flying up from behind honking its horn telling me to get out of the way. Yep, I was sipping fuel, and you were guzzling it

The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.
The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.

So here we are 47 years later with a Toyota that gets 52 mpg compared to the 20 mpg that the Corona managed. With an advanced technology package that makes that little trouble light plug seem archaic. Though even at the time Toyota was a brand thinking ahead at what you might need.

Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.
Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.

 

If you are looking for a modern, safe, high mileage sedan with good trunk space, then the Toyota Prius at the $30K sticker price is well worth consideration. – Though I still long for that Red 1970 Corona!

The Toyota Corona from the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The Toyota Corona from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Toyota was nice enough to send over a 2017 Prius Three for us to spend a week driving and experiencing. With that, we were able to provide this review of the vehicle to you our readers. We appreciate their confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company, which makes us feel good about their products and support of

We appreciate Toyota’s confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company.

Historic photos by Toyota News US Pressroom
Words & Photos  by William West Hopper
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