the end of the prius

and i just walked away
Pickles Auctions

Well, over 50,000 km later, and after 2 years, the lease on the Prius ran out. I did not choose to buy it out . It was the most unusual car I have ever had. So I’ll write my own views below. I have no car now. I am thinking of using go-get, but I am trying having no car for a while. In the longer term I plan to get a van for camping. I’d love to get an old kombi van, but they are large and I do not know if it would fit in the garage.

Being a Telstra Fleet Vehicle, I had to take it down to Pickles Auction Yard. This was in itself an experience. There were many semis of cars. I had to find the side entrance. The main entrance is for people attending auctions to buy cars. The man at the gate was very blase. I had to park in the middle of their drive and walk up to the gate. I filled in a bit of paper with the rego number, and left the car where you can see it in the photo and just walked off. No signing anything, no forms. Quite unlike Telstra and hence a shock to the system.

So here are my views of the Prius. (in no particular order)

fuel consumption

The fuel consumption is all it is cracked up to be. Over the 50,000+ kms I averagesd 4.75 l/100km. This is using the odometer and the fuel as stated by the fuel pumps. The reading on the dash can be quite out depending on the type of driving (city/country) and usually understates the consumption.
AUS NSW Merlya 2008 04 25 IMG_7922

The drive system is the most unusual. Only one front gear. It took many months, maybe even 6, to get used to it. At first it made driving hard work and my inbuilt reactions were not used to it. But in the end I have to say it is the best drive system I have ever used. Once you adjust, it is great. You never have to worry about stalling the engine. When you want power, there is a short lag and then it comes on. It is better than an automatic as it does not often have to change modes unlike an auto which still has to change gears.
The Spit

There are times when the power is not quite there. As the engine is stopped while stationary, I learned to hit the accelerator a little bit early to allow it to start the motor and get some revs going. Even though the electric motor will get you going, if you need to pull out in to moving traffic you’ll need the motor quickly. I got quite adept at this on the Sydney roads.

Lightning Ridge
Lightening Ridge

There are times when you are driving along when there is a perceptible change. I think that this is caused when one of the motors flips from say 1000 RPM to -1000 RPM or the reverse. This happens a bit when you suddenly decide you need to accelerate, such as when overtaking another vehicle. I do not know how long this takes, but I’d guess at about half a second. Again it does not have an appreciable effect, but it is something to get used to.

prius in the grass

You sometimes have to be careful of the electric motor. It has so much torque that the wheels will spin. Even though there is traction control, in the wet when accelerating hard the wheels will spin. But he worst was on dirt roads. I went going up several very steep hill in the border ranges national park. The road was gravel, reasonable well maintained but with fields of small rocks. I had to slow down because of the rocks. As it is front wheel drive I had little grip on these wheels. So they would spin. You get to the stage where the car has stopped. With your foot on the accelerator the wheel will spin, then it will slip, the traction control will cut the power. The wheel stops for a moment and then the whole process starts again. It is very slow going.


The car is a city car. In this way it was not really suited to my normal driving. I do a fair bit of driving in the country side and it has very little ground clearance. I stuck to the bitumen and well maintained dirt roads.

stuck in traffic
Newell Highway

The dash layout with the speedo looking like it is 0.5 meters under the bonnet, by using a mirror trick, is actually very effective and I liked it. It was miles ahead of the terrible arrangement on the nissan x-trail.

North Coast railway
Border Ranges

The car is surprisingly spacious on the inside, though three people in the back seat is a bit crowded, unless they are all children. The fold down back seats are a delight to use, though I found the screen for the luggage compartment fiddly to remove and reinstall.

spare tyre
Spare Tyre

I had no mechanical issues. I did have two flat tyres. But the spare wheel is not a full sized wheel. One on a dirt road on a weekend. I had to drive 100km, a fair bit of it on dirt, to find a town which could repair the tyre as it was the weekend. The book is too vague as to how far you can drive on the spare. The other time it was the front wheel that was flat. The car pulls to one side when the spare is on the front wheel.

Look out on the Roseville Warrill View Road

The one thing that does not work properly is the windscreen wipers. The highest speed was too slow and in heavy rain it is almost impossible to see out the front of the car. On several occasions I considered stopping. In a tropical storm I think you would have to stop.

The other thing that was not the same asĀ  a normal car is the heating. As the engine is often hot, the car actually has to run the


engine to warm up the incomming air. This effect your fuel economy. Also the car sometimes does not seem to get warm. So I thought the heater was a bit lame. But I like to run the interior of the car quite warm.

All in all I will miss this car very much. It is a pity they do not have a 4WD van hybrid. I guess that will take some time. But I certainly loved the drive system and would recommend the car to anyone.

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