Thoughts on owning a Prius, and my obsessiveness

I have one of these, in this same nautical blue colour.

I have one of these, in this same nautical blue colour.

I have owned a Prius for two weeks now. It was my “Black Friday” purchase. It allows me to take a snooty look at other cars and say to myself, I am being kinder to the planet than you are. Owning a Prius though, does makes me think I have more evidence in favour of me having mild OCD. Does that sound like a positive thing? I don’t mean to mock anyone with a serious level of OCD. Let me explain. My wife says I’m OCDish because I organise my wardrobe and clothes draws. I like CD’s and DVDs to be the right way up in the boxes. I always make a sandwich the same way. You know, I like to do it that way. In return I say she is OCDish because she always has to double and triple check the door is locked when we leave the house, and has to check the hobs and oven before we go to bed, even when it is hours since she used it, and has been in the kitchen several times since. We joke that our (almost) 2 year old has it times ten, as he likes to keep his toys in certain places. If we move some when he is not around, to another room, he does not get upset. But a little later when he discovers them, he will just carry them back to where they belong, then carry on with whatever he is doing. If nothing else, it is cute.

The Prius feeds into this obsessive behaviour for me. The Prius, Toyota’s best seller among the hybrid cars, gets a great mpg. Now you can just drive it and get a better mpg than most cars. That is not enough for me. I want the best mpg I can get. Or at least I want to see how much mpg I can get. So I like to switch driving modes often, not using the “power” mode (more on that in a minute), unless required, even though really, that is the most fun to drive in. At least in a sporty sense. I’m frugal with the air con, because that too burns gas. I long slow brake where I can, because that charges the battery a little more with regenerative braking. Getting 45 to 50 mpg is a good thing. Getting 50 -55, or better mpg is an obsessive challenge I enjoy. My wife, as she reads this, is no doubt pleased that I use this car to drive to work and back, without her in it.

Also obsessive with the Prius is the way I use the smart key, which by the way, I looooove. The gist of it is that the car can sense when the key is inside it. Then you use a power button to start it, and later, to turn it off. It is also smart because the front doors, and boot (trunk), can tell that the key is next to them, and you can open them by placing your hand on the handle, or sensor, and it unlocks. The doors can be locked the same way moving your finger across a sensor or onto a button at the boot. All this means is you can use the car without taking the key out of your pocket. I can go out and the first time the keys need to leave my pocket, is when I need them to unlock the front door when I return home. I’m obsessed with that too.

Thankfully the features I love don’t end there. There are several driving modes. “Normal” the standard mode, “Eco” which reduces the power output and uses the battery more, great for stop / start traffic (especially in southern California). “Power” which increases the output, gives you quicker acceleration for those situations where it is required, and “Evo” which gives a half mile or so of battery only. I’ve no idea where I would use the latter, I’ve not even tried it.

There is a touch screen stereo which reads my iPod just fine, has sat nav, and a few features for finding fuel, or listening to Pandora. Oh it has Satellite radio too. The air con is set by temperature (which can also be adjusted from the steering wheel), then you leave it alone to get on and achieve it.

Minor downsides, the steering doesn’t have great feedback, a bit too much power steering, but I find it a whole lot smoother compared to the older car I was driving, so that is relative. The brakes are decent but a little “not entirely sharp”, but that is how regenerative brakes work. Again they are better than the older car I was driving. Yep, relative, and honestly, if you need to stop quickly, they more than do the job. The normal drive is slightly sluggish in acceleration but not too bad, and the engine whines a little bit in power mode, but the car is a hybrid, what do you expect? All in, I think it does a good job, and so far I really like this car a lot. I like driving it. I could understand why it won’t suit all people, but it suits my habits, and little obsessions, just fine. Plus I can feel good that whilst I need to drive, compared to other cars, I’m being pretty kind to the planet too.

Lexicon word of the day: belabour.


23 comments on “Thoughts on owning a Prius, and my obsessiveness

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I love my Prius, but I don’t get as good of gas mileage as I should. My driving habits, I know. I’m a safe driver, but I like to go at or just above the speed limit. In areas where it’s 70 or 75, I suspect I’m losing out by not driving 55. But I just can’t do that. I’m the Prius that always passes. The Prius that loves the passing lane. Kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

    • Elliot says:

      Truth be told I drive a similar way. There is no way I’m driving 55 down a freeway unless I have to. The route to and from work is mostly Southern California heavy traffic not moving fast, so achieving an mpg above 50 is pretty easy on most trips. But bored on the drive, the extra effort to achieve some more mpg keeps my brain active. Now if I could get there and back quickly, that would be a different post.

  2. Margarita says:

    The only car I’ve ever owned is a blue, 1972 VW square-back. Yup, it’s been that long! My 10-gallon gas tank was filled once a week, and it got me to work and back and weekend activity as well. Now, when I do have to drive, it’s usually a rental. Long gone are the days of gas station attendants and I frequently have to ask a friendly fellow driver where I might find the gas tank on the car I’m driving! Keys that don’t have to go into the ignition. What will they think of next? xoM

    • Elliot says:

      Well I use a car a lot more over here than I did in the UK. Unfortunately a necessity in this area or I could never get anywhere. I figured if I have to spend that long in a car, might as well get one that is a bit kinder to the environment.

      • Margarita says:

        If I lived anywhere other than NYC, I’d need a car. I’d like to see public transportation infrastructure developed nationwide to reduce the need for private vehicles. Meanwhile, glad to know we have environmentally conscious drivers, like you, out on the roads, Elliot! xoM

  3. jmmcdowell says:

    It sounds very much like our Sonata hybrid, which we love. That smart key system—how did we live without it? 😉 It’s also impossible to lock your keys in the car since the car won’t lock from the outside if the smart key is sitting in a cup holder (or a passenger’s pocket).

    I love coasting to a stop for an uphill light when I can. It’s amazing what that will do for the mileage!

    • Elliot says:

      I know, that smart key system, I almost consider it an insult to have to pull the keys out to open the front door of the house! I like these little techie things. I could easily live without it, but it sure is fun to live with it.

      Those saving mileage tricks add a bit more to the journey I think. Well unless I’m in a hurry.

  4. To think that many years ago, my first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang – way back in 1988 (got it when I was 15 and restored it). I crave the power of that Mustang, the sound of the engine, the ‘hit’ of the cam as it idled at a red light, the smell of the fuel because the carburetor was running a little too rich, no air conditioning, no power brakes or power steering – pure unadulterated car. Now, I’m driving a Honda Element – it gets me from place to place but it doesn’t move my soul…

    • Elliot says:

      That Ford Mustang sounds brilliant. I do like this hybrid, but I had to admit to myself that I was getting a family car, and a 9 to 5 car (well I suppose 8 to 5 here). But needs must and all that. Sacrifices have to be made somewhere.

  5. rtd14 says:

    There is nothing wrong with being even slightly OCDish. Welcome to the club! I am OCD, and I work with some students who are diagnosed with OCD.

  6. I LOVED the one they gave me for 2 weeks when my car was in for repair, but, I was glad to get my convertible back 😉


  7. I don’t have a driver’s license, but if I did drive, and if I drove a Prius, I’d be obsessed with beating my own mpg numbers too. I’m fairly OCD about a lot of things too, I love that your son is very particular about where he puts his toys, i was like that too. My mom would put things where she thought they shoudl go, and I’d move them back to where I wanted them. Give your boy a high-five from me.

    • Elliot says:

      With his birthday fast approaching we’re wondering where we are going to put his stuff, and see if he moves any of it. Shame he wasn’t as bothered about putting it all back in the toy box afterwards.

      As I haven’t had the Prius long yet, I’m still on the first tank of gas and fast approaching 400 miles on the clock. If I get to 500 I shall be happy.

  8. Count Zero says:

    About 4 years ago, I needed to buy a new car and looked at the Prius. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed because of the little trunk space it has: the batteries took away a very large part of it. Sadly I did not take the Prius. In two years I get another car and really hope that they find a way to “hide” the batteries in a less inconvenient place. Until then I will happily drive my present unecological gas-guzzler of a car.

    • Elliot says:

      I don’t know if the latest model is better compared to 4 years ago, but worth another look I say. You raise a good point though. If this was our main family car it would be a bit small as my wife uses it for most places with our two year old / stroller / etc. I use this mainly to get to work in, get stuck in traffic in, and for family use when we are going places that don’t require too much boot space. Although that said, we have managed some family shopping trips with the stroller, and shopping in the boot, and it does have more space than it looks. Not with the blind / shield on though.

      Thanks for the comments.

      • Count Zero says:

        I will sure have a look at it again next time. Of course, when looking at it 4 years ago I was driving a Renault Scenic (5 door) which has a huge boot space so probably everything seems small compared to that.

        And to think of it, I do not even have a family to drive around, so I guess the Prius would have been OK.

      • Elliot says:

        The back seats fold down pretty easy if you need extra space too.

feed the brain:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s