When Albert of Toyota got in touch with us to test drive the Prius, obviously our answer was a resounding positive! We’ve heard so much about the hybrid electric car, especially since it’s always mentioned in TV shows discussing ways to “go green”.
The Prius, Latin for “to precede”, is generally considered one of the most fuel efficient and least CO2-emitting cars in the market today. A lot of major Hollywood names have chosen the Prius as their car: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Black, Orlando Bloom, Harrison Ford, Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, David Duchovny, Bill Mahr, Salma Hayek, and even Prince Charles. The list is long. In many countries, Prius owners are given incentives by their governments. Some give tax incentives, while in many states in the U.S., the fast lane in highways are reserved only for cars with multiple passengers, or Prius owners, even if driven by a sole occupant. In California, Prius owners are exempt from paying for public parking. Isn’t great when governments reward energy efficiency?
When I finally got the car, Albert had to teach us the biggest difference between the Prius and regular cars: how to start. First off, this car does not have a key, it has a “transponder”. This is how it looks like:
The transponder doesn’t really do anything. You don’t physically insert it into anything. It just has to be inside the car for the car to start. You won’t be able to start it without the transponder. So, given that it doesn’t have a key, to start, step on the brake (it won’t start if you’re not stepping on it), then simply press the power button, and viola, the car is on, just like an appliance.
Once you start the car, you won’t even know it’s on. Initially, it’s the battery that’s running it. No vibration or sound whatsoever. But strangely, once you shift it to drive, it moves! Then once you start going faster, then the engine kicks in and starts using gas. The energy monitor tells you how the energy is used. It could be just the battery, just the engine, or both. The engine powers the battery, and so does the heat from the brakes. So no need to plug it (as I stupidly wondered). That’s what makes it fuel efficient, because it uses both gas and electricity to run the car. Here’s the energy monitor, showing that the car is running purely on electricity:
The same monitor can be switched to show the aircon controls and of course, the radio controls:
The transmission is also different from the usual. It only has reverse, neutral, and drive. “Park” also has it’s own button. Here’s the transmission and the park button right above it:
But the most surprising detail I noticed about the Prius is just how powerful it is! I always had the assumption that being a hybrid, meant it wouldn’t be as powerful as regular cars. Boy was I wrong! it can really pull when you ask of it. It will deliver power when you need it. Of course that’s coming from me. I’m not exactly a fast driver, but as far as I’m concerned, it handles like a dream. My favorite aspect is the interiors. It has plush leather interiors and it really feels like a luxury car. And did I mention how quiet it is? So quiet in fact, that in some countries, cyclists and blind people have protested the use of the car because there’s no aural cue of a car approaching: in short, you can’t even hear it coming!
It’s sad to have to give it back. If I had the budget for it, I’d definitely get one. People on Twitter have been asking how much it would go for. In the U.S., roughly it would convert to a million pesos. So having it brought here, plus plus, it’ll be 1.something. Again, thanks to Toyota and to Albert for letting us try out the Prius! It felt so good to see heads turn when people see me drive by. Some people actually stop to ogle at it when parked. Some ask questions when they see it. Wala lang, it made me feel special! Hahaha, loser!
Alas, Prius, it is time for us to part. Our time together was so short. You’ve moved on, while I stay here, stuck…staring at the skid marks…you left in my heart.