Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prius appeal goes beyond gas pump avoidance

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­The Toyota Prius v is what they call “the big Prius,” or perhaps even more to the point, the “original” Prius.  Maybe “Prius Classic” works best.

Think four doors and a hatch, and you’ve got it.

In the time I had it, the 2015 “Five Model” edition, I enjoyed it immensely.

The biggest enjoyment was knowing that there was virtually no way I was going to run out the gas tank in a week’s time.  The 1.8-liter, four cylinder engine paired with the battery pack-backed electric system made the hybrid a super-efficient wheeling machine.

Fuel mileage figures are a ridiculous 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway.  Given California’s often mind-blowing at-the-pump prices, there’s little wonder that the Prius has taken or nearly taken the No. 1 new car sales crown in the Golden State over the past few years.

So, the mileage is great, and the exterior styling is instantly recognizable as a Prius (with snappy 2015 additions that include 17-inch alloy wheels integrated fog lights). What else does it have, you ask?

Leave it to Toyota to make things interesting.  Climbing into the tester prompted my eyes to wandering.

Those mini windows placed in front of the regular driver/front-passenger windows certainly turn your head.  Likewise, my head was turned by the center console that swept in an open arch from my elbow to the center stack of controls.

These aren’t big things, but I must admit that they’re cleverly stylish.

With this Prius, carrying a crowd is a snap, and the cargo area is pretty generous if you configure it to the max.

For those of you thinking the unspoken question, let me provide you with the straight-up answer: Yes, in my view, the Prius is a better option than other sport-utility vehicles, crossovers and wagons on the market.  But shop carefully to get exactly what you want.

The tested Prius had a starting price of $30,005, but it was dressed up with the Advanced Technology Package priced at more than $4,300.  I confess that the tech pack is a smile-inducing goodie bag.  It includes a premium JBL audio system with navigation and App Suite, radar cruise control, lane assist, a pre-collision system and much more.

Ordinarily, I can do without some of these extras.  In the Prius, they were a welcome bonus.

Being a pioneer in the field of alternative-power technology on the American roadways, the Prius has evolved over more than a decade into quite the comfortable freeway cruiser.  It’s also perfect for the family that wants a second car to run errands in suburbia for something like the next 20 years with no complaints.  And imagine the gas money you’re saving over that time.

So, yes, the Prius still has technology and wallet appeal.  Beyond that, it’s a pleasure to drive as well.

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