Buy­ing used – The an­swer to a New Year green res­o­lu­tion

If you’ve re­solved to be less prof­li­gate with your driv­ing in 2014, a more or less pain­less way to start is to look at a used Prius II, says Dave Moore.

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

The Toy­ota Prius II, sold here new be­tween 2003 and 2009 was ef­fec­tively our first prac­ti­cal hy­brid. You see quite a few around and they’ve been here long enough for de­pre­ci­a­tion to make them an af­ford­able way to ful­fil that res­o­lu­tion you’re go­ing to make about be­ing eas­ier on gas and the en­vi­ron­ment for the new year.

Un­like the rather ugly ini­tial ver­sion of Toy­ota’s foray into build­ing the world’s first fam­ily hy­brid, the Prius II re­ally hit the nail on the head.

Its bat­ter­ies have proven that they can last as long as con­ven­tional en­gine does, which means not for­ever, but for hun­dreds of thou­sands of kilo­me­tres. The first Prius didn’t re­ally achieve that and as far as styling is con­cerned, only its mother could love it.

The Prius II be­ing a hatch, to the Prius I’s sedan de­sign, is also more prac­ti­cal, though its load space is not huge. Pas­sen­gers aren’t too badly off ei­ther, though the occupant in the cen­tre-rear will feel a lit­tle snug.

But the rea­son we’d look at a used Prius is to be kind to our en­vi­ron­ment in terms of emis­sions and kind to our wal­lets in terms of fuel costs, while it’s also a less- ex­pen­sive way of find­ing out if we can live with a hy­brid at all.

The Prius II’s per­for­mance is lively enough for most driv­ers day to day with its 1.5- litre en­gine and elec­tric as­sis­tance, and though the de­ploy­ment of elec­tric and petrol power and com­bi­na­tions thereof is a taste to be ac­quired, the car’s lev­els of re­fine­ment when tour­ing and cruis­ing are a plus point.

It’s no back­road pocket rocket how­ever, and out­right per­for­mance, grip and ride qual­ity do take a back seat to low rolling re­sis­tance and of course sav­ing gas.

While high spec­i­fi­ca­tion Prius mod­els cost quite a pre­mium over the range-starter car when new, the beauty of used mod­els is that prices close-up a lot when they’re a few years old. Strengths: The Prius II is very easy to drive and while the fac­tory quoted 4.5L/ 100km com­bined fuel econ­omy rat­ings take some care and con­cen­tra­tion to achieve, it’s ac­tu­ally fun try­ing. All Prius IIs are welle­quipped and while the car’s power de­ploy­ment graph­ics can be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand with­out a hand­book, the in­ter­net can be of help.

Six airbags are stan­dard, as are anti-lock brakes, elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion, brake as­sist and Toy­ota’s ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol. Cli­mate con­trol, all-round elec­tric win­dows, a CD player and elec­tric win­dows are part of the stan­dard pack­age. Best to buy: We’d get the best and lat­est we could af­ford, ig­nor­ing the over com­pli­cated top spec­i­fi­ca­tion mod­els and look­ing at en­try-point cars. Many Prius IIs have come in as used im­ports and are by def­i­ni­tion a lot cheaper than New Zealand mod­els, but we’d still seek cars with a lo­cal ori­gin, which are more likely to have doc­u­mented his­tory and use­able sat- nav. You of­ten get elec­tron­ics you can’t even use in im­ports.

Toy­ota’s own Sig­na­ture class of­fer­ings are a good way to go, es­pe­cially as you’ll prob­a­bly need fac­tory ser­vic­ing any­way. Weak points: The sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion Prius is as well put to­gether as any Toy­ota, and sur­veys in Europe and the US show own­ers are happy with the qual­ity and own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, there have been is­sues with the 1.5- litre Miller- cy­cle en­gine, though from what we can gather it ap­pears to have af­fected US mod­els more than oth­ers. It has been re­ported to stall and then refuse to start. Toy­ota traced the fault to un­re­li­able en­gine soft­ware and re­called and rec­ti­fied prob­lem cars.

You’ll have to live with:

The Prius’ less-thanre­solved ride qual­ity and rather numb steer­ing. It also has a quirky driv­ing style, less-than-racy ap­pear­ance and de­meanour, but it does have its ben­e­fits in terms of run­ning costs and the smug­ness it can give you when you own your first Prius II – don’t un­der­es­ti­mate that feel­ing ei­ther. The bat­tery pack does re­strict load space some­what. What to pay? If you stick be­tween $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 you’ll still get a good choice of Prius IIs on the in­ter­net or in deal­er­ships. We’ve seen a good 2006 with about 80,000km for $15,000. Go for slightly higher mileage like the two circa 100,000km 2004 cars we saw and you can snap one up for be­tween $ 10,000 and $12000. How­ever, our best buy was a 2008 Prius II which had trav­elled just 50,000km with a good war­ranty for $14,000.

What do they cost to run?

While re­cent re­ports have it that Prius bat­ter­ies will last a long time with some mar­kets of­fer­ing war­ranties of 150,000km and eight years plus, it’s worth look­ing at an ex­tra war­ranty if you can af­ford one. A sig­na­ture Prius would take care of that. As we said be­fore, the fac­tory fuel econ­omy rat­ings are hard to match, but nev­er­the­less, fuel use rates shouldn’t be worse than 5 to 5.5L/00km at any time, – still bet­ter than any non-diesel out there. But wait: You might like to check out the Honda Civic and Insight hy­brids while you’re hunt­ing for your per­fect Prius II. The Hon­das and Toy­otas have slightly dif­fer­ent ways of de­ploy­ing hy­brid power and pun­ters pre­fer the way one drives com­pared to the other with­out re­ally putting their fin­gers on ex­actly why.

Toy­ota Prius II: Much less quirky to look at than the orig­i­nal model, but still un­mis­tak­ably a Prius.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.