Why are peo­ple so uber-rude about Prius plug-in?


The prob­lem with driv­ing our long-term Toy­ota Prius PHV is that you have to en­dure end­less taxi-re­lated jokes. There are so very many, it’s get­ting harder to take them in good hu­mour. But I try.

Any­way, taxi driv­ers should be so lucky. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the plug-in Prius was a high-end car when launched in 2012 and it still has some pretty posh stuff.

Putting aside the plug-in pow­er­train with lithium-ion bat­tery, the Prius G PHV has LED head­lights, key­less en­try/start, re­mote op­er­a­tion for the air con­di­tion­ing, Touch Tracer steer­ing wheel-mounted con­trols, heated seats and steer­ing wheel . . . you get the point.

The uber-un­funny jokes haven’t been helped by my de­ci­sion to stick a mo­bile phone mount on the wind­screen. Yes, yes, I know.

But as time goes on I’m find­ing there’s a lack of clar­ity around the Blue­tooth con­nec­tion in the car; the Sig­na­ture Class Prius has a new touch-screen head-unit in­stalled for NZ that also han­dles phone func­tions, so whether it’s that, the 2012-vin­tage speaker tech in the car or a lack of com­pat­i­bil­ity be­tween the two I don’t know.

It’s fine some­times, but on oth­ers, call­ers have been com­plain­ing they can’t hear me clearly. So it’s been handy to have the wind­screen-mounted phone on speaker as backup. Also serves as sat-nav when re­quired (some PHVs have sat-nav head units, but ours doesn’t).

In other news, the car has been em­ployed mainly for com­mut­ing since our last re­port, which has in­creased the ra­tio of pure-EV driv­ing we’ve done from 36 to 49 per cent – which was re­ally the point of run­ning it in the first place, to see just how much EV­driv­ing we could do in day-to-day plug-in own­er­ship.

With the help of that elec­tric­ity, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion is cur­rently at 3.33 litres per 100km. As our on-test mileage heads to­wards 1400km I might have to start think­ing about fill­ing up for the first time . . . but only be­cause the PHV has a rel­a­tively small 45-litre tank.

So the news is good, but I do find my­self con­stantly hav­ing to Base price: $35,000 (ish, de­pend­ing on mileage and age) Mileage so far: 1400km (49 per cent in EV mode) Pow­er­train and per­for­mance: 1.8-litre four with lithium-ion bat­tery pack and plug-in ca­pa­bil­ity, con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, FWD. Av­er­age fuel econ­omy on test: 3.33 litres per 100km. What have we done lately? Par­ried lots of in­sult­ing re­marks about Prius PHV’s lack of cool, hap­pily car­ried on with EV-com­mut­ing any­way. Prob­lems so far: Faulty charg­ing cable re­placed by Toy­ota, re­vers­ing cam­era went blank, Blue­tooth connectivity not en­tirely sat­is­fac­tory. de­fend our choice of a used-im­port Prius as a long-ter­mer.

But just to recap: for a buyer want­ing to get into plug-in mo­tor­ing, our $35k Prius PHV (2014) is a gen­uine al­ter­na­tive to a new car.

It’s still the most ad­vanced Prius you can buy in NZ, and be­cause it’s part of Toy­ota’s Sig­na­ture Class pro­gramme you get the sup­port of the brand’s mas­sive dealer net­work and a fiveyear war­ranty on ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing the bat­tery. That’s bet­ter than many brand-new plug-in cars.

Prius and a ferry ter­mi­nal: let’s talk com­mut­ing.

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