Archived Q&A and Reviews
I am going to be in the market to buy a new car in the next year. The car that most appeals to me is the Camry Hybrid. I liked everything about it except the trunk space, which is tiny. It's smaller than the trunk space I have in my Civic sedan. It's poorly designed in my opinion, with the battery smack in the middle. In any case, the Prius, a smaller overall car, has a lot more trunk space than the Camry. It's hard to fathom. We looked at the trunk in the regular Camry and it's absolutely enormous. Anybody out there have a Camry Hybrid and can comment on the reality of living with that tiny trunk? Anyone out there drive a Prius and can comment on how it's working out for you to live with the size of its trunk? I would really like to get a Toyota hybrid as their technology works really well for the type of driving I do (just putting around town to and from BART, the grocery store, etc.). We do not want an SUV (e.g., the Highlander), even if it's a hybrid. Thanks! frustrated wanna-be hybrid owner
We have a Prius and find it has a lot of trunk space. I love being able to either pull over or retract the flap meant to hide what's in the trunk. Gives you even more space. We have used it to pick up ppl from the airport with two largeish suitcases, suitbag, smaller bags each with no trouble.
Off the top of my head, the last time it was truly jam-packed for just getting around town there were two foldout strollers (Maclarens, so kind of slim but still big enough), a big bottle of landry detergent, four paper bags of groceries, assorted toddler clothes, several 1l bottles of water, car cleaning products in bottles, a handful of Tetrapak-style boxes of drinks, a diaper bag.
We virtually never use the backseat as overflow. We're expecting our second kid any day now and I'm not concerned about fitting in the extra stuff we're going to have to cart around. Love the Prius
We recently purchased a Prius and have been amazed at how much space it has. It's a hatchback so it technically doesn't have a ''trunk'' but, if you fold the seats down, you can get a big load in it. My husband drove up to a conference in Tahoe last week and had to bring a ton of stuff - as in 10+ duffle bags - with him. It all fit easily and he averaged 51 mpg on the journey. The finish details of the Camry are nicer - seats, dash, etc. - but for pure fuel efficiency and cargo volume I think the Prius wins out. If you don't fold down the seats, the cargo space is reasonable but not huge. You also have the option of only folding one seat down so you can still seat a third person in the back and have extra cargo space. Love our Prius
We've had a Prius for a bit over a year and adore it. We bought it for the gas mileage but have been thrilled with lots of other features, including how much it can cart around. Given that the seats fold down completely (and easily), we've been able to transport (separately) a crib, a large futon frame with futon, and other big items and it's shocked people every time. As a side note, I get better mileage (53 mpg) driving on the highway than puttering around town (due to stops and starts)-- this isn't consistent with the way it's marketed, so wanted to caution you. Not sure how that compares to the Camry. Kim
I was also in the market for a Toyota Camry Hybrid, but am so glad that I discovered and bought the Nissan Altima Hybrid instead. Test drive both and you'll see why...the Altima is far superior in response and handling as well as design/styling (read Consumer's Report about both and Google reviews). It's aluminum frame is also about 500 lbs. lighter than the Camry and therefore drives much nicer and gets better milegage. It also has a 5 star crash rating and six air bags.
Nissan leases Toyota's hybrid technology. The reason why many don't know about the Altima Hybrid is because Nissan is not marketing them...it's more about the company just complying to low emmission regulations at this point. This is to your advantage because these Altima Hybrids are just sitting in the dealerships taking up room.
Go to www.Edmunds.com and get the dealer invoice price and then go to a Hilltop Nissan and start at that price for your negotiations, not at the manufacturer's sticker price. I was surprised how motivated they were. But I ultimately purchased from Antioch Nissan because they had the color I wanted (ask for the fleet manager because he can get the lowest deals whereas the floor sales guys can't).
The ONLY thing I dislike about my hybrid is the loss of trunk space. It's bigger than the Prius, so it takes more batteries to move more bulk. But the Prius wasn't as roomy instead for my growing kids. And I have to admit that I like having a hybrid that stands out from yet another Prius...aesthetically and finding it in a parking lot! vicki
I can't speak to the Camry, but I love how roomy my Prius is. I just got back from a Memorial Day camping trip, and it was amazing how much stuff we crammed into the car (plus two bikes on a roof rack). One thing you may not not know about, is that there's a little compartment under the floor of the hatchback where an extra battery can go. We use this compartment for storing all kinds of stuff -- a tent and three camp chairs and a yoga mat to use this weekend's example. Go Prius! nelly
We have a Prius and two kids (3.5 and 1.5 yr old) and are happy and a bit surprised to say that the trunk space has been big enough for us to do 5+ day road trips to southern cal where we bring a portable crib, a couple of small suitcases, a couple of duffles and all of our other stuff. It's packed pretty tight, but it works just fine and i can still see out the back. I've seen people put luggage racks on top of the Prius but we haven't yet needed to do that. (It's also nice that when we've done the trip at night, we can go all the way from Oakland to LA without stopping for gas which might wake up the kids). No problem with going 75 to 80 along with everyone else on I-5, but the mileage drops down to 45 or so for us at that speed with the car weighed down. dan
I have a prius and 2 kids. The trunk space is ok for most things. I can get a week's worth of groceries in there, even when I've forgotten to take out the soccor ball, sweatshirts. etc. We only put the umbrella stroller in it, though, because the bigger one doesn't easily lay flat. Our other car is a stationwagon, and despite the gas mileage, we have to take the wagon on long road trips or camping. I have an HOV sticker, so I didn't even compare to the camary. stephanie
I have the older (standard) Prius, and the trunk space is great. I regularly fit my kid's bike in there, with lots of other junk. He's three and has one of those chunky plastic tricycles. I think for a small family, it'd be fine. If you're a bigger family, a prius might not work for you. Adinah
I looked at both the Camry Hybrid and Prius earlier this year and ended up purchasing the Prius. The car is much better than I expected. Surprisingly, the Prius has substantially more back seat legroom than the Camry. 4 adult males really do fit in the car comfortably. It also has a covered storage compartment in the bed of the cargo area, which is plenty big for storing a laptop computer bag and things like umbrellas, sunscreen, hats, but definitely not enough for the kids' soccer gear. --happy prius owner
We're thinking of getting a new Prius and are wondering what people think of the latest models (05 and 06) -- the BPN reviews archived are for earlier models.
I was a bit concerned about safety after seeing Consumer Reports didn't give the Prius the best score for road safety (although it didn't get a bad one). Anyone had any accidents in the Prius and found it worse than other cars?
But assuming we go ahead :) I'd also love to hear people's recommendations for dealers now that it's several years since the last batch of postings on this topic. We live in SF but would buy in the East Bay or on the Peninsula if there was a dealer with great recommendations there.
One last thing: the Prius now comes with a bunch off ''extras'' options. If you got these, what were you happy/not happy with?
We recently bought a 2005 Prius at Berkeley Toyota. We had a relatively okay experience with our salesperson, although the person doing the paperwork misspelled my husband's last name when they filled out the registration information -- and it still hasn't been resolved. Minor annoyance. Otherwise it was an easy transaction.
We got the basic options package with the seat warmers and I LOVE them. LOVE the butt warmers! We wish we had gotten the GPS system as well. The neat thing about the 2006 model is that it has a port to play your mp3s through the audio system. Now that would be cool! Wish we had that. All in all, we love our Prius, love the gas mileage (47mpg, both city and highway combined), and are really glad we took the plunge. Laurel
Bought my late 2005 model Prius from Hilltop Toyota and am very satisfied. Hadn't bought a new car in over 10 years and was amazed that the car is mostly ''plastic'' which may be the reason for the just okay safety rating. I got airbags all around (front, back, side), ABS brakes, and a higher grade CD player and they're all fine. No problems, but the Prius does take getting used to. What I DON'T like is the poor rear window view (may be a safety hazard as well, but you just need to use your side mirrors) and sometimes it goes into electric mode rather jerkily(not a driving issue). On the other hand, I average 41 to 58 miles per gallon and have low emissions - not to mention the ability to use the HOV lanes. Karen H.
For what it's worth, our son bought a 2005 Prius 2 weeks ago at the Hilltop dealership. It was a pretty typical dealership experience-- fairly nice salesman, but a somewhat slimy sales manager and a slimier paperwork guy (trying to sell you those extended warranties and implying you're pretty stupid if you don't)-- also, making you wait a long time (for unknown and probably artificial reasons!) after you've verbally agreed on price. For good or bad, there's not a lot of negotiating going on, since the Prius is in such high demand. In fact, our son was mightily pleased that there was no additional markup over the invoice on the sticker. ($23K sticker, out the door, it was ~$25K) He had one option package: side air curtains + electronic keyless entry (which were bundled together). So far, he is pleased with how the car is running (got 45mpg combined city/hwy with the first fillup) Jim
hi. i'm in the market for a new car and i really want to buy the toyota hybrid. i am however a bit concerned about all the news about the electrical problem - car just stopping at 50 mph on freeway - that is being investigated now. i would like to hear from someone who has had that problem (i know alot of people who have NOT had the problem and love the car. does the car stop without any warning? is it a slow down so that you have time to move to shoulder of the road? once fixed is it ok? thanks. bb
For more information on Prius stalling incidents, go to www.priusonline.com and search ''stalling.'' You'll find multiple threads addressing this issue. According to the posts it seems this was a problem on a very few late 2004/ early 2005 models and has been fixed. Most important, reports are that is was the gas engine that stalled - the electric motor still functioned, allowing drivers to get off the road safely. Given worse problems with other cars that got less attention, I can't help but wonder if the Prius's popularity is causing ruffled feathers in Detriot...
Happy Prius Owner
We've had a Prius since June 2002, and we've been happy with it as our only car for a family of four. Maintenance so far has been free under the warranty with Toyota of Berkeley. It doesn't get the promised gas mileage. We asked the Toyota of Berkeley service department about that, and they said oh yeah, don't worry, it's not just your car, none of them get the gas mileage they're supposed to. It's still good mileage, though. Our car is comfortable and easy to drive, and it has a great turning radius. We have a toddler's car seat and an older child's booster seat in the back. Another child or a small adult can squeeze in there too, but it's very tight. There's only room for two people in the front. It's fun to drive around Berkeley and spot all the other Priuses. Jennifer N.
We bought a Prius in Aug. of '02. You can buy them used now in Berkeley, I saw two in a lot next to Funky Door Yoga on Shattuck. The new one just came out and looks better - split fold down rear seats is one feature I wish we had. We bought ours at Hayward Toyota because they actually had 5 on sale - $2000 off, which I now see was a pretty rare occurence. We used the sale to get the extended warranty they offered which cost $1500 and 4 years bumper to bumper - so now we have 7 years. It's an interesting warranty because if you don't use it you can get the money back at the end of the 7th year! The trick is to decide whether to use it that first time for maybe a small issue not knowing whether there will be any more to come, because then you lose the whole $1500.
We have not had to pay for any maintenance - including oil changes - we go to Berkeley Toyota for our maint. My mother-in-law just took the car on a two week trip around the southwest and loved the car! We are getting 40mpg in the city and 50 on the highway, but it's also the very clean burning engine that is very important. We like the power windows - we have cruise control and it's great to have on long drives for better mileage and comfort.
Negatives: The mileage in the city was supposed to be higher, but I think the new one gets better mileage and has more power. The rear-end sticks up high (to provide more trunk space) but it can be difficult for shorter people to see behind the car. My friend bought a civic hybrid partially for that reason. Peter
We LOVE our Toyota Prius. We bought this car in early 2001 and it has been reliable, comfortable, and definitely saved us money in gas. The Prius gets better mileage in the city, whereas the Honda Civic hybrid gets better mileage on the highway. (If you want more info on this, just email me. My husband actually studies this stuff for a living). Overall, we get about 42 miles/gallon. For city driving, this is closer to 50-55 miles/gallon. Our mileage is much lower than this, mostly because we live at the top of a big hill in Oakland. Going down the hill, we get 100 miles/gallon (actually, we don't use any gas at all, because the car actually recharges the battery when you are going downhill (it also turns off the engine when you are stopped at a light - a very cool feature that sometimes makes people think you have stalled, when in reality you're just saving the world from nasty exhaust fumes).
This car is much more comfortable than our 1991 Acura Integra, especially for my 70 yr. old mother, who has a much easier time climbing in and out of the passenger or back seat area. There's plenty of room in the back for a child (or a dog, for that matter) and the trunk is surprisingly roomy (we've used it for trips up to Yosemite and taken all of our camping gear).
When you buy a new Prius (and the 2004 model is supposed to be even better than our 2003) at Berkeley Toyota, they give you a great warranty. WE don't pay for any upkeep (oil changes, break pads, tune-ups, spark plug changes) for the first 3-4 years. Additionally, there is a 7-year warranty on all ''hybrid'' parts, to make you as an owner of new technology more comfortable.
Please feel free to email me with any other questions. Your best bet is to go test drive one of these soon. You will probably need to order one 1-2 months in advance of it's arrival date in the lot.
We are now waiting for the next generation of hybrids before buying our next family car (the hybrid SUV). Hil
I read with interest the recommendation of a good Honda saleswoman (I will definitely give her a call); now, can anyone recommend a Toyota salesperson in the Berkeley area? When I buy my Prius or Insight, I want to deal with someone efficient and reliable. Melanie
Tim (sorry, I don't remember his last name) at Toyota of Berkeley on Shattuck was terrific when I bought a car there in 1999 -- low key but efficient and knowledgeable, and no typical car salesman nonsense. In fact, he was the antithesis of the stereotypical car salesman that I so dread running into. He is a jazz musician, and this is his day job which he got after becoming a father. I don't know about other salespeople there but the garage/maintenance people are also really great. kb
We had a really terrible experience at Berkeley Toyota. We went in ready to buy, told them that and and the salesman just jerked us around and kept adding in expenses and we finally left to buy it at Oakland Toyota. It was wierd because we really just wanted to buy it and weren't being difficult at all. Oakland Toyota wasn't particularly impressive either. I had a friend who bought her car in Walnut Creek and was very pleased. Good luck! anon
We too had a bad experience at both Toyota Berkeley and Toyota Oakland. Have been ignored several times in the Berkeley shop. and got really jerked around in the Oakland shop. We were clear we wanted to purchase an Echo, so, after feeling pretty bruised, ended up at Toyota Walnut Creek, and had a pretty good experience there. kris
Has anyone bought a Prius? Do you like it? Can buyers bargain on the price, or do they just have to pay the asking price? Thanks for any advice. I'm thinking of buying one from Toyota of Berkeley. Jennifer N.
We bought a Prius last June, delivered in November. So far we enjoy it a lot. We tried to bargain, visited every Bay Area dealership and called some out of area. The story was that Toyota forbid them to alter the price. We ended up at Toyota of Berkeley. They were the most knowledgeable. Marty was very patient and knew a lot. We had leather put in and with our 2 year old and the food messes in the car this has been great. When we bought it leather was not a factory installed option but the dealership put it in and it was fine.
Here are my gripes about the car: It gets about 40 mpg. It was supposed to get more like 50 - for us the mileage has not lived up to the hype. But I am happy with 40 mpg and enjoy filling up only every other week. It does good in stop and go traffic, but not good if you are running a lot of short errands and stopping and parking a lot. The stereo controls are not good. The touch panel and the logic of how to change stations etc is difficult to do without looking at the screen. In my Caravan the audio controls are great and I can push buttons, etc. without taking my eyes off the road.
When you first drive it, it's a little strange. At a stop light you might think the car had stalled because the engine turns off and it's so quiet. After a bit of panic the first few times I've gotten used to it and running off of the battery.
I am happy we bought the Prius and am looking forward to the hybrid minivans that will be coming out soon. ---mg Michelle
Hi. My husband and I bought a Toyota Prius through Berkeley Toyota around Thanksgiving. Of course, we had ordered it long before, and that's when it arrived. We could not bargain on the price, but it is worth noting that the actual cost of producing the car is much higher, and the price you would pay is a heavily subsidized one. We found Berkeley Toyota very easy to deal with and pleasant. We love the car! My husband uses it to commute daily from Berkeley to Hayward, and we get about 450 miles on a tank of gas. The car is heavy and feels substantial, and rides very smoothly. It is also amazingly quiet and quite soundproofed. It handles well, and is fairly spacious inside, but when my daughter is in her carseat, and my two teenaged stepkids are in the backseat with her, it feels a little tight. The trunk is not deep, but very tall, and holds more than I would have expected. All in all, we are delighted with the car, and feel like we made a very smart choice for our first new car. Good luck. A happy Prius owner
Hi Jennifer - We bought a Prius last March and love it. We get about 50 mi/gal and feel really good about driving an SULEV (80 - 90% LESS polluting than a standard sedan). It has plenty of pick-up, an amazing turning radius, sufficient trunk space, a sweet 3 years free maintenance and 3 years free roadside assistance. We have a one year old and do lots of trips from SF bay area to LA and up to Northern CA.
The price is subsidized (they sell for just over $20K but & cost about $35K to make) and fixed - the only negotiation I ever heard of was on the Yahoo Prius Group discussion board. Sometimes you can buy one thru the board for a little under sticker.
I think they now come with a split foldown rear seat and side impact airbags. We bought before the US crash test results came out. They had be estimated for 5 stars but got only 4. That was a dissappointment considering the prevalence of SUVs on the road.
You'll get your best gas milage if you stay under 60 mph, but our long hwy 5 trips at 70+ mph result in mid-40's mpg.
Regarding Berkeley - see the yahoo prius group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/toyota-prius/ database section http://groups.yahoo.com/group/toyota-prius/database? method=reportRows=2 to see any reviews. I think they sell more Prius than any other dealer. Since you need to use dealer maintenance that would be a good thing because they'll have the most knowledeable mechanics.
I applaud you considering buying this hybrid vehicle. I think that hybrids are one of the best ways we can quickly impact air quality in the bay area.
Best of luck & hope to see you on the road! Christina
Bought the Prius late last year. Love it. Best car I've ever been in. Quiet, smooth, handles beautifully. No bargaining, but it's already a bargain at 20 K when it costs 38 K to make one. They're selling them faster than they can make 'em. 3 month wait list. Proven consumer satisfaction history in Japan where they've been on the market for several years. My mechanic heartily approves--no problems. Phoebe S.
My 62-year-old mother has one--from the very first batch sold in the U.S.--and she loves it. It's been 1.5 years now and she's had no problems. I've driven it a number of times and the ride is very smooth, and the car is surprisingly roomy. If you're short, it's very easy to see over the long, flat dash--that is, assuming you can take your eyes off the computer display showing how the power transfers from electric to gas! The car has a lot of zing, too-- I've driven city and freeway and rural driving and never have any trouble accelerating to pass or whatever. My mom gets nearly 50mpg but does very little city driving. She finds the only drawback is the small trunk (that's where the battery pack is). Definitely get one!! VM
We have a Toyota Prius which we have had for about a year, and are very happy with. It is comfortable, handles well, gets great mileage (we average just above 50 on highways and 40 locally, despite it being billed as the other way around), and is surprisingly roomy inside for a car its size.
At the time we bought it, there was no price negotiations. It was a set cost with only 2 options--floor mats and CD player. My understanding is that they also added cruise control as an option. I don't know if there are any others.
We did not, however, have a good experience with Toyota of Berkeley, and ended up purchasing the car elsewhere. The Toyota of Berkeley people tried to pressure us into buying the Prius they ''just happened to have'' on the lot and paying an extra $2000.00 for not having to wait for it to come from the factory. They told us the wait for a new one was 3 or 4 months and that anyone who said it would come sooner was lying. They claimed to be the #1 sellers of the car and that they therefore got them in more often than other places. We did a little research and found out that Toyota was trying to keep the sale of the Prius tightly controlled to keep it on the ''up and up.'' The cars were ordered centrally on a first-come-first basis. If anyone cancelled an order, it was to go to the next person in line. They said some dealers were putting in fake orders, getting the cars in, and then telling people they had one in stock due to a cancellation so that they could sell the cars for a premium. We assume that's what Toyota of Berkeley did. We went through standard channels and got our car in less than 2 months. Apparently there isn't really even a wait on them anymore so this may not be relevant to you.
However, the other thing that Toyota of Berkeley did which we weren't happy with was that they ran a credit check on us without our authorization and then refused to give it back to us. We now take our Prius to the dealership in Oakland for servicing, and have been happy with them. Good luck with your car purchase. anon