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Updated Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth

We originally bought our used 2007 Toyota Prius in early 2008 when gas prices were reaching $4 a gallon here in Houston, TX and there was a 200 person waiting list for a new Prius.  Long story short, they wanted $32,000 for a new Prius or $27,000 for a used 2007 Prius with 30,000 miles on it already.  After a couple of hours of negotiation, we settled at $21,500 for the 2007 model.  With financing at 4% and everything else, we ended up paying it off early and put in a total of $23,400.

In December 2011, I posted The Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth since they were getting popular.  I wanted to check in again now that our Prius is 7 years old and just hit 130,000 miles.

2007 Toyota Prius

Not our car, but it looks identical and I wasn’t home to take a picture when I wrote this…

Prius Pros

  • It still makes 44-47 miles per gallon on road trips and 47-52 miles per gallon with in-city driving.  Yep, that seems backwards but it isn’t since the breaking system is part of the battery re-charging process.
  • It still has great amount of storage space for us.  It regularly carries reffing duffle bags, a Curling broom and shoe bag, luggage, etc.  Heck, we actually successfully transported a full-sized chaise lounge home along with the two of us.
  • It is still very comfortable for up to 4 adults and semi-comfortable for 5 if a couple of the adults are not large, lol.
  • It drives fairly smooth – a lot smoother than my old Chevy Aveo.  It’s about the same as my new Honda Fit even though the Prius is heavier.
  • It is a quiet ride since it only makes noise while it uses gas to recharge the batteries.
  • It doesn’t require much maintenance – just an oil change every 5000 miles.
  • The keyless entry, push button start, and backup camera are great!  Other cars have those too, so keep an eye out.
  • Toyota is great at honoring their recalled parts.

Prius Cons

  • There is still a big blind spot thanks to the slope of the rear window area.
  • It is so quiet that we’ve accidentally left it running in the garage for a few hours until we went to investigate the periodic vacuum cleaner sound.
  • It seems to run through good tires every two years now and it costs about $450 to have them all replaced at Discount Tire.
  • If it breaks down in your garage, you will need a jack with wheels to get it out since it is a hybrid that can’t be put into neutral when it is dead – it’s just a pretty paper weight with front wheel drive.  So you can jack up the front and push it out so it can be towed.
  • When something breaks that shouldn’t – it would be expensive to replace.  The hybrid battery pack alone is $3000 (is still recharging perfectly according to the little display picture that shows how it is working at all times).
  • There weren’t any issues at all for 6 years.  But in 2013, we’ve had to replace the 12v battery ($300), the solar sensor ($160), the water pump ($340 and this may still be covered – just need to submit a recall notice and receipt and see what happens), and the display stopped working but was recalled (that was covered by Toyota automatically, plus they covered our rental car for the 2+ weeks that it took to fix it thanks to that part breaking for a lot of people at once).  So last year cost us about $800 in parts.  Haven’t had any issues in the last 5 months though.

More technology does mean that there is more that can break, but I’ve been impressed overall by our Prius and Toyota’s way of handling their problems.  We still trust our Prius despite the issues that happened last year.

Side Note – In The Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth, I developed the simple equation for figuring out if the gas cost savings justified buying a Prius instead of whatever other car you may be thinking about buying instead.  I just ran the numbers for a new 2014 Prius versus the new 2013 Honda Fit I just purchased (remember, there is no non-electric 2014 Honda Fit, so the 2013 model with 50 miles on it is as new as it gets)…

Gas Savings –  Toyota Prius vs Honda Fit

Basically, here’s how you can use to see if a Prius would save you more in the long run:

1.  (Your Average Annuals Miles / Comparison Car Miles Per Gallon) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Comparison Car (CC)
2.  (Your Average Annuals Miles / 50) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Prius (P)
3.  CC – P = Gas Savings Per Year (to use below)

Extra Cost of the Prius / Gas Savings per Year = Years it Would Take to Break Even

That said, a 2014 Prius is currently selling for about $21,300 and my new 2013 Fit was $16,300.  That’s a difference of $5000.

1.  (8000/32) * 3.5 = $875
2.  (8000/50) * 3.5 = $560
3.  875-550=$315

$5000 / $315 = 15.87 Years

So, the extra $5000 wouldn’t have been covered for 15.87 years based on the current cost of gas and how much I drive in my highest mileage year ever.  So, if I was considering a Prius just based on cost, then I made the right decision to go with the 2013 Honda Fit.  Obviously, most people don’t buy cars based on price alone.  You also have to consider what your needs are as well as your general wants, but it’s good to at least consider gas prices.

Have you owned or thought about owning a Prius?  What experiences have you had or heard about?

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6 comments to Updated Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth

  • Dave Lalonde

    I never thought about owning a Prius despite the economical value it has. I think I’ll just stick to my SUV. But I have heard that Prius doesn’t require much maintenance which is great for people who aren’t so big on that.

  • Great info! So even though the price has come down and the cost of gas has gone up, the payoff term is still pretty long for a Prius. Other factors to consider for sure, but when you are budget conscious it’s a pretty big factor. ;-)

  • Have you started to think about replacement for the Prius? Something in the realm of Nissan Leaf?

  • I have thought about owning a Prius, but wanted to wait until it wasn’t so “new” to see how the hybrid system worked out. I didn’t know you can’t move it in Neutral if the battery is dead, that is definitely a negative!

  • Thanks for the detailed information! My friend own a Prius and she bought it last 2010, she has 2 daughters and Prius is very perfect for her family.

  • There is one other (big) factor to consider: the eventual resale value. If people stay enamored with Priuses, you might end up getting more for it. Although Hondas, of course, hold their values pretty well, too. Point is the resale differential (aka depreciation) might be an even bigger cost than gas, so any difference there might change the equation.