Toyota Prius 2009 hybrid
Owner Review

2009 Toyota Prius review

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I didn't see many owner reviews for the Prius and thought I'd talk about my experience with my blue egg.

This was definitely not a car I thought I was going to enjoy, but let's start from the start. I was looking for an upgrade last year as my work situation had changed and I'd now be driving about two and a half hours a day to and from work in partial peak hour traffic. I really didn't want to put my humble EG Civic through that and there's no public transport near home or work.

Searching online I looked at so many different offerings for long term ownership. I read a lot of the owner reviews on CarAdvice, calculating the many costs over five years, like fuel costs, servicing costs (and frequency), and insurance costs (which vary a lot being a 22 year old male). A demo Cerato was high on the list but was knocked off for blandness. I was also being talked into a pre-loved Jag XF diesel by my in-laws, mostly because of how much they love theirs. I was looking at online auctions one night (possibly trying to find a Jag or a BMW 118d) and saw the beast that is now my Prius. It was sitting pretty with 180,000km but no service book, with the auction ending that night and currently priced well under market value. So being the optimist I am, I bought it sight unseen. Worst case scenario, I'd resell it for cheap or scrap it.

Fast forward to picking it up, seeing the egg up close and in the flesh, covered in dust and smelling like body odour (and God knows what else), I was expecting the worst. I was shocked when it had oil, tread on the tires and started up first go. It also surprisingly passed the roadworthy that day! When it arrived home my partner was not impressed - I now had a smelly used Toyota "hybrid thing" instead of a svelte, comfortable Euro. Clearly I was buying dinner that night.

Since then my back pocket has been thanking me every day. Not only was the car a lot cheaper than what I was looking at, but the claimed economy from Toyota was 4.4 litres per 100 kilmetres. I have not seen my fuel consumption go over 4.8L/100km for a tank yet, including a very spirited drive through the Gold Coast hinterland. My average is usually between 3.8L and 4.2L/100km, although I only use 98ULP (thanks Costco). My personal best for a single 40km trip is 2.8L/100km

There is a lot more to love with this car than just its fuel efficiency too. It's comfortable, really comfortable. More comfortable than my parent's Tesla Model S. The seats are relatively supportive (no lumbar adjustment) but really wide and soft. Visibility is excellent; you sit up high and it's really easy to just get in and drive (or thrash after a long day). I love being able to use the EV mode in stop start traffic, to get up slow hills, or to scare airport valets. The radio/touchscreen is really average by 2020 standards - there's no form of connectivity to a phone or even an aux, but it's responsive to your touch and clearly shows fuel consumption in 5 minute intervals. Its shortcomings are nothing a Kmart FM transmitter can't fix.

It has enough boot space for your average trip to Ikea, and it even manages to comfortably fit my greyhound standing up in the rear seats (a job my Civic can't do well). It's fast enough for motorway trips, and is actually faster to 100km/h than my old 2005 Subaru Impreza 2.0 - thank the electric torque for that.

It's not all positives though. It handles like absolute crap. I can thank the terrible eco tyres and the comfortable suspension setup for this. The transition from regenerative brakes to mechanical brakes is harsh, and using just regen brakes with the pedal doesn't turn on the brake lights.

It's also not a looker. It really looks like half an egg. This extends to the interior unfortunately. I get that Toyota was trying to be distinctive and quirky but I think it really started the horrible trend of stuck-on infotainment screens and gloss black plastic.

Speaking of the interior, the MFD speedometer likes to be temperamental. Occasionally (it's happened maybe five to ten times) the entire speedometer/fuel/trip computer system will just not work. Reading online forums shows this is a common problem due to poor soldering joints in the unit. I'm happy to not pay the few grand to fix it and use a GPS speedo on my phone when it plays up - although there's also a trick you can do with locking the doors and pressing the brakes to get it to turn back on.

Worse than all of this is the reputation that Prius drivers have. Well, it's either this reputation, or my car is invisible. On average, I get cut off or someone changes lane on me during my commute about 25 times a week, and I drive as quickly in this as any other car. At this rate I'm going to replace my horn more frequently than my oil. In no other car I've owned have I experienced drivers like this around me, although Queensland drivers could just be getting worse.

Overall, this car isn't for everyone. It was designed and engineered for a purpose and it has polarised the general population. Your mates will laugh at you until they realise their fuel bill is at least three times yours in their lifted dual-cab with unpainted wheel arches and mud crawler tyres (which they use for mounting suburban gutters when they struggle to reverse parallel park).

This car is excellent if you're on a budget and are looking for a normalish car to get from A to B without much of a hassle. It's been mostly reliable, comfortable and easy transportation. I really didn't think I would like it as much as I do and I reckon I'll keep it until I own my own home with solar. This means I could get a recycled (used) BEV or Plug-In Hybrid and run it almost guilt free and using free electricity from the house I buy - which might not be that far away with the savings I'm making by driving this green machine.

NOTE: We have used a CarAdvice photo for this story.