Saturday, November 04, 2017

Are Prius owners bad drivers?

Now before you storm my house with pitchforks and torches for making such an irresponsible unfounded outrageous charge, just know that I have a Prius.

And lately I’ve heard numerous people say when they’re on the road they go out of their way to avoid Priuses (or is it Priuii?). They contend that Prius drivers are entranced by the dashboard and the constant fuel consumption calibration. I personally don’t bother with that.  I'm too busy blasting the radio.  

I’ve posed this question to other Prius owners and many sheepishly admit they do steal numerous glances at their dashboard. I mean, what’s the point of getting great gas mileage if you can’t monitor it and congratulate yourself on how smart you were to buy a Prius?

One feature in the Prius that hampers me is the horizontal stripe in the back window that obscures the view in the rear view mirror. My wife, who is the primary driver of the car, isn’t bothered by that. But I am, and I wonder why the hell it’s even there? There’s also a blind spot.

I’ve surveyed a few Prius owners and they seem split fifty-fifty on this issue. But considering the number of Priuses on the road, if even half see this as an issue that’s still  a lot of folks squinting in traffic.

My other issue is the new navigation system. The new map sucks. It’s gray with white lines and white script. It’s like looking at a complicated blueprint or the Burlington logo. From what I understand, Prius has received lots of complaints about this. Of course I could just be spoiled. I’m used to the Lexus map, which is great. Easy to read, freeway traffic displayed, and the GPS voice is soothing, reassuring, and never belittles me.

The Prius is a terrific car. It handles well, looks pretty cool, and it is nice to be able to pass a gas station charging $4.75 a gallon for regular and yell out, “Fuck you!” But, inadvertently, are we Priusers not driving as well as we did in other cars? I don’t know. You tell me. What’s your experience – both as a Prius driver and fellow motorist? I imagine we won’t be able to arrive at a definitive answer. It’s not like Porsche drivers. We all know they’re dicks. And they get shitty gas mileage.

32 comments :

Curt Alliaume said...

I'm hoping to get a Prius with my next car purchase, but it may not be that easy. I'd prefer to buy three-year old used car because it's a better value than a new car, then drive it into the ground. (My current car is a 2003 Ford Taurus that had 22,000 miles on it when I bought it in 2006; it's now just short of 187,000 miles.) But not many people get rid of their three-year old Prius - the value is too good. So I'll either have to spring for a new one or switch to something else.

And I save my ire for BMW drivers.

Paul Blake said...

Funny you should post this today; last night on my way home from the grocery, a dopey Prius driver cut in front of me making a left turn and almost creamed me. Yes, they are lousy drivers, and because they have such wonderful 'green' cars, have a real attitude of entitlement.

Michael said...

We are a two Priii (is that it?) family. I do look at the monitor to see how I'm doing, but at least I'm not watching a movie while I'm driving.

There are blind spots on the Prius. They annoy me. But ours are older--2005 and 2007--so maybe they're just getting older and need glasses.

Sung said...

As a Prius owner AND an Asian, I think I may have hit the "terrible driver" daily double. But seriously, no, I don't think Prius drivers are any worse. Maybe the distracted-by-the-dashboard made sense back when the Prius first came out, but nowadays, I'm too busy reading this blog on my smartphone while driving to be truly distracted.

Mike Barer said...

This is a great post, and the comments are even funnier.

Brent said...

I'm a professional driver. I'm on the road for the majority of my work day. If you want stereotypes, here they are. Prius drivers are, for the most part, not good drivers. Drivers of new, expensive German cars (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche) are either jerks or have a sense of entitlement a mile wide. The rules don't apply to them. Drivers of those jacked up 4x4 diesel pickups are aggressive and will not hesitate to run you out of the lane. Moms in minivans are driving while on the phone trying to coordinate schedules with other moms who are driving while on the phone.

No one knows how to properly merge. It's supposed to be like a zipper - alternating vehicles merging two lanes into one. There's always some A-hole who goes around and forces his way in. Yesterday, while I was in the right lane looking to merge left, a guy (in a Prius) passed me on the right, in the bike lane, just to get one more car length ahead. What kind of time did he save doing that? 3 seconds? Stupid.

Bicycle riders are worse. When the big yellow bus stops and has all the red lights flashing and the stop paddle extended, you are supposed to stop, not ride right through the line of students trying to board the bus. You want us to share the road with you? Start following the rules of the road.

Kim T. Bené said...

I live in Utah and find Prius drivers are a little more polite than drivers of other makes.

Unknown said...

In total agreement with what Mr Blake said above. See Prius drivers ignoring lanes, running Stop signs, going thru intersections WAY past the pink light. Not all, but many are white haired types (full disclosure...I’m a white haired type too). I just don’t seem to see it as much with other models of cars.

Anonymous said...

Not on a coast, so not many Prius drivers around. The few people I've known with one are self satisfied, smug, better than thou POS. Might be different elsewhere.

@Curt - I briefly drove a BMW, and I can tell you that everyone assumes you are selfish and moves out of the way. It was amazing.
When driving and surprised by a traffic pinch that has you in the wrong lane, you have to either wait a while or bully your way into the line. Not when driving the BMW. Someone quickly just made room. I thought it was a fluke, but it happened more than once. Then I became the stereotypical BMW driver. I didn't have to wait in traffic, it would move for me. And it always did. After 6 months, I was back in Detroit Iron, and had learned bad, selfish, habits. But I was broken of them quickly, because no one let me in. Still astounds me.
Now the chicken and egg question is do dicks buy BMWs or does buying one make you a dick?

John said...

Simply put, yes. Not due to blind spots but the quest for ever better mileage means that I constantly come upon Prius drivers idling away In the passing lane. It’s ok to try and drink every mile out of a gallon of gas, just do it in the right hand lanes.

Clem said...

You drive a Prius?? Color me shocked.

Elf said...

OK, I've got a Prius and I'm the guy passing every other Prius on the freeway, but never making my own lanes or doing shit like driving in bike lanes on the streets or squeezing into traffic in spots so tight I'd need to butter my front and rear bumpers. I can do 75mph on the freeway and still average 46mpg and, sure, If I wanted to I could take advantage of every little trick to maximize mileage to get it up to 52mpg or so. But screw that, my time is more valuable than the minimal savings I'd see. Besides, the car I replaced got 23mpg on the freeway, so I'm already way into profit territory considering I drive about 23,000 miles each year.

Eric J said...

I see a lot of Prius drivers who appear to be compensating for a general image of 'green" car drivers. They drive faster than traffic and cut in and out. Maybe it's a feeling of entitlement as Paul Blake said, but I think some are compensating.

In any event, for whatever reasons, Prius owners don't seem to have a very good image as drivers.

gottacook said...

The Prius has never been offered with a stick shift, thereby making all Prius owners less-good drivers than they could be. (There have been hybrid cars - mostly Hondas - with stick shifts, but I don't think they're sold in the U.S. any longer.)

ODJennings said...

I've had my Prius for 14 years now, and after the first week or so,. I haven't paid the slightest bit of attention to the mileage screen. The bar across the rear window is annoying, but the blindspots from the side pillars on either side of the windshield are what took some getting used to.

I've never owned a car for this long before, but the damned thing hasn't caused me a bit of grief yet, and in 150,000+ miles the only repairs (other than maintenance and tires) was something called a headlight load leveling relay that the dealer's computer insisted needed replacing during the warranty.

I got the Lifetime Free Sirius Radio package when I bought it, so at this point I'm committed to driving it into the ground just to piss off Sirius. I'm going to be like the guy in the old Midas Muffler commercials bringing his Model A Ford into Midas for it's 10th lifetime warranty muffler.

It's also saved me a small fortune in speeding tickets. For some reason cops just don't seem to notice when an old grey Prius blows by them doing 20 over the limit.

Tudor Queen said...

I bought a Prius eleven years ago and still drive it. I'll confess that for the first couple of years I was 'entranced', as you say, by the bells and whistles. Now it's far more old hat, though if I see my mileage altering radically, I may pay some attention to what regularizes it. It's like anything else - the novelty is wonderful, and then it isn't so new anymore.

I'm not the greatest driver, to begin with, honestly, though I keep trying to improve.

Philip said...

Prius is the neuter nominative singular of a 1st/2nd declension adjective (not a noun) meaning "former" or "previous" in Latin i.e. prius consilium "former plan". The stem is prior- (from whence the word 'prior' comes)

The plural would therefore be "Priora"

Alternately "prius" could be the adjectival form of the same word, but those don't decline.


Now you can be double pretentious when correcting people about this!


Anonymous said...

Get a Volt. They're better equipped, more roomy, and it's drivers have a better reputation.....

tb said...

I've concluded my research - drivers of WHITE CARS are the big dicks. I'm telling you. Keep score next week, you'll see I'm right, at least here in So Cal

Liggie said...

Brent, speaking of cars and stereotypes, I saw an article that said BMW drivers were more Republicans, and Lexus drivers Democrats. The same article said Yankees fans are Republicans and Mets fans Democrats. Proves the theory that there are two types of people on the world: Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those that don't.

philip said...

whoops! That last line should read "adverbial"!

Mike Bloodworth said...

South Park had one of the best commentaries on hybrid drivers in their "Smug Alert" episode. While its not as bad now, when the Prius first came out many of the people that bought them had the attitude that their fecal excretions were not malodorous. However,its really chicken/egg. Mostly, I agree with Brent. Its the luxury car owners that are the real menace. Political correctness prevents me from saying which groups, at least in my neighborhood, are the worst, (its NOT stereotypical ethnic group you may be thinking of) but as previously mentioned, these people think the rules don't apply to them. That being said, I can't wait until I'm successful enough that I can become one of those arrogant, assholes of the road.

LouOCNY said...

Around here, there was a program from NY State or somebody, and so we have the Ultimate Bad Combination - half the cabs around here are Prius..

MikeN said...

I found myself watching the map too much instead of the road, so I now turn off the screen. I find Prius to be bad drivers, but it may be confirmation bias. I won't notice the Prius who are driving well, but the bad ones now confirm the stereotype. For other makes I won't notice. It could be the numbers are high enough that the stereotype is valid. Ken, do you have a plug-in hybrid? Don't you still have to pay $4.75 for gas?

Sung, you may be joking, but Marc Perkel evangelizes for the Tesla and he had a blog post about a wreck that he blamed on a lousy autopilot, while casually mentioning that he was reading his e-mail.

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...

Ken;

I read your post with great interest.

Presenting my attempt at snark as I try to be snarky at your post!

“Now before you storm my house with pitchforks and torches for making such an irresponsible unfounded outrageous charge, just know that I have a Prius.”

- What is your address again? You finally figured out who the real hotheads are, and they're not Trump fans. They are disenfranchised Prius owners? Agreed.

“I personally don’t bother with that. I'm too busy blasting the radio.”

- Do sound waves get distorted via smog?

“I mean, what’s the point of getting great gas mileage if you can’t monitor it and congratulate yourself on how smart you were to buy a Prius?

- You can always explain in a blog how you own one, and then everyone can congratulate you. That sounds interesting. Right?

“One feature in the Prius that hampers me is the horizontal stripe in the back window that obscures the view in the rear view mirror.”

- I know EXACTLY how you feel. The Ford Pinto that I drive has a cardboard box as a back window.

“My wife, who is the primary driver of the car, isn’t bothered by that.”

- I see what you did there. Give the Prius to the wife. Smooooth.

“I’ve surveyed a few Prius owners and they seem split fifty-fifty on this issue.”

- I bet “a few” = 2.

“Of course I could just be spoiled. I’m used to the Lexus map, which is great.”

Spoiled? No way. Sometimes I get confused on which page of the TripTik I'm on, and we all know those big maps are hard to get folded up again! Am I right, people?

“The Prius is a terrific car.”

- For your wife to drive! Smooooth.

“It handles well, looks pretty cool, and it is nice to be able to pass a gas station charging $4.75 a gallon for regular and yell out, “Fuck you!”

- I bet you yell that out a lot since you seem very angry these days, and since you live in a state where gas costs $4.75 a gallon for regular.

“You tell me. What’s your experience – both as a Prius driver and fellow motorist?"

- As a fellow motorist, I try to look at and look inside every Prius. There's bound to be attractive females driving them while their husbands or fathers are driving a Lexus or a Porsche.

“I imagine we won’t be able to arrive at a definitive answer.”

- Sure we will! Whatever answer you come up with is right, because you are in or around Los Angeles.

“It’s not like Porsche drivers. We all know they’re dicks. And they get shitty gas mileage.”

- Yes, but the guys driving them are certainly trying to hit on all those sexy Prius drivers. All two of them.

Tom Galloway said...

7.5 year Prius owner in Silicon Valley, where it's the unofficial car (Tesla would be such, but the production numbers just aren't there yet). Haven't particularly noticed other such being particularly bad drivers, and I'm not distracted at all by the, in my case minimal, screen or mileage display. I just take whatever mileage my driving results in. I'm also in the 50% annoyed by the combo of the black stripe and spoiler with respect to rear viewage.

SiliconValleyDriver said...

> Haven't particularly noticed other such being particularly bad drivers [in Silicon Valley]

Is that because there are so many terrible drivers on the road? Silicon Valley has the worst, most distracted, least aware driving population I’ve ever experienced. They’re inconsiderate, incapable of anticipating other drivers actions and reactions, overly cautious to the point of being dangerous to others, and unskilled at manipulating their expensive, overpowered trophy cars.*

Los Angeles traffic is a nightmare, but at least down there we’re all in it together trying to get back up to 85 mph as a team— it’s a suicide pact and not negligent homicide where some dork in thick glasses is checking his vesting schedule, teleconferencing into the meeting he’s late for, and maximizing his Prius’s “efficiency” by doing 47 mph in the left lane.

* At least the Prius doesn’t can’t be called overpowered. Also, anyone who thinks the Prius handles well needs to see their doctor, or a BMW dealer. The Prius is expressly designed for people who take no joy in driving, it provides exactly that, plus the environmental delusion.

emmphx said...

I've owned Prii since 2001. I bought Prius #6 sold in Arizona, gave it to my daughter when she was a college soph, then she drove it thru law school in Sacramento, then down to San Diego for her post-bar, then up to Sac again when she was hired as Public Defender. A couple of months ago, it needed several $K of work, so after 16 years, she donated it to PBS and bought a new Prius. It was an extremely reliable car, that 2001. BTW the husband drives a 2008 Prius, but I myself have long since moved to all-electric.

I leased a Leaf back in 2011 and literally watched my designated car wash out to sea during the Japan tsunami. I drove the replacement for 4 years then got a new Leaf. Am currently waiting for my Tesla, sometime in 2018.

To Silicon Valley Driver, I'm a rocket scientist aerospace engineer, and am not a dork in thick glasses. I'm a STEMette in contacts,and everything you say applies to other parts of the country. Except for Boston: EVERYONE knows that's where the worst drivers are, eh?

Barry Traylor said...

Never having driven a Prius I was not aware there is a strip in the middle of the rear window. If we had one and I complained to my wife about it she would most likely say "you'll get used to it". My reply is always, "sure you get used to hanging if you hang long enough".

Kaleberg said...

I haven't noticed Prius drivers as being any worse than any others. The usual jerks drive black SUVs. The really, really good drivers tend to drive log trucks, probably because if they pull any stupid stuff they'll dump their load all over the road and stand a good chance of winding up crushed when their cab flips. I do notice that a lot of the cars I see in our local national park are Prius, but I'm guessing that's self selection. They like green.

The Prius may have had a particularly sophisticated data display ten years ago, but nowadays every car has a flat screen and a software speedometer display. I'm not sure how one is supposed to roll back the odometer when it's done in software instead of hardware. Even my Honda Civic has a fuel burn rate gauge and rolling mpg display. My main complaint is that the default display tells me that the radio is off. I know the radio is off. I turned my car radio off in the mid-1980s and left it off.

MikeN said...

> literally watched my designated car wash out to sea during the Japan tsunami.

How did you avoid getting washed out to sea while you were 'literally watching' it? Was it a remote camera, long distance binoculars?

Kaleberg, I once saw an 18 wheeler do a U-turn in Cambridge in a fairly small intersection.

Maxie19 said...

In our house we call them "rolling roadblocks!" Too often blocking the passing lane doing 10 mph under the speed limit for miles & miles, smiling smugly as if saving the planet single handedly. We tease our 14 yr old daughter by telling her she's getting a used Prius as her 1st car & love to watch her eyes roll & whine as only a teenage girl can do. I happen to drive a white (pearl white) car, 1st ever white car, never had a ticket for speeding, moving violation, nada. Our other car has always been a corvette, 2016 convertible right now. If you want to see other drivers move out of your way, try driving 1 of these. Do it more for hubby than me, even though I have the heavier foot.