Sunday, September 13, 2009


Something new but it's not blue

I told you in my last post that things were changing around this Phillips household. That is almost an understatement. We gave some thought to our vehicles. We are just not using the motorhome enough to justify the expense of keeping it. When we do use it it's for fairly short trips as Pat doesn't want to be away from home for more than about a week at a time. She also has never cared for the Smart Car ever since I bought it and won't ride in it on the freeways. So we decided to get one of these
Prius 01
and traded this
Lakeshore RV Park 02
in on it. The new one is a 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid car.

When we trade in a vehicle we of course are getting a wholesale price for it, although in Washington State there is a sales tax trade off up to the value given for the trade in against sales tax due on the new vehicle. Since we got more for the RV than the Prius cost, we didn't have to pay any sales tax and that probably saved us about $2200. We still lost money on the RV as compared to what it should sell for on the retail market but we opted for this method for its speed & simplicity. The offer for the Smart Car was too low to consider so it is in a consignment lot owned by a family friend to see if we can get closer to its true retail value.

My son and I went to The Green Car Company in Bellevue, WA last March 13th to look at an electric car. I didn't think that car was a good buy but when they suggested that I try a Smart Car I liked it and went ahead and bought it. As I said, Pat has never liked the Smart Car and this Toyota Prius, as a hybrid car, is much closer to the idea of an electric car. And it is fun to drive, too.

The 2010 model Prius is what Toyota calls the Third Generation of this car and there are quite a few fairly big changes. So, I guess it was better in that way to wait until now than had I bought one last March when it would have been at the end of the Second Generation production run. We have a lot to learn about this car and all of it's systems but I think that will be fun. And it will actually get about the same mileage as the Smart Car on the road and better than the Smart in town. Here are a few more photos. By the way, I took these photos this morning at the Lions Club Park along the Skagit River here in Mount Vernon. We got the car on Friday, a day after my birthday, so I guess you could say it was a birthday present. They are very popular and we have been waiting for it since ordering the car on August 19th.

Prius 02
This is a three-quarter view from the rear. The tail lights are all LED units so are bright but use very little electric power. It has four regular passenger doors plus a hatch back door to load things into the back of the car.

Prius 03
The car has five doors counting this rear hatch. It will seat four adults comfortably and there is a seat in the middle of the back seat that a child could use. Those seat backs fold down flat and I can actually carry my RC airplane and its wing back there. I couldn't do that in the Smart Car.

Prius 04
This photo was taken with my 10mm extreme wide angle lens and I see that I should have straightened the steering wheel before taking the photo. The cars come in four models, called II, III, IV and V. I don't know what happened to model I. We ordered a III which is very well equipped from the factory but we did add a Navigation System and floor mats.

Prius 05
Here is a closer view of the Navigation screen. The map displayed is showing the current location of the car. I didn't realize how dusty the small screen below it is until I saw this photo! This small screen reports on the car comfort system that sets the inside temp, using either heat or the AC to maintain whatever temp it is set for. Many of the buttons along the left side of the big screen relate to the car sound system.

Prius 06
This is the main instrument cluster. It displays the vehicle speed, odometer, gas gauge as well as some Prius specific things like your current miles per gallon as the vehicle is being operated, which system is moving it (electric or gasoline), what the mileage has been for the last 5 min, 10 min, 30 min, current tank of gas and total overall average, plus some others that I am still learning. I am having a hard time deciding which screen I want to leave up most of the time as they are all interesting. The car gets an overall mileage average of about 50 mpg and used regular 87 octane gas while the Smart Car works better on higher octane fuel.

Prius 07
The steering wheel has buttons to control a lot of the functions of the car. There is a built in Bluetooth system that really seems to work. We have tried to use those little things that clip on your ear but they don't seem to work well, for us at least. This system does and it integrates well through the car voice control system and the Navigation system. If, for example, we are driving someplace that we are not familiar with and decide we want to find a place to eat. Using voice commands we can get a display of restaurants that are close or ask about a specific one, like Olive Garden. Then we can have the phone call the restaurant to get a reservation and have the Navigation System direct us to the place. Isn't that fancy?

Pat has been in on picking out this car from the start. She likes it so it will be a keeper for us. When we ordered it, the dealer suggested we list more than one choice of colors as we might get it sooner. Pat wanted to list blue, blue and blue but Ed, our salesman at Foothills Toyota in Burlington, WA said he didn't think that would help a lot. We listed blue, silver and a darker metallic gray in that order. This was on Aug 19th when we were told it would probably take 4 to 8 weeks for the car to arrive. On Sep 3rd they told us that a silver one with pretty much what we wanted was on its way and that could be our car if we wanted it. We told them we would take it. The paperwork they gave me told the ship name that it was coming from Japan on and I found a way to track that ship. It arrived in Portland, OR to unload cars for the northwest on Sat, Sep 5th, so then it was just a matter of how long it would take to get it up here and cleaned up ready to deliver.

I go walking with some of the guys in our park on Mon, Wed and Fri mornings and I guess our salesman called while I was out doing that Friday morning. He told Pat the car was here and they setup an appointment for 13:00. Then Pat got called to work the rest of that day at her job where she is a substitute receptionist for the school district (this funds her "lipstick account") so she wouldn't be going with me to see Ed. She told me to drop her at the school district after lunch and go see Ed as he had a question for me. I got there and Ed said the car was ready. I texted Pat with "It's here!" and she texted me back with, "I know." The sneaky little rascal!

We've had it now just over two days and love it. I have a lot of friends with earlier editions of the Prius and they ALL say that they love the car. I think that will also be our experience. In fact, I'd guess that Pat will like it well enough that when we do sell the Smart Car, she might want to trade in her beloved VW New Beetle ("Baby") on a new Prius for her!

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