Toyota Prius Fun  
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Fun

Customer satisfaction for the Toyota Prius is among the highest for any car on the market. When most people think of fun with cars, their thoughts turn to blazing around obstacles at high speeds. The Prius isn't made for that. Instead, it's made to provide satisfaction and yes, fun, for people who drive in the real world.

Car commercials are full of lies. They show wide open, empty roads, blue skies, no police, no traffic jams, and no need to stop for another tankful at an even higher price than last time.

If you think about what you actually do with your car nearly all the time you're in it, those fantasies are never being fulfilled. This car makes it possible to enjoy driving in the real world.

Besides learning to get the most out of Toyota's hybrid system; besides exploring the touchscreen and the navigation system, as well as enjoying getting close to fifty miles to the gallon on long trips, there are a number of fun things to do with a Prius.

Sound System

Toyota's sound system is unusually good, and unusually easy to control. The standard four speaker AM/FM/Cassette system is integrated with the touchscreen. FM stations that send messages can be displayed with a single button press, along with their messages. Traffic specific and alert specific stations can be searched for and displayed as well in those areas that have them. You can adjust the balance and fader visually, along with other parameters.

Better still is the optional 6 CD changer that sits behind a panel in the lower dash. All of the CDs enter through the same slot, after which the panel can be left closed. There's even an optional control cable available from a 3rd party supplier that puts additional control over this unit on the touchscreen.

Accessories

There are companies that sell a surprising variety of accessories for the Prius. Take a gander at one of my favorite sites, Coastal Electronic Technologies. Some of the goodies you'll find are

  • Remote controls for the cruise control and trunk
  • A multi-media system that replaces the standard touchscreen, and allows remote cameras, DVD players, VCRs, TV, and aftermarket navigation systems to be displayed
  • Audio system cables that upgrade the existing CD player or allow additional equipment to be connected
  • Illuminated mirrors, additional controls and indicator lights, and automated door locks
  • A small library of technical information

Sun Roof

The first Toyota Prius I looked at had a nice, fully automated sun roof. The next dealer I talked to said not only did the Prius not come with a sun roof, but Toyota specifically tells dealers not to install them.

Note: These used to be available through Lang's Auto Accessories, but I've been informed that the link now belongs to a Spam web site. If you know of a source for the aftermarket Sun Roof, let me know and I'll update this page - SRC

Bring Along the Bikes

I've enjoyed bicycling for years, and the Prius is practical enough to provide a number of ways to carry them along. After looking at various roof racks and trunk racks, I decided that the type that attaches to a trailer hitch would be the most convenient for me.

A trailer hitch? Why yes, Coastal Electronic Technologies just happens to sell them in 2" and 1.25". Go with the 2" size for the most bike rack options.

I got the bicycle rack itself at Performance Bicycle Shop. This is a unique type of hitch rack, because it supports the bike from the bottom instead of hanging them from above. This rack holds two bikes, but an adaptor that holds two more is available.

Here's a few pictures of the setup. For a closer view, click on one of the pictures.

Folded up and out of the way.

Flipped down, ready to load.

With one bike installed.

The hitch mounted bike rack is great because

  • I can access the trunk, even when bikes are installed on the rack
  • I don't have to lift bikes up onto the roof, risking the car's paint job
  • I won't accidentally drive into the garage with bikes installed on the roof (don't laugh - talk to some roof rack owners and you'll find that many have done this!)
  • The rack's mounting system is compatible with full suspension MTBs
  • The rack can be removed by loosening a single bolt, and stored inside the trunk

Personality

A lot of interesting characters seem to be attracted to this car. I bought it mainly for its practicality, fuel efficiency, and low emissions. Other people have been much more outspoken in their enthusiasm for this vehicle.

I did take the liberty of indulging in one form of expression, and had this custom front "license plate" made at a local shopping mall:

In general, Prius owners are decent, pleasant people who like to share their ideas and concerns. One good place to communicate with other Prius owners is on the Yahoo toyota-prius message board. Check out the database there for interesting documents and some humorous photos of more license plates and other customizations.

Here's some interesting Toyota Prius sites for the more adventurous:


In Closing

For those who have bravely read this far, thanks. I hope hybrid low emissions vehicles become the standard for those who need cars to get around.

At current estimates there are no more than thirty to fifty years worth of crude oil left to be pumped on our planet. The hybrid gas-electric automobile is just one way to use this resource in a more sensible and environmentally friendly way.

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