I just found out that's what Prius means. In fact, I just found out a lot about the Toyota Prius because I spent all Saturday afternoon driving one. I can't believe I completely forgot to mention this in my last post. I'll chalk it up to the senility that is surely approaching.
Let me take you back once more to Saturday. My Never B4 adventure that started with offering up my seat at LaGuardia airport, ended with me upgrading my rental reservation to drive the Prius instead of some compact Chevy that I'd never heard of before. I've always wanted to drive a hybrid and so I did -- for just an extra $10. And I can assure you the extra ten bucks was a wise investment because I only used 3.7 gallons of gas for the 140 miles I drove from Portland to Bangor.
Have no doubt, that put a smile on my face but the real fun came from trying to figure out how to start and then drive the thing. First of all, I didn't notice that it didn't have a traditional key until I had loaded all my bags in hatch and sat behind the wheel. So back I trudged to the rental agent just to be told the clicker thingy in my hand is the key. Very cool. But how the hell was I supposed to use it? The agent had way too long a line in front of her to offer help and my growling stomach wasn't gonna let me wait. No problem, I thought. I'll just skim the manual.
Question for Toyota Corportion: What translator software did you use to create the English version of your instruction manuel? Whatever it is, throw it out! Or at least add a tutorial into the great dashboard control panel you have in the car. You have everything else there -- gas consumption screen, temperature control system, radio control screen, trip details -- but no "how to turn on your car" screen.
After a call to my husband at his computer and a little playing around with the power button, we figured it out. Press the power button while keeping your foot on the brake pedal. Then pump the gas just to make sure it's on because the car makes ABSOLUTELY NO NOISE when idling.
Next step: moving. Another challenge. The gear shift is more like a joy stick and it always pops back into its originally position. So, unless you look at your dash board to see which gear is highlighted, the only way you know which gear you're in is to release the brake pedal.
Bear in mind, I didn't take out ANY insurance on this rental so I was more cautious than normal. But eventually I found the dashboard indicator and drove safely out of the parking garage. And the car felt great. Solid, not flimsy as I secretly feared a hybrid would be. The seats were comfortable and the visibility was decent, although the back window was small. It also had great maneuverability and remained remarkably quietly in motion.
But the very best part was watching the many times the MPG gauge went up to an amazing 100 MPG. On the mind-numbing drive from Portland to Bangor, this turned into a fun little game for me. Just how many times could I ring that 100 MPG bell? Not enough I guess because I averaged out at just under 40 MPG for the ride. Buy hey, there's always next time! And having to pay only $11 to fill my tank when everyone else was paying $40 at the pump was a true reward. Thank you Prius!