Automotive: Toyota Prius Test Drive #LetsGoPlaces

For the longest time, my family have been big on Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and sports cars. My brother-in-law started this trend in our family when he became a Toyota Prius-owner. We were not convinced when he took it camping and was doubtful when he didn’t get a bigger car for their baby stroller. We resisted a long time to switch over, but sure enough he converted us one-by-one. All the siblings now have at least one hybrid or electrical car. We all went green, and it’s the preferred car to do our daily runs!

Over Thanksgiving week, we borrowed a TOYOTA PRIUS FIVE to test drive around town. We took it everywhere – holiday shopping, coastal scenic drive along the beach, down to San Clemente, up to North Hollywood, down to Carlsbad, and then back to Orange County in that order. We normally do not do that much driving, but we were on a holiday break and had no schedule to follow. We are already Prius owners, but wanted to check out the features on their higher end models.

That's me overlooking Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive! You can also see the Hollywood Sign and Hollywood Bowl from here! ~Mary That’s me overlooking Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive! You can also see the Hollywood Sign and Hollywood Bowl from here! ~Mary

It’s Gas Efficient!

One of the most obvious reasons why we love our hybrid is it’s gas efficient, and we save money. One full tank generally costs us about $25 on average to fill up our 10-12 gallon tank. (Gas prices currently averages at $2.50/gal unleaded). One tank will last about two weeks when driven locally. If you know Los Angeles traffic, it’s not much different in Orange County. Unless we avoid peak hours, we’re going to be going super slow for a while. My hybrid uses both gasoline and electric. The 2015 model offers an estimated 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway/50 mpg combined. The Prius offers four modes: EV, ECO, NORMAL and POWER.

  • EV Mode will allow the car to run on battery power alone for up to one mile.
  • ECO Mode is best for stop and go traffic.
  • NORMAL Mode is best for suburban driving with less traffic and stop and go situtations.
  • POWER Mode will give you more pick up if you’re trying to merge into traffic without stomping down on the pedal.

You can turn these modes off and on with a touch of a button.

Normally during the work week, we wouldn’t have to fill up for about two weeks, but because we had so many destinations that week, we had to fill up once. What’s also a nice feature in the higher end models is after each trip, a displays pops up and shows a summary of the miles driven and how much gas was used.

Heads Up Display (HUD)

Another cool feature that the Prius Five had that our model didn’t have is HUD which projects the mph onto the glass a little below eye level as well as turn arrows when we had the GPS set. I was a little distracted at first, but later got used to it. I like that you have the option to turn it off too.

Green Vehicle Parking

You might have seen special parking spaces other than handicap, but have you noticed the ones for Green Vehicle Parking? We were at the new Pacific City Mall in Huntington Beach, and they had them! I’ve only seen them in a few places around Orange County, but it’s always a nice perk when I can use them especially during the busy shopping hours.

Trunk Space

Surprisingly the Prius’ trunk has plenty of room. As mentioned, my sister can fit her single stroller, my brother can fit their double stroller for his twins, and my husband has put a child bike back there. It doesn’t look like it but it has plenty of room. The back seats also fold down flat to transport bigger items. There’s also another compartment underneath for more storage! A luggage cover will hide your belongings.

Keyless Entry

One feature about the car I really like is the keyless door locks. As long as you have the remote/key in your pocket or purse, you can arm the car with a touch of the handle. If you forget your remote/key inside the vehicle, it won’t arm and it will beep and display a message on your odometer to notify you. Unlock the car by pulling on the handle. Starting the engine is also keyless and it will detect the remote automatically. (The Prius Five Model has the keyless entry on both the driver and passenger doors.)

Safety Features

  • There are seven airbags: driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, a driver knee airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags.
  • It comes with a Star Safety System with six advanced safety features that includes enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST).
  • Every Toyota comes with ToyotaCare. ToyotaCare covers normal factory scheduled maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. 24-hour roadside assistance is also included for 2 years, regardless of mileage.

If you’re interested in learning more about Toyota’s commitment to safety, you can visit their website at:

Other features of the Prius Five includes leather interior, seat warmers, built in navigation, 17″ rims, and front spoiler. It has a sportier look, and I felt cool driving it. Our ride around town was smooth and the engine is quiet. Unfortunately, our test drive only lasted a week, but we miss it already. The kids have been asking about it, too. Follow the conversation with hashtag #LetsGoPlaces.

Have fun!


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