Prius Personal Log  #85

October 25, 2003  -  October 28, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 2/21/2009

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10-28-2003

49.0 MPG for my first tank.  That's what it calculated to.  The Multi-Display showed 50.4 MPG.  The average driving temperature was only 39 F degrees.  So I'm darn pretty sure this was better than may 2001 Prius could have got in the same conditions.  I filled the original tank and this one.  So that part shouldn't be a variable.  Bladder-Effect could be an issue though.  After a few more tanks it should become clear.  I'm especially curious what will happen when I take a 2 hour highway cruise next weekend the Prius loaded.  Anywho, once again, patience.  Time will tell.

10-28-2003

More Prius.  Toyota may add a late night shift.  Their first ever.  That would allow them to temporarily increase production of Prius from 6,000 to 10,000 per month.  Is that enough to fulfill the already overwhelming demand?

10-28-2003

Smart-Entry & Smart-Start.  I got to take full advantage of SE/SS last night.  My hands were full from grocery shopping and the rain was really coming down.  I ran to the Prius, grabbed the handle, and climbed in.  No stopping and shifting the load to dig for a key or remote while getting even wetter.  The system just sensed the key-fob in my pocket and allowed entry without any effort on my part.  It was great!

10-28-2003

New Stealth.  The 2004 limit appears to be identical to the classic; however, it is easier to achieve & maintain in the 2004.  Cool!

10-28-2003

Changing Definitions.  This is the latest ploy to undermine the good word about Prius.  An owner makes a endorsing statement, then later discovers that someone found a way to twist the words making it appear as though the comments are meaningless.  It is done by simply changing the definition of an important word.  It's rather frustrating if not noticed right away.  But now that I know how that works, it's easy enough to catch immediately.  With so many new online participants, you have to make sure everything is clearly explained.  Otherwise, those from the "dark side" will trick you into believing hybrids have nothing worthwhile to offer.

10-28-2003

First Tank Multi-Display Photos.  50.4 MPG after 417 miles.  Not bad, especially considering how cold it has been.  I captured the moment in all 4 color schemes available: Green, Blue, Beige, Gray...  photo album 57

10-28-2003

Voice-Recognition Training.  Remember the old days when you had to train the computer before it could understand what you were saying.  Clearly recording a sample of each word and phrase took forever.  That isn't necessary with the system in Prius.  In fact, I was rather surprised that it perfectly understood my first few requests.  They were "next disc", "next track", "67 degrees", and "I'm hungry".


10-27-2003


2004 Impressions - Day Four.

There's so much good stuff to mention, I have no clue where to start... oh, "starting" is a great subject.  No key is wonderful.  Just push the button on the dashboard and the system fires up, but the engine doesn't usually.  The thermal storage for the coolant, which is use for the emissions system, is amazing.  It is apparently the reason why the engine shuts off so rapidly in the morning.  Enough warmth from the previous night is retained to allow that.  Wow!

Not having to lift my jacket and dig in my pant's pocket to unlock the doors is wonderful too.  Just walk up and grab a handle.  That's it!

Gawkers are beginning to swarm.  I've already had 3 people wave wildly when driving by and 2 people run to check out the car as soon as I left it in a parking lot.  For such a new product, that's a dang good start.  Imagine what will happen in December when the Auto Show kickoff begins and Toyota shows off both Prius with HSD and the Lexus RX400 with HSD and quite possibly the Highlander with HSD.  The hybrids are coming!  The hybrids are coming!

I've started to play more with the navigation system.  It's quite impressive.  And of course, the compliment to that is the voice-recognition.  Just say "I'm Hungry" sometime and watch what happens.

The weather has been absolutely horrible.  There hasn't been an opportunity for me to go out on a photo taking adventure yet.  And I'm just dying for photos so I can finally have new cards available for those already asking questions about the new hybrid.  Hopefully, the weather this weekend will cooperate.  Of course, the forecast is for snow flurries.  That's not exactly the kind of photos I was planning on.  But then again, the fall colors never showed up this year anyway.  So the background will just be white instead of brown.  Oh well.

I will for sure start taking lots of internal photos soon.  That should work out nicely.  So far, I have only taken one and haven't even published it yet.  But it's a really good one.  I lowered the back seats.  Laid down a blanket to protect the fabric.  Then I grabbed my bike.  After quick-releasing the front wheel, I was able to very easily pass the rest of the bike in through the hatch.  It fit great.  In fact, I could have placed the bike in whole if I would have had a second person available to help me guide it.  I could have fit 2 bikes (with front wheels off) in there without too much trouble too.  And they would slide around either.  Toyota's placement of internal tie-down, the quality of the attachment, and the straps they provided will work very well for that.

The break-in process is going slowly.  There's just too much else to do in my life right now that doesn't require driving.  (Dang!)  So naturally, I can't wait for the opportunity to finally drop the pedal to the floor to see what happens.  It is already quite clear that this Prius has more pep than the previous.  Now I want to find out exactly how much so I can finally tell all the non-believers just how wrong their impression is... in an appropriate way, so they'll actually go for a test-drive themselves to confirm it.  (Boy, I'd love to witness that.)

The feel of the new Prius is wonderful.  Those taking test-drives now must be in horrible agony knowing how long it will take before delivery of their own.  Oh well.  In time, supply will eventually catch up and you'll be able to actually buy one off the dealer's lot the same day you test-drive.

What else... hmm?  The storage areas all over the place are nice.  Toyota definitely made good use of space.  And they even felt-lined the biggest.  So objects inside won't rattle against the edges.  Cool!

The lights in back are fantabulous.  The colorless look is both classy and safe.  The illumination is very, very easy to see as a result, and it's quite appealing at the same time.

Efficiency is already proving itself better than the classic, despite break-in not even being complete.  After 349 miles of driving in an average temperature of only 40 F degrees, the Multi-Display shows 50.2 MPG.  That's incredible!

10-27-2003

Rationalize with Dollars.  People are still trying to.  But realistically, this is just an early stage of the automobile technology revolution.  An interesting comparison to this is the fact that consumers are now purchasing notebook computers in very large quantities, despite the fact that they are clearly more expensive and you can't reuse the monitor after the computer becomes outdated.  The new market for portables is developing nicely.  Cost quite simply is not on the top of the priority list right now.  It's been bumped down a notch or two.  Prius is much the same way.  People want something radically improved and are more than happy to pay for it.  It's time to abandon the old-school logic and take a closer look at how different things are now.

10-27-2003

Measuring Efficiency.  Unfortunately, the bladder-effect will really make my first few fillups look strange.  Dang!  Fortunately, I can call myself an "expert" hybrid driver after those 60,000 miles of practice.  With the temperature outside only averaging 40 F degrees for this tank, I've still managed to achieve a 50.5 MPG reading after 304 miles.  Sweet!  My guess is the average after a few weeks will reveal an edge in efficiency over what my classic was able to achieve, even before secondary break-in is complete.  Hooray!

10-27-2003

More.  Don't forget that Toyota has already announced that more features are on the way.  They are intentionally holding back to more accurately gauge market-demand and to provide chance to get practice with inventory handling.  This approach is no different than with the classic, and that ended up working out very well in the end.  So like always, patience.

10-27-2003

Because it's different.  Reporters are complaining about the very things we praise.  I wonder what the true reason for that is.  Are they afraid to endorse a vehicle so different from the norm, one that offers improvements via not-so-subtle technology.  I'm truly grateful that Toyota felt they didn't need to conform to the traditional for certain features.

10-27-2003

SE/SS.  Wow!  Smart-Entry & Smart-Start is great!

10-26-2003

Window-Sticker.  Scanned the one from my new Prius... 2004 overview

10-26-2003

Crash Test Ratings.  Accident Avoidance ratings shouldn't be overlooked, since not having an accident in the first place is usually much higher up on people's priority list.  I certainly don't want to crash.  The NHTSA is now providing rollover data, the vehicle's ability to swerve away from a potential collision without any tires leaving the ground in the process.  So we should now get in the habit of calling them "safety" ratings instead.

10-26-2003

How often do you plug it in?  Oh!  Some people are still asking me this!  I had hoped we were finally past it, that everyone would now know that plugging isn't necessary.  Dang.  If the basics of what's currently available aren't understood, the next step can't be taken.  I wonder how long it will be until all have learned this.  I know, patience.

10-26-2003

Bike in Back.  The unfavorable weather is preventing me from taking any scenic photos right now.  And it will only get worse soon, preventing me from using the bike too.  So I thought I'd try to sneak in a bike photo, inside the hatch I now have...  photo album 58

10-25-2003

Idiot Light?  That snowflake is not an idiot light.  When you see it, you'll be pleased with what Toyota did.  Next to the speedometer is a small array of colored stencil lights, not a generic illuminated square like in 20th Century vehicle.  This makes Recirculate & A/C much easier to see now and rather appealing.  And the various modes of SS/SE are clearly indicated, even when viewed through the window from outside.  The "Low Temperature" symbol is creative.  It's a looking outward perspective road with a large snowflake on falling on it... something you really wouldn't want to cover up with electrical tape.

10-25-2003

Snowflake Light.  So... I am the first 2004 owner in the United States to ever see it?  (It's an indicator light informing you that the road may be slippery.)  I watched the temperature drop as I drove home from the gathering this evening.  And sure enough, when it hit 37 F degrees, the indicator illuminated exactly as designed.  Now the question is, "When will it go off"?  Here in Minnesota, that indicator doesn't serve much purpose... because we consider 37 F warm!  The temperature will drop below that and stay there for several months.  We get used to driving on snow & ice, but the MPG drop from the cold is a pain.  Fortunately, the hybrid system in the 2004 handles the cold better.  I'm impressed how quickly the engine shuts off.  And to my delight, starting the system at 37 F did not require any gas at all.  The engine stayed off.  I was able to leave the grocery store parking lot this evening entirely in stealth, despite it being well below cold threshold (as the classic owners experience it).  In short, Prius is again throwing out the book on automotive behavior expectations.

10-25-2003

The Gathering.  About a dozen people showed up.  That's not bad at all considering it was cold, dark, rainy, on the extreme east of the cities, I did very little promotion for it, and I only gave a few days notice.  In other words, the next one could be much bigger.  Like any other gathering, all those attending really wanted to do was swap stories.  And we did, for quite awhile.  At one point, we briefly went out and played with the 2004.  It was a lot of fun.  We'll have another in a few weeks.  I'm open to time & location suggestions.  Last night's worked out great.

10-25-2003

Day Two "Problem".  I'm starting to get overwhelmed with happiness, almost to the point where I'm about to cry.  The effort I've contributed to over the past 3 years has really paid off.  The hybrid technology has improved wonderfully and people everywhere are embracing it.  And once the word spreads, consumers of all types will begin demanding the HSD system be made available in the vehicle of their choice.  I can't wait!  We win!!!  The reduction of emissions & consumption on the grand scale is about to begin.  And there's a whole bunch of participation efforts to make that happen still available.  Tonight, there will be a rather impromptu gathering nearby.  I hope they can handle me there.  Getting to show off my 2004 will raise the excitement level even further.  (I sure hope I don't break out into song!  Ahhh!!)  Anywho, the delight is fantastic.  It's the opposite extreme of buyer's remorse.  I couldn't be happier!

10-25-2003

Too much oil, drained the excess.  The owner's manual clearly states "too full" for anything past the "full level" mark.  It also provides a notice that says, "Avoid overfilling, or the hybrid system could be damaged".  And since we've already observed in the classic that there is a minor MPG improvement by draining the excess, I didn't need any more of an excess to jack up my 2004 and play underneath.  So I did.  The first thing I noticed and was impressed by was on top.  The hood now has insulation in it (something I was tempted to do with my classic).  That will help with temperature control and will provide a bit of a sound buffer too.  Cool!  Jacking was pretty much the same.  The placement is just a tad deeper, but I can still use the behind-the-wheel approach. I like that.  Underneath, I effortlessly confirmed that the oil-filter is now better positioned.  It's right next to the oil-pan now and there isn't anything to the side anymore.  So you can get a good grip with your hand.  And since the engine is offset and the hood is really short, all of that combined makes the 2004 Prius the easiest at-home oil change for a car I've ever heard of.  Sweet!  Now my oil is one-quarter inch below the "full level" mark.  That's perfect.  Next is switching to synthetic in 4,866 miles (3 months).

 

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