The final day of the Toyota Prius didn't go by without another new twist. Last night I was having dinner with friends downtown, and decided to valet park the Prius. Not a fan of valeting a car normally, it is actually more cost effective downtown where parking lots charge an arm and a leg. I hand the valet the info card that comes with the Prius, specifically designed for valets, and he has no clue what I'm talking about. I show him how to put it in park, shift and the power button.

What happens when they drop it off a few hours later? The battery is about dried up.

They never hit the power button. Again I was lucky to escape without being stuck with a dead Prius on my hands. Obviously it was user error but let it serve as a warning to those about to valet.

Besides the few nitpicks I had with the car I really enjoyed my week in a hybrid. I wasn?t able to re-teach my driving habits. Coasting is fine if you have an open block ahead of you to the next stop sign, but that?s not always available in rush hour city traffic. I was really disappointed by the city mileage that always hovered under 40 mpg. The hwy mileage was much better. Handling and performance were much better than I expected. Corners were taken nimbly, acceleration was excellent, even without gearshifts, and the only drawback was higher than average highway noise and jostling on rough roads.

The Prius also had a ton of passenger room. Just a ton. The cargo area in back wasn?t great but very passable. And all the handy cup-holders and compartments were actually useful and used with regularity. Fit and finish was very solid as with most Toyotas, although the hard plastic used on the doors and dash was easy to scuff and scratch. However, its dark red color was pleasing to the eye.

Now that my required test of a hybrid is over I no longer scoff at those that buy them. The Prius is an excellent car without the green credentials. A hefty price tag and long wait list would prevent me from ever buying one, and I would advise buyers on a budget to stick with a nice Corolla that still gets 40 mpg on the highway. But if someone was interested in a hybrid, and had the money to spend, my less than green thumb would be up.





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