Somehow the car deities aligned and on the day where I gripe about my test car a number of gripe-worthy problems have arisen. The first came to the light the second I got into the Prius the other morning after our trip. I had turned off the car the night before after going 300 miles on one tank with the tank on 3 bars of fuel (out of ten). Even if two bars were left I'd expect about 50 miles right? Of course I shouldn't have been guessing at all since the car should provide a "miles to empty" feature like the rudimentary trip computer on our Grand Cherokee.

But with the flashy computer screen you will not find one of these handy features. Oh and the 3 bars of gas on ignition the next morning had turned to a lone 1 bar, beeping incessantly to get to the gas station. I hustled the car to the nearest station because nothing would be more embarrassing than running out of gas in a Prius.

I was enraged. This should never happen in this car. You should know exactly how much gas you have, how many miles are left etc. Of course those that want to buy a Prius might overlook this annoyance. For myself I know I?d be cursing my purchase because of this.

Readers have also complained about the audio and climate controls. The audio controls are fine as long as you use the ones on the steering wheel which control volume, station selection, mode and track selection for CD. If you want to switch CDs in the changer you must use center console. The climate is much harder. The only buttons on the wheel are for automatic air on and off and buttons to raise and lower the temperature. But like most folks I?d prefer to control the fan power and not the temperature at my fingertips. Everything else, again, is on the center console. But for climate the screen is a bit more jumbled.

The Prius does have a ton of room in the passenger cabin. There are actually two glove boxes, a gigantic center cubby, 2 hidden cup holders in front and two in back who?s Swiss Army style design should be adopted by other carmakers, large door pockets that also hold cups and a center dash spot for CDs. It?s got it all. The only gripe here regards the center storage. There is a large space on the floor in front, between the driver and passenger. Why doesn?t the center go all the way to the dash, giving even more space for holding stuff? If you?re not going to have a transmission and have all this space, you should use it. Rear passenger room is excellent and the extra speakers in the rear doors are a nice touch.

Storage in the rear hatch, as shown in the picture at the top of the post, is adequate when running errands but the batteries take up a lot of room and anything more than a trip to the grocery store could fill it up. I don?t think a road trip with two kids and luggage would be too comfortable.

Tomorrow we?ll discuss my new hybrid driving habits.

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