Third-gen Toyota Prius test driveEnlarge Photo
For most of the week last week, a 2010 Toyota Prius (third gen) served as my every-day driver. I drove it like I would have driven my own car. I didn't take it on any long road trips, because I didn't have any distant destinations. I didn't take it to a test track to see how many miles I could squeeze out of each gallon of gas. I just drove it around town, back and forth to school, work, the grocery store.
My very first impression of the car could best be summed up as a yawn. I liked the Prius, but I didn't LIKE like the Prius. It seemed bland. (Read my first impression review here.) But then, on only my second full day with the Prius, I warmed to it. (Read my second day review here.) It's not flashy. It's light on gimmick and flair. But it serves its purpose in a way that made me suddenly understand why it's the best-selling hybrid in the United States.
While the Prius doesn't boast any interactive virtual plants, it does have a clear, intuitive instrument panel. The interior may not be plush, but it is comfortable and roomy, and aside from the extreme difficulty my five-year-old had fastening the rear safety belts, the vehicle is completely serviceable. The iconic Prius profile is still easily recognizable, having only been tweaked a little to allow for more headroom. The rear cargo area is huge, with plenty of room for the types of things I had to stow. I was amazed at how pleasant the daily driving experience was — smooth, quiet, peppy when I needed it to be. But perhaps most important of all, across my week of city driving, I got an average of 46 miles per gallon.
Honestly, if I was in the market for a new car, I would seriously consider the purchase of a third-gen Prius. I still find their new TV commercials a little creepy, but my few hours with the Prius made me a believer.