Armen Hareyan's picture

Toyota Prius is not Weak: Why Prius Drivers Drive Slow

Few days ago a report came out from Networked Insights, an analytics software company based in Chicago, which said hybrid cars take a harsh beating in social media, as people particularly view Toyota Prius as a "weak" vehicle. Is Prius weak or there is a reason why you see them driving according to the speed limit?

I asked this question to some Prius drivers to get their opinion on Networked Insights findings. One answer, with which I agree based on my Prius driving experience, is particularly revealing.

Chris Durst from the Plug in Prius Owners Group writes that while he doesn't know why the public views the Prius as a weak car, yet, in a way he understands them. "My driving style is totally different than diving my Prius and could be considered annoying as I typical am doing closer to the speed limit than before. Not because I want to be a safe driver really, more so that in more involved with getting rediculous mileage. Trust me, I would love to drive a Tesla but at 110k it's not quite cost effective," Durst explains.

I agree with Durst. Last year when I was driving the 2014 Prius Plug in from Hickory, NC to Atlanta and back, I was so excited by the fuel efficiency and the higher overall mileage, that I was always sticking to the speed limit and sometimes even little below it. Gas prices were very high at the time, and the efficiency made a big difference. I wasn't going too slow, but just with the speed limit and may be few miles below it. In fact, the 2016 Toyota Prius will top 60 MPG. All the other cars were passing me and that was OK. My family was safer and I was saving money.

Was my Prius driving weak? Absolutely not.

The reason people in social media may see it that way is because Prius owners don't go to Facebook Groups and brag about their cars. They just use them for practical purposes going from point A to point B. In fact, while you can find many Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S big groups on Facebook, you won't find a single one, that has more than 150 members. At least I couldn't find one after searching for days.

There may be another reason contributing to Toyota Prius being "bashed" in social media. Douglas Stansfield writes in the same place that the "only issue I see with Prius getting "bashed" on social media is likely due to Toyota backing away from total EVs and following the Fuel Cell path rather than staying with the product that brought them to the party." I don't know if this is part of reason because Prius plug-ins are still very popular. According to the Monthly plug-in sales scorecard Prius PHV was the 8th most popular plug-in vehicle sold during the first three months of 2015, and the 4th most popular plug-in vehicle sold in 2014 in the United States.

How do you drive your Prius?

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Usually I drive mine at the speed limit or a little lower, as stated above, in order to get better mileage. (I have a 2003 Prius with 165,000 miles on it, so far.....really want to go to 200,000). However, on a recent trip to NJ from VT I was surrounded by SUVs going 10-40 miles faster than the speed limit.... so I cranked it up and found it responded and behaved very well at speeds of 70 - 80 mph.

Back in 2001 when I got my 2001 Prius, the media was saying that the Prius was sluggish. That was so false. I still drive my 2001 Prius. I almost always leave other cars in the dust when I pull away from a stoplight. The Prius accelerates so seemingly effortlessly, you don't realize the acceleration. Also, I think that a medium hard acceleration does not impact the fuel economy because the battery is being used for a great part of the power. And will recharge via the gasoline engine running at an efficient speed and by braking.
I do anticipate my stops and decelerate slowly to not use friction brakes and so increase fuel economy. I do that with any car. I don't like burning up my money on gas. I suppose other people like paying for gas. I just don't understand that.
I do drive the speed limit. That probably makes me slow. I have not gotten a ticket in 45 years. (Yes, I'm old.)
The only bragging I have to do is to say that the Prius just simply works, it lasts and is affordable..
I can't brag that it's better than a truck for hauling lots of stuff. It's not better than an SUV for off-road. It's not better than a VAN for hauling lots of people. Vehicles have their purposes.

Love your comments Ron.

You're "leaving other cars in the dust" at the stoplight because you are flooring it and the other cars are just tapping the accelerator pedal. I saw a Prius driver like you (always stomping it at the green light) so I decided to remind him of his horsepower limitations as I left him in the dust with my Audi S5. I've been in a Prius while it tries to to manage an incline and it is not a pretty sight...or sound. I am not inherently a Prius basher, its a great tool for what it does but the drivers are such dickheads sometimes, kind of like BMW drivers but for different reasons. I think it has to do with people buying into the marketing campaigns.

From the article: "All the other cars were passing me and that was OK. My family was safer and I was saving money."
If you are going that much slower than traffic, your family is less safe, not more.

Sean I didn't mean that they were going 70 mph and I was going 55. But let's say I am either at the speed limit or few miles below the limit and the rest were going few miles above the speed limit.

If the other cars are speeding, I won't follow them mate.

I don't care what speed these Prius drivers decide to drive, but don't cause a gridlock and stay in the slow lane. I live in a metro area where the posted speed limit is 65 but the flow of traffic in the two left lanes is typically 70 plus. Driving less than the flow of traffic in California is obstructing traffic EVEN IF the other cars are exceeding the speed limit and will earn you a ticket and traffic school. If you think going slower is making your family safer you are disillusioned. It's like people who won't sharpen their knives because they're afraid the knife will cut them. Well keep your butt hanging around in the fast lanes and you will see how safe you think your family is.

I find that I unconsciously adapt to the personality of the car I'm driving. I have a VW CC that is more autobahn tuned (not screaming fast, but designed with high cruising speeds in mind) and in that car my highway average is around 85 most of the time. In my Prius, I zen out much more and am happy at 65 MPH. The Prius is explicitly designed to encourage sedate driving.

It's not surprising to me that a certain knuckle-dragging segment of the population would rally around the idea of the Prius as a symbol of NPR-listening, tree-hugging, latte-sipping liberals. I don't spend a second worrying about it until I see their dinner-plate sized Ford F-150 emblems gleaming through my back window as they chew their Cheetos and spit their tobaccy juice out their window. If we're going to have a stereotyping contest I think I'll come out ahead of that crowd.

Hi Dear Tom

I agree with your comment. Car itself had no fault. The fault is came from the driver. The driver in LA is so crazy. My Prius had never been driving slower than 55 mph due to people keep pushing in my back and I seldom drive in the fast lane because I am a reasonable person. I have been living in US for 40 years and I know today driver character is more aggressive than before. Car design to help people having more than a choice so how to drive it is people decision. Please don't blame on car. I hate people who drive a BMW most of them is behaving likes a Jerk but the car itself is great. So Prius is a Great car to save your budget. It is reliable, reasonable and economical. If you want to show up speed, get an SUV, Porsche or BMW. But when you are in this kind of car, please respect others on road. The one who drive fast and pushing people on the back usually had an abnormal mental behavior. My message to the fast drivers on highway that: changing lane in order to make faster is a wrong thinking if the traffic is busy. Driving fast on the weekend when no one needs to be hurry for work that is insane. So the problem here is human brain not car brain. PLEASE DRIVING WITH TRAFFIC SPEED AND BE RESPECT TO ALL OTHER DRIVERS. Thanks so much.

Do you even America? You really don't understand the culture.

I got a Prius v a year and a half ago. It's the most squeaky, rattle-trap of a car I've ever had. But it does get 50mpg at 65mph. And it's pretty room inside. So it's hard to complain too much. But a solidly-built car, it's not.

While I think that they could improve the ride of the Prius, my 2010 Prius has been well built in every other way and is a very solid car. A couple friends have the Prius V and say the same about theirs. My guess is that you have a very rare exception or are yet another liberal-hating conservative that can't help but spew lies about a car stereotypically tied to people who are liberal in thought.

Funny how the Author links Hybrids to the Prius in absolute terms - Actually this is fantastic. We are talking about a car of which Toyota has managed to sell many - in Millions. Public perception is important in general but the opinion of wanna-be / cant-be / boy/ man / granddad racers is insignificant.

Inaccurate readings from the speedo is a major cause. Don't believe the reading.

I live in Ireland. I drive a Prius which was first registered in the UK. While my speedo shows that I'm driving at 120KPH on the motorway, my Tom Tom satnav says I'm doing 1-8-109 KPH.

My wife on the other hand drives a Toyota Yaris that was first registered in Japan. The speedo on this car always agrees with the TomTom and my phone satnav.

It is therefore very easy to think you are driving on the speed limit, while enraging drivers behind you who think you are just dawdling along.

I think folks bash people who drive a Prius because they really wish they were driving a very fuel efficient and reliable vehicle that's practical with a lot of interior space, but they're too afraid of the negative peer pressure of buying one. Basically they're like teenagers influenced by peer pressure, so they don't do what they want to do. I've found most Prius owners to be independent and intelligent thinkers who are confident enough to do the smart thing. Same with bashing those who eat organic food. People don't want to admit that organic food is better, so they'll bash them to make themselves feel better.
Bottom line is that the more something is bashed on social media, probably the better it is.

That's cool. But I don't see any intelligent driving. Why in a passing lane going 55 mph in a 65 mph zone. Crazy. I have nothing against the car. You can drive what you want, just drive properly. Today the Prius driver is the new mini-van. driver

What the writer omits is that the major source of the bashing comes from hateful conservatives that view the Prius as a car for the far left in political affiliation. They feel the need to rip on any and everything that liberals like, even if it actually falls in line with one of their beliefs - in this case, not being reckless with money (since the Prius has one of the lowest operational costs of cars today. Regarding the weakness, I would bet that they would be surprised to know that in 0 to 60 time a 2010 Prius can beat a 2005 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4x4 Crew Cab Diesel, a 2012 Ford Focus EcoBoost, a 1980 Ford Mustang Cobra, and 1983 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, while also blowing away their gas mileage!

The Prius can out accelerate the super duty to 60 because the super duty is an 8,000 pound truck. It might be able to beat the focus with the 1.0 liter ecoboost which is a 3 cylinder engine verses the prius's 1.8 liter 4 cylinder plus electric drive. However, I guarantee a Prius can not outrun a 1980 mustang cobra or a thunderbird turbo coupe. The factory rated 0-60 times are skewed for those cars, but in the real world they are faster. A cobra should hit 60 in anywhere from 7.5-8.5 seconds easily and the turbo coupe is about the same. The Prius takes 9.5 seconds and that's under perfect conditions. The Prius IS a very weak and slow vehicle. However, it was not built to be fast and it certainly delivers on its fuel economy claims. The Prius serves its purpose and is not a terrible car. My mother has a 2010 and it's great on gas just very slow. I personally would never own one, but they aren't the worst car out there.

Thanks for standing up for the Mustang Cobra and Ford Super Coupe. They are most definitely quicker than a Prius as they are turbo charged sports cars. Prius owners are just enjoying maximizing gas mpg. I have seen some driving 75mph. The ire of others is not due to the liberal teachers driving so many. It is from those who go 5mph under the speed limit getting in the way.

I have and drive a 2010 prius without problems of any kind. We must remember that the top speed limits are suggested and fixed for roads engineers, not by the police, as the speed that permit operate the vehicle under control in each portion of the road. In other view, the prius permit to driver operate it without burn the money: my prius with almost 64.700 miles - after five years - makes easily 45.1 mpg, easily I note...
If you push the gas pedal over and over you burn gas and and money and don't arrive more than 3 minutes early to your destination, if not to the funeral home...
The prius can easily overpass almost any other car in a hard situation with the power option. So Prius Drivers Drive Slow because we are smart drivers, not crazy people behind the wheel. Finish: be happy and drive carefully because that there are other people on the way and the final idea its drive and don't crash....

I agree; I drive a Prius for its economy and so I drive in a way that maximizes maximize mileage. When needed it can drive much faster but I don't normally feel inclined to do so. My 2008 Prius has 120,000 miles on it and all I have had to do is change the oil and the tires. It still has the original brake pads.
When I drove a BMW I drove to the personality of that car (and spent a lot more on fuel and maintenance). Now that I drive a Prius I drive to the personality of this car and it has paid off. I can confidently say it has more than paid for itself over the time I have owned it; no other car I have owned has done that...

My wife has a Prius Two. In Power mode, acceleration is sprightly enough. But you see the MPG meter dive to zero and that makes you want to back off. You want to see how high an MPG you can get and that affects your driving habits. Prius is a great car. My only complaints are (1) awful front seats on the base model; (2) base stereo could be better, (3) wallowing on hard turns. I hope the 2016 model improves these issues.

I drive my 2004 Prius because it essentially replaces my chevy van for almost everything I need except very heavy loads.
I bought a bolt-on trailer hitch and typically carry over 1000 pounds at a time. I have occasionally exceeded 3000# (by mistake of course)!
The Prius doesn't complain. It goes a little slower with a trailer load, and the mileage drops to around 30mpg... but find me a truck that can carry 1000 pounds and still get 30 mpg... and then get 50 mpg without the load! It doesn't exist!
(And my 2004 Prius has almost 180,000 miles... and i've spent less than $600 in maintenance in 30,000 miles... including tires, oil changes, and a CV half-shaft replacement).
This has been my best car ever, and FAR more comfortable than most cars!

Our 2011 Prius 3 continually gets better than 50 mpg on the highway! I always drive with the display on so I can see if I am in the Eco
mode. This our third Prius.Wouldn't drive anything else!
I remember when we first bought the 2005, other Prius drivers would wave, neighbors asked where it was plugged in(they had no idea what a hybrid was)!
Just turned 55,000 on the 2011 only replaced the tires!

The main problem really, is that many of you are cruising at or below the limit while in the passing lane holding up traffic.

All we normal drivers want is for you to move the f*ck over when there people behind you trying to get by!

I totally agree with this comment.

Am I the only one having a Prius as my cover photo on Facebook?

I know the prius is strong off the line (0-43MPH) because of the torque of the electric motor that's why sometimes i leave riceboys at the stoplights probably scratching their heads... not to mention when we get into the corners... while still averaging 63MPG.

You people driving Prius' under the speed limit are LOST IN LIFE. Your saving pennies and removing hours from your life every month. Your spending more time on the road then anyone else at the expense of fuel mileage.

Also, if you believe driving so slow that everyone on the freeway has to go around and pass you, then your making the entire freest unsafe.

Do yourself a favor and wake up.

Oh, and my 2001 ford zx2 is the same econo shitbox as all your Toyota's. I purchased it for 1200$ and drove it 35k miles already. It averages 34mpg, and I have never replaced a part on it. Only oil changes.

So if you think your Prius is saving he environment or saving you money over everything was out there...well your 500$ a month payment buys me A LOT of gas.

Do the math you fools.