$2,000 Toyota Prius Vs $15,000 Prius Which One Ends Up Being The Better Value
This article is going to be somewhat subjective. I will, however, do my best to layout the details. I think that a clean, well maintained $2,000 second-generation Toyota Prius is just as good of a car as a $15,000 third or fourth generation.
What is the difference, though? How can these two cars compare, especially when one is significantly newer than the other? These questions will have explanations here soon. We need to compare both cars as equally as possible to see what option is best for you.
Here are four areas that I believe are key in purchasing a used Prius. These options should cover just about everything that any person looking for a Prius should consider.
Price: What You Can Afford
Not everyone has an 800 credit score or has an extra few thousand dollars sitting around. Many people have pretty poor credit and sometimes are making it paycheck to paycheck. I am saying this because this is a reality for a lot of people.
While unfortunate as it is, these people need a car for whatever reasons. It could be to get to work, or maybe they do door dash or Uber. Whatever the case may be, choosing a reliable cheap car can be tough.
2004-2009 Toyota Prius is one of those great options. The powertrain is reliable, and honestly, they do not have that many problems. I have purchased a couple of second gens between 600 and 1000 dollars, both in varying conditions.
Even though each car needed attention, I was still able to get both running and in good condition for less than 2,000 dollars. Both have been reliable and trustworthy. The best part is, when I needed to sell them, I got more than what I paid for them.
I will mention mechanical ability here in a minute and why that plays such a crucial role in this process. I will say that there are many used Prius cars out there with higher miles on them but in excellent operating condition. Many of which you can buy for 2,000 or less.
So if you can afford the 15,000 dollars for Prius, go for it. It will serve you well. If you have the time to look around, there is probably an excellent used Prius out there you can pick up an still get a couple of years out of it.
Wear and Tear On The Prius
Okay, so here is the thing when buying a used Prius. Both of mine that I purchased had some serious wear and tear. My 2007 had horrible oil consumption, and my 2005 had a smashed-in driver's door repaired incorrectly.
I did not care about that. However, you may be different. You may want a cleaner, straighter Prius than either of mine. The other thing you need to think about is how the previous owner maintained the car. Both of mine were poorly maintained, and it showed.
If wear and tear on the car is a big deal to you, a cheap Prius may not be your sushi platter. However, you can find a clean one owner from some little old lady or neighbor that may be willing to part with it for cheap. They are rare but do exist. Either way, you need to take the wear and tear factor into consideration when choosing a used Prius.
A newer Prius that has not had time to rot would also have softer rubber bushings enhancing your ride quality. The newer one should also have potentially seen far less traffic inside the car and could be cleaner. Of course, this is based on how the owner treated the vehicle, so one can only assume that a newer car has less wear and tear.
Wear and tear means a lot. If you have a 2015 Prius that has been beat and never maintained, you could be far worse off. There could be out there a cheap 2004 Prius with one owner and a few miles just waiting for you to pick it up and give it a new life. You will not know until you look around and see what is out there. Just because it is new does not mean it is the best deal.
Your Own Mechanical Ability
I believe this is the largest factor in deciding what Prius is right for you. Some jobs on Prius are straightforward; however, some should not ever touch a screwdriver. If you can change your oil, you can do many things on Prius.
If you want to know some of the more common issues with second-generation Prius, take a look at this article here. The other thing is that most of the problems that Prius has well-documented solutions to common problems that are present. This means even if you want to try, there is probably a good YouTube that can be followed.
In the end, if you do not feel like touching your car, best go with the more expensive option that may have a warranty still. Knowing whether you can work on it or not is a big deal. Make sure you are confident you want to or do not want to before you decide to purchase.
What Options You Want
There are differences between 2004-2009 Prius and 2010-2015. For instance, the highest trim levels in both generations had Bluetooth, but only third-generation could also connect your audio device as well. A solar roof is an option to help keep the car cooler.
The second generation had an Aux port and Bluetooth that only allowed you to connect for hands-free phone calls. Gen 2 Prius had good tech for the day, but it needs a few things to make it feel modern. If you are okay with that, the car will serve you well.
Check both options on each of the generations of Prius before you decide. You may find that you want the features on the newer Prius, and the extra money is worth that to you. You may find that a top-level 2009 Prius suits your needs. Whatever it is, that is your choice.
The thing is this; you need to decide what is best for you. A second-gen Prius, if you can find a cheap, clean one, it should serve you well for quite some time. I am still driving both of mine, and they have no issues. I have put some work into them, but honestly, they were pretty easy fixes.
I could go and buy a new Prius right now if I wanted to. The best value Prius for me is the one that costs me the least money after all things considered. The thing is, a more expensive Prius for me is just a depreciating asset. For you, that could be what you need.
I look at it like this, if I can get into a Prius for $2,000 that will last me a few years with little to no worries, I can get almost 8 cars for the price of one.
Thank you for reading. See you in the next story, The Toyota Prius’ Best Friend, Cat Security™, Is On Sale And Has Free Shipping.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting