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I've always been curious about what it's like to own a Prius. I'm sure everyone wonders at some ponit if they should buy a Prius. Do the batteries last? Can you drive very far? Is the maintenance expensive? This post is helping me a lot with my new car buying budget and decision making process.

We originally bought our used 2007 Toyota Prius in early 2008 when gas prices were reaching $4 a gallon here in Houston, TX and there was a 200 person waiting list for a new Prius. Long story short, they wanted $32,000 for a new Prius or $27,000 for a used 2007 Prius with 30,000 miles on it already. After a few hours of negotiation, we settled at $21,500 for the 2007 model. With financing at 4% and everything else, we ended up paying it off early and put in a total of $23,400.

(Slightly unrelated, but if you own a Prius, these trash cans seem to be a favorite accessory that fits in the doors…)

In December 2011, I posted about our Prius since they were getting popular. I wanted to check in again now that our Prius is 9 years old and just hit 155,000 miles.

2007 Toyota Prius

Not our car, but it looks identical and I wasn't home to take a picture when I wrote this…

Prius Pros

  • It still makes 44-47 miles per gallon on road trips and 47-52 miles per gallon with in-city driving. Yep, that seems backwards but it isn’t since the breaking system is part of the battery re-charging process.
  • It still has great amount of storage space for us. It regularly carries 4 men and their reffing duffle bags, pet cages, luggage, etc.  Heck, we actually successfully transported a full-sized chaise lounge home along with the two of us.
  • It is still very comfortable for up to 4 adults and semi-comfortable for 5 if a couple of the adults are not large, lol.
  • It drives fairly smooth – a lot smoother than my old Chevy Aveo. It's about the same as my Honda Fit even though the Prius is heavier.
  • It is a quiet ride since it only makes noise while it uses gas to recharge the batteries.
  • It doesn’t require much maintenance – just a  synthetic oil change every 10,000 miles.
  • The keyless entry, push button start, and backup camera are great! Other cars have those too, so keep an eye out.
  • Toyota is great at honoring their recalled parts.

Prius Cons

  • There is still a big blind spot thanks to the slope of the rear window area.
  • It is so quiet that we’ve accidentally left it running in the garage for a few hours until we went to investigate the periodic vacuum cleaner sound.
  • It seems to run through Discount Tires every two years now and it costs about $450 to have them all replaced.
  • If it breaks down in your garage, you will need a jack with wheels to get it out since it is a hybrid that can't be put into neutral when it is dead – it's just a pretty paper weight with front wheel drive. So you can jack up the front and push it out so it can be towed.
  • When something breaks that shouldn’t – it would be expensive to replace. The hybrid battery pack alone is $3000 only $900-$2700 if you use a company like Hometown Hybrids!!!  Good news, our hybrid battery was still doing great at 9 years and 152,000 miles until my husband got into an accident.
  • There weren't any issues at all for 6 years. But in 2013, we've had to replace the 12v battery ($300), the solar sensor ($160), the water pump ($340 and this may still be covered – just need to submit a recall notice and receipt and see what happens), and the display stopped working but was recalled (that was covered by Toyota automatically, plus they covered our rental car for the 2+ weeks that it took to fix it thanks to that part breaking for a lot of people at once). In 2016, my husband got into an accident and we had to get the engine cradle bent back into shape and an alignment for $385.  The hybrid battery also had to be replaced and that was $900 for a refurbished one with a 1 year / 25,000 mile auto warranty.

More technology does mean that there is more that can break, but I've been impressed overall by our Prius and Toyota's way of handling their problems. We still trust our Prius.

Side Note

– I developed a simple equation a while ago for figuring out if the gas cost savings justified buying a Prius instead of whatever other car you may be thinking about buying instead. I just ran the numbers for a new 2014 Prius versus the new 2013 Honda Fit I purchased a couple of years ago…

Gas Savings – Toyota Prius vs Honda Fit

Basically, here’s how you can use to see if a Prius would save you more in the long run:

1. (Your Average Annuals Miles / Comparison Car Miles Per Gallon) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Comparison Car (CC)
2. (Your Average Annuals Miles / 50) * $Gas Price Per Gallon = Cost of Gas for Prius (P)
3. CC – P = Gas Savings Per Year (to use below)

Extra Cost of the Prius / Gas Savings per Year = Years it Would Take to Break Even

That said, a new 2014 Prius was selling for about $21,300 and my new 2013 Fit was $16,300. That's a difference of $5000.  Gas was $3.50 a gallon then.

1. (12000/32) * 3.5 = $1312.50
2. (12000/50) * 3.5 = $840
3. $1312.50-$840=$472.50

$5000 / $472.50 = 10.58 Years

So, the extra $5000 wouldn't have been covered for 10.58 years based on the current cost of gas back then (and it's even less now) and how much I drive in my highest mileage year ever. So, if I was considering a Prius just based on cost, then I made the right decision to go with the 2013 Honda Fit which by the way was cheaper when I did a car insurance comparison. Obviously, most people don't buy cars based on price alone. You also have to consider what your needs are as well as your general wants, but it's good to at least consider gas prices.

Have you owned or thought about owning a Prius? What experiences have you had or heard about?