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The Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth

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?

27 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of a Prius – From an Owner’s Mouth”

  1. Corey @ Passive Income to Retire

    Great comparison in the end. I have a colleague that has a prius and everyone was drooling over his mgp one day at lunch. What they failed to consider is that he paid more for his car than mine. Maybe next time I will speak up.. 🙂

  2. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    I have a Toyota Yaris – 42 mpg and it was $15k. 😀

    Right after I got it, I got water in my gas tank and had it towed in for repairs (which the gas station had to pay for – bwahahaha!). They gave me a Prius to drive until it was fixed, and while I liked it fine, I was glad to get my little Yaris back. The blind spot was a huge issue for me; I think it’s worse for short people. I always felt like I couldn’t see out of the rearview mirror. I was also a little TOO obsessed with the real-time mpg info – I would catch myself watching it instead of focusing on the road.

    I think the Prius is a great car for some people, but I was able to get nearly the same mpg from a cheaper car. Also, my Yaris has fewer bells and whistles, which means fewer things that could potentially break and need repair.

  3. I loved my Toyota Prius. I had it for 2 years. The storage area in the back was a pleasant surprise to us too. I bought a Prius not for the saving, but for the ride. I was curious how hybrid cars worked. In the end, I traded it in for a more luxurious car, but I would love to buy a hybrid car for my daughter some day 🙂

  4. Linda

    I looked at a Prius this past spring but ended up not buying it. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $30k on a car, and that’s the lowest price they offered me on a vehicle eligible for their 0% financing offer. The manager tried a few arguments to get me to buy that day, including how good it would be for the environment if I drove a Prius. I told him that I was driving a 10 year old car with 40k miles on it; I thought I was doing the environment more good by walking, cycling, and taking public transit much more than driving. Then I walked out.

    Gas prices here in Chicago have been well above $3 a gallon for a while; I think we’re at roughly $3.60 a gallon now. I only spend an average of $25 a month on fuel, though, since I drive so infrequently. I know that’s hard for some people to do, but I think we could all benefit from taking a really critical look at how we can reduce the amount of driving we do and instead walk or cycle more. It would help our health and may reduce our healthcare related expenses, too.

  5. YFS

    I own a prius and the only reason I bought it was because it allows my wife to cut out 30 minutes of commuting each way to work. In VA if you have a hybrid you can ride HOV with 1 person. So a hybrid/prius is worth it’s weight in gold in my area.

  6. Michelle

    I’ve been thinking about getting one. My car only gets 23 mpg and that’s obviously not the greatest.

    We used to have a Mercedes and it ran on grease (most older Mercedes can do this) and it was super cheap because most restaurants will give it to you for free.

  7. Michelle

    I have a loaded 2004 Hyundai Sante Fe and I love it! I bought it used for ~$17 back in 2008 and it only had 24,000 miles on it!!! It was an older ladies car that only drove it to church and to the store; she only got rid of it because she didnt want to “climb” into an SUV anymore.
    It is a gas guzzler compared to the Prius but I love SUV’s.

  8. Jeffrey Trull

    Awesome analysis! There don’t seem to be too many downsides, so it almost seems like a no-brainer for the eco-conscious folk out there. If you’re really concerned about saving money overall, it’s a harder choice as you’ve illustrated very well.

  9. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

    Do you really consider a Prius a small SUV? I can’t image taking it camping or anything outdoorsy. I love my car, 2000 Volvo Station Wagon. Total soccer mom car, but I’ll drive it until it dies.

    Also, Adaptu just launched our Mobile Wallet! Would love to hear your feedback on it: https://www.adaptu.com/community/about_adaptu/newsroom/blog/2011/12/12/can-you-afford-it-adaptus-new-iphone-app-will-let-you-know

  10. Aloysa

    We actually looked into Prius a few years ago and instead setteled for a Honda Element. We needed something that we can take outdoors, into the mountains. Prius does seem quite suitable for it.

  11. Kris @ Everyday Tips

    We rented a Prius when we were in Florida once and it did work out for the 5 of us, although we only took short trips. I too was surprised about the amount of storage space. I also remember restarting it because it was so quiet I forgot it was already running.

    3000 dollars for a new battery? Wow! I hope it never has to be replaced.

  12. krantcents

    Thanks for the analysis. I have often thought about it, but never pulled the trigger because the relative vale vs. the price. I only drive 7,500 miles a year.

  13. Jonathan

    Nice analysis. I read something similar a while back stating that it doesn’t really make much sense to buy if you are just going for the gas savings. Personally I wouldn’t feel safe in a Prius going down the highway. I’d feel like I’m in a cracker box. I like the bulk of my grand prix. 🙂

  14. Hunter - Financially Consumed

    I like your write-up. I’m of the opinion that efficiency always pays for itself. Gasoline is not likely to stay at $3 per galon for the next 5 years. Several large industry groups, plus the US military, firmly believe we are headed for shortages, price spikes, and these are the days we all wish we had a Toyota Prius.

    I love our 2010 Honda Insight. Sadly, it’s being repaired due to an embarrassing crash last week…I’ll spare you the details.

  15. Jake Stichler - Debt Sucks

    Andrea, I’m curious to hear your pros and cons on the Yaris. I was just looking at it last night, and looks really tempting.

    I dislike my scooter because it’s 20 degrees out right now. And because it’s left me walking to work the past 2 days because the battery is dead and I haven’t bothered to jump it because then it’ll just be dead at work, too, because something’s shot. Everything else about it is freakin fantastic, though!

  16. Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

    I drove one when I was looking for my last next car, all the dials and lights and moving displays on the dash were a total turn off for me. The expensive battery also scared me off.

  17. Crystal @ BFS

    @Corey, spring the equations on them. 😉

    @Andrea, the Yaris has been on my radar for the last year or so too. It looks like what I wish the Aveo actually was – a good little car that makes great gas mileage. The Aveo is small but only makes 28-31 mpg.

    @Tushar, LOL, for me, the Prius is luxury. My Aveo doesn’t have a CD player or power anything…

    @Linda, $30k?! Ouch. I wonder why they are cheaper here. As for bicycling, I don’t see it as a safe option in Houston. Once I leave my little neighborhood, it’s 4-5 lanes of traffic to get anywhere and we don’t have bike paths. I rather burn some gas than play live-action Frogger. 😉

    @YFS, that is awesome!!!

    @Michelle, on grease? I’ve heard of that but not in a “normal” car. Cool!

    @Jeffrey, thanks!

    @Jenna, no, a Prius is definitely not an SUV. My husband had to choose between a small SUV and a Prius and chose the Prius since it had enough room without being an SUV.

    @Aloysa, you made a good choice for you – the Prius does not seem to do well on steep hills and I read some bad reviews of them in cold climates as well.

    @Kris, supposedly the battery won’t die, but we’ll see. This one is at almost 5 years…

    @krantcents, yeah, it’ll be hard for me to justify too now that I drive less than 3500 miles a year…

    @Jonathan, LMAO, I drive an Aveo, which is 25% smaller than a Prius…talk about tin can. 🙂

    @Hunter, I always think gas prices will keep rising overall as well, so I do look for cars that get good mpg. I just go cheap, like the Aveo. If I get the Mini or the Miata, it will be because I want to look and feel cute while driving my 3500 miles a year. 🙂

    @Jake, I liked the Yaris I rode in. I think it would definitely trump a scooter for the winter at least.

    @Marie, I am a Star Trek fan (The Next Generation), so I love the console, lol. The battery scared me until I found the reviews of other Prius owners…no battery issues UNLESS they installed their own stereo system.

  18. ODWO

    Interesting comparisions. I/we’d also been thinking of buying “another Toyota” for my wife. And was actually wondering what you and “L” thought about your Prius.

    We like our Toyo. Matrix. 30mpg. More room than we actually needed, but still on the small side. I liked the size of a Prius. And the Matrix has that unique blindspot too.

    Thx again for doing the homework. 🙂

    (sorry we didn’t make it last weekend. Ms. ODWO not feeling too good after tutorials @ her school. Hope to see y’all again soon)

  19. SB @ One Cent At A Time

    Very well written. I was thinking about Prius and after all the calculation decided to have Camry.

  20. Mitch

    Very nice write-up! I was already considering posting up a similar review of the 2016 Ford Mustang that I bought 2 months ago. I guess I need to start working on it now.

    My V6 is the base model but has 300 horsepower, is quicker than the V8’s from the 1990’s, and gets me 30mpg on the highway – sometimes more!

    For me, fuel economy wasn’t the sole choice obviously but this went a long way towards choosing this as my commuter car and eventually (when the warranty ends) my weekend warrior at the dragstrip.

  21. Crystal @ BFS

    @Mitch, isn’t it nice to have a car you LOVE?! 🙂

  22. jill

    Great write up.
    You already know I love our Mitsubishi Mirage. With tax, title, and license, totally tinted and nitrogen filled tires (lol), we paid $13K for it two years ago. It averages 44 mpg, 47 on highway, 40-42 in city. Depends how fast you are going. In Texas you had better be able to get up and go on the long straight stretches, and we do an awesome job of keeping up. It is hot and humid where we live, with average humidity being around 70%, so our air conditioner is always on, even during our very temperate winters. So our car is not being coddled for the 12,000 miles a year we drive it. My 6’4″ husband loves the head and leg room. We chose the standard model for the fun and for the better acceleration performance. It does have limits, like you can not even try to red line it as it will stop accelerating altogether, so you have to change those gears rather rapidly for your best performance, which means you are not going to gain any acceleration performance while passing or changing lanes. No drag racing, phooey. Oh well, I have the Lancer for that, lol. The tires run between $200-275 depending.
    The 13 ” tires on the Mirage sometimes have to be ordered, but they do not cost more than $50/tire. We have not needed new tires yet, but we checked on the prices before buying this car.
    Bottom line, we love our little Spudster; three cylinders and all. The 5 year warranty, road side service, and personal service we have received from our dealership also factored into buying the Mirage.Mitsubishi is offering even more deeply discounted deals right now, so tempting we are considering selling the Mirage to upgrade to a new one with more bells and whistles for less than what we paid for this one. Although we would never buy the automatic model, its noisy and slow.
    Since we need two cars with our college student still residing with us, I feel happy with our purchase. I am going to run the numbers, but last time I did, the Mirage won hands down against any hybrid or electric due to their high initial prices. It probably beats out the Honda FIT and has a lot of cargo room too. We do our monthly shopping trips with this car with no problems, even fit some 6 foot lumber in, with it resting on the dash. Minimalism can be such a hoot.

  23. Mitch


    I don’t know if you are aware but your “new” Honda Fit is on the list of vehicles equipped with the infamous Takata airbags. They were used in Fits from 2009 to 2014. I just posted an article on them in my blog, including a link to the list maintained by the emergencyemail.org website.

    Even if your car appears to be okay you should definitely still contact your local Honda dealer about the recall. Two of the Takata airbags recently exploded in my friend’s 2014 Ford while he was driving, causing him serious injury.

  24. Crystal @ BFS

    @Mitch, thanks for the kick in the butt. I actually received their recall notice in March but had been putting it off since they said that they didn’t have the parts and I would have to use “alternate transport”…well, I’m in a rental car now for the next 30+ days but hopefully my airbags won’t explode on me! 🙂

  25. Mitch

    You’re welcome! 🙂 And now you have another car you can review in the blog!

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