2004-2009 Toyota Prius Review
Years Produced: 2004-2008 (2009 model year was 2008 old stock)
1497cc inline 4 cylinder (16v)
57 kW (76 hp) @ 5000 rpm
85 lb/ft (115 nm) @ 4200 rpm
500 V 50 kW
67 hp @ 1200 rpm
295 lb/ft (400 nm) @ 0 rpm
Pararel Hybrid Drivetrain, CVT
1,330 kg (2,932 lb.)
0-62 mph (100 kph)
Fuel Economy Rating (city / highway)
20 - 19.1 km/l
57.6 - 54 mpg UK
48 - 45 mpg US
4.9 - 5.2L / 100 km
29.2 mpg UK
24.5 mpg US
9.6 L / 100 km
75.2 mpg UK
62.6 mpg US
3.73 L / 100 km
Competitors: Toyota Corolla
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A PRIUS?
Despite the “save the world” image the Prius has attached to it’s name (rightly so), it is able to put the power down to wheels instantly which to some people’s surprise, is quite a jolt for an economy car. Without going too deeply into the efficiency of electric motors the Prius can in short, put 60-70% of it’s potential power to the wheels instantly while other vehicles must wait for their engines to spin up to generate the power. This gives the illusion of being much more powerful than it’s 110 peak horsepower engines suggest, but for 99% of the time it is absolutely fine for any situation, passing lorries included.
In terms of being a city vehicle, the Prius also excels with it’s CVT (continuously variable transmission), which makes no perceptible shifts which means no sudden lurching when more power is needed. It is by far a less fun way to drive, but at the end of a long day in stop and go traffic, it is a very comfortable way to commute home.
Off road performance:
The Prius is a very low car due to an attempt to reduce it’s overall frontal area (drag) and improve fuel economy, but having done so has significant drawbacks to it’s performance when it comes to potholes and such. The Prius bottoms out very easily if care is not taken, although as with most cars, you can make due if caution is taken while driving.
As for dirt road and traction ability, the Prius does offer traction control as standard I believe, so wet roads and low tractions are actually very easy for the car to deal with, especially with the computer controlled electric motor.
In essence it’s low but has redeeming features, you make the decision.
(9-20 km per litre)
Unfortunately, if you are going to be in the heart of Phnom Penh for most of your driving, this is going to have an “extreme” effect on your fuel economy. The reasons are explained in this article (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=44858&hilit=hybrid ... ia#p574725), but in short if you don’t want to read, you will get about 1/3rd the advertised fuel economy. Do not believe any seller who tries to tell you otherwise, Cambodian sellers are no match for the laws of thermodynamics.
However, if you are able to be a “good Prius-er” and take advantage of it’s hybrid drivetrain out on more open road (Google Prius driving tactics), then 18-20 km/l is well within reach and I have personally done so.
(Excellent if maintained, potentially troublesome if not)
While the Prius might have a million space aged gizmos under the bonnet, they are still for the most part very reliable. At one point I was clocking up 15,000 km a month in my personal car, and even while passing 300,000 km there was not so much as the littlest hint of trouble.
However, as with all things, they break. Prius are not exception, although they are exceptional cars in my opinion for what they are. First note of concern though is the auxiliary coolant pump. They are only $50? in the U.S. but they fail pretty regularly although they are not essential to the function of the vehicle’s motor. In fact, most Prius owners that do have them fail would have no idea of the failure because to the best of my knowledge, there is no check engine light warning when they do fail so diagnosis can only be made when trying to actuate the pump itself to discover if it’s working or not.
(Very good, but complicated to service and repair properly)
The Prius is without a doubt, an incredibly reliable yet complex machine. 400-500 km taxis in New York are the norm rather than the exception and this is largely down to two things. One to the credit of the engineers who have ensured that the vehicle is of a sturdy design and up to a high standard of build quality, and two is down to the general operating characteristics of the vehicle.
Grossly oversimplifying, the Prius is “nice” to it’s engines. While most vehicles make do with just one engine, the Prius can alternate relatively seamlessly between both power units, and because of this it is use both in their most efficient manner possible. This means a lot of things like less heat build up, less waste, less wear, less stress, and in turn, more reliability.
However, there are many many components with the Prius that can go wrong although they are not known for doing so. If those components do fail though, the repair costs are likely going to soar through the roof and the ownership experience is going to sour very quickly. More detail is explained here in the same article reference above (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=44858&hilit=hybrid ... ia#p574725) but again if you don’t want to read, just forget about owning one in Cambodia unless you are an experienced electrician and mechanic with days of free time on your hands.
IF YOU OWN A PRIUS
Coolant check: There is not an inherent problem with Prius cooling systems, but they are very complicated and picky beasts. Because the Khmer have a tendency to put straight river water into cooling systems (okay for tuk tuks, not for Prius) then it’s imperative that you ensure your coolant is of the proper type. If your coolant is pinkish, I’d recommend just leaving it because it’s likely alright and Toyota SLLC coolant lasts over 160,000 km.
If it’s not, then if possible pick up the appropriate coolant and try to have a large service center do a coolant exchange for you and watch them do it. Make sure they use the right fluid and not any old fluid. Toyotas are picky in general, so a proper coolant is a must.
Battery cycling: Google to see what this is, but essentially, it is the practice of “exercising” your batteries. Because the battery remains at a constant state of charge more or less, it is a good idea to cycle through your battery’s max and minimum capacity once in a while. Again, google the process for better explanation.
12 volt battery: If you’re having trouble with your car and you think the battery might be at fault, you might be correct. The thing is though, it might not be your traction battery (the one that drives the motor), but the 12 volt one in the boot. It’s a good idea to check this battery to see if it is the appropriate AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery and not a simple bodge job regular Kia/Hyundai battery plopped in place.
Why? AGM batteries emit much less hydrogen (gasification) while being charged and discharged, but regular batteries with water as the electrolyte emit lots more gas, and if the battery is inside the car, gasses can accumulate inside and that is not ideal for one’s safety and health.
A/C oil is NOT COMPATIBLE with normal cars. Low conductivity oil must be used in a Prius, no exceptions.
CVT fluid of the proper spec must be used for the Prius and not regular automatic transmission fluid, again, no exceptions.
Do not drive your Prius aggressively in town or on rough roads, i.e. quick passing in town to get around a drink cart, etc. The Prius electronic stability control system (ESC) is very trigger happy when hard bumps are hit, and braking is momentarily diminished when the ESC triggers (to prevent a skid), which in turn means you might drive into somebody when trying to stop suddenly because Cambodians have a tendency to go EVERYWHERE on the roads, including right in front of oncoming traffic
AGM 12 volt battery. If your 12 volt battery goes dead, make sure you purchase the appropriate AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery and nothing else. It is very expensive (few hundred dollars as of now), but is not a negotiable item in terms of safety.
-Relatively fuel efficient
-Ideal city car
-Potential great expense when repairs needed
-Maintenance much more expensive
-Potential incompetence from shops in Prius repairs
If you want something simply reliable and headache free, forget the Prius altogether. If you want something that is mechanically interesting, high tech and don’t mind paying out the nose for parts, then by all means give it a try.
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Whether you've got a Tico or a Lexus, a Dailim or a Harley, this is the forum to discuss transport in Cambodia. Where to buy it, how much to pay and what to do when the wheels fall off.
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