Tom bought a new car today. Actually that's not true. He bought it two weeks ago, but I'm blogging about it today and it seems lame to start off a blog with "Tom bought a new car two weeks ago".... anyway, here it is:
Tom's new baby, the Metallic Gray Toyota Prius, with Smart Key system, MP3 capable stereo system, and Backup Camera. Yikes! Don't even ask how much this cost. I try not to think about it, especially considering that the new job it was purchased for hasn't even started yet. Okay, it didn't cost as much as many cars. It cost less than a Camry, for example, but more than a cherry red Volkswagen Bug, which was Karianne's vote. Sorry babe. Maybe next time.
Riding in this thing is like driving a rocket ship. Not because it pulls G's, but because the interface is so futuristic. When you get in, there are none of the usual instruments on the dashboard in front of the driver. No speedometer, odometer, gas gauge, or oil or temperature display. Nada.
There is, however, a Power button. Yeah, a power button. Like the one on your computer monitor, only bigger.
If you have the smart key (which looks like your typical black keyless entry key fob) in your pocket, the car knows you are authorized to drive the car, and all you have to do is push the "on" button. It's very weird. So, once the power is on, way up in front of you is the LED console that indicates what gear you're in and your speed, which is zero while sitting in the driveway.
The shift lever is like nothing you've seen before. It reminds me of a nintendo joystick doohicky. I can't describe it, so here's a picture.
You push the shifter to the gear you want, Reverse, Drive, Neutral, or B. B? Maybe B is for blasters. One can only hope. Once the chosen gear is registered with the computer, you let go of the shift lever, and it pops back to its default position. Again, very weird. When you want to park, you push the "Park" button above the shifter.
This car is somewhat of a seat-belt Nazi. That's a euphemism. The dang thing is downright neurotic about wanting people to wear seat belts. Most cars just have a red light on the dash reminding the driver to put on their belt. This car does too, but it also has an acompanying beep, which speeds up after five seconds. The first time I drove it, I thought maybe it would blow up or something if I didn't get that belt on and I mean fast! It also nags the front seat passenger the same way.
One really coolio feature is that the passenger airbag is activated or not depending on the weight of the person sitting in the seat. This means that the "you must be 12 or older to sit in the front seat" rule does not apply to the Prius, much to Nathan and Megan's delight.
Above the radio is the touchscreen, which displays everything you normally see on a dashboard, and more. When you turn on the radio, the station and volume settings are displayed here. Same for climate control, and when you shift into reverse, it displays the view from the backup camera on the rear of the car so you don't run over any toddlers. Very handy.
In the picture above, the display is showing the Energy Monitor, which you already knew if you looked at the picture. When driving, this engaging little distraction uses colored arrows in the black lines to show whether the car is being powered by the electric motor via the battery, or the gasoline engine, or both. When braking or slowing down, momentum is converted into electricity and sent back to the battery. It's pretty nifty. I am constantly worried that I'm going to wreck the car because I'm watching this screen out of the corner of my eye, trying to get the best possible mileage.
On the current tank of gas, Tom has averaged 52 mpg over 160 miles. A fair sight better than the Ranger, which gets 20 mpg if he's lucky. That cut the cost of driving to his job near the SLC airport -- a 100 mile round trip daily. Tom is pretty excited about that, as well as the fact that this is his first vehicle that has air conditioning. I'm excited for that too, 'cause he'll smell better when he gets home at night. :D