Friday, May 25, 2007

Welcome to the 21st Century

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


  1. It is the coolioest coolly cool car in the world. Me and mom would have taken more pictures if if the cool camera that mom got for mothers day (Mom, you should blog about that, to.) picked that particular moment to run out of batteries. Dang.

  2. I second or third the motion that it is very cool. I got a small test drive while we did some experiments with the key. You cant hear a thing and I reversed by only looking at the screen...weird (i cheated and looked before totally relying on the technology...a little old school) I am jealous of your cool car Tom...i just need one that seats more :)

  3. I love riding in that car. That is an added bonus of being a good friend/third daughter of this family. I get to ride in this coolio spaceship every once in a while. Also the lights are fadey kind so when they drop me off at my house in the night then the lights in the car (instead of being boring like my car and just turning off) they fade down and down and down until they are all the way off. It is pretty much the sweetest thing of my life. Plus also Aubrynn's car does that too. I do believe it is time for us to get a new car, Mom!

  4. I think I want a Prius for my birthday Mom. Like my very own one. I'd like a blue one please. I'm done with Volkswagen beetles. They're SO last century.

    Hey on a side note, how do you bold stuff in comments? I see the little vague sentence of instructions up there, but everytime I try it it tells me that the tag isn't closed and I can't figure out how to close it. Nathan seems to have figured it out.

  5. "I think I want a Prius for my birthday, mom."


    Keep dreamin' honey. ;)

  6. Maybe I should teach Karianne my own method of how to get stuff you really want out of your parents even if it costs money. On account of I already tried the birthday one and it didn't actually work.

    It goes like this: you wake up early on a Saturday morning and you go out to mow the lawn. Then, when you are done and your Dad has already told you how great it looks and he has already thanked you for your services, you pop the question. "Dad, if I mow the lawn every week this summer and do a good job then will you pay for the text messaging on my phone? By the way, I love you!" Cept in your case you would probly want to insert "buy me a Prius" instead of "pay for the text messaging on my phone". Or you could just insert "buy me a phone" if you decided that might be more reasonable.

    By the way, Mom, that really wasn't the original reason why I decided to mow the lawn. I really promise. I just decided that that could be a good bargain.

  7. This car is so cool that I can hardly stand it! I just wonder if you have to go to drivers ed all over again to learn how to drive it since many of the things you use in a regular car either don't exist or are totally different? :) Take a closer look at the gear shift thingy. Did you notice that the gears are in the opposite direction from driving an actual stick shift? That's right. Could be pretty confusing. :)

    Good luck on getting the car for your birthday Karianne. I promise you that if Chris came and said her "line" but had inserted "a new car" instead, it wouldn't have worked. And the only reason she got her txt mssging is because it was a killer deal for her dad. :)