Two days ago I had no idea that the Toyota Prius came in a "Touring" model. Now one sits in our driveway, a replacement for our 2004 Prius.
We were early adopters, ordering Prius 1 in September 2003 and getting her in November. It's been a great car, virtually glitch free and a steady 45 mpg performer. But Prius 1 had some downsides that were beginning to seriously bug me.
We also have a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, a midsize SUV. This more macho car was supposed to be my main ride. However, Laurel commandeered it about six months ago because her back, which has some problems, finds that the Highlander has more comfortable seats. So I've been spending a lot more time in Prius 1.
Which offered me many more hours to contemplate how the beige seats clash with the black dashboard and the blue exterior. This bugged us from the beginning, making us wonder how the land of Zen harmony could be so bad at designing cars with harmonious color schemes.
However, we sucked it up and ordered a blue/beige Prius, as un-Feng Shui'ish as it looked. The brownish all-weather mats that we got from an auto parts store (Toyota didn't offer custom mats of that sort back then) didn't raise the car's Feng Shui score, that's for sure.
Another irritant was how washed out the touch screen panel got whenever the sun hit it. I enjoyed watching the miles per gallon graphs continuously update, but half the time I couldn't see them. Nor what channel the radio was on, or what temperature the climate control system was set at.
Thus when Laurel tossed a Capitol Toyota postcard at me and said, "This came in the mail today," I took a closer look than I ordinarily would have. Buyback program for Prius owners. Hmmmm…
The next day I took Prius 1 in to see what she was worth for a trade-in. Exactly what I'd calculated myself on the Kelley Blue Book web site, it turned out: $16,325. Not too bad for a three and a half year old car that cost $23,152.
There was one 2007 Prius on the lot, a Touring model. First I'd heard of it. It comes with a firmer tuned suspension, bigger low-profile tires, alloy wheels, and a slightly larger rear deck spoiler.
On a test drive the sales guy, Kelly, was curious to know if I could discern a difference between the Touring model and Prius 1. Sure seemed like I could. The Touring corners better and has more road feel—sort of Germanic, even. Not quite BMWish, but certainly closer than Prius 1.
This matches with most, but not all, of the comments on a Green Hybrid discussion group thread about the Prius Touring.
Right off the bat I liked the car. The gray interior soothed my overly beiged soul. And the silver exterior looked fine to me. A backup camera came with the $575 Package #2, along with stability control, a sound system, and the must-have Smart Key. (Once you get used to never having to take out a key to lock, unlock, or start a car, keys seem so 20th century.)
The price for a 2007 Touring with pretty much the same features as Prius 1 came to $24,529—darn close to what we paid back in 2003. For a bit over $8,000 I could get unbeiged, cooler wheeled, and back-up camera'd. Plus have a brand new car. The deal was done.
Driving Prius 2 home today it didn't take me long to discern another benefit. The display panel seemed much easier to read in direct sunlight. I need to confirm this, but it sure appears to me that Toyota has improved the display.
Serena the Wonder Dog hasn't taken her first ride yet. Prius 2 is ready for her, though. The Capitol Toyota parts department found us a couple of mats that will do just fine for muddy dog paws. Only one was made for the Prius, but the other is a close enough fit for dog-transporting purposes.
Now I've got to figure out what else to do to pimp my Prius. I'm thinking tinted windows for sure.
So if you're wanting a cooler shade of Green with your Prius, look into the Touring. In my ten miles of driving experience with it, I'm happy with Prius 2. Hope the eventual owners of Prius 1 are as pleased with our old car.