In an earlier post, I described how I tested the waters driving rideshare by renting a Prius through Hyrecar, a peer-to-peer rental company specializing in rideshare. The economics of that don’t work at all, so I decided to go all-in and get myself a Prius for continued madcap adventures with strangers. I estimate I’ll be able to recoup the cost within 3 months or so at the rate I’m driving, so the overall investment isn’t too bad and I can bail out if I get tired of doing it.

The Prius I found is a clean second-generation car, single-owner with 145k on the clock, and a detailed maintenance history. The only significant thing that may not have been done yet is spark plugs and PCV, which I may end up DIY’ing.

For what it is, the Prius is really well executed. I’m averaging about 46mpg right now, which is a little lower than in the rental. Not sure if that’s because of inefficiency in my car’s drivetrain, differences in tires, the fact that I may be hauling passengers more of the time than with the rental...?

The interior has held up well for a car of its age. There’s some clear coat which is separating, a problem which plagues our Sienna of the same year. I’m enjoying the automatic climate control and the proximity key.

Advertisement

The Prius is almost its own sort of sports car, where the “sport” is hypermiling. I’m one of those nerds who gets a kick out of seeing how much one can subsist on battery without triggering the ICE to kick in.

In terms of driving dynamics, it’s “pretty good for a Prius.” Body roll in corners is predictably sloppy, but the car tracks through curves pretty well. I can imagine it would be enjoyable with some upgraded sway bars, if you want to go down that road. Acceleration from a stop is OK, but 15-60 is pretty terrible. When you mat the accelerator, the engine tops out at what feels (to an S2000 owner) like a low RPM, with the CVT trying to make use of what power is available.

The worst thing I’ve encountered driving it is the traction and ABS systems. When there’s ice on the roads, traction control is extraordinarily conservative. Apparently this is in part to avoid damage to the electric half of the drivetrain, which can happen if it’s engaged over 40mph or something like that. It’s possible to do a pedal dance and disable it, but I haven’t managed to pull it off yet. I think it may be the same dance that Matt Farah did in the Smoking Tire in that... noteworthy... Prius one-take.

The ABS is also super-sensitive, and freaks out over rough pavement, robbing a lot of confidence from the driving experience.

Advertisement

So yeah! Prius: it’s the car to get when you’re getting more than 40... mpg. Definitely the perfect choice for rideshare if you can find a solid one that’s fully depreciated.