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Cars, cars, cars

2004-10-02 , ,

The VW isn’t ready yet. I’ll have to burn a personal day to pick it up mid-week. It’s nice
that [Oneonta Volkswagen](http://www.vwofoneonta.com) is conscientious but speedy would be nice, too.

The rental car picked up two tickets on October 1st while parked in front of our apartment:

  • Expired inspection (9/30)
  • Expired registration (9/30)

Thanks guys. Glad to see that New York City is attending to really important matters like crime and poverty and not wasting enforcement efforts on petty things like issuing
30-day fix-it tickets.

The tickets are not my problem- I’m just a customer- so we drove up to Enterprise in
Kingston to exchange the car. They swapped the Nissan Sentra- which, by the way, sucked- for a Toyota Prius, a hybrid gas/electric car. I was leery but it’s pretty good and other than getting 50mpg on the highway it’s very much like driving any other small, inexpensive car.

This model has four doors and a hatchback and the interior is roomy. The seats are comfortable- which is good because adjustment is limited to setting the distance from the dash and the seat angle- and seem high up. The car has adequate power and decent acceleration, much to my surprise, but going up hill around turns you feel it “hunt” as the transmission balances output from engine and motor. Handling is okay- planted with a little understeer- and limited body roll. The ABS brakes are strong in the drop anchor, stippled
black stripe kind of strong.
The gauges are set at the bottom of the windshield which seemed
odd at first but I got used to it in minutes. The dash computer with full-color touch screen
is cool and one probably gets used to it, but even after reading the manual I was unable
to safely operate it while driving. Fortunately, there are basic controls on the steering
wheel and below the screen for the climate control and stereo.

What I don’t like about this rented Prius? First, the key. It’s an oblong black box about the size of a match box with lock, unlock and emergency siren buttons but no
exposed metal. Those buttons are the only way in and once in, you need push it into a
slot. Half the time I couldn’t get the trunk unlocked and had trouble finding the
spring-loaded flap covered slot on the dash in the dark.
My other gripe is the push button operation of the vehicle.
I’m sure the target market loves this but you do everything with buttons. Press Power once to go to accessory mode, once more to actually start the car, a third to shut it off.
There is a magic duration different for each press and it is longer than I expect. Park is selected with another button and shifting drive, neutral and reverse is done with a self-centering joystick. There’s no tactile feedback on any of these buttons and it takes a little getting used to.

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