Hello: I have been a Toyota Corolla owner for the past 32 years. I have had only two Corollas in that time period. My first was bought new in 1981 and it racked up 360,000 kilometres. In 1998, I bought my second new Corolla, which I am still driving with the odometer reading almost 380,000 kilometres. I am keeping this car as a second vehicle. I must tell you that 1998 Corolla is in perfect shape inside and out. It doesn't have any rust and the paint is still original. Both Corollas were unbelievably reliable. Yes, it is true; I baby my vehicles and take care of them religiously. After 32 years of being loyal to Corollas, I purchased a 2013 Hybrid Toyota Prius and I wonder if I made the right decision. I only heard good things about Prius and I hope that my Prius will be as dependable as my Corollas. I would appreciate it if you could give me your expert, honest opinion about it. – Danny in Kitchener, Ont.
Vaughan: Danny, Danny, Danny, call us before you buy the car, not after. Read up on buyer's remorse. You're looking for reassurance, not advice.
Cato: Yes, but at least not redemption from buying a Lada or a Trabant or an AMC Gremlin. Danny's no dummy, just diligent and, like you, Vaughan, a dime-store dandy.
First things first, Danny. I'd be surprised if your Prius turns out to be anything less than your Corolla, reliability-wise. It's fuel-efficient, practical, durable, backed by a terrific warranty and, with Toyota Canada's $3,000 discount, the Prius is more affordable than ever. I believe it's the most reliable car overall in Consumer Reports' owner surveys, too.
Owners, truly committed early-adopters, love this car and swear by it.
Taxi drivers think it's wonderfully cheap to operate and who wouldn't want to commute in a cabbie's delight?
Canadian Black Book says the Prius has the best resale value in the compact class – better than even your beloved Corolla, Danny. The perfect urban transportation appliance.
Five million owners worldwide and counting. As important to the industry as the Model T.
Vaughan: It's also decade-old technology. The world keeps turning and Ford decided to go after Toyota's unquestioned hybrid lead in a big way.
Cato, you remember we test-drove the newest Prius plug-in version against the Ford C-Max Energi Hybrid ($36,999). A slam-dunk, unanimous decision, and we generally agree on nothing. The C-Max Energi was the clear winner – far more refined and up-to-date than the venerable Prius.
Cato: Yes, yes. No question. Look, we all know that Toyota over-engineered the Prius from the outset and since then has been cautious in pushing too far, too fast with the hybrid technology in the standard Prius ($26,100).
Witness the old-style nickel-metal hydride battery pack, versus the more modern lithium-ion array in the hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion ($29,999), Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima ($29,995) and Acura ILX ($35,050).
Alas, the Prius's cabin is a stunningly pedestrian place – thin seats, hard plastics, dull finishings and all.
And this, my dear Vaughan, is why Ford's share of the U.S. electrified vehicle market is up 12 points to nearly 16 per cent. Toyota? Still the market leader by a huge margin, but trending downward: share off 8.0 points.
In California, where environmentalists have worked successfully to change the auto industry in fundamental ways, Ford loves to brag that the top trade-in for a new Ford C-Max hybrid is a Toyota Prius.
Vaughan: Danny, you're fine with your Prius. Although its technology is getting along in years, don't worry.
But you should have also checked out Hyundai-Kia for their hybrid offerings. Both the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid are more sophisticated than the elderly Prius and both have plenty of free money in the trunk.
Cato: Here's a symphony of numbers for you and Dime-Store Danny: The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid may list for $27,999, but the factory discount is a whopping $4,000. And you can combine the discount with 3.19 per cent financing for 84 months.
Vaughan: I like them both, although the Hyundai's jazzy styling might look dated in a few years. Danny, you'll have no such concerns with the Prius. You're retired, you're a Toyota guy through and through, you made a good choice. See, I can be nice.
Cato: Your future is as a UN ambassador. Why not go on the road with Angelina Jolie? She'd forget all about Brad Pitt.
And Danny, 16 years hence, in 2029 when you next go car shopping, give the competition a chance to win your business – along with what by then will surely be a totally redesigned Prius.
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.
HOW THEY COMPARE
|2013 Toyota Prius||2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE||2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid|
|1.8-litre four-cylinder with electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery pack||2.0-litre four-cylinder with electric motor and lithium ion battery pack||2.4-litre four-cylinder with electric motor and lithium ion battery pack|
Output (hybrid net horsepower)
|Front-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive|
Curb Weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
|3.7 city/4.0 highway||4.0 city/4.1 highway||5.4 city/4.9 highway|
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV
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