Test Drive: Prius XLE AWD-e Hybrid

Toyota Prius AWDe

(this is not a joke)

Hey listen, if Angela Merkel can shake Donald Trump’s hand, I can test drive a Prius. It doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind about it. Or am I…

For years, the Toyota Prius has been my best friend and my worst enemy. Best friend because I live in California where the Prius is basically our state insect. Selling at a baffling rate of about 2 million per year, we Californians love these funky little hatchbacks. But my personal affection is really due to the fact that with so many on the road, so many terrible drivers and loads of DIY customization, the Prius never disappoints as the king of the Motorhead Mama punchline. And for that, my dear hybrid wonder, I thank you.

But you’ve also been my worst enemy because, well, a) your ugly, b) you can’t corner to save your life and c) watching someone park you is like watching my dog eat a spoon full of peanut butter– equally hilarious and frustrating.

However, truth be told, you’ve improved. You’ve had upgrades, you’ve even dodged the ugly stick once or twice. So I recently spent a week driving a humble pie for the sake of fairness. Here are the hard truths behind the P-word:

The Good

*Like your sister’s best friend, once the Prius got her braces off, she’s not so bad.

*AWD-e means that it’s safer on slippery roads, but only under 45mph (which counts me out entirely).

*Electric Power Steering (EPS) means she moves around beautifully. Bye-bye, turning radius crisis!

*Truly comfortable interior with impressive storage capacity.

*Great visibility behind the wheel.

*It finally has Apple CarPlay & Android Auto (dammit, this list is getting long..).

The Bad

*The safety system is not as impressive as its competition’s. (Most of the boxes are checked, but I wasn’t impressed with the interface.)

*Yes, it appears to have brakes, but they are not big on stopping things..like cars.

*It’s still not fun to drive. But I don’t think that’s ever been a selling point, so don’t stress.

Photo: Toyota USA

The Oh Hell No

*The Infotainment is really bad. Too many buttons and feels way to complex for its own good.

*The 17″ center screen is so distracting. It’s like talking to someone with a lazy eye– where do you look? It felt 100% dangerous to me, but maybe it’s something you just learn to live with, like herpes.

So did driving the Prius XLE AWD-e Hybrid inspire me to run out and spend $28,820 on a new car? We both know the answer to that. But with an average of 45mpg on the windy roads of Topanga Canyon, I’m not hating it so much anymore. For that, I’ve still got the first-generation Prius.

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