A very positive first impression
First of all, this was a rental car, I rented mostly out of curiosity since I'd never driven a hybrid vehicle before.
The only imperfection I could see was a hairline crack on the front bumper moulding. Unacceptable for such a new car, but I can't imagine it's treated well, being a rental.
I have to really commend Toyota for thinking outside the box on this one. The car looks and drives truly futuristic. It has a real funky interior and exterior, plus a cool dash display that has different modes showing climate control buttons, a car navigation system, a diagram showing whether the car is using gas, electricity or both, etc.
During the time I had it, I noticed that generally the gas engine was used during hard acceleration, up hills or starting out when cold. However, the electric engine often helped out and was almost always used exclusively during cruising/coasting type driving, especially at lower speeds (ie around town).
The car had decent acceleration (supplied by the gas engine) on demand, considering it was only a modest 1.5 L. It was comfortable and amazingly spacious. There was, however, a bit of a blind spot when shoulder checking due to the car's high back end.
Perhaps the best thing about this car, and the car's main selling point was the fuel economy. Over 180 km (city, highway combo), I used a mere 6.5 L - a phenomenal 3.6 L/100 km!! Of course there's likely some inaccuracy when filling up after using so little fuel.
I realize a first impression is hardly a review for long-term minded owners. The longevity of all the electronic gadgetry in this car is largely unknown, although if I were to trust one car company over others it would probably be Toyota.
In all, I recommend renting a car before buying. What a great way to see if you like a certain car or not, without having all the long term financial commitments of buying it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 20th January, 2006