Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Great Car Hunt is Finished - 2012 Prius 3

2012 Prius 3
The soon-to-be-ours 2013 Prius 3
Since early February my wife and I have been car shopping, looking ot replace the 2002 Kia Sedona EX she purchased late 2001. We've been to nearly all the representative local car dealerships and looked at the cars we'd narrowed down from our research on the web. After what many might consider too much for too long we suddenly decided on the Prius. What pushed us to buy the Prius was the 2013 Hyundai Elentra GT we looked at last Thursday.

We were close to Holler Hyundai in Winter Park that Thursday evening, so we drove over to look at the Elantra GT. We'd read a lot about the GT, much of it very good. What we saw Thursday made us even more predisposed towards the GT, so we made an appointment to go back over Saturday for a test drive. We drove it, liked it, and then put together a single-page straw man payment plan. With that payment plan in our hip pocket we drove over to Courtesy Toyota to look at the 2012 Prius 3.

Earlier in the week my wife sent out a number of emails to various local dealerships looking for the best value they had for the 2012 Prius. She decided that color was no longer an issue; all she wanted was the best possible price for a Prius 3. She got a number of responses, the best being from Courtesy Toyota. After our visit to Holler Hyundai we drove over and talked to the salesman who'd sent us the quote.

After a quick introduction we got down to business. The Toyota salesman had the Prius prepped and pulled around for a test drive. Then she and the salesman test drove the 2012 while I stayed behind. I already know how the Prius handles as both a drive and a passenger, and this Prius was for my wife. There was no reason for me to tag along. This was all about my wife.

Once we got back we got a second set of quotes. My wife has had considerable back reconstructive surgery due to arthritic damage. Saturday turned out to be a bad flare day for her and she was in considerable pain. So I drove her home to give her time to take some pain meds and to recharge a bit. It was during that period that we came to the decision to buy the Prius.
2012 Prius 3 Interior
The sophisticated cockpit of the 2013 Prius
What my wife didn't realize at the time but came to appreciate later was that she was driving during a less-than-ideal period where she was very sensitive to how both cars drive down the road. The Elantra GT with its suspension transmitted the road into the vehicle, causing fatigue and pain. When we left Holler my wife was felling pretty bad. What she discovered while driving the Prius was that it was a lot easier on her, especially when she was feeling as bad as she was at the time. That single event more than anything else tipped our decision towards the Prius. And I'm not so sure it would have been different if the test drives had been reversed. It was tough on my wife, but it's good she wasn't feeling at her best, otherwise we might have purchased the Hyundai; it was that close.
Lucky Ladybugs
My wife's old 1970 lady bug floor mats
After 24 hours we feel we made the right overall choice. There were a lot of points where the Elantra matched the Prius, and a few where it overmatched the Prius. But the three that my wife considered the most important, driving, cargo capacity and gas mileage, the Prius was better to much better than the Elantra. Especially considering how the Prius drove the day she was hurting.

The Prius is in our driveway now, and my wife has made it her own. Those lady bug floor mats were the first accessories my wife purchased for her first car in 1970, a car her dad purchased for her. She only bought two because that's all she could afford. Those floor mats have been all over the country and in every vehicle that's been hers ever since. They're something of a good luck charm. They're in the back because Toyota has this stricture about nothing but their designated floor mats in the front. Whatever, they're in her vehicle just like they've been in every other vehicle.
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT with all packages
The reason we almost bought the Elantra GT, why we kept coming back to it, was the "fluidic" styling used on the Elantra GT. Both of use felt the styling of the Hyundai was superior to the Prius. Of all the brands and models out there, on styling alone I prefer Hyundai.
2013 Elantra GT boot with wheelchair
Fitting my wife's wheelchair into the back of the Elantra
I spoke about cargo capacity. One item my wife needs to carry with her is her wheelchair. She doesn't need to use it always, but she does need it on those occasions when she has her arthritic and pain flares. On those days she needs to get to her chair as easily as possible. Because of the way the rear trunk space was organized I had to remove the two large wheels and then carefully lay the rest of the chair on top. In the 2012 Prius the rear trunk area is wider and deeper into the vehicle, allowing her to just put the chair in without taking it apart, and thus easily remove it.
2013 Elantra GT Backup Camera with Overlays
2013 Elantra's rear backup camera with distance overlays
One feature that both cars have is a backup camera. The Hyundai backup camera is much superior to the Prius because of the overlay limits projected on the rear image. In the example above the green boundary shows where the car is headed as it backs up. The yellow boundary is a cautionary boundary, while the red boundary is an indicator your probably too close. What was also nice is how the lines curve along with the curvature of the rear camera's wide angle lens. The Prius, by contrast, is a simple image. If there is a similar feature on the Prius I have yet to find it or enable it. I wish I could hack the firmware in the Prius because the first thing I'd do is add a similar overlay system to the Prius' rear camera system.

Sales Staff Acknowledgement

I want to acknowledge the professional sales staff of both Holler Hyundai and Courtesy Toyota. Both individuals were eager to help and treated us with dignity and respect. The sales consultant who helped us at Holler is
Micheal Friedman
Sales and Leasing Consultant
Holler Hyundai
1150 N. Orlando Ave,
Winter Park Florida 32789
The sales consultant who helped us at Courtesy Toyota and eventually sold us the Prius is
Bob Lavin
Internet Sales Manager
Courtesy Toyota
225 N. Semoran Boulevard
Winter Park Florida 32792
Both gentleman are as excellent as are the vehicles they sell. We picked the Prius because it best fit our unique needs, not because we felt it was necessarily "superior". I consider Hyundai and Toyota the two best car makers in the world. It was really tough to pick one over the other, but we did, and we deeply appreciate both salesmen allowing us to really make sure of our decision.

Unlike other dealerships, neither salesman put any kind of pressure on us to make a decision right then and there. Both worked very hard to help us. To show how good a class act Mr. Friedman is, when I called to tell him of our decision to buy the Prius he was very gracious and thanked me for allowing him to help us. He later sent an email to my wife congratulating her. I feel if it had gone the other way Bob Lavin would have been just as gracious.

This is the kind of class-act salesmanship that is so lacking at many dealerships, including other Toyota dealerships. I still have my 2009 Prius and I take it to Toyota of Orlando for service, where I purchased it. Service is great there and so we thought about talking to the sales staff at Toyota of Orlando when we started this process. But every time we asked any questions or sought to just look at the car, we were essentially harassed by followup phone calls, asking when we were going to come back in to purchase the car. Courtesy won our business away from Toyota of Orlando because of the excellent way Bob Lavin treated us.


  1. Well congrats then, Bill, to both you and your wife. May she have fun with the car, and thousands of miles without back pain. And thanks for the good reports on this.

    1. Thanks Wolfgang. She really enjoys driving the Prius. It is much more easy on her than the Kia van.

  2. Personally, I like a firmer ride, but that's just me. Clearly your wife has special requirements and they take priority. Plus she'll get fabulous fuel mileage. Congratulations and good luck!

  3. Well, another Prius! Nothing wrong with that, I hope it has a long and happy life with your family. I still remember my first impressions driving the first generation Prius -- one of the most impressive small cars of it's day, only hampered by, for what at that time, was a big price tag. But after all these years, no one has mounted a serious challenge to Toyota's dominance in the hybrid small car market, rather, they've been doing a very good job keeping the price down, and giving a customer a great value for their hard earned dollar.

    1. Thank's Ron. I tried very hard to look outside of Toyota and the Prius (as documented elsewhere), but in the end the Prius was the best decision for my wife.


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