Long-Distance Grocery Run in 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring
Over the years, I’ve driven many different variants of the Toyota Prius. This time around, I decided to do something decidedly different with the halo green car. I made the 225 mile round-trip journey to Sam’s Club in Cheyenne, WY with my two sons. Loaded down with cargo, facing stiff 20+ MPH crosswinds and a nearly 3k foot elevation gain along with 80 MPH speed limits, the 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring had its work cut out for itself. Could it return the vaunted 52 MPG combined fuel economy? Could it handle the $250+ in groceries, the kids and myself? Would it drive this truck snob nuts being behind the wheel for that long? Lots of questions. Here are the answers.
The road to Cheyenne is own of my favorite testing spots in my area. It is simply a great test of power trains, interior comfort and a vehicle’s handling. This is due to the road having speeds limits of 75-80 MPH on different stretches of I-80. It also is often quite windy and from my house it is an hour and half journey one-way. Finally, the road often challenges the EPA rating on many vehicles and some vehicles, notably turbocharged models, really struggle to get anywhere near their fuel economy targets.
Putting a vehicle on this road means I have a solid three hours behind the wheel and the aforementioned 225 miles to really test out all the features.
With this in mind, the 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring would seemingly be a great vehicle to test. Especially since it wasn’t that long ago Prius owners would hang signs on the back of their vehicles stating a max speed of 55 MPH. Pushing the Prius to 80 and making it hold that speed with cargo would be a big test.
What’s New With the Prius
Before we get to the results, let’s first step back. The 2017 Prius is an updated model of the world’s most well-known hybrid vehicle. Gone is some of the odd styling of the past and it is much more inline with other Toyota vehicles. The look is still controversial, but I tend to like it better.
On the inside and behind the wheel lie the biggest improvements. The interior is much improved from prior models and gone is the awkward pinball-sized shifter. In its place is a larger and more modern shifter. Also, the seating and layout is much better. I also like the improvements made to the digital dash. However, I had to chuckle with how lame the time looks compared to the styling of the other indicators.
Behind the wheel, it is night and day better. The story goes that this generation of Prius is the first one Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda personally drove. It is said he drove the prototype around a track. Disgusted with how it drove, he challenged his team to make it drive much better. This challenge paid off and the Prius drives remarkably better to the point any average Joe can tell the difference.
Did The Toyota Prius Make the Grade?
Speaking of how it drives, the Prius was really exceedingly comfortable on the road to Cheyenne. After spending all that time behind the wheel battling the winds and road conditions, I normally am worn out. However, with the Prius, I came back refreshed mentally. My only real complaint was the seat caused me some discomfort and I had to shift my body weight often as the trip came to an end.
While it drove really well, I was really curious to see if the rear cargo room was large enough for all my purchases. As anyone who shops Sam’s Club or Costco knows, the box sizes of many of the items is quite large. I was incredibly skeptical of the cargo room and had plans to put items in the passenger seat and/or below the boys’ feet. My skepticism was unfounded and the Prius handled all my purchases even allowing me to utilize the cargo cover. This was helpful to keep the cooler items colder.
Another surprise was the room the boys had in the rear seats. Typically an area of concern for most parents is children fighting or being squished. Both of my boys, 7 and 4, had enough room for themselves and their things with still keeping space between them. Again, I was pleasantly surprised.
Finally, and likely most importantly to this story, is how it did on fuel. For those who know me, I am the opposite of a hyper-miler and I like to push vehicles. The Prius was no exception. I pushed it quite hard especially on the way to Cheyenne. The 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring managed to return 48.7 MPG after all my driving even with the conditions. It is EPA rated at 54/50/52 city/highway/combined. If you consider the vast majority of this trip is highway driving, the Prius was only off 1.3 MPG from its EPA estimate. This is quite the accomplishment. I’ve had vehicles come in a full 5 MPG below their EPA numbers. It is simply a tough road on vehicles.
In the end, I have to say I’m pretty impressed by the Prius. The press model I received was their higher trim level model and it came in at $34,181. This is quite the bargain for a roomy, good driving, 52 MPG combined vehicle with plenty of cargo room. I’m simply impressed.
Model: 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive System with 1.8L four-cylinder engine
Fuel Economy: 54/50/52 city/highway/combined
- Premium Convenience Package (Nav, tech, JBL speakers) – $1,705
- Universal Tablet Holder (attaches to headrest to hold tablet for rear passengers – neat idea) – $99
- Rear Bumper Protector – $105
- Glass Breakage Sensor – $359
- Carpet Floor Mats/Carpet Cargo Mat – $225
- Alloy Wheel Locks – $65
- Cargo Net – $49
- Illuminated Door Sills – $299
- Paint Protection Film – $395
Price as Tested: $34,181 with $865 Delivery Processing and Handling Fee
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