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Parking lot fight club and the Prius anti-climax

I’m a people watcher. It comes with the territory when you’re a fly-on-the-wall reporter and it is a hard habit to break even when you don’t have a notebook in your hands.

It’s my default activity and I recently observed a heated parking lot altercation that could have gone very badly but instead made me evaluate my opinions on the Toyota Prius.

The setting:
Employee parking lot, midday

The cast:
Two men, one older maybe mid 70s, one younger late 30s to mid 40s

My location:
On a stationary bus, looking out the window, about 100 yards away

The situation:
These two men stood in the parking lot having a heated discussion. From the length of a football field away it was impossible to hear what they were saying but their body language suggested a great deal. With much arm waving and raised voices one, or both, of the men were angry with the other. At one point the younger man walked away, then turned back around and shoved the older man as he approached his car. The younger man then stormed off to his car, a newish model Toyota Prius.

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

This is where it becomes a relevant car post.

You cannot leave angry in a Prius. I’m sure the younger man was plenty furious, but the Prius itself is not an angry car. You can rev the engine and zoom away in a cloud of dust and flying gravel but the Prius will have none of that. As a hybrid, its engine doesn’t turn over with a guttural roar. It is silent, like the shadow ninja warriors of its country of origin. The Prius does not emit a battle cry when it takes to the streets but rather glides noiselessly like a raptor zeroing in on its prey.

Because of this, the Prius ruined its driver’s huffy exit. He may have wanted to make a point by leaving the way he did. But to an outside observer he really just looked like a fool.

Maybe I’m a little biased. The Prius has ranked high on my list of dream cars since it became Toyota’s power player on the U.S. market in 2001. I loved the early body style and resented the newer (post 2003 production year), more oblong appearance for quite some time. When sitting in it at the D.C. auto show it seemed to have limited visibility — which is a high priority for me since I’m average height.

But Toyota has done a lot to it. Back-up cameras are now an optional feature and I have a bit of a jones for hatchbacks of any kind. They also anticipate the 2010 model will get 51 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway. You could shake a stick at that kind of gas mileage, but you’d be shaking it for a long time as the Prius leisurely sips on its monthly petrol.

It’s a practical car and maybe someday within my price range.

You can drive it like an ingrate or treat it like the bad-ass road wraith it really is. Your call Mr. Anti-Climax Parking Lot Fighter.

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