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THE NEW CAR

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Jun 24, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE NEW CAR

JD Power does many surveys. There's the initial quality index, the dealer satisfaction survey, and, of course, the much publicized customer satisfaction index. JD Power also has one called the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study. The study measures owners' delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles.

While other surveys focus on quality or reliability, the APEAL study surveys how much owners really like their vehicles. Often times, cars that don't fare well on the quality or reliability surveys do well on the APEAL study (e.g., many BMW and Volkswagen models). Inversely, very reliable cars like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, don't always do well on the APEAL study.

Judging from the buzz on the Internet boards, the 2004 Toyota Prius will do well on both types of surveys. Rich Evans in Orlando wrote his own little blog on his experience with acquiring a new Prius. He captured his emotions so perfectly, that we (with his permission) want to share it with LA CAR readers:

"I wonder how many of you had something like my experience in getting my first glimpse of a 2004 Prius in real life. I had received an email at 10 am that morning from a dealer that had been recommended a few days earlier by Coastal Dave from the Prius 2G Yahoo Group. I had been lusting for this car since April 16, 2003. Back then, I was about to buy a HCH. Being a CPA and a mortgage broker, I was happy to get April 15th behind me, and putting my 1994 Chevy Cavalier out to pasture was high on my list of priorities (in the same way that stopping hammering your thumb with a hammer is a priority after you do this a few times in clumsiness). How appropriate it was that on my first day after all that hard work of tax season I read Toyota's news release about the new generation Prius that was coming. It seemed to me that this coincidence was aimed at me and my car buying decision, which would have to be altered. More thumb hammering was called for. More slobbering on my keyboard as I yearned for the morsels that would sustain me during my prolonged period of Prius chastity. The lines reminded me visually of the rakish Celica. I had been turned off by the frumpish looking hybrids on the market up until then. The engineering improvements floored me. I had to have this car - only this car! I would wait. As October approached, it became harder. I was not encouraged to hear of the general excitement building about this car. I loved reading all the new articles that gave new info about the Prius. I devoured them all, but I was conflicted. I didn't want anyone else getting this info about MY CAR. shhhhhhh. The Cavalier was feeling rejected as any spurned lover would. It responded predictably. Now, besides the non-functioning heater, passenger door lock, dome light and intermittent dash lights, the driver's window decided to become non-functional and the passenger side headlight decided it would require me to get out of the car and bang on it each time I wanted it to work. Would the Prius come to my rescue? Wasn't this penance enough? Would October 17th (the day the car went on sale) ever arrive? Though I had zoomed and rotated that Prius on the website with more excitement than any mere centerfold and with as much lust, I had not yet seen one live. October 17 came and went. None of the local dealers had one I could see feel and touch. It was as if I were reliving my clumsy adolescence when women were equally unattainable. Wither thou, my virgin Prius? And then I find this list (Rich is referring to the Prius Yahoo groups). Wonderful! So much information! Horrible! So much competition for my car! But thanks to a tip from Coastal Dave [RN - a Yahoo group member and , I call the salesman after his email and he's offering me an unclaimed silver Package 7 right now. I wanted package 9, but 7 has a solid list of options including all safety features, so after an anguished two minutes of waffling, I say, "I'll take it!" The car is a 90 minute drive away, but I still have a couple of hours of job tasks that won't wait. Those two hours were a blur, the final penance I would pay before my wait was over. I would have my Prius today! Yet, I still have never even seen one. Driving my fiancée's RAV4 (the Cavalier was to be spared the indignity) at something in excess of the speed limit, I arrived at the Ocala dealership in a state which in another context might be termed pre-orgasmic delight. Past the phalanx of shuffling salesman, asking for "Action Jackson" Quisenberry. I'm temporarily distracted in my holy quest. All these people and cars - so disorienting! He appears, walking briskly, big smile and outstretched hand. Okay! We're getting close now. "Where's the car?" He leads me to the door and points. Wow! I could have seen it earlier had I not needed to penetrate the school of hungry salesmen. YES! It is beautiful! (although in my imagination, that first glimpse would have been in a meadow with a forest in the background - Blame John 1701a [RN - another Yahoo group member and Prius authority] for that!). Inside and out, I can't find anything I'm displeased with. Another hour of business to sign the papers and escape with my quarry. Then my chance to meld with this amazing vehicle. Learning every feature, working them, smiling with the realization that the wait was over, and that it was worth it! To say you drive this car is so undescriptive, so inaccurate. Deep in its chips somewhere, beyond the scope of the technical manuals is a spirit and soul that makes this car a joy to interact with. Thanks, Toyota! PS. To those on the waiting list for a Prius: You get double credit in penance for reading this. Painful yes, but guaranteed to shorten your wait!" - Rich in Orlando LA CAR is happy to report that Rich in Orlando is still in love with his new car.

- Roy Nakano

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