Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Advanced Technology Package

So far I've taken out my car 6 times. Four of those times were me taking the car from and to the dealership. That makes it sound worse than it is. I drove it home (#1) with some lights on the dash that shouldn't be lit. I took it back (#2) because the sales person and someone I talked to on the phone said it was an easy problem and should take a couple of minutes to fix. I should just come on by. I went back the third time because all I got to do the second time was set up and appointment. I went back yesterday (#4) because there was a hole in the side of the front driver's side tire and they said they'd fix it. I will soon be returning a fifth time when they actually have said tire in stock.

The other two times I was driving around for work related stuff. I got it out on a semi-crowded highway and got to test the features I got the car for.

I wanted one thing on my Prius. One bell and whistle beyond the simple 50 mpg Priusness of it. That was the Advanced Technology Package. If I could have gotten it on the Prius I I would have. But it was only offered on the Prius V. I should mention that they have 5 models. The Prius I, II, III, IV, and V. Complicated, huh?

Anyway. I would have been happy with cranks on the windows. Tires that keep the rims from hitting the road is all I ask for. But with the Prius V you have to take the fancy shmancy tires and different headlights and the XM radio trial and whatnot. Do not care or particularly want.

The Advanced Technology Package gets you the GPS and related bells and whistles. It also gets you Variable Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, and some Parking Assist that doesn't do what you think.

You know how when you're on a trip that takes you outside the city you set your cruise control and have to keep bumping the speed up and down as nobody else on the road uses the same settings you do or seem to use the cruise control at all. The Variable Cruise Control allows you to set your speed and one of three options for the distance behind the next car up you wish to follow from. So if you set your car for 74 mph and you come up on someone doing 65 mph the car will slow to 65 and follow that car at the set distance until something changes. If another car pulls between you two the car will move to that distance behind him. If traffic clears your car will climb back up to 74. If traffic slows to 40mpg the car will, too. It keeps this up down to about 20 mph. At that point you need to start using your foot again.

The Lane Keep Assist sees the lines on the road. If you drift too far one way or another it beeps at you. If you use it in conjunction with the Variable Cruise Control it will also make subtle changes in steering to keep you from leaving your lane. Subtle changes. Most of the time you don't know it's happening. You can still overwhelm it to change lanes. But, best of all, for long stretches of straight to slightly curvy highway you can stop steering. Feet off the pedals, hands off the wheel, it goes on it's own. I only dared that for about 30 seconds before I put my hands back on the wheel. I could feel the car drift left and right in the lane. It crowded the right line and moved left. Bip. Then it crowded the left line and moved right. Bop.

Bip. Bop. Bip. Bop. Bip. Bop.

It was like super slow Pong where the paddles make up the whole wall.

On the way home the sun was in my eyes. The car knew to slow down when seeing the car ahead of me was hard.

I hope to have this car until Volkswagon releases their fully self driving car in sixteen years or so.

Bonus: The car has a USB port in the tray between the front seats. A USB device with MP3s on it will play on the radio even if you have no iPod.

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