Our cars: Toyota Prius+ - July
Week ending July 19
Miles this week 156
Several weeks after the sunblind on a rear passenger window failed to retract, it was at last fixed in just a couple of hours by my local Toyota centre (Brentford, Middlesex) last Thursday, and just in time as the sun finally started to put in some hours.
However, the very next morning – and to my considerable dismay – exactly the same problem happened to the blind on other side of the car: when I pulled it up out of its housing in the door and over the top of the hooks which support it, it remained fully extended and wouldn't go back into the door.
If I'm careful, it is possible to suspend the blind from the hooks so that my older son can have some respite from the sun's glare, but it falls off all too easily and when it's not in use it just dangles over the bottom half of the car door.
Since I'll need a courtesy car when I take the car in again for this new repair, I now have to wait almost a month until one is available and the blind can be fixed. Given Toyota's reputation for great quality and service (it came eighth out of 27 brands in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey), the failure of the first blind seemed like nothing more than bad luck; but with the second blind also failing, I'm beginning to find the whole experience quite disappointing.
By Alex Newby
Week ending July 12
Miles this week 168
The good news is that, having swapped my toddler's three-wheeler buggy for a standard-size, slim-folding pushchair – and left out the Prius+'s boot cover – we successfully (and quite easily) fitted the family's holiday luggage in the boot for our week in the Isle of Wight.
It was a pity my toddler's sun blind hadn't been fixed before we went away; the appropriate part hadn't arrived in time from Japan. Fortunately we didn't actually need it as we returned just before the start of July's hot weather.
I was more disappointed by the car's average return of just 43mpg, compared with the 50mpg I'd been getting before we went away (and the car's official figure of 64.2mpg). Perhaps that's not so surprising, though, given that our holiday included a 160-mile return motorway journey to Portsmouth (the hybrid system doesn't work over 45mph) and numerous hilly trips on the island itself.
These proved too much for battery power alone, and even the 1.8 petrol engine seemed to find some of the inclines hard work, making quite a racket as it laboured up them.
No doubt I'm also to blame for drop in fuel economy. It was trickier than I'd expected to maintain my hybrid-friendly driving technique (see earlier reports) while concentrating on following the car's sat-nav and driving in an unfamiliar location. I've no such excuse now I'm back on home turf, though, and things seem to be improving already.
By Alex Newby