Five-Point Inspection: 1997 Toyota Prius

Five-Point Inspection: 1997 Toyota Prius

2. Interior Oddities

Despite its efficiency and cutting-edge powertrain the first-generation Prius was, and still is, far from perfect. It’s laughably unstylish; the car isn’t even dorky enough to be interesting, it’s simply blandness incarnate.

The interior is just as strange; the cockpit is unmistakably mid-‘90s. Some might call the Prius’ cabin boring, but I call it simple. The décor is a symphony of beige and light gray with questionable graining on its various surfaces. The fact that the test car was right-hand drive made this experience even weirder. It was like piloting something from an alternate universe.

The front-half of the passenger space is graced with some sort of quasi-bench seat and a strangely truncated center console. Can someone sit there? Does the bin have enough room for anything larger than a pack of pocket tissue? Nobody knows; it’s all very vague.

Moving from the center console to the center stack, you can’t help but notice the gigantic gear shifter, which is reminiscent of a robotic phallus, complete with a button and a leather boot. Beyond this mildly off-putting feature the car even has a cassette deck, something that strangely made me want to watch a marathon of Seinfeld reruns.