Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Scion iA vs Nissan Sentra and Why Don’t you Slide when Cornering? [Ask Nathan]

Nathan is downright dangerous with a supercharged AND turbocharged engine.

  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid?
  • Fun, sedan, manual – Scion iA vs Nissan Sentra?
  • Why don’t you drift in the corners?!

This first question comes from a viewer who bought a 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

2012 toyota prius plug-in electric

Question: I just found your TFL video on YouTube, where you are driving a 2012 plug-in Prius. In my 2012 plug-in Prius, I also get about the same 12 miles of all-electric driving in the summer, here in metro Boston. But I’m not sure how many kWh I use up to go that distance – do you know? (My manual says the battery capacity is approx. 5 kWh, but I’m sure the hybrid engine comes on before I use up all that charge.)

Purchase price:

Just to let you know, I bought my 2012 plug-in Prius in Dec. 2012, because the extra cost compared to a regular hybrid 2012 Prius at that time was minimal – way less than the $10,000 mentioned in your video:

With end-of-year dealer incentives (plug-ins were discontinued soon thereafter), My all-in price was $30,300 after a $3500 dealer rebate, including Massachusetts sales tax of five percent, $299 doc, and inspection charge, and $123 in registration/title fees. I even got five-year, no interest financing of the total cost from Toyota Credit.

On top of that, the sweetener was a $2500 Federal tax credit – 2012 was the last year I could get this on the Prius. So, my net, all-in true cost was only $27,800. In addition, this Prius had a backup camera, full HD radio with XM, bluetooth for my cellphone, and heated front seats.

So, I’m not sure how much less an equivalent non-plug-in would have cost me – a few thousand dollars, max?


P.S.: I’ll be visiting the Boulder, Colorado area in a month – your driving shots in the video make me hungry to drive up Boulder Canyon, or the St. Vrain to Estes Park!

2013 Toyota Prius

A: Hi Jon.

I think the engine kicks in at 3-3.5 kWh. If you are looking for assurances that you got an outstanding deal, you did. True cost under $29,000 is impressive. Our addition of $10,000 was based directly on what Toyota advertised and submitted through it PR at the time. Rebates, returns and dealer incentives we cannot calculate as they fluctuate between each dealer and region.

In some cases, we’ve herd of dealers who are willing to charge even less.



2016 Scion iA

This next question is from a fan who is looking for a fun sedan under $18,000 with a manual transmission.

Hi Nathan and TFL! I need a little advice.

(I) was looking for an inexpensive four cylinder sedan with a manual transmission. This would be my first new car.

I wanted a new Mazda 3 sedan, but they are a little too expensive. I was told that the Nissan Sentra was a good car. I think it’s nice inside like you do. But I like the Scion iA a lot and I was told it’s based on the Mazda 3 platform.

Is that right? If it is, I want it.

Can you tell me?



2016 nissan sentra

A: Greetings Jack!

First of all, the Scion iA is based on the smaller Mazda 2. It’s still a great car. Small, nimble and very frugal, the Scion iA is a real bargain. Roman and I both recommend it for people that like to zing their car through corners.

On the other hand, if you want a smooth, comfortable ride that’s a mellow day-to-day driver, look at the Nissan Sentra. It feels like a more expensive, larger car than it is.

Both cars are great, but the Scion iA is a more exciting ride while the Sentra is more mature.

Hope that helps!


The last question comes from a viewer who wants to know why we don’t drift around every corner like the “Big Shows” do.

New Hellcat Dodge Charger
New Hellcat Dodge Charger

Why don’t you guys go around corners the way the big shows do? I never see you smoking your tires when you talk about how good a car handles like Top Gear!



Great question, simple answer: drifting is never the most efficient (quickest) way around our performance track.

Drifting works great for rally and drift racing (which is artistic and challenging). Drifting also looks real cool. Smoke pouring out of the wheel-wells as you’re sawing at the wheel looks mucho macho – but it’s all about the look. Our pro driver Paul can drift a car and make it look cool, but he never does it on purpose when he is aiming to clip every apex and eek every millisecond out of every lap.

Watch F1, LeMans even NASCAR and you’ll see they try to avoid losing traction as much as possible.

So do we.

Thanks for the question!

Here’s the next video episode of “Ask Nathan!”

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

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