parked Prius (Photo: @AaronDavisLA via Twenty20)

How to Park a Toyota Prius

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parked Prius (Photo: @AaronDavisLA via Twenty20)
Ask anyone to describe a hybrid car, and chances are they’ll mention the Toyota Prius. This hybrid comes loaded with a bevy of features to make driving more convenient and safe for the owner. You can park a Prius the same way you would any regular car. But the Prius’ “Intelligent ParkAssist” was created to take the guesswork out of parallel maneuvers and other tricky parking.

Parking a Toyota Prius the old fashioned way

If you own and drive a car, you may have probably know how to park your car already. Nonetheless, it never hurts to refresh your driving skills. In the case of parking, it is often surprising how often licensed drivers forget to tend to the basic protocols.
Step 1: Slow down. First off, if you’ve arrived at an area you want to park in, slow down to a crawl. This will allow you to survey your surroundings at a comfortable pace.
Step 2: Find an empty spot. When you’ve found a suitable parking stall, don’t forget to engage the turn signals; this will give other drivers and pedestrians the forward notice that you’re going to be slowing down and turning in.
Step 3: Drive into the spot carefully. Let the vehicle coast in, and don’t be afraid to ride the brake as you turn in.
In the case of parking stalls and parallels alike, it’s not unheard of for drivers to go into reverse a few times to even out their turn. For parallel parking, much of the challenge arises in paring off the proximity between the car in front of you and the one behind.
  • Note: Use all of your mirrors and look behind you frequently in order to maximize your awareness.
Step 4: Engage the parking brake. When you have secured your parking spot and have turned off the engine, it’s lastly a good idea to switch up the parking brake. This is especially true if you’re parking on a slope, as the parking brake will alleviate the strain and wear from the regular brakes.
  • Note: If you’re looking for a parallel parking spot, find a space that’s approximately one times and a half the length of your car. Even if you’re skilled enough to squeeze in a tiny space, you’re opening up additional risk for a careless driver in front or behind to bump into you on their way out.
Fortunately, however, the Prius comes equipped with a feature to take much of the strain out of any parallel park.

Using the Prius’ Intelligent ParkAssist feature

The Intelligent ParkAssist feature was a feature for the high-luxury Lexus brand, but it’s found in the considerably leaner Prius as well. The feature effectively acts as an extra set of eyes and guide for your parking. Sensors on either end of the car will let you know if you’re too close for comfort’s sake, and it will show helpful measurements and information on the head display as you inch in.
Step 1: Press the “P” button. In order to activate the ParkAssist feature, press the “P” button, located to the lower right of the driver’s wheel.
The feature will activate only when you are driving below 19 miles per hour. Wait for the guidance tone to sound on the speakers; from there, the ParkAssist system will guide you in from the display with a rear camera.
  • Note: The screen will feature a superimposed rectangle to help you with the tricky distance measurements of a car behind you. Once you’re parked, activate the parking brake as you normally would and press the “X” icon on the screen to deactivate the feature.

Common parking mistakes with the Prius

On the one hand, there are conventional parking mistakes that people make. Turn signals should be used on the way in and out of parking stalls. The parking brake should be used whenever there’s a slope. Most importantly, drivers should exercise as much patience as is needed to get the parking job right. Leaving a parked askew increases the risk of accidents while parked and makes things more difficult when it comes time to drive out.
Although the Intelligent ParkAssist feature conceivably makes parking a Prius safer than ever, there’s no foolproof assurance that accident won’t occur. It’s important not to rely too much on the assist system; as helpful as the display screen and info can be, you should maintain a real awareness with the windows and mirrors. After all, if there’s an accident, it will be you - not the park assist - that will be held accountable for the collision.