When my little '93 Geo Prizm started exhibiting problems recently, I decided I wanted to quit putting money into her and invest in another vehicle. It was a hard decision for me, mainly because I don't like spending money, and I'm uncertain how long our gas-fueled system is going to last. After I had put $1100 into a car that was only worth $1500 in the last three months, I decided enough is enough.
My research showed me that the Prius has the highest owner satisfaction of any car (94%), has the best mileage of any recently tested family sedan, and has some of the lowest greenhouse gas and pollution emissions of any car on the market. Plus, it looks cool! I found a 2007 light sage colored model with 34,000 miles on autotrader.com and decided to watch to see if prices changed.
I continued my research and found that although Consumer Reports rates the Prius as getting 42 - 44 mpg, and the official EPA figures are 45 - 48 mpg, Prius owners report that they can get 55 - 60 mpg with careful driving and maintenance. One issue with official mileage figures, apparently, is that the Prius needs "breaking in" and starts getting better mileage around 10 - 20K miles.
I investigated the Prius battery. While it does cost $2200 to replace, it is warranteed for 100,000 miles or 8 years, and Toyota actually expects it to last for the life of the car. In fact, Consumer Reports rates the Prius as one of the most reliable cars on the market, as well as tops in Total Cost of Ownership, aka Bang for the Buck, out of 300 rated.
After reading this review from Build It Solar (a resource that I like), I was pretty much convinced. They report that in their program to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half, the Prius has been by far their best project. So, husband and I went down to Hudiberg Toyota to test drive the sage green Prius. We weren't really prepared to buy. However, they made us a really nice offer and a generous trade in allowance on my aesthetically-challenged Geo Prizm (sight unseen). Can anyone say "What do I have to do to get you to drive home in this Prius today?"
The Green Machine
Autodealers are hurting. They are willing to make a pretty sweet deal right now - although they may be making even better deals in a month or two. The price we paid for our Prius was about $3,000 less than the "going rate" we found online, and we also got about $1,000 more in trade-in value than my old car was probably worth. Frankly, we didn't even try to negotiate - the deal just seemed good enough already. So, we bought the Prius! It's the first car hubby and I have bought in the 12 years we've been together.Cons - the view out of the back is not great - it's a hatchback and is more difficult to see. We did not get the rearview camera, because it was not on the model we were looking at, but that would have been a good idea.
Pros - The Prius has a monitor that shows you the mpg you are getting currently, your trip average, and what you've gotten in the last 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes. This gives you immediate feedback so you can adjust your driving.
The hatchback is so roomy - it's a great fit for a stroller.
The interior is also very roomy and has good headroom (not that I need it, I'm 5'2").
We drove 280 miles before our first fill-up of 5.4 gallons (tank was about half empty). I was amazed! This is about 51 - 52 mpg.
The Prius is going to go a long way towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage. My husband's car, which I inherited but which I will only drive 35 miles per week, gets about 27 mpg. The Prius gets almost double that - without trying too hard! I know that in very cold weather it might not do as well (at least that's what I've read on the online forums), however in OKC we don't have cold weather all that often. I'm pumped up that this is going to help my Riot 4 Austerity numbers (R4A is a challenge to reduce environmental impact by 90%).
I'm not advocating that anyone buy a car right now. Who knows what will happen in the next year to the economy or to the oil situation? However, if you have already made up your mind that you need a car, take another look at the Prius. It may be a lot more affordable than you think - especially if gas ever goes to $5 a gallon.