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Who wanted to know about the new Prius? Just did a story...(6 posts)

Who wanted to know about the new Prius? Just did a story...Cory
Dec 20, 2003 4:16 PM
Before I went on vacation, somebody posted a question about the new Prius. I'd driven one only briefly then, so I didn't reply, but since then I've interviewed a dozen or so owners for a story. I've been testing and writing about cars for more than 30 years, but I think this is the most enthusiastic response about a single model I've ever heard. EVERYBODY loved it--not a single bad word from anybody. Interestingly, only a few people mentioned the gas mileage (they're averaging around 50-55mpg, depending on use). They love the thing as a CAR, and even those who bought it because they have consciences, expecting merely to tolerate it, are happy with the performance. I drove several of them, and it's fine--compares pretty favorably with most small sedans. Personally I'd like to see another 100 horsepower, but I always say that....
Enviro fashion statement?gtx
Dec 22, 2003 9:32 AM
Wonder how many of those people plan to own it for more than 3-5 years. What are the long term maintenance and durability issues? How long before they get sent to the crusher? Also, what is the environmental impact of those batteries? How 'bout all the computer chips, wiring, etc., that these new cars require? Seems like a lot of the newer cars can run relatively maintenance free for 100k miles or so, but they depreciate quickly, and then one high repair bill sends them to the junk yard. And since it takes expensive equipment to work on these cars and many of the parts are quite pricey, any kind of major service is expensive, and not necessarily cost effective. So then you end up with a car that is basically disposable (as an example, some of these new trannies cost $4000 or so to rebuild--vs. about $500 to rebuild the beefy 727 trans in my 66 Plymouth). Burning clean and good mileage are one thing, but if a car is disposable and goes to the crusher after 6-10 years, is it really all that much of an advantage over my 1988 Volvo or my 1966 Plymouth--cars that can go hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles and burn fairly clean if maintained properly. Obviously, my Plymouth is a gas hog and not a great example. And I am glad that companies are developing new technology. But simply buying one of those cars and owning it for 3 years before you push if off to someone else and buy another doesn't necessarily make you environmentally responsible--seems like it just makes you a good consumer. Maybe instead of focusing on gas mileage, people should focus on keeping stuff longer, maintaining it better, and most importantly driving less. Or am I wrong here? Oh, and that new Prius is ugly as hell. I'm looking forward to seeing the new Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang at the Detroit Auto show in 2 weeks. ;)
good pointsColnagoFE
Dec 22, 2003 10:26 AM
I agree...pretty ugly car. Bad name, but it's kinda like when we had the "gas crisis" in the 70s. Everyone started getting all interested in what they were getting MPG. My dad even carried a calculator with him to record current mileage he was getting everytime he filled up. He drove this VW Dasher diesel wagon. Had about 80 horsepower I think. A true dog of a car and god help you if you didn't use the proper fuel if it got too cold or it would gel up and you'd be stranded. And then problems with the glow plug. But it did get close to 50 MPG.
mileage mavensDougSloan
Dec 22, 2003 10:38 AM
I had a 1985 Chevy Sprint, made by Suzuki. It was a 998 cc three cylinder, 2 door, with air conditioning, even. Got about 52 mpg over all, and frequently over 60 mpg highway (back when national limit was still 55, I think). I could carry 4-5 people, a lot of stuff with the rear seat folded down, and was reasonably quick around town. I kept track of every ounce of gas I put in it the first 10,000 miles in a little book, and verified the mileage of around 52 over all. Here's the catch, though: It weighed about 1500 pounds, and the body metal was so thin I once permanently dented it just leaning up against a fender while waxing it. I got into one accident, which was a relatively mild chain collision on ice in Kansas City, and nearly destroyed the entire car forward of the firewall. I felt only marginally safer than on the 550 cc Kawasaki motorcycle I rode before the Sprint.

I continually obsessed about mileage. I frequently made 400 mile trips on one tank -- which was only 8 gallons!

However, I largely got the car because it was cheap ($6,000, I think, with A/C) and would be cheap to run. This got me through law school. The mileage obsession was part necessity and part entertainment -- great bragging rights, too, though.

Doug
I'm not happy...gtx
Dec 22, 2003 11:27 AM
unless I'm surrounded by AT LEAST 3000 pounds of steel. I don't care about gas mileage cause I take the bus to work and only drive about 2000 miles a year.

These new cars also total out very easily in accidents with the thin sheetmetal, crush zones, airbags, etc. I think a two year old Ford Focus would be totalled out and sent to the crusher after even a fender bender if the airbags deployed (and they are set to go off at low speeds in cheaper cars). Meanwhile the manufacturers keep decreasing the service intervals for what seem like mostly marketing reasons (oil changes every 7500 miles for example) so people don't even check their cars very frequently. Just put gas in 'em and go, then trade 'em in before the warranty expires....I'm rambling now, sorry...
agreeDougSloan
Dec 22, 2003 11:38 AM
The older I get, the more I want safety, especially for the family. Safety is about a thousand times more important than gas mileage, to me.

Doug