Toyota Prius

organic_smallhomeOctober 30, 2007

Hi. I'm new to this forum, and could use some help. My car was recently totalled in a highway multi-car accident. I need to buy a new car. My old car was a 2005 Saturn Ion, and I don't want to go that route again. I would like to buy a new Toyota Prius, and just got what I think is a good quote on a 2008--for about $5000 less than the usual price.

Does anyone here have experience with the Prius? Your thoughts?

Thanks very much.

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Welcome -- and I hope no one was hurt in the accident.

What is the "usual" price? It's only been recently that many people quit paying sticker price or higher for the car.

Your handle ("organic_smallhome") indicates that you're willing to pay more for something you perceive as "greener" (that's not a slam, BTW; I do that, too). But what are your goals in buying a Prius? Lowest possible tailpipe emissions or carbon footprint? Fuel economy? Something else? Are you planning to drive the car into the ground or hold onto it for several years before trading for the next advance in "green" technology?

Fact of the matter is that you can get a better deal than a Prius for a lot less money. If you're after fuel economy and interior room, you could buy one of the larger GM models (Chevy Impala, Buick LaCrosse) and get an honest close-to-30 mpg highway (hybrids are notorious for not hitting their EPA numbers) in a car that's cheap to insure and fix. If you're after pure mileage, you could go for a Honda Civic (which is now the size of the "old" Accord) or Fit, or the Toyota Yaris or Corolla and get 85-90% of the mileage of a Prius without the purchase price and the expensive maintenance. If you're really concerned about the carbon footprint, you'll go for the Civic or Corolla (both manufactured in North America) or -- even better -- a good-quality used version of either.

Keep in mind that the Prius contains two drive systems (electrical and gasoline-powered) and lots of complicated electronics to make everything work. To Toyota's credit, it works well and Toyota has effectively mass-marketed a new technology without much of a hitch. (I know, Honda was first with its Insight, but it didn't sell like the Prius has.)

However, most aftermarket service facilities and parts vendors don't yet see enough of a market to invest in equipment almost exclusively for the Prius, so you will be back to the dealer (at dealer labor rates) for all but the most routine parts and maintenance. And the battery pack is still a huge question mark -- how long will it last in real life? How much will it cost to replace? What will a Prius be worth without a good battery pack? In addition to the extra money it costs for all the pieces-parts, you're gambling some money on future repairability and resale value.

Hope that helps....

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 10:25PM
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Thanks so much for the detailed response, Steve. You've brought up some very good points. My main concern is mileage and paying for something "greener." I've done some research and the FIt and Yaris don't get the best reviews. The Corolla, apparently, isn't the smoothest ride. The Honda Civic might be a good choice. I don't think I can afford the Civic Hybrid.

The fact is, I don't drive that much. I had my Ion for two years, and had only 16,000 miles on it. I would really like a car that gets exceptional mileage and has a very smooth ride--and is very, very safe. After my experience with this accident, I need to feel safe. It's true that I walked away from the accident, but the entire rear end of my car was gone--literally--up to the back wheels and windshield. I want a small tank that gets good mileage, has great suspension and a smooth ride, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. :) I'm asking for too much, aren't I?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 11:28PM
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Your Saturn Ion did exactly what it was engineered to do. Absorb as much of the impact as it possibly could, thereby reducing the forces your body had to absorb. You walked away from this accident essentially because "your best friend sacrificed itself for you".

The Prius is a good choice for many reasons, but the one it is not a good choice for is to attempt to save money by fuel milage savings.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 8:58AM
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I've driven a Prius for the last 4 years. Please email me and I will be happy to answer your questions.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:59AM
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I want a small tank that gets good mileage, has great suspension and a smooth ride, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. :) I'm asking for too much, aren't I?

You're asking for a lot. Very safe vehicles usually are heavier vehicles, and that's not good for fuel mileage. I would suggest a Volkswagen Rabbit or Jetta -- in my experience, they're built like tanks -- but the standard engine is not particularly efficient and the turbodiesel that does get excellent mileage is not available in the U.S. until next year.

Frankly, for 8-10,000 miles a year, your best bet might well be that Impala or LaCrosse. It's big enough to make you feel safe, it's roomy, the ride is smooth, they're bolted together well, they come at particularly good prices, and the mileage isn't bad if you keep to the standard engine and drive intelligently. Buy a certified-used one and, IMHO, you've probably done about as well as you can do.

Using the 2008 EPA city mileage figures for both the LaCrosse and the Civic, both with standard engines and automatic transmissions, and with the EPA's breakdown for "mixed" driving (see link below), the Civic saves only $400 a year in fuel over the Buick. Only you can decide if it's worth the price differentials for the cars; they definitely will feel and drive differently. Go down a notch to the Chevy Malibu and you cut the price differential even more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fuel mileage ratings and estimates

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 9:59PM
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Thanks everybody for your considered responses. I decided to go with the Honda Civic. Honda was running a 2.9% offer on new 2007 Civics (although I only found out about it in the fine print on the main Honda site--none of the dealers in my area were offering it, but they had to accept it when I mentioned it to them!). I'm very happy with my choice.

Thanks again: MUCH appreciated!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 11:40AM
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