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Interesting article - Used Car VS Prius


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The sub head (<span style="font-style: italic">Is it more energy-efficient to buy a <span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">gas-guzzling used car</span></span> than a brand-new hybrid?</span>) saves you the trouble of reading the article, especially since that wasn't the question that was asked.

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Wow, what propaganda!

That writer wants you to buy a car based upon the amount of BTUs it will consume over its life??? UN-be-liveable!

Why don't we have BTU ratings on everything? How about a loaf of bread? Can I feel better about something because it uses (supposedly) fewer BTUs? Or, am I allowed to feel good about anything because I am an American, and everything I do is wrong?

GEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The sub head (<span style="font-style: italic">Is it more energy-efficient to buy a <span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">gas-guzzling used car</span></span> than a brand-new hybrid?</span>) saves you the trouble of reading the article, especially since that wasn't the question that was asked. </div></div>

What article did you read? confused.gif I read the one Peter linked, where they compared the car to a late-model Corolla. If that's a gas guzzler a lot of us are in BIG trouble already!

Oh yeah, we are. frown.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">That writer wants you to buy a car based upon the amount of BTUs it will consume over its life??? </div></div>

It's a valid measure of environmental impact and cost of ownership.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Or, am I allowed to feel good about anything because I am an American, and everything I do is wrong? </div></div>

If you haven't figured out that it's a complex world, that simple answers come from simple sources, and that correct answers to complex problems aren't normally found in simple sources regardless of how romantic the idea may be, then no.

Pride in one's country and pride in one's stereotype are very different things.

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This is probably best single means to compare these cars (hybrids) to the old fashioned competition. For those who don't follow it, convert all the numbers by the following factor:

1 gallon gasoline=$4.00=124,000 BTUs

Or just remember one line: "<span style="font-style: italic">....with gasoline at $4 per gallon, the Corolla in our comparison would end up costing you an extra $7,700 in fuel costs over 172,500 miles).</span>"

Thanks for posting this. Peter! cool.gif

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Interesting article.

Too bad they had to "guess" as to the number of BTUs it takes to build a new Prius.

For some people, that will call into question the accuracy of the numbers.

BTW, does anyone know the reason why Toyota will not publish the BTU figures for the Prius?

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The people marketing Toyotas are very astute. You can bet they anticipated every half-brained manipulation of the figures you've heard already. If some putz was able to half bake a story that Hummers use less energy than Priuses using only the favorable information that exists, can you imagine what the professionally outraged would do with something that actually <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">isn't</span></span> in the Prius's favor? crazy.gif

There may also be some manufacturing proprietary information being protected, and that is as goos an excuse as any for withholding the figures for energy consumed in manufacturing. I doubt it, though. They've licensed the technology to Ford and others, so there can't be a lot of secrets left under that aerodynamic skin.

That said, it can't be very much energy, and I doubt the roughly 35% extra attributed to the Prius is realistic. Energy is expensive, and Toyota <span style="text-decoration: underline">is</span> selling these things at a profit. For all it's complexities, the Prius is only a $21,500 car, barely more than a similarly equipped Camry or Mazda 6 (to name 2 other mid-size competitors,

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Rating a car based upon BTUs misses the point.

People buy cars based upon what they need or what they like. Often, the emotion is more relevant for some people.

But trying to make BTUs as a reason to feel good about a car purchase? Wow, that is really a stretch.

I can see the bumper stickers around Berkley now..."My car uses fewer BTUs than your car!"

BTU arguements should never trump the economic realities people are facing any more than animal rights should trump the rights of humans.

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A year ago I mothballed my 1998 S-10 that gets 20 to 22 MPG for a used 2005 Ford Focus that gets 30 in town and an honest 37 MPG on the highway around Ohio. It had 7,000 miles and I paid less than $6,700. In September we drove to the Outer Banks in our gas hog Buick Lucerne that gets 28 to 29 MPG. On the way back we drove 70 MPH for 410 miles and stopped at Lewisburg WV for gas. While comparing MPG with my son's Honda minivan, a guy in a Prius said he had come from Virginia Beach and was only getting 16 MPG in the mountains and it wouldn't go over 60 MPH up hill. This was his second fill up and while the Prius gets excellent millage in town, it is not a highway car for the mountains. He said his next trip would be in a rented economy car for the gas millage and traveling speed. I guess he was not considering the BTU usage.

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Something was wrong with that Prius. I've never done worse than 42 mpg on the highway (my worst tank ever of any kind), and that was (although in flat Ohio on I-70/I-71) travelling with 4 people, loaded to the gills with luggage and Chrismas presents, in a constant snowstorm.

I've used it to cross the mountains on the PA Turnpike twice, nearly braking 50 mpg both times. (And keeping it <span style="text-decoration: underline">under</span> 70 mph was a chore. Uphill was OK/effortless, but downhill the speed had to be watched or it'd run away on you.)

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We recently rented a Prius. A 250 mile trip across southeastern Manitoba, crowding the speed limit by 10% netted us 36 MPG with 2 200# plus people and 2 150# people. My only objection to the vehicle was its lack of stability in a quartering wind through intermittent trees on the side of the road.

Since then I rented a brand new (less than 1800 miles) Hyundai Sanda Fe all wheel drive. Two people up (total 350#) 100# of luggage and driving through the Maritimes and Quebec for a total of 4800 miles we averaged 35 mpg while driving anywhere from 20 to 40 mph over the speed limit. For the one mpg difference (and it should get better when broken in) the Hyundai was much more comfortable, had better visibility and was vastly more stable.

The Prius is quiet and that is all I think it has going for it. Having owned three new Toyotas the Prius was a serious disappointment.

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I find it interesting that the only people who've had a less than stellar experience with a Prius have been those that "just got one and don't like it" or who rented one. It is <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">extremely</span></span> rare to find someone who has a first person version of the latter (like Tindian's) as well, and never have I heard of a first person version of the former.

The Prius is marketed as the most fuel efficient car you can buy. There isn't one buyer satisfaction survey out there that ranks the Prius less than <span style="text-decoration: underline">first</span>, and most have it as the all-time champ in that category. That'd be pretty tough to do if there were real people out there not able to pull hills, or getting beat by Santa Fe gas mileage, after all that hype the car has to live up to.

There sure aren't a lot of dissappointed customers, and it's <span style="text-decoration: underline">really</span> tough to buy a used Prius, for all of the dross that's circulated about the car! smile.gif

I lived with one for three years+ now. If anyone wants to know what they're like, just <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">try</span></span> to put an offer together for the car that I'll take! smirk.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...just <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">try</span></span> to put an offer together for the car that I'll take! smirk.gif </div></div>

I'm guessing that a trade for a good, clean, low mile 2003 Frontier crew cab and $2000 cash won't fly, eh?

JMC

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"really tough to buy a used Prius"? I would check e-bay before I tried to convince anyone of that. Any number to choose from, many with very realistic "buy it now" prices and interestingly, most going unsold. Must be a reason?

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: John Chapman</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">...just <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">try</span></span> to put an offer together for the car that I'll take! smirk.gif </div></div>

I'm guessing that a trade for a good, clean, low mile 2003 Frontier crew cab and $2000 cash won't fly, eh?

JMC </div></div>

rotfl.gif

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I asked my local Toyota salesman -- and he didn't have the answer -- how much it will cost to replace the batteries in the Prius. I seriously doubt they'll last the 11.5 years and 172,500 miles used in the calculations in the article. I'll bet you could buy a good used Corolla for the price of the batteries in the new Prius.

I also wonder about the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposing of the batteries.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The sub head (<span style="font-style: italic">Is it more energy-efficient to buy a <span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">gas-guzzling used car</span></span> than a brand-new hybrid?</span>) saves you the trouble of reading the article, especially since that wasn't the question that was asked. </div></div>

What article did you read? confused.gif I read the one Peter linked, where they compared the car to a late-model Corolla. If that's a gas guzzler a lot of us are in BIG trouble already!

Oh yeah, we are. frown.gif </div></div>

Read the subheadline at the very top of the article. I cut and pasted it into my original post - I didn't make that up. The source sounds pretty biased if you ask me.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Prius is marketed as the most fuel efficient car you can buy. There isn't one buyer satisfaction survey out there that ranks the Prius less than <span style="text-decoration: underline">first</span>, and most have it as the all-time champ in that category. </div></div>

Call me a cynic, but do you really expect someone who overpaid for a trendy Prius to admit that they made a mistake in a survey?

Again, pardon my cynicism, but here in the DC area, most of the hybrid buyers readily admit that they bought the hybrid for the HOV exemption. How a Prius at 55-65 MPH is any more fuel efficient than (for example) a non-HOV-exempt Toyota Echo (and thus the Prius driver deserves HOV exemption) is another mystery of government.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: DLynskey</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I asked my local Toyota salesman -- and he didn't have the answer -- how much it will cost to replace the batteries in the Prius. I seriously doubt they'll last the 11.5 years and 172,500 miles used in the calculations in the article. I'll bet you could buy a good used Corolla for the price of the batteries in the new Prius.

I also wonder about the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposing of the batteries. </div></div>

A. If they only last that long it'll be well below average (these things have been on the road for 11 years now).

B. The batteries are almost innocuous environmentally, and far to valuable for anyone to ever throw away. The manufacturer will pay you several hundred dollars for your old one.

C. Is anybody reading this that's still not aware of this? We've covered this <span style="text-decoration: underline">dozens</span> of times.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Prius is marketed as the most fuel efficient car you can buy. There isn't one buyer satisfaction survey out there that ranks the Prius less than <span style="text-decoration: underline">first</span>, and most have it as the all-time champ in that category. </div></div>

Call me a cynic, but do you really expect someone who overpaid for a trendy Prius to admit that they made a mistake in a survey?

Again, pardon my cynicism, but here in the DC area, most of the hybrid buyers readily admit that they bought the hybrid for the HOV exemption. How a Prius at 55-65 MPH is any more fuel efficient than (for example) a non-HOV-exempt Toyota Echo (and thus the Prius driver deserves HOV exemption) is another mystery of government. </div></div>

I've seen the HOV lanes in DC at rush hour. 65 mph.? Really? smirk.gif

(BTW The Prius is much more fuel efficient than the Echo, and much larger too. Do the comparison I linked at fueleconomy.gov.)

People in these surveys have all spent a wad of cash whatever car they buy. Why would a Prius owner be any different than a BMW owner or Corvette owner?

Challenge the technology in these cars as much as you want, there's no good argument from any perspective that these cars don't genuinely please their owners.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Call me a cynic, but do you really expect someone who overpaid for a trendy Prius to admit that they made a mistake in a survey?</div></div>

OK, Joe, you're a cynic. cool.gif

All you faithful readers of AACA General, BCA, and the late beloved 'Misc Chat' forum know I have long sparred with Dave@Moon and we share a polar opposite view on many things... so this is really gonna hurt....

<span style="color: #FF0000">I have to agree with most of what Dave says about the Prius.</span>

I'm in Southern California and we're awash in the damned things. My company office has sixty parking spaces. There are eight Prius in the lot on any given day. Two Gen One and the balance Gen Two, 2004-2009. By all accounts they are bullet proof, deliver exactly what they say they will, cope with California mountains and freeways without a problem, and maintain high resale value. The only major casualty that I've heard of is the multifunction display in the 2004 went belly up at somewhere around 60K miles. Seems it was a common problem with the early 2004 run, and although out of warrnaty, the local TMC dealer and regional office ate the $3000 replacement cost. (That owner has subsequently bought another Prius and a Camry Hybrid, so tell me TMC didn't make a good call on that repair!) As for resale, check Craigslist and Cars.com on any day and you'll find bunches of Prius for sale. They move quickly at high KBB value. There are NONE on the dealer lots, and I can almost throw a rock and hit two of the largest TMC dealers in the US.

Those of you clinging to notions that the Prius is not what it's made up to be, are taking the word of others about how weak it is, etc, are making a big mistake. The hybrid drive is the future for most of us. As soon as the useability issues with lithium-ion batteries are resolved, TMC will be center stage with a viable PHEV and will be again licensing the technology to other manufacturers.

The fairy tales about battery life in the current Prius are exactly that. There are hundreds of Prius on the road out here with well over 100K on the clock, and nobody even talks about the battery. There was one first gen model that had over 300K and the original battery was working fine when the car was totaled. Keep it all in perspective. If your Buick Lucerne's V6 suffered a catastrophic internal failure 500 miles out of warranty, what would it cost to repair? I'm thinking in the ballpark of $4000. If you drive the same Lucerne 200K miles and had to rebuild the engine (not unlikely) is would cost as much as replacing the Prius battery.

So, the Prius might not be the answer for everyone, but it is a very good, well engineered vehicle. The shame of it is... we didn't design and build it here.

Cheers,

JMC

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John,

I also agree with much of the INFORMATION about the Prius; it seems to be a well thought-out design that is standing up well for a lot of owners. It is a good choice for many people, but it is just that; a choice.

What I disagree with is the

a) implied or stated conclusion that is is a much better vehicle than other choices, and

B) implcation or accusation that anyone that doesn't drive something that gets 30-40 MPG is in any way, shape, form, fashion or implication less of an American, good person, or responsible adult.

We are still about choices in this incredible country of ours.

Joe

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Tinindian</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Matt, you have to realize that my mileage is calculated on a real :-) gallon of gas, not a mini-gallon from south of the 49th. </div></div>

Eh?

Slapped around now by members of the Cold Northern District, are we? What a hoser!

(What Canada really stands for and how they got their name; <span style="font-weight: bold">C</span>old <span style="font-weight: bold">A</span>h <span style="font-weight: bold">N</span>orthern <span style="font-weight: bold">A</span>h <span style="font-weight: bold">D</span>istrict <span style="font-weight: bold">A</span>h

From the Wikipedia, for those of you BELOW the 49th parallel about a hoser:

Today, the word hoser evokes - sometimes sympathetically, with gentle ribbing, and sometimes negatively - a stereotypical Canadian male.

From Tyndall AFB, home of about 25 Canadians serving here as part of NORAD!

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I read a report reciently about the "green car" movement where the author did a comprehensive cradle-to-grave study of the currently manufactured vehicles <span style="font-style: italic">total lifetime enviromental impact </span>from the process of gathering and using the raw materials to manufacture the car, the fuel, oil, coolant, trans lube, etc. used during the average life of that car, then the energy expended to scrap that car and the percentage of reusable materials the carcass yielded. The hybrids like the Prius had the WORST cradle-to-grave numbers, the materials in the batteries and the extensive use of single-lifetime (not cost effective to recycle) plastics made its numbers the worst. The best vehicle in the study? The <span style="font-weight: bold">base model F-150</span>. High percent of steel and aluminum (which is easily, economically recycled, as has always been the case.

Either way you are going to pay, it's just how you choose to.

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While I understand the need for recycling of automobiles after their lifetime, as a restorer that's the one thing that makes me think current generation automobiles will not be restored. It's the same problem with pre-war cars that were lost to scrap metal drives.

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Here is an interesting article about the prius and it's cradle to grave costs.

http://www.slate.com/id/2194989/

Quote from the article "Here's the bottom line: The Prius is by no means a perfect car, but it's certainly tough to beat in terms of cradle-to-grave, pound-for-pound energy consumption."

Here is another with the opposite conclusion:

http://qualityweenie.mu.nu/archives/232301.php

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body">While I understand the need for recycling of automobiles after their lifetime, as a restorer that's the one thing that makes me think current generation automobiles will not be restored. It's the same problem with pre-war cars that were lost to scrap metal drives. </div></div>

Joe,

Interesting point. Several years ago, <span style="font-style: italic">AutoRestorer</span> magazine did an informal study on the restoration of a mid-80's GM car. I can't recall the model. The conclusion was that it was difficult to the point of not being a worthwhile effort. Assmebly techniques and materials were the culprit.

From recall:

-- major subcomponents were jig-assembled and had a very specific assembly order to get everything to fit together. This was done to keep assmeblies as compact as possible. Jigs, special tools, and relevant documentation were made of unobtainium or at best, difficult to find.

-- extensive use of formed plastics, particularly in interior cabin spaces, that become very brittle with age and enviromental exposure. NOS/NOR/reproductions are non-existent.

-- complexity of electronics and subsequent specialized repair requirements, suseptability to environmental damage, and 'one-life' design.

The conclusion was that from about 1980 or so on, the best one can hope for is to find a well-kept survivor.

Cheers,

JMC

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: John Chapman</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body">While I understand the need for recycling of automobiles after their lifetime, as a restorer that's the one thing that makes me think current generation automobiles will not be restored. It's the same problem with pre-war cars that were lost to scrap metal drives. </div></div>

Joe,

Interesting point. Several years ago, <span style="font-style: italic">AutoRestorer</span> magazine did an informal study on the restoration of a mid-80's GM car. I can't recall the model. The conclusion was that it was difficult to the point of not being a worthwhile effort. Assmebly techniques and materials were the culprit.

From recall:

-- major subcomponents were jig-assembled and had a very specific assembly order to get everything to fit together. This was done to keep assmeblies as compact as possible. Jigs, special tools, and relevant documentation were made of unobtainium or at best, difficult to find.

-- extensive use of formed plastics, particularly in interior cabin spaces, that become very brittle with age and enviromental exposure. NOS/NOR/reproductions are non-existent.

-- complexity of electronics and subsequent specialized repair requirements, suseptability to environmental damage, and 'one-life' design.

The conclusion was that from about 1980 or so on, the best one can hope for is to find a well-kept survivor.

Cheers,

JMC

</div></div>

I have that issue. It was a Pontiac Sunbird convertible. There have been several similar articles and letters in that and other automotive magazines, usually written by people who deem it impossible to restore cars built after the 1960s or 70s. I'll be honest, I don't agree. Ten years ago, who would have predicted that you could buy a complete, welded, brand new body for a Camaro, Mustang, or tri-five Chevy? One can argue whether or not these new bodies are a cost-effective way to go, but the fact remains that auto restorers are a creative lot. The whining of today's hobbyists is very similar to those who used to claim that it was worthless to restore postwar cars. Apparently we never learn.

As for the electronics, it's all a matter of having the proper tools. I bought a used OTC Genisys and with the software upgrades I'm able to tap into any 1980-2006 automotive computer system (though I only bought the domestic and Asian software so far). It has saved me a lot of trouble and cost in diagnosing problems with my computerized vehicles, and I can also run the same diagnostics as the factory test tools called out in the service manual. I also look towards the "tuners" who can crack and reprogram the computers of late model cars, often with impressive results. A friend of mine has a late model Evo with extensive mods and he showed me the software tool he uses on his laptop to tune the fuel/ignition map. It's all done with graphical interfaces that make such tuning extremely easy - much more so than changing jets and advance weights.

The one thing that worries me is the deterioration of plastic parts. As an example, my 93 Allante has vanity mirrors in the sun visors with housings that disintegrate. Replacements are not available, so I'm forced to either patch what I have, try to find good used (which are also disintegrating at the same rate), or cast new ones from resin. The technology today is such that the latter path isn't as difficult as it sounds.

Now, one could argue as to whether or not the restoration of a Taurus, for example, will ever be popular, but I can imagine that the Taurus SVO will be a collectible.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Skyking</div><div class="ubbcode-body">John, I remember covering this topic awhile ago. Besides all you listed above, it'd be almost impossible to do any so-called body work. </div></div>

If that were true, collision repair shops would all be out of business. Yes, the use of high strength steel requires more care, and sometimes complete panel replacement, but it's by no means impossible.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: joe_padavano</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Prius is marketed as the most fuel efficient car you can buy. There isn't one buyer satisfaction survey out there that ranks the Prius less than <span style="text-decoration: underline">first</span>, and most have it as the all-time champ in that category. </div></div>

Call me a cynic, but do you really expect someone who overpaid for a trendy Prius to admit that they made a mistake in a survey?

Again, pardon my cynicism, but here in the DC area, most of the hybrid buyers readily admit that they bought the hybrid for the HOV exemption. How a Prius at 55-65 MPH is any more fuel efficient than (for example) a non-HOV-exempt Toyota Echo (and thus the Prius driver deserves HOV exemption) is another mystery of government. </div></div>

Giving hybrid drivers carte blanche to use the HOV lane is an idea that wasn't fully thought through.

A hybrid is the most fuel efficient when standing in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. Not while cruising down the HOV lane at 60 mph.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">A hybrid is the most fuel efficient when standing in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. Not while cruising down the HOV lane at 60 mph.</div></div>

Actually, it's both. The difference is bigger in stopped traffic, but the hybrid system helps to at least some extent any time the car's in use.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Sweepspear</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Giving hybrid drivers carte blanche to use the HOV lane is an idea that wasn't fully thought through.

A hybrid is the most fuel efficient when standing in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. Not while cruising down the HOV lane at 60 mph. </div></div>

One has to wonder if the next generation of clean diesel vehicles will be given the same carte blanche to use the HOV lane.

According to their manufacturer's, some of these vehicles are said to attain 50-60 mpg at highway speeds.

Isn't that the same neighborhood as the Prius mpg on the highway?

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