With the 80 mile round trip commute fuel economy is paramount and that leaves us two choices: The Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid. We test drove both today.
We went to Toyotaland of Springfield who had 6 2008 Priora on the lot. We had the kid with us so we got to put his booster seat in. He enjoyed the Prius because it had "cool cupholders" and "lots of nice things". I was actually impressed by how well it drove and handled since I had heard criticisms of those things. And surely it is one of the most gadget-freak friendly cars on the market today. Our salesguy tried to get us to buy one TODAY but that's not how we ride. Also, they do something interesting: They ask you what websites you've done research on. They then come back with a pricing report (in this case Edmunds) and talk based on that price. If we go back I'll retort with a lower priced website (cars.com) and start from a few hundred over invoice like you're supposed to.. The fact is Priuses are getting close to MSRP most of the time. I'm confident we can do a little better but I know I'm not making the deal we did on the Subaru. We actually had our salesguy walking out after us after the sit down with the sales manager. I wouldn't say they were high pressure but they definitely tried to sell us a car. Oh, and they had a scratch-off game where we won $10, which we put towards a pizza and pasta lunch before our next stop.
Which was VIP Honda, right down the road from our old place (not to mention stitchinthyme and origamislayer's home many years ago). We pull in and see an 2007 model (which I recognize immediately from the old EPA fuel economy ratings on the sticker.). So we get a salesguy and we go driving.
First, the car's rear bumper was scratched badly by being backed into the concrete wall in front of the building. We get in the car and it smells like stale cigar smoke--although that may have been our salesguy, it was hard to tell. I know we're not buying this particular car today.
The Civic is nice, really, but the hybrid technology isn't as nice as the Prius. It always starts on gasoline power, and rarely goes all-electric. When you start from a stop there's a shudder as the gas engine restarts. I assume that's why city mileage is 40 instead of 48 for the Prius (highway mileage is 45 for both). The feedback about what it's doing is much less than the Prius gives you--I don't think I even saw an MPG meter. Admittedly, though, it was hard to separate our feelings for the car from the horrible smell and scratch this vehicle had. The salesguy was decidedly low-pressure and barely talked to us. Normally I wouldn't mind that but he also had little to offer about the actual vehicle. At least it meant we could just high-tail it out of there when we finished the drive.
The boy did not like the Civic because "it smelled like cigars". When I asked him to not consider that he still liked the Prius because "it was cool."
Overall, I really liked the Prius. It's a nicer car. It costs about $3K more but that's manageable for us. Our issues now are checking on things like repair issues, relative insurance costs, overall cost of ownership stats, and then deciding when it's best to act (I think it might be in a couple of weeks, near the end of the month.)
I also might try the Costco car buying service. Does anyone have experience with that? I'm hoping it can get us more of a discount on the Prius than we might on our own.
For those wondering what happens in 5-6 years when we replace the Subaru, well, who knows. We might just put 200K on the car we buy now, and I'll get a new compact SUV (hopefully a nice hybrid from which there should be several choices by then.) I don't think we need to figure this out yet.