Man, did I ever strike a nerve with my post that questioned whether a Toyota Prius really accomplishes significant, or any, savings in the long run. The post elicited a number of comments from a generation of Prius lovers who jumped on me something awful. There was plenty of name calling and sarcasm, but not one commenter has disputed the basic theme of my post – that the much higher purchase price of a Prius vis-à-vis other economical cars dwarfs the fuel cost savings.
Instead, folks offered a number of justifications, most of which my original post anticipated. For example, people fell back on the emotional argument that it is worth some financial sacrifice to “save the planet.” Others noted that used Priuses offer price savings, while ignoring the proportionate discount that can be found with any used versus new model purchase.
Others resorted to dubious hyperbole. The most recent commenter indicated that he has been “averaging” 65 to 75 miles per gallon driving in Boston. That’s quite a feat – exceeding the EPA fuel efficiency estimates by over 25% while driving in a large, congested, metropolis. Most experienced drivers will tell you that the EPA estimates are very difficult to match, much less surpass, without resorting to crazy hypermiling techniques such as driving down hills with the engine off. But this commenter, somehow, beats the EPA in a city notorious for its stop-and-go congestion.
Still others criticized my comparative choice of the Chevrolet Cruze on grounds that the Cruze fares poorly in crash tests. It was quite an ironic defense given the most recent crash test findings in which Prius was found to be one of the worst models.
Criticism of the comparisons was a recurring theme with another writer – from a Toyota dealership, by the way – arguing that the Prius should be compared with the Camry rather than the Corolla. Really? Look, I don’t care how Toyota chooses to classify the Prius, it’s just not a large or full size sedan. If you can drive a Prius and a Corolla and notice an appreciable size difference, good for you. For all practical purposes – and practical is what this blog is all about – they are similar cars.
I think my favorite claim was the writer who boasted that he regularly beats Mustangs from red lights because of the great turbo start. Seeing as how the 2013 Prius goes 0 to 60 in 10.7 seconds, (just a bit more than twice as long as the Mustang) I found that remark particularly entertaining. (By the way, doesn’t it seem odd that a frugal, gas saving Prius driver would be hot rodding from stops?)
What all of these hostile comments really show is how sensitive people are when shown that they really have not made the most financially sensible choice. Pride is a dangerous thing, and it can really get in the way with saving money. It is pride, after all, that prompts people into over consumption in the first place. In this case, I certainly credit Prius buyers with good intentions. I don’t think anyone buys a Prius to impress friends, clients, or business associates. People buy Priuses to save money and resources. But as my original piece amply demonstrates, the price of a Prius makes it a very difficult goal to achieve. If you have bought one, by all means stick it out. Continue driving it for 100,000 miles, and you may finally net some savings over the cheaper Corolla that you could have bought in the first place. For those considering a new or used car, however, there simply are better choices.
In a larger sense, you have to check your pride and emotions when living a frugal lifestyle. Strive to be practical, not stubborn, logical, rather than defiant. And when you find yourself arguing that a Prius regularly beats the Ford Mustang in acceleration and horsepower, it’s a pretty good indication that you need to stop, take a deep breath, and come down to reality.
In a final note, I do credit one commenter with making a good point that I did not know. Apparently, Priuses are allowed to drive in HOV lanes regardless of whether passengers are in the car. If true, and if you live in an area with HOV lanes, this is an added plus.