Monday, January 31, 2011

Why do you have to be such a tree-hugging hippy?

There's an assumption going around that if you own a Prius, you a. are a hippy, lusting for the good old mud wrestling days of the 1970s b. are exceedingly gay, or at least have many gay friends and c. voted for Obama.

If you are one of those people that thinks those things, stop it.

The Prius is a mid-size sedan, and gets double the average mileage of other sedans in that class even when you're not attempting to hypermile the bejeebers out of it. The immediate and tangible effect of this is that you will halve your gas spending overnight and see the difference in your bank account at the end of each month.

It's true that if you were looking for a $5,000 used compact car, then yes, you won't recoup the cost of your car in gas anytime soon. But for someone like me, who was looking for something reliably solid that would last awhile and do well on highways or around town, there was already the possibility of getting, for example, a used Nissan Altima. I had driven my sister's recently and absolutely loved how it handled.

That's when I got to thinking - if you're going to pay a sizeable chunk of change anyhow, why not opt for one that will save you money throughout the life of the car? The Prius came to mind immediately, but not with any particular affinity or nostalgia - my family had never owned Toyotas, and I'd never driven one in my life. It just seemed like the more rational path.


My first month with Wentworth I drove 1,271.5 miles at an average 51.25mpg, and this was before I had any real idea how to drive it more efficiently. With gas averaging $3.1069 per gallon that month, I paid $77.08 altogether, versus the $197.51 I would have paid at 20mpg in another vehicle (it's useful to note I used to drive a lot faster, so the 20mpg figure is actually quite generous), for a total savings of $120.43.

Then in January I drove Wentworth 922.6 miles between fillups at 54.43mpg, paying $53.13 at an increased $3.1288 per gallon of gas, versus $144.33 at the conservative 20mpg figure, saving $91.20.

OK, so I've saved at the least $211.63 in gas costs during my first two months of ownership. Seeing the Prius as a political statement doesn't do much for anyone, and in fact does a huge disservice to those who could be driving a hybrid and savings tons, but who never will, because it looks "too gay" (Really? Are we still in middle school?).

Personally, I'm looking forward to saving over $1000 in gas this year.

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