Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Hybrid

I did it! I finally went hybrid...and got a car that I wasn't actually planning to get.

Hybrid Hunting
If you have been reading this blog you will probably know my "stop and go" journey on cutting back on driving, and finding alternative methods of transportation like walking, my bike, and taking the metro. I am still not at the point where I am willing to drop a car entirely so I figured it's time to move up to a hybrid. It's time because the car industry is dropping prices like Wallmart and I knew someone who was interested in buying my old car.

If you can't tell already, when I have an idea to do something I usually just jump right in. :) So, I went online and checked out the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape. Those were in the right price range and size ranges for me. Based on my extensive 1 hour read, and my experience riding in a friend's Prius and a eco-taxi Escape...I called the bank to work out financing and the Toyota dealership to tell them I was on my way.

A few days later ... after cautions from my family and close friends I decided to take a day and to do a test drive of the hybrids that I was interested in - plus added two more to the list Mercury and Lexus.

I do not like car shopping and was jazzed about the car buying service I was using with USAA. So, going out to do test drives was going to put me into the den of the lion! But I reminded myself that I am a Leo and was a match for any salesman with my keen poker face. Off I went with boyfriend and mom to test drive these magnificent machines.

We started with the Escape. I didn't mind the sparse interior (the easier to keep clean, I'm thinking) but the handling and ride were okay. It also seemed to quickly go to engine and mostly used combo engine/battery power. The switch from engine to engine/battery was also jerky and loud. It was still pleasant car but I was ready to move on. Sorry Ford...I had high hopes...the eco-taxi rode well.

Next the Prius. Again, the interior was sparse, and the dash was really high-tech. In fact it was a little too spacey for me. It's all digital and seems to be projected to you. The dashboard reminded me of the Ford Taurus which I learned how to drive in... and I didn't like the Ford Taurus. But, I did love the hybrid engine display! So, I was still happy with the Prius idea.

Mercury...I didn't test drive the Mercury. The man at the Mercury dealer was very honest letting us know that the Mercury and the Ford Escape were the same car, different features. So off we went to Lexus.

No one warned me about the Lexus. Lexus is a different level of car all together, and so is a Lexus dealership. Wow, if you want to feel special...go test drive a Lexus. You don't need to buy one, just go for the experience and the great little coffee/mocha/hot chocolate machine in the waiting room. The Lexus was the Prius and more. I test drove the RX400h because it's the only one I could even come close to affording. Wow! Smooth! Maximized battery usage! Great display! Rode like my old 4-runner which I loved (sorry about comparing it to a 4-runner, but it's everything good that I loved about my 4-runner!!!) I was quite pleased. But, it was still more expensive than I wanted to pay. Next stop Carmax.

Carmax is a really great experience. It's not cushy like Lexus but very friendly! I took my old car to Carmax and got an estimate on the value. They valued it higher than I was expecting, and Lexus said they would honor the estimate. I also checked on the price of some used Lexus cars. (Would that me Lexi?) With the increased value of my car and the discounts I could get with Lexus and USAA, it brought the price down to something I could afford. Success!

So here I am with my new Hybrid...happily reducing my carbon footprint.

(Thanks C for the "happily reducing my carbon footprint" line. That's what she said when she saw my picture.

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