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Discussion Starter #1
OK folks, I'm trusting this forum to be lower-volume than That Other Forum, so that I don't provoke a flame-war with this question:

>> Should I get a 2004 Prius or a Civic Hybrid? <<

For me, from a "what do I personally want" standpoint, there's no question. The Prius is just better, cooler, and would give me loads more pride of ownership.

But there's a problem. It's my commute. My car might occasionally experience the open highway, but would be cursed to spend most of its life on short trips (usually 1.5 mi one-way to a park-and-ride stop, sometimes 6mi to a commuter train station).

These conditions are Known to Be Bad for Gas Mileage for any car. The '04 is meant to be better than a vintage Prius in this regard, but having said that -- might I get significantly better mileage in the Civic? Or is the commute so unsolvable that I should just get a beater econobox?

... m
 

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Commuting

You are driving such a short distance, that I am unsure that the gas savings will make up for the slight extra cost. You really need to do a complete cost analysis.

There are a lot of cars that cost less than the Prius that will save you money overall. For example a Corolla would use more gas, but the difference in the cost between the Corolla and Prius would buy a lot of fuel, expecially when you have such a short drive everyday.

Check the bottom line...
 

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I own a Prius, my Brother has the Civic... we have found that for milage they are very similar in almost all situations, the only exception is the civic is a little better on longer highway driving. but based on real driving of both cars they both get about the same MPG, if you do alot of highway driving get the civic, if you keep around 45MPH then go with the Prius, if you do a mixture of both, then they will balance out in the end.
 

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Re: Prius or Civic

This is just a guess, but I think that the 2004 Prius might be a little bit better, than the Civic, under the conditions you are describing. I think that the coolant storage tank, on the Prius, would give it an advantage by reducing the amount of cold engine driving time.
That being said, I do believe that either hybrid would do better than a conventional vehicle in terms of gas mileage and pollution level.
 

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I have heard that the Civic hybrid is being discounted and sold well below invoice. You can probably get a Civic off the lot, or at least in a reasonable amount of time. Not so with the Prius. 4-6 month waits are now very common and very few, if any, have reported buying under sticker - many have actually paid sticker +. Technology of the Civic is WAY below the Prius but it sounds like it may be just the thing for the type of driving you do. Good luck in your decision and search.
 

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Jerry P said:
I have heard that the Civic hybrid is being discounted and sold well below invoice.
I highly doubt they will be sold for "well below invoice". I believe you mean below MSRP. If this is true, it would probably be best, financially, to go with the Civic, since the mpg would be similar to the Prius.
 

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satchm0 said:
Jerry P said:
I have heard that the Civic hybrid is being discounted and sold well below invoice.
I highly doubt they will be sold for "well below invoice". I believe you mean below MSRP. If this is true, it would probably be best, financially, to go with the Civic, since the mpg would be similar to the Prius.
If you are going for finances, also
look at the used 2001-2003 Prius that
are showing up on dealer lots or in
private sales. The classic Prius is
pretty comparable to the Civic hybrid.

If possible, try a test drive in a
Civic hybrid, a classic Prius, and
a 2004 Prius, and see what fits you
better.

(Of course, if you have that short
of a commute, I'd recommend an EV,
but they're not easy to come by. :(
even my 11 mile 1-way commute would
be covered by most of the EVs out there,
and my husband's 1.5 mile 1-way
commute even more falls under it.
My 2001 is getting the EPA average
over its lifetime, high 30s this
winter. My husband's 2004 is getting
low 30s this winter, but we expect
that to go up.)

How did your previous traditional
car do for MPG over your current
commute, as compared to its EPA
estimates? (EPA estimates change
each year, look back to 1985 here:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/ ... elNF.shtml )
 

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You did not say how much driving you do other than your commute, or whether you usually drive solo or with others, so I may be off here. My simple math puts your commuting mileage at less than 2,000 miles per year. To me it does not make sense to buy ANY new car for such low mileage - the depreciation is too great and it makes your cost of ownership per mile out of sight.

I agree with Michelle that you should look at a used classic Prius or any other good, reliable used car. I bought a used 2002 Prius last April, and it saved me about $4,000 off the cost of a new one. With the 04's out now, there is a better supply of used Classics at pretty good prices. Dealers usuallyhave a good supply of 2-4 year-old cars that will last you a long time and will save you big $$$.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all your tips. There are tons of variables behind this, and the non-optimal commute is but one, which I figured the experts here could help me with.

* A new car now would become "our" car in a couple of years, when the second car would either die or be sold;
* At that time, commute pattern for the car would become a more normal California commute of 30mi/day;
* A used classic Prius is not an option because of the mediocre crash test rating, which is a concern for both of us but especially for her. Were we to buy a classic Prius, it would be sold again in two years in favor of a different new car;
* Buying a 2004 now is a little questionable because we aren't sure how it will fare in NHTSA smashups;
* Civic Hybrid doesn't like parking on hills in San Francisco (I know because I drive one a lot through a car-share cooperative here);
* Civic Hybrid gets OK but not great mileage in the city, and has other quirks that I don't really like;
* But it has 5-star smashup ratings, and is available now for lease or purchase, no waiting;
* Purchase of a hybrid is a political, not economic, decision.

Phew. There it is.
 

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NHTSA test on the 2004 Prius is being done this month. Toyota is saying that it was designed for a maximun safety rating, but the test will tell. My wife also had safety concerns, since my previous car was an Echo. We got a Pkg. #7 with all the air bags and VSC, which really works on slippery winter roads. All these items, plus the fact that the Prius is a much larger car, have made her very comfortable with the car.
 

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mho said:
But there's a problem. It's my commute. My car might occasionally experience the open highway, but would be cursed to spend most of its life on short trips (usually 1.5 mi one-way to a park-and-ride stop, sometimes 6mi to a commuter train station).
1.5 miles? Walk. 6 miles? Ride a bicycle (and bring it with you on the train to avoid getting it stolen). At least on good weather days (which is most of the year in the San Francisco area that you mention), you won't be doing that short trip driving.

Unless there are longer trips on your weekends (or otherwise), choosing a Prius or Civic Hybrid over a regular Civic, Corolla, Echo, xA, or xB doesn't make a lot of economic sense. Choosing a Prius would make economic sense if your alternative was a Camry or Accord type of vehicle.
 

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I looked at both cars as we already owned a gas Civic EX and I have always liked the Hondas I have owned. The deciding factor for me was the design of the new Prius: fold down split rear seat (no fold down ability at all in the Honda Hybrid), more creature comforts included as standard. Also, the Prius has more storgae space and is a true hatchback.

The cost here in Northern California was about the same...$20,000.

I am very happy with our choice of the Prius, and like you said it is a political decision.
 

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One of your original concerns was the low mileage on very short trips. I have read that all cars get very low mileage during warm-up. The only difference is that the Prius tells you in big numerals.

I'd have suggested a used gas Civic. I see little point in a hybrid for 1.5-mile trips. But then you say the hybrid is a political decision, and in a couple of years it will see longer trips.

You might get a used gas Civic now, and then trade for a new Prius when your driving needs change. Shouldn't take too big a depreciation hit if you start with a Civic that's a few years old. And in a couple of years Prius will have both crash tests and real-world experience. But then, if you place a deposit now, the crash tests will be done long before your Prius arrives, and apparently dealers are letting you have your deposit back if you change your mind.

For what it's worth, I love my '04 Prius. But mrv may have the best idea of all: for a 1.5-mile commute, an EV. Then, as above, get a prius when your driving needs change.
 
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