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Discussion Starter #1
As i post my question, which came up in conversation about the little blue wonder over a cockail this vening, let me explain what i mean by luxury. I don't mean "is the Prius comparable to a Mercedes S-class for comfort & quiet?" or "Does the prius ride like a caddy?"

I mean "are prius owners, generally, those who have alot of spare income?". Alternately, those who's lifestyles happen to allow the prius as an only car.

The Prius is what it is - the best enviro-oriented car of all time, period - because its actually a useful car for at least some families. The insight is wicked cool, the Smart Car is just plain wild, but neither have any value to a family traveling as a family for obvious reasons. The prius sort of crossed the line between "teensy car with great mileage" and "a real car with great mileage", and in doing so it earned its place as the poster child for enviro-friendly driving.


But it reaches its limit at a family of 3.

As a child, my family had a suburban as the only vehicle for a decade. It was all we could afford, and it served the roles of pickup (an absolute necessity for us then) and station wagon for the 5 of us.

When times were a little better, we moved to a station wagon + pickup. Old diesel wagon that got 30-35 with all of us + christmas presents for cousins and luggage. Rode like a boat (which isn't a bad thing).

There is no way, ever, that my family growing up could have justified a novelty mileage vehicle. And no possible chance we squeeze into a prius for even a shopping trip.

How many families simply cannot justify buying a mediocre-mileage Camry hybrid for $10k more than a nicer Impala?

How many rural couples need a pickup and could get by nicely with a pickup, but probably shouldn't/couldn't spend the $$$ on a prius or whatever.? Probably i grew up within 100 miles of 100, 1000? such couples.


Therefore is ask this: is getting really good gas mileage realistically something reserved for those blessed with one of the two following luxuries:

1) a reasonably amount of disposable income. Driving a hummer is reserved for the basically wealthy (at least one of the bigger ones) between cost + bling + gas + insurance. So is, per my hypothesis,driving a prius.
2) a lifestyle that doesn't involve family, like young people or single people or childless couples?

I think it is. I think its a luxury of lifestyle choice or income that allows the driving of really high mileage vehicles. I'm lucky enough to make enough money to not miss the $25k for a car to slash my overall oil useage. Many people are not. Probably most people are not.

I end my rambling commentary here and simply offer it to you all for whatever feedback you might wish to give.
 

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One of the things that makes the Prius lean towards being a "luxury" car is that you can't get a used one at a good price. I looked for about two months until I found our '04 for $16,500. So you basically need to have the income that allows you to buy a new $25,000 car. It is just out of line for any [wise] low income person. I would consider our family lower middle income. Our income is below the taxable level (although that is another story, which some may not appreciate on this website), so the tax credit would not have been that helpful.

I disagree with your comment that this car "reaches its limit at a family of 3." Or do you mean three children. We are a family of four and it is working great. This was a step up in size from our Jetta. The 5% of the miles that we need more luggage space we can add a rooftop carrier. Hopefully in a few years there will be more used hybrids available for those who have the passion, but not the $$.

PA P
 

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Discussion Starter #3
my compadres aren't too impressed with my conclusion, so i'll add a bit if i may.

what i was getting at is this: what's the point of super-mileage cars if they aren't really available and truly useful to basically everybody?

Not that there isn't a point, just that the blade isn't quite as sharp as if it were truly useful and available and practical to basically everybody.

And that's a shame. Stretch this little guy out a few feet & make it a true station wagon!
 

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Things trickle down. Not so long ago televisions and cell phones were expensive luxuries. In ten years plug-in hybrids will be the standard drive technology for road vehicles.

Also note that these days most people have fewer than three children.
 

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Luxury? For it's class, I'd say yes indeed.

Novelty? To some perhaps, not to me.

From most of the people I have seen driving them, they are eco-friendly people, flat out tree huggers =D, or smart daily commuters. I have yet to see a family in one other than mine (one daugther so far).

Based on your post, this isn't the great american family road-trip car and I don't think that is the public perception. To your point of 'what's the point of super-mileage cars if they aren't really available and truly useful to basically everybody?", shouldn't high performance cars be available and truly useful to basically everybody?

That being said, my other car is a Dodge Magnum RT, purchased specifically as the 'baby' wagon. The Prius will do fine once my family has grown up.
 

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Luxury??

Well, compared to my '87 4Runner, it's a luxury car. I drive about 30,000 miles a year, for me the Prius was a necessity. The car is comfortable and quiet, driving long distances produces much less fatigue. I like the audio system and the navigator is indispensable.
 

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I feel that my car has been an excellent, and economical, vehical for local Transportation for my wife and I. Back seat is OK for a couple mile trip with the next door neighbors but I would never accept it far any long distance transportation. That's why the "big size" cars and wagons (SUV's) are still the hottest sellers in the American market. I put my car in the same class of car I would rent for local transportation on a vacation trip.
As for a "luxury car" take another look at the trunk hinges (they are the easiest to get to) The hinges on the screen door of my house are a better quaility item. Put that with just a passable suspension system on a car with rear drum brakes and no adjustable seats, it is obvious that Toyota put all the money into the fantastic synergy system.
Plus you can't come close to touching any thing even close to a luxury car for $25,000 today. (unless buying used and at least four years old)
As far as buying a "plug in" car in the future, that would be for only a few. There will never be that type of market until there is an actual real "shortage" of gas. It is obvious, price just won't accomplish this.
Too many American buyers don't even have access to an extension cord long enough to reach their vehicles. I'm afraid it's going to be gas for the next two decades, with a small market for "whatever else" is available, and small market is what is being supplied today. As of all the previous posts, this is just a personal opinion.
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I consider the Prius a status symbol of sorts

I bought my Prius for two main reasons.

1) The fact that I can now use the Carpool lane is killer for my commute. (For those in the Bay Area that can relate I have to travel most of SR 237.)

2) I am a tree-hugger and I like the fact that I am polluting less and am less of a contributor to global warming.

I do consider it a status symbol but not to show off that I'm a rich guy (which is what most status symbols are after right?). My 'status' is someone who's conscientious about the environment. I use my Prius to put that on display so call me vain. My vanity plates are 2MCH CO2.

I did a little math. Assume that I'd get 45 mpg with my Prius but only 30 on a standard, similar, non-hybrid vehicle. If I drive 1,000 miles a month I'd save 11 gallons of gas. Assuming $3.50 a gallon, that's only going to save me only $462 a year. I think the Prius is about $3-4 K more than a comparable car. Let's assume gas it at $5.00 a gallon. (I think it won't be long.) My saving would still be only about $660 a year.

Thus, I would argue it is NOT economical yet to drive a Prius. So, why are people buying Priuses? I think my two reasons are the most common.

Vinnie
 

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I'd also throw in that there are very few (more now with the GS/Camry) cars out there right now with all the features that you can get in a Prius.

A Package #8 Prius is pretty damn robust all things considered and I don't think that you can get those features anywhere else unless you trade conservation for performance/ride quality.
 

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Luxury? I don't think so. Toyota never was known for comfy seats, though. :lol: Lots of bells and whistles, but I'm not sure I'd call it a luxury vehicle.

There's no car on the planet that fits everyones needs. I live alone, so an SUV is a waste of space for me. I live in an apartment, so a pickup doesn't give me extra functionality. I'm cheap, so putting gas in a 'vette is silly for me.

My Prius doesn't haul a family of 12 or a load of lumber to finish a basement. It doesn't give the thrill of going from 0 to 60 in a few seconds.
 

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I really don't understand the criteria you are using to qualify a car as a vehicle for the masses. The Prius holds 5 fairly comfortably so a family of 4 (2 kids) would be very comfortable. Evan has (or had, it's been a while) 3 baby seats in the back. The next step down as far as financial economy and still be a Toyoata would probably be a Corolla, and that is an even smaller car if you are talking new. Even a Camry still only holds 5 people.

Compared to a Saturn SL2 (no longer produced :( ) got me an average MPG of 33. Compared to my current average MPG of 55, I have saved over $1500 in fuel costs in almost 2 years and 58K miles. Granted, that didn't offset my increased capital expense compared to the SL2 I bought used (and even if I bought new) but I feel I did get much more of a car overall than the SL2. With the amount of miles I drive per year, I need to start with low miles and keep the car as long as possible. I probably averaged about 75K with each car I had before something happened to it that I would require another one. I would have kept the SL2, but someone rear-ended me, and since it had high miles, the insurance totalled it and paid me less than I still owed on it, even though at 104K it was still in great mechanical shape. Even the body was in good shape.

For most economy cars, once it reaches 100K, it better not get hit even if it isn't your fault or else it is toast from the insurance point of view.
 

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All cars are the same about that "magic" 100,000 mile figure. And I expect from your posts that you are single and have little "personal" knowledge about hauling around kid's and loads from "Home Depot" comfortably. (speculation of friends kids don't count, "comfortably" does)
As for the "doc" I have seen his pictures of the Prius with three baby seats tucked into the back seat of a Prius and I do feel sorry for his wife if you think this is a perfectly comfortable way to go. It is his "personal" way to go but certainly, not the best. Anything can be done, but you can't tell me that stuffing three baby seats into the rear of a Prius is better than using anything like, even a very small wagon as the Saturn.
Sorry, but I would expect a doctor to have given his wife a mini-van. (three babies are growing in only one direction) Even my single doctor daughter drives a Volvo wagon for it's convenience. I state this only to make a point that your argument just doesn't "hold water" and as for this line, Toyota again made this car to sell for $19,995. What you do with it from there is a personal matter. I got what I wanted in mine for $23,000 and that included the most important in my opinion "the extended warranty."
And I am truly sorry for your "luck" with cars. I kept the last two American cars I owned for eight years each and 120,000 miles each, trouble free, and I figured I'de never be able to wear out either of them, and just got rid of them because I got tired of them. I did not buy my Japanese economy car because I was looking for something reliable. I could never do better than I have with the American ones but because they were the only makers of hybrids and I got curious why the rest of the world was ignoring them. After two years I have satisfied myself about the reason.
No one else wants to go the "complex" way. You may believe they are all wrong and that is certainly your perogative.
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It is not a luxury car in the purest sense; it is too inexpensive, too cheap, and is not exclusive enough, in spite of the backlog in sales.

I bought one because it 'fits' what I need; great mileage, adequate power, and best of all , it is a midsize hatchback.

My wife likes the sloped roof line, as opposed to the squared off station wagon look of a Vibe/Matrix. I may still have gone with the Vibe/Matrix had it offered more in the way of 'toys' like OnStar and the sales people were less than helpful when it came to information. (In fact, they were almost as bad as the Saturn people :eek: ) The only reason that I bought this Prius from this dealer is that he had one; have not been back. I wish some day to be able to buy a car via Amazon.com, just so I don't have to deal with (shudder) dealers 8) 8)
 

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I am really appalled and sorry to hear stories about the Toyota dealers in the west. I almost want to buy another Toyota from my dealer as he is the best car dealer I have had experiance with in the past sixty years. They do just about everything right. Have no complaints about the Ford, Chevy and Chrysler dealers in my town either. They are family oriented and have been in business successfully for over fifty years. They do anything wrong and it really would "cost them." I sort of get the idea that the Japanese dealer is here today and who knows where tomorrow. I wonder where "Ricky" is. I sort of miss "Mr. Toyota" and hope he has just taken a vacation.
 

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hyperion said:
I am really appalled and sorry to hear stories about the Toyota dealers in the west. I almost want to buy another Toyota from my dealer as he is the best car dealer I have had experiance with in the past sixty years. They do just about everything right. Have no complaints about the Ford, Chevy and Chrysler dealers in my town either. They are family oriented and have been in business successfully for over fifty years. They do anything wrong and it really would "cost them." I sort of get the idea that the Japanese dealer is here today and who knows where tomorrow. I wonder where "Ricky" is. I sort of miss "Mr. Toyota" and hope he has just taken a vacation.
I'd have to say that dealers are dealers. When I was shopping for my Magnum, I was given the typical run-around by some real bottom dweller dealers, until I found the right dealer, same goes for the Prius (though I was only dealing with two given the stock here in LA). Subaru is by far the best company I've dealt with when it comes to dealers (Honda is close).
 

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Getting back to the original poster's points, I think it is a perfectly reasonable practical car in any 2 car family. Almost all of the families I knew growing up and know now to have or had 2 cars. This was true for families where both parents worked or just one. If you have 2 cars, you can have one that is used for hauling lots of stuff and people, like a minivan, station wagon or SUV. The Prius works very well with a family of 4 (max of 5) as the "other vehicle". Presumably at least one person will need a daily commuter vehicle and there are times when you are carrying the whole family but no cargo (out to the movies, ect.) Used this way, I wouldn't classify it as a novelty car at all.

Personally, I drive mine 25,000/year for commuting and long trips (cross country, San Jose to Vegas, San Diego, etc.) when I'm by myself. I also use it for the family w/no cargo case as well. I drive the minivan when I need to. I'm very happy with that arrangement and the Prius works very practically and nicely.
 

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I take the poster's point. We do need a decent looking car that is safe, clean and gets 100+mpg. It needs to fit 5 people and luggage, and needs to be able to get up to highway speeds withing the length of the on-ramp. And it needs to be under $15,000 to get into the markets where it is needed. The Prius is too expensive for many, and it isn't good enough yet on effeciency. While not plush, by any means, it is somewhat of a luxury at this time, for those who can afford it.
 

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That would be great indeed, but I think it's price point puts it within reach of the middle class, at least the base version. Perhaps its the higher side of it, but I don't think its beyond that. Of course, many people that consider themselves middle class would be thought of as wealthy by some others.
 

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Hep said:
I take the poster's point. We do need a decent looking car that is safe, clean and gets 100+mpg. It needs to fit 5 people and luggage, and needs to be able to get up to highway speeds withing the length of the on-ramp. And it needs to be under $15,000 to get into the markets where it is needed. The Prius is too expensive for many, and it isn't good enough yet on effeciency. While not plush, by any means, it is somewhat of a luxury at this time, for those who can afford it.
In addition, there have to be more than few thousand available to sell at any given time, else people will shop elsewhere. At point in time, I don't see even a few used Prii or Insights on the market for long.
 
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