Saturday, November 2, 2013

Whereupon She Buys a Hybrid

Never Be The Same Again (Markus Schulz Coldharbour Club Mix) by Markus Schulz on Grooveshark

Having a car is an unfortunate necessity in California unless you are sequestered in the mountains with a shotgun, hoarding freeze-dried food and staying "off the grid."  In my former BigLaw life, I drove pretty luxury cars but I'd like to think I've grown beyond those superficial markers of "achievement."  Don't get me wrong, I like beautiful cars, I grew up with a dad and brother who really loved cars and I can appreciate a work of art but as far as a functional everyday car...well...I really, really wanted to buy an energy efficient car.

An energy efficient car is not only easier on the environment - and smog, carbon emissions are creating immense problems for our ecosystem and our health - but it's easier on my wallet.  I'm trying to be a conscious consumer, conscious of where my money is going.  I'll be damned if I'm giving any more money than I have to to the board of directors of Chevron, Mobil, Shell.  When I had a luxury sports convertible, I had to fill it with gas every 4 days and it cost ~$90 each time.  NO MORE.

After lots of research and input from lots of people - every person had his/her two cents about this! - I narrowed it down to 3 cars:

(1) The King of Hybrids: Toyota Prius

 (2) Lexus CT or ES Hybrid

 (3) Ford Fusion Hybrid

I was primarily looking for a car that:

- got at least 40 miles per gallon (otherwise why even advertise yourself as an energy efficient car?? For example, the Infiniti M Hybrid only gets 27 MPG and the BMW 5 series hybrid a sad 25 MPG.  Energy efficiency FAIL).

- is reliable for long-distance driving.  I can't be looking around for a battery charger after 100 miles.  So long Ford EV.  I was terribly excited about your 110 mpg but I will be driving a lot between Los Angeles and San Diego.

- is rated highly for safety, durability and great construction.  I'm a girl who can't fix cars.  I long to be Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds but I forget to put the gas cap back on after pumping fuel.  I can't have a temperamental car.

- is fairly small.  Ever since my small convertible, I've loved having a small car.  One of these days when I have kidlets I may resign myself to a larger car but for now, I'm enjoying being able to squeeze myself into compact parking spots and easy driving without worrying about a large bumper.  My own caboose is big enough.  Haha!

So I dragged one of my girlfriends test-driving with me.

Overarching comment:  why aren't there any sexy hybrids?  Heavens bless the Prius and Lexus Hybrids, but they are ugly as h**.  I'll just say it.  Yes, yuppies can drive around feeling self-righteous in them but nobody can deny that they are UGLY.  Why??!  Is there a rule in the Toyota's designer manual that hybrids must be marked by their ugliness??  Both the Prius and the CT look like the ugly stepchild of a hatchback and station wagon.

I swallowed my revulsion, smiled politely at the Toyota salesmen and proceeded on my test drive of the  Prius V (and not the lower models because I'll be damned if I'm having a car with cloth seats).  It drove like a ninja, neither the driver nor anyone on the street can hear the engine, and it has AMAZING features and upgrades - bluetooth, GPS, iPhone integration, good speakers (I like tunes when I drive).  It's a rad car, it really is.

And it's gone through so many iterations, it's probably the most reliable and best-designed hybrid car out there.  It consistently wins top awards in its category year after year, you can't go wrong with a Prius.  If I ever buy a "beautiful work of art car," I will probably also have a Prius for everyday driving, it's GREAT. I loved my test drive and I noticed that other people at the dealership were signing contracts to purchase Priuses, the cars were flying out the door like hotcakes.  The salesperson is a friend of a friend, and he told me that the sales team do not get hardly any commissions on the Prius as a matter of company policy because Toyota believes they just sell themselves, they are that popular.

On to Lexus.  I was excited about testing the Lexus Hybrid after the awesomeness of the Prius; Toyota owns Lexus so the benefits of the learning curve from the Prius were passed onto the new Lexus Hybrids.  The interior of the Lexuses were similar to the Prius but with upgraded finishes as should be expected for the price point increase.

And it drove like a dream; there are no gears with hybrids, you turn the car on or off, and there's maybe 2-3 settings when you want more or less power, but no gears.  Super simple, perfect for me! After I drove the Lexus hybrids, I quickly forgot my infatuation with the Prius.  But we marched on to the Ford dealership.

The Ford Fusion is a great car as well.  Sorry for the generalities, but I'm not Car & Motor.  It also has similar amenities as the Prius my consumer's mind, a Japanese car is generally a better built car than American.  Don't get me wrong, if I were shopping for a hot rod or a muscle car, okay, American all the way.  But it's just little 'ole me driving to Whole Foods and the office in this car.  The Fusion was out.

So...which car do you think I bought?

Scroll down...

...the Lexus CT 200h! The E350 was too big for me (and in my mind, resembled the Toyota Camry too much), the CT is compact, has amazing gas mileage (42 mpg) and I upgraded to the best sound package ever as consolation for the general ugliness of the car.  What?  No no no car, you are pretty, and you are mine.  I am very happy and grateful with the purchase.

And now, Alexandra has wheels.

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