Ok, here is the deal. I am married and have a 14 month old son and 9 year old greyhound. We currently drive a '97 Outback and '02 Protege5. Neither of these cars gets NEAR the mpg they should imho. So, what to do....
Ultimately I would like to replace the Outback (anywhere from 18-22 mpg city and 27-30 mpg highway....ugh) with something roughly midsize that can hold our child and dog when the need arises. I see our options as:
1)Highlander: seems perfect, mpg isn't enough to justify huge price tag
2)Escape: seems nice, little leery of Ford b/c of reliability.
3)Civic. Does anyone know if the '06 Civic Hybrid will be any different (other than styling and body changes) than the '05?
4)Camry Hybrid: anybody know the mpg and when that will hit the market? Will they have a wagon version of the Camry Hybrid?
5)Prius: This is the safest bet, but I am concerned that it won't fit my dog....and while I don't want an oversized vehicle, I do want to be able to bring my dog in at least one of my vehicles.
So, I can only justify such a purchase right now if it gets good mpg, fits our needs, and gets a nice tax break. Otherwise we will just keep the vehicles we have (our next vehicle WILL be a hybrid, just not sure when that will be.)
Here's my thoughts:
And before I get to them, let me note that I went from a Jeep Grand Cherokee to a Prius. And I used my Jeep well - 4WD, towing, dog, travel...etc
1) Highlander - I liked the fact that I would still be able to tow, but it was just too pricey. I'd love to see them take the 4Runner and make it a hybrid.
2) Haven't looked much at this - I would question reliability as well with Ford
3) Civic was one consideration I had, but it's just a simple sedan. No great options (nav, bluetooth, 6 disc changer) and no room for a dog (aside from sitting on the seats
4) I no nothing about the camry, but I think it's another year or so away.
5) Prius - Considering the choices you listed, I think you ma make the same decision I did. The Prius is not a sedan, it's a hatchback. And the seats fold down, so there is plenty of room. Our Dog is a 65lb Dalmation and he fits in the hatch with the seats up - his head will rub the ceiling if he stands, but he settles down usually and will lay down. And there's plenty of room for stuff in there.
The other things I can tell you about the Prius are that if you drive the speed limit, you can get 50mpg. Since I've had it (since sept 1st) I've driven over 2500 miles and have averaged 50mpg. I got pkg6, so I got the 6 disc changer, nav, gps..etc and I love it all. I also got leather, so I feel the Prius is even more luxurious than me Jeep was and so far, I haven't missed the Jeep at all.
Hope this helps, Good luck!
Thanks! Good to hear that someone can manage to go from such a vehicle to a Prius without too many problems. The ultimate solution would be to replace our smaller car, Protege5, with the Prius....but it is still relatively new (2002) where the Subaru is getting older 121k. I just can't justify such an act in my head. Although the Protege5 doesn't get very good mpg either.
Guess we will see how gas prices and our budget change over the next 6 months.
I would LOVE to see someone come out with a hybrid mid-sized station wagon. About the size of a Mazda 6 wagon or Outback. Big enough for a family with a little storage room, but not as big as an SUV. Plus, it sits high enough for better visibility, but not so high as to be a danger in a crash (height of bumper, tipping, etc).
I've got a 2004 Prius, and I have no trouble with a Sheppard cross in the back. Just like Matt mentioned, the roof is a little low, but the dog always lies down and enjoys the ride. It's even easy for him to get in and out of through the hatchback since the bumper isn't as high as most SUV's. It's a VERY roomy car. The back seats seem to be roomier than the front. My friend's brother is 6'7" tall and weigh about 250lbs. He sits comfortably in the backseat while my driver's seat is pushed all the way to the back (I am 6'1" tall and need lots of leg room up front). I've taken it on a lot of long trips with lots of different kind of equipment and luggage, and I've never had a problem with space. I rarely get worse than 55mpg, and seem to average about 60mpg in the spring and summer, and get about 50-55 or so in the colder parts of winter. Everything on the car is well designed and made as well. By that I mean excellent ergonomics and fit/finish. I had a Civic Coupe before and get more than double the mileage and have double the cargo/passenger space. That's my 2 cents on the Prius...