Friday, 18 January 2013

What sort of idiot sells a 4x4 when the snow is just beginning to fall?

The answer to the question is quite simple ... ME!

Let me explain. Some years ago, whilst my wife and I were still working, we bought a Mazda Tribute. (This is a compact 4x4 SUV that was also sold as a Ford Escape and Ford Maverick.) The reasoning behind this was sound. Both my father and father-in-law were elderly and lived in houses that were situated on roads that were not cleared of snow during the winter. As neither of them could easily reach any shops, it was essential that my wife and I could get to their homes to check that they were all right and to deliver any groceries they might need.

Over the past two years the situation has changed. My father-in-law died and my father now lives in a residential home. We no longer needed a 4x4, and before Christmas my wife and I began discussing what we should buy to replace it.

At this point other considerations came into play. Firstly both my wife and I are now retired, and like a lot of people in our situation we are looking to make economies. Secondly, over the past couple of years my left knee has been giving me some discomfort when I have been driving, especially in traffic. The Mazda had a manual clutch and gear change, and if I had to drive for any length of time the pain in my knee could be quite intense. It was obvious, therefore, that the next car I drove would have to be an automatic. Thirdly we live in London, and if we need to drive into the centre we have to pay a Congestion Charge.

We looked around for a possible solution ... and eventually chose a Toyota Prius. Even under the most trying driving conditions it should easily achieve 50 miles per gallon (it is supposed to be capable of 75 miles per gallon on a long journey made at 55 mph), whereas the Mazda's best fuel consumption was 25 miles per gallon. At current prices (£1.35 per litre/£6.14 per imperial gallon [$2.00 per litre/$9.21 per imperial gallon]) this should save us approximately £1475.00/$2220.00 per year in petrol (we drive 12,000 miles per year) and the cost of a £270.00/$405.00 annual Vehicle Licence (the Vehicle Licence for the Prius costs £0.00!). The Prius is also an automatic and is exempt for the London Congestion Charge ... for the time being.

We spent some time looking for a suitable car that we could afford, and last week I test-drove a 3 year-old model. My wife and I both liked the car and we arranged a part-exchange deal for the Mazda Tribute and arranged to pick the Prius up today ... the first day this year when it has snowed!

I know that some of my 'petrol-head' friends will think that we have been very stupid, and could have bought other cars that were just as suitable for our purposes ... but we didn't ... and now we are the proud owners of a petrol/electric hybrid car.

16 comments:

  1. I had a Toyota Prius Hybrid on hire when last in Florida.

    It was different to say the least.

    The dashboard display told us lots of information which we couldn't sensibly interpret as there was no handbook in the care.

    It was very quiet, particularly at low speed and didn't use much petrol over short local journeys.

    It could still do 70-80 mph on the interstates without stressing it.

    Jim

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  2. My sister has owned one for over a year and loves it. I am seriously considering one for the next car I buy.

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  3. Jim Duncan,

    I have only driven about 40 miles in the Prius, but already I wish I had bought one earlier. It purrs along (it is so much quieter than the Tribute!) and the ride was very comfortable. It easily accelerated up to 70mph and then cruised at that speed apparently consuming petrol at about 55 miles per gallon ... according to the instruments.

    The handbook is MASSIVE! There is a whole chapter about the air con and heating controls and the digital displays are incredibly informative. It also has a HUD that displays the car’s speed on the windscreen … but I have yet to find the ejector seat button or the cannon/rocket firing system! :^)

    Driving round a car park was interesting as pedestrians cannot hear you coming! I nearly hit one woman who walked out between two cars without looking; she was listening for cars but not looking to see if any were coming.

    I think that we have made a good choice, and with luck the car will pay for itself in a matter of years thanks to its lower running costs.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Bill,

    Based on my very limited experience of driving a Prius, I can see why your sister loves hers. They are a whole generation on (and some more) from my previous car, and makes my wife's Lexus IS200 look under-equipped with 'toys'.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Sounds eminently practical to me. Buy a 4x4 when you need one then switch to a small in town care when that becomes more appropriate. You are far mores sensible than the yobs driving their immaculate Hummers through the down town core.

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  6. Pat G,

    Put like that it sounds very sensible. The 4x4 was great when I needed it, but it had become such a gas guzzler that the cost of running it was becoming the most important outgoing we had.

    Until I did some research about hybrid cars I had not realised that there are some (converted) hybrid drive Hummers that claimed to do up to 100 miles per gallon and that the US Army had been testing hybrid Humvees since 1985. I doubt, however, that your yobs are driving them.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Bob,

    When I saw the title I was thinking, "He sold a 4 x 4 foot wargame table when it was snowing?"
    Am I obsessed or what? My wife says there is no reason to even ask the question.

    Chris

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  8. Winter tyres Bob. My front wheel drive Saab copes very well in snow.

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  9. Chris,

    I think that your wife - like all wives - is right.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. If I do sell a 4 x 4 wargames table in the snow, you will be the first to know!

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  10. Tim Gow,

    Sounds like good advice, although I don't intend to do much driving in bad weather if I can avoid it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. The government over here is considering requiring the Hybrids to make noise when "silent running".

    My brother-in-law and niece have Priuses (Priusi??). They operate just fine, in much worse weather than you are ever likely to receive.

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  12. SAROE,

    Interesting that something that reduces air AND noise pollution should be required to make a noise! Still, one out of two is better than none out of two, I suppose.

    I am not sure what the plural of Prius should be. Priuses? Priusi? Prii? Whatever it is, as long as I can drive it safely in most conditions, I will be happy.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. Sounds eminently sensible to me.

    It might seem odd but I've never lived anywhere where a 4x4 was needed due to winter weather. Probably a reflection of the amount of tax dollars spent on keeping the roads clear and the excellence of our crews and equipment.

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  14. Ross Mac,

    It has always struck me that the Canadians have a much more 'get on with it' approach to bad weather than we have in the UK, and have planned ahead to deal with it. Here when it snows we shut up and stay indoors until the snow melts ... or we run out of things to eat.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  15. My suggestion is buying a vintage 1934 Quartermaine Nimbus Buffoon, which has a three cylinder 6 liter displacement engine and ran on paraffin oil mixed with whale oil, but weighing a good 4,102 pounds and seating eleven. Their great weight and size made them impossible to park anywhere but in a lorry area and the unique central hatch at the front meant that the seats had to be folded back to let back seat passengers to egress.

    The vehicles sold slowly possibly due to the two wheels in the front and three in the back configuration causing some to balk at the need to remove the whole back end of the car to change the center wheel, which was a proprietary dimension and only available from the dealership. Overall the Quartermaines were not well received and were dubbed, “She Who Must Be Obeyed” by disgruntled purchasers. The last known owner of a Buffoon was a barrister in the Old Bailey from 1972 to 1992.

    As a note, the Quatermaine company should not be confused with the Quatermass Mars III, which was made from refurbished spaceship parts and replacements were always five million years from earth, leading to the demise of the company in 1967. Also buyers complained of headaches and grasshoppers.

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  16. CoastConFan,

    Thanks for your comment. It gave something to chuckle about on an otherwise rather tiresome day.

    All the best,

    Bob

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