Thursday, January 24, 2008

Self Congratulation All Around

Recently Mrs. Octopus and I have been thinking -- thinking -- about getting a Prius to replace our dear old friend, the Intrepid.

Something about the Prius has nagged at me for a while, and I think I can finally articulate it: the Prius is, in its own, shiny, happy, Al Gore-wearing-Patagonia-in-Alaska way, somewhat insidious, in that it makes driving feel like a virtuous act. One feels, while driving the Prius, that one is helping to scrub the environment clean with each passing mile. But what we should be doing is getting out of our cars and into buses and trains.

Also, I think becoming the owner of a Prius instantly makes one just a bit more insufferable. Somewhat like becoming the owner of an Iphone. (There's something horrible in contemplating scores of happy, young, rich, well-educated Google employees wearing ironic t-shirts and American Apparel, tooling around the Bay Area in their zero-emissions hybrids, composing blog posts, reading McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and watching "Heroes" on their Iphones, all choreographed to a catchy new tune by The Postal Service or The Shins, etc., etc.)

All that said, I guess 50 mpg beats 15.


David said...

don't worry, ron. there's nothing that could make you more insufferable.

MK said...

BTW, hybrids are not zero emission.

You are right that one should not confuse driving a hybrid for doing something genuinely positive for the environment. You are just doing something half as bad to the environment as you were when you were driving the Intrepid. But that's still an improvement. That's not the same as those silly "hybrid" luxury cars and SUVs of the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too type. Those merely reduce the emissions of utterly ridiculous overpowered cars to those of only slightly more sensible midsize cars. They can still be outdone on emissions and mileage with a conventional compact.

Octopus Grigori said...

David: That was funny.

MK: Yeah. My dad actually has one of those big hybrids that gets like 26 mpg. What do you think of the Camry hybrid? That gets around 35-36 mpg.

MK said...

My non-hybrid C230 hatchback gets that kind of mileage on the highway (EJ got a 36.9 trip average out of it on a drive to Wisconsin). I think the proper decision is as follows. Either get a small car with an efficient small engine (4 cylinder, no more than 2 litre) or get a small hybrid of the Prius kind that really makes a dent in fuel/emissions savings. Then compare and weigh the importance of the different safety features. The sad thing is that we don't get some of the best small cars over here with the smaller engines and the better safety features. Usually all the Euro imports here come with only the high-end powerful engines that nobody needs in a 60mph speed limit environment and the Japanese don't sell some of their best stuff here either. It's beyond me.

Either way, you should never drive just because you can and you should always drive conservatively. Agressive driving increases fuel consumption.

Octopus Grigori said...

Interesting. Today we are leaning toward the Camry, largely because I have been recently reminded that the California DMV will bestow a drivers license upon anyone with a pulse.