By on January 17, 2007

profile-005.jpgHybrid cars are the automaker’s equivalent of straight teeth: everyone wants them. Carmakers without hybrids are beginning to look, well, a little unkempt. Not wanting to be perceived as a snaggletooth, Nissan joins the club with its new-for-‘07 Altima Hybrid. The company describes its first foray into gas-electric frugality as "the first hybrid that drives like a Nissan." The firm’s marketers clearly intend for Nissan’s self-fashioned sporting image to set the Altima hybrid apart from its key competitors. They’re also convinced, presumably, that consumers will know what this tagline means.

That may be too much of an intellectual leap. After all, Nissan's current lineup runs the dynamic gamut, from the nimble Versa to the titanic Titan. Even if we restrict the field to sporting machinery, should prospective hybrid buyers expect the uncouth thrills of the torque-steering SE-R Spec V? The grippy, hefty confidence of the 350Z? The loping, nose-heavy gait of the Maxima? Or, as John Cleese might say, “something completely different?”

07_altima_hybrid_9.jpgFurther muddying the waters: much of the Altima Hybrid's running gear is licensed from Toyota. The borrowed tech includes the electric motor and battery pack, electric-assist steering system, CVT transmission and battery-charging regenerative brakes. The resulting fuel savings are spectacular; Nissan says Altima Hybrid drivers can expect 41/36mpg. But with all of these shared components, the Altima Hybrid claims to dynamic uniqueness seem a bit, um, dubious. Is it "the first Nissan that drives like a Toyota?"

First, let’s at least agree that the new Altima doesn’t look like a Toyota. While all midsize sedans suffer a certain inherent stuffiness, the Altima’s shape is more interesting than most, with leaner, crisper lines than the Camry dares wear. Moreover, the ’07 Altima appears— applause, please —more compact than the outgoing model, though its actual dimensions have changed little.

07_altima_hybrid_8.jpgSlide into the Altima Hybrid, and you’ll find that its driver’s station incorporates a similar pinch of pizzazz, supplied mostly by the triple-barrel vents atop the center stack. But the quality of materials used is a bigger surprise; the dash is draped in rubbery, hide-like polymers, while the hard plastics elsewhere are low-gloss and tight-fitting. Sure, the switchgear and bin lids feel a bit more brittle than a Toyota’s, but unlike the last Altima’s cabin, this one can’t be described as “toylike.”

Unfortunately, it can’t be called “spacious” either. While the Altima’s front cabin fits naturally and offers contemporary helpings of head and legroom, the rear bench’s low cushion and fair knee clearance are merely acceptable for this class. Families with lanky, cranky teenagers will appreciate the airier quarters of the hybrid Camry and Accord.

If the aforementioned families do pick the Altima Hybrid over its Honda and Toyota rivals, their teens won’t harbor any great relish for borrowing Dad’s wheels on Saturday night. Fact is, if you’ve driven a Prius, you’ve already experienced the burning excitement that awaits behind the wheel of the Altima Hybrid.

Surprised? Don’t be. After all, most of the elements that suck the fun right out of Toyota’s hybrids are present here, too, from the “slipping-clutch” feel of the CVT’s operation to the limp, twitchy guidance afforded by the hectic-assist steering. Nissan says the Hybrid’s suspension is slightly stiffer than other four-cylinder Altimas’, but there’s little incentive to exercise it, partly because slowing back down involves awkward negotiations with the touchy, feel-free regenerative brakes.

The Hybrid’s accelerative performance doesn’t drip adrenaline either, but that’s expected in a car designed for thrift. As in its other applications, Toyota’s parallel hybrid drivetrain allows you to whoosh around slowly on electric power alone— or keep up with traffic, the gas engine phasing in and out with mild shudders. Brisk moves are accompanied by a strident, hollow drone from Nissan’s 2.5-liter, 162 horsepower four, but at least they’re on the menu.

3_4_rear-005.jpgHow much will the Altima Hybrid’s sterile, slightly sloppy dynamics matter to prospective buyers? In all likelihood, very little. With the partial exception of the 253-horse Accord, there isn’t a hybrid on the market that’s particularly stimulating to drive. Given the mechanical disconnect integral to such systems, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Instead, the Altima Hybrid offers a package essentially similar to the Camry Hybrid’s, with a little less space, a lot more style and fuel economy that makes Honda’s cooking, sales challenged Accord Hybrid seem like a bad global citizen. (Though both vehicles surpass Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standards and meet Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) requirements.) Nissan expects the Altima Hybrid’s base pricing to slot neatly between the $26,200 Camry and the $31,090 Accord.

In sum, I offer an amended version of Nissan’s pitch for this electrified— but not electrifying— Altima: “The first hybrid that looks like a Nissan.” Considering the target market’s priorities, that’s probably enough to put Nissan in the hunt.

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118 Comments on “Nissan Altima Hybrid Review...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    If it’s like most hybrids the estimated mileage will be much lower than advertised. But it should at least compete with the other offerings.

    This deal shows Toyota is willing to spread the tech on hybrids and negotiations with Ford may be circling around such a deal.

    I’m not sure about engines cutting out and back in while driving slow, that would get on your nerves after a few months.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    You could save $10K and get the base I-4 with a proper manual. The savings in interest alone on that $10K make up for any gas savings from the hybrid.

    Silly car for eco-poseurs. But well reviewed.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    SherbornSean

    you are right of course, but the people I know who bought hybrids are not interested in saving money, they are interested in not using as much gas, or creating as much emissions. The fact that they save money at the pump (and they DO), is a pleasent by product. But not the point.

    My friends who own these cars are well to do, and could buy anything they wanted.

    Its not always about money,

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    SULEV? Puh-leeze. I’m holding out for a Way Awesomely Superifically Ultra Low Emissiontastic Vechicle.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Very nice review, and you managed to avoid any uber-cheesy lines like “With comparable hybrids available from both Honda and Toyota, Nissan was facing an Altimatum.”

    I like hybrids for city use–they’re the perfect taxi, airport shuttle, or courier vehicle. But the highway mileage (the one that incents most high-mileage drivers) is, what, only marginally better than the I-4. And for a lot more money. With Nissan positioned as the “edgy, sporty” Japanese maker, I wonder why they didn’t sacrafice hybrid economy for synergistic power like Honda did.

  • avatar
    ash78

    If people were really serious about saving the environment, and not just doing so in the most convenient and pre-packaged manner possible, you’d see more LPG conversions, biodiesels, plug-in hybrid conversions, and other alternatives. Those require a bit more planning and execution, though.

    I’d rather drive an RS4 like I stole it, then buy carbon credits–IF it’s just about paying for a clear conscience :D

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    My father lives in New York, one of the few states where the Altima Hybrid is going to be available for sale. He drives local traffic only, but needs an ample trunk for him and his golf buddies.

    How small is the trunk?

  • avatar

    starlightmica: Dunno about the trunk, but good point about availability. The Altima hybrid will only be sold in [blue?] states that have adopted CA's emission regs: CA, CT, ME, MA, NJ, NY, RI and VT. And I'm not sure why. The press release states that "these eight states are among the strongest market for hybrid vehicles." I'll put a call into the press office…

  • avatar

    Good review, P.J. The rear seat certainly is smaller this time around. Good question above on the trunk–the Camry Hybrid has a tight one.

    Those interested in how real-world fuel economy compares can check the results of my site’s survey:

    http://www.truedelta.com/fuel_economy.php

    No Altima Hybrids yet, but most others.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Great review… Fair and balanced. As to the motives of the people who want to save gas, unfortunately basic economics foils their good intentions unless a majority of cars are equally fuel-frugal.

    The lowered demand that their vehicles make for fossil fuel drives the fuel price lower, which encourages other vehicles to use more. The net result is no fuel saved, and the intentions are purely symbolic.

    jerseydevil:
    January 17th, 2007 at 9:21 am
    SherbornSean

    you are right of course, but the people I know who bought hybrids are not interested in saving money, they are interested in not using as much gas, or creating as much emissions. The fact that they save money at the pump (and they DO), is a pleasent by product. But not the point.

    My friends who own these cars are well to do, and could buy anything they wanted.

    Its not always about money,

  • avatar
    mikey

    I have to agree with jerseydevil its not about money.Its a statement.
    I think the jury is still out on the whole hybrid concept.
    I think people would be really wise to lease one as oposed to buying.
    If they are being sold and driven in upstate NY and Maine
    I’d like to see one of these with say 40k on the odometer and 5 winters
    The used car market is a great indicator for just how good a given vehicle is,or was.

  • avatar
    Captain Neek

    In light of the fact that batteries are to the Earth what the Dark Side is to a Jedi Knight, one question: what is the

    LIFETIME

    ENVIRONMENTAL

    IMPACT?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    This is why I don’t understand Toyota’s 400hp hybrid concept. The fact that it’s a hybrid is probably going to rob it of everything that makes a sports car fun.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Good point captain.And also what happens if god forbid somebody has an accident what happens to the battery?
    What if it burns? Have the firefighters been trained in how to deal with this stuff.
    If these things are the flavor of the month or the in thing to buy for the idle rich.I have to wonder whats gonna happen when they filter thier way down to the real world.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I know the SF Fire Dept offered speciality training classes on how to deal with hybrid accidents, and I understand several other cities have followed suit. Anecdotally, I’ve heard a lot of negativity from some firefighters about having to learn a whole new arena of risk assessment (explosions, and now electocution, acid, and other noxious chemicals? Sign me up).

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Wow, interesting comments.

    A few of my own.

    I disagree with Nissan’s assertion that the low-emission (i.e. California emission) states are where hybrids are most popular. I’ve studied the matter and California, Arizona, Illinois, New York, etc. are where the hybrids seem to be most popular. I think Nissan just took the lazy way out and picked the states because they share California emissions.

    I also take exception with the idea that a hybrid just ‘pulls the fun right out of a car.’

    Does anyone out there think rowing a boat is more fun than an electric motor to get out to the fishing area on a lake, when the object of the exercise is to enjoy fishing?

    Electric cars and steam cars do not require transmissions because the engines put out maximum torque (accerlative power) at zero to low RPM. It is reciprocating engines which are useless without a transmission. Hybrids are electric cars with gasoline engines allowing more than a few miles range, instead up to 500 miles.

    Imagine if you will, if easily started flash boiler coal derived kerosene powered steam cars had been what Henry Ford advocated for his Model T. No cranking! No transmission!
    Then imagine, if you will, that some bright spark decided he would invent an electric starter in the 1960′s and try to bring back the gasoline engine, abandoned in the 1920′s. People would have heaped derision on him. A clutch?! What kind of anachronism is that?! A crash-box transmission? You have to be some kind of expert to drive smoothly! How ridiculous…

    Folks, we need to get over this mental block of ‘hybrids ruining the fun’ because, if you look at the big picture, there ain’t gonna be any driving fun for long when the oil runs low, is there? That nice ‘conventional car’ sitting in your driveway will make a wonderful planter, if you cut the roof off.

    I think Nissan are only doing this hybrid as window-dressing because the big boss, Ghosn, does not like hybrids.

    Nissan frankly should not have bothered.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    By the way, the idea that hybrid batteries are dangerous, and that hybrid cars are dangerous in crashes, has been well and truly disproved time and again.

    I’m sort of sad to see a lot of the car guys here regurgitating these questions, the answers have been ‘out there’ for some while.

    So, all of you doubters, are you going to give up your cell phone? I just read in the news yesterday that a guy got severe burns because his cell phone exploded. Well, you might be able to find the occasional pay phone, but most of them are gone…

    How about your laptop computers? Why, Sony just recalled a bunch of them for problems with batteries. You going to give them up, too? Good luck with the Underwood manual, eh?

    No Prius or Honda or any electric hybrid cars have exploded from battery problems thus far, and they’ve been on the market a decade.

    Toyota places a $300 bounty on the battery to ensure the salvage yard turns it in for recycling (the rare earth materials are valuable). Interestingly, I read that more salvage yards are profitable in the US than car dealers, so I’d say these “dummies” are bright enough to read “$300 bounty – send to Toyota” on the battery pack when they disassemble the cars.

    As for the firefighters, my own teen age son was volunteering at a local firehouse and Toyota came in with a Prius presentation for everyone and he said that it was very well done, the car is very advanced, all it takes is a little intelligence and knowledge just like anything else new. None of the firefighters there in rural Michigan had a problem with it. Can’t speak for city-boy firemen who get paychecks.

  • avatar
    Luther

    And I’m not sure why. The press release states that “these eight states are among the strongest market for hybrid vehicles.”

    Because these States have the “best” Public Schools.

  • avatar
    acx

    More bonafide than anything. Hopefully the licensed technology doesn’t sludge up and cause warranties to be extended (IN THE NEWS LAST WEEK!)

    Hybrids are like brick cell phones.. they point to something cool, in maybe 10 years.

    Wait til 08 when the mileage gets deflated 30% I know I’ll have a chuckle.

    As for hybrids not being fun to drive – it seems you either get a neutered one that gets OKAY mileage (prius), or a performance oriented one (like the lexus “performance hybrid”) which is a wash on economy, but masquerades itself as green.

    I’ll recall the CNW market research group’s study on the greenest cars last year (measuring from creation to disposition) which measured the Prius near the bottom of the almost hundred vehicles rated… Mom always daid don’t throw batteries in the garbage..

    But hey let’s go with hype and government handouts.

  • avatar
    ash78

    “strongest market for hybrid vehicles” = “states where we’ll make the most profit per car and, if the car flops, we can write it off as a small-scale experiment”

    If it does well, I bet it goes 50-state-wide within a year or two.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Captain Neek:

    In light of the fact that batteries are to the Earth what the Dark Side is to a Jedi Knight…

    mikey:

    And also what happens if god forbid somebody has an accident what happens to the battery?
    What if it burns?

    Gentlemen,

    I don’t quite understand where your battery concerns come from.

    Modern hybrids do not use familiar lead-acid batteries. They use nickel-metal hydride batteries. The electrolyte in these batteries is potassium hydroxide which is less toxic than sulfuric acid (in fact, it’s used to make hominy and lutefisk). The metals used are also less toxic
    than lead. NiMh, unlike lead-acid batteries, do not release gaseous hydrogen. NiMh batteries can be recycled just like lead-acid batteries (although the infrastructure is still small):

    http://www.hybridcars.com/battery-toxicity.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_metal_hydride

    In short, NiMh batteries are less dangerous than then lead-acid batteries.

    As for the safety risks, yes — hybrid battery packs operate at much higher voltages than lead-acid (400V+ vs. 12V). But the high-voltage wires on hybrids are very clearly marked in bright orange and most of the electrocution risk is mitigated by wearing insulating gloves (about $25).

    Hybrids may have other problems (economics, poor driving dynamics, etc.) but safety is a relative non-issue.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Call me when Nissan or Toyota makes hybrid Titans and Tundras. Until then, putting hybrid technology in a car that already has decent fuel economy ratings seems to be a waste of engineering effort.

  • avatar

    The CNW study was absolute garbage.

    Just look at the summary results. IIRC, basic compacts supposedly have a lifetime cost of over $2 a mile. No one is subsidizing these cars, so any costs will be paid by the owner in one form or another. Are people who drive 15,000 miles a year really paying $30,000 a year for the privilege?

    Of course not. Clearly the study made some very odd assumptions, and the results are useless as a result.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    What I don’t get is this.

    The Prius looks like it hails from Mars. Yet ALL OTHER hybrids look like normal cars. Except for the Honda Insight, which has not only been discontinued, but looked like a toaster.

    The Prius sells and sells. Other hybrids don’t.

    You think the two are related?

    A Prius is as much of a lifestyle statement as a jacked-up Ford F350.

    This Nissan Hybrid is for an American who actually cares about saving both fuel and the planet and doesn’t want anyone else to know. Trouble is, all seven of them already own a Prius.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    41/36mpg? I wonder if that’s before the tighter EPA guidelines coming out soon. The real world will probably see a 30% drop in those numbers.

    I still can’t believe I only netted 20-22mpg in the Lexus GS450h in traffic with the A/C cranked up.

  • avatar
    raz

    At least they are in the game, unlike some..GM.

    Folks think about it, Prius first came out in 1997 in Japan, we are in 2007, and GM still doesn’t have a real hybrid. This shows how backward that company is.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Quasimondo raises a good point. It has been marketing considerations that have put hybrid powertrains into already light efficient high-mileage vehicles.

    As a matter of overall energy consumption, using hybrid technology to make 12mpg pickup trucks become 16mpg pickup trucks would save more fuel than turning 40mpg cars into 50mpg cars.

    Example:

    @40mpg, 100 miles = 2.5 gal fuel used
    @50mpg, 100 miles = 2.0 gal
    @12mpg, 100 miles = 8.33 gal
    @16mpg, 100 miles = 6.25 gal

    So, getting a pickup truck to 16mpg saves 2.08 gallons per 100 miles traveled, while getting the compact from 40mpg to 50mpg only saves 0.5 gallons per 100 miles traveled.

    Furthermore, the torque characteristics of hybrid powertrains would seem to be well-suited to towing/hauling uses of pickup trucks.

    It also seems like fitting battery packs into pickup trucks (Another use for the “trunk” in the Honda Ridgeline?) would be far easier than fitting them into compact vehicles.

    But, as others have noted, buying a hybrid right now is more about ‘making a statement’ (Hence the enormous popularity of the space-age-looking Prius vs. the more ‘stealthy’ hybrids) than practical considerations.

  • avatar

    Jonny: I couldn't agree more. Given the main impetus for hybrid sales– political correctness (whether correct or not)– a hybrid should LOOK like a hybrid. These guys are NUTS. I mean, at least they should plaster the things with huge decals. How much would it cost to test market that concept? A thousand bucks? Sheesh. raz: Hello? GM will leapfrog hybrids and go straight to… something. Eventually. 

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I think it’s a bit obnoxious to call hybrid owners “posers.”

    Some hybrid owners just want the latest and coolest technology. In any other situation, purchasing the latest tech wouldn’t get you a “poser” label.

    Of the rest, some think that our dependence on foreign oil is a strategic problem. Some recognize that some of the oil money flowing off shore is funding terrorists. Some think that global warming is a serious problem. If they could switch to other vechicles with better fuel economy, they’d probably do that.

    As far as I can tell, the “poser” label comes from people who are denial about the problems our oil thirst causes; strategic oil dependence, funding of terrorists and global warming.

    Well, OK, people are free to “remain unconvinced” about these problems but they don’t need to belittle people who do believe these problems are real and are willing to pony up to reduce the impact of these problems. Hybrid owners are putting their money where their mouth is. I respect that.

    That CNW study, by the way, is ridiculous. The cost of energy input into a vehicle can not be any larger than the cost of the vehicle. And is that the same study that figured the life of a Toyota was 100K miles and the life of a GM vehicle was 300K miles? As if!

  • avatar
    ash78

    What if manufacturers simply applied all the Prius attributes to regular cars? Small wheels, pizza-cutter tires, aero fairings around the underbody, plus some belly pans and an airfoil shape would get you at least an extra 5mpg from any old gasser. The hybrid drivertrain goes a long way, but there are lots of other little cues that contribute to the net result.

  • avatar
    miked

    This comment is for the guys at the beginning of the thread talking discussing the real environmental impact of the hybrid:

    A very good metric (although not perfect) for determining how good something is for the environment is to look at the wholesale price of something – or in the case of cars, how much is costs the maufacturer to make the car (not what they sell it to the dealer for, nor the MSRP).

    When you make something, you need to take resources out of the earth in some way. For example: either you’re gatering iron to make steel, or you’re burning coal to make heat to recycle steel, both cost money that’s roughly proportional to the environmental impact. If you have an efficient mass production line (conventional cars), you need less energy to make the car, plus you use fewer workers (when you pay a worker you’re paying him for the energy he consumes to heat his house, drive his car, and for the food he eats). When you make a hybrid, (at least for now) the economy of scale is not there, so it takes more energy to make the car (including the batteries and all the stuff we know is bad for the environment).

    This metric is good for looking at using resources, i.e. the stuff we take out of the environment. It’s not great at looking at what we put back into the environment because it’s always cheaper to pollute than it is to have clean waste. But if you’re looking within the same industry, you can assume that the pollution is close to constant. So comparing IC only cars vs hybrid cars with this metric is probably valid. (Although, I think making a hybrid actually pollutes more with all the nasty metals used in the battery production)

    Now, I don’t have the real numbers for what it costs to make a hybrid vs the identical IC only car, but when you see these things selling for $5-$10K more, you can assume that they are actually more expensive to make (i.e. take more natural resources), all of that can’t be margin (if it is, then I’m impressed!).

    That’s how I get a general idea of how good a new “save-the-earth” type product is. FYI: wholesale cost on 100W incandescent lightbulbs is about $0.42 in bulk. For the new CF bulbs the cheapest I could find is $3.79 in bulk. That means that CF bulbs take about 9 times the energy to make! Of course I still use them because it actually does save me money, but I can’t say that it’s better for the environment when you look at the full product cycle (especially when you consider disposal because of the nasty flourescent chemicals on the inside of the tube).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Why does the Prius sell? It’s the 4/5-place hybrid with the best fuel economy. Simple. When something else comes along that does better, it will sell.

    Honda chose to use a V6 hybrid powertrain, compromising fuel economy in favor of performance. People who want hot quarter miles can get good performance other, less expensive ways.

    Some of the people looking at the Prius will look at diesels when they come along, if they provide superior fuel economy without compromising things like cold-weather performance.

    Well, they’ll look at diesels from manufacturers other than VW. I don’t think we need to go in to why VW might not be so attractive to them (as an ex-VW owner, I have my own reasons).

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    Well, they’ll look at diesels from manufacturers other than VW. I don’t think we need to go in to why VW might not be so attractive to them (as an ex-VW owner, I have my own reasons).

    Constant Check Engine Lights?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I’m telling you — the Prius sells because… it looks like a Prius.

    This Altima should have had wings and tentacles and seven wheels –anything to make it not look exactly like the other non-hybrid Altimas.

    RF and I are the only people who can see this?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    RF and Jonny: maybe so, because Toyota is selling some 3,000 Camry hybrids per month, about 10% of all Camrys. They don’t have wings and tentacles all over them.

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Jonny,

    You may be generally correct about why the Prius sells, although personally if I had bought a hybrid a couple of years ago, it might have been the Civic, which I think simply said “hybrid” on it but otherwise looked like a regular Civic from the outside. Some of us like a style of quiet, confident understatement.

  • avatar
    miked

    RF and I are the only people who can see this?

    No, I live in Boulder, CO (Trust fund hippy capital of the world) and I see it every day. I want the jacked up F-350 just so I can run over all the Priuses. If for no other reason, to reduce the smug cloud over town.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    If they could switch to other vechicles with better fuel economy, they’d probably do that.

    And that’s where the ‘poseur’ label comes in. Why spend all of this money on an Altima hybrid when you already have the Sentra and Versa which is nearly as effieicent? Same goes for the Camry hybrid. The Corolla and Yaris come to mind?

    The technology is fine, it’s just being applied to the wrong vehicles. Put out a hybrid crossover or other vehicle that has a high fuel consumption rate and you’ll generate my interest.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    The Prius looks like it does for a much more simple reason than is being bandied about here. It is functional and aerodynamic.

    Yep, it’s well known that ‘conventional’ cars with excellent aerodynamics also save fuel over about 45 mph, particularly. Consider the Citroen DS, introduced in 1955. To say it flew in the face of “finned excess and chrome” typical of the era would be a king-sized understatement, would it not?

    So we have the Prius, in which the high-efficiency Atkinson cycle engine is capable of propelling the car (with aerodynamic efficiency that Piper and Beech aircraft could only dream for) at 55 mph with 50 mpg efficiency.

    I’ve actually seen with my own eyes, 65 mpg at 65 mph (drafting – NOT tailgating – a semi).

    Back in the day, I used to draft semi’s in my Volare’ wagon and never got better than 20 MPG at 55-60 mph….

    The other thing to recall is that, excepting HYDRAULIC hybrids, no other system other than electric hybrids has thus far been invented to recapture (some) kinetic energy which is otherwise totally wasted in heat in ‘conventional’ car brakes.

    KixStart said

    “Well, OK, people are free to “remain unconvinced” about these problems but they don’t need to belittle people who do believe these problems are real and are willing to pony up to reduce the impact of these problems. Hybrid owners are putting their money where their mouth is. I respect that.”

    Thanks, KixStart. It’s not like I’m a person who goes around and says to everyone “hey you gotta get a hybrid.” But amongst us ‘car guys’ I can hope that my opinion about hybrids can at least be respected along with those who disagree with me. (I obviously own a Prius, a 2005. Best car I’ve ever had. Virtually no reliability problems in 34,000 miles since July 2005. My son’s 1992 Toyota is going on 170,000 miles, I’m personally expecting 150,000 out of the Prius or about 5 more years when it’s time to trade it on another car).

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    December 2006 Hybrid sales:
    Camry hybrid- 10.1% of all Camrys
    Highlander hybrid- 20.1% of all Highlanders
    RX 400h- 15.5% of all RX
    GS450h- 84.3%of 430-450h;11% of all GS series
    Escape/Mariner- 11.2% of combined models

    Total 2006 hybrid sales:261,000 (up 22% over 2005)
    Prius: 106,971 = 41% of all hybrids sold.

    Seems like looks and smugness isn’t the only thing selling hybrids.

  • avatar
    acx

    yeah karesh, we can all cast aside data we consider garbage.

    An example of such garbage would be the intellichoice study which shows the cost of operating hybrids versus their non hyrid counterparts to be significantly less..

    Start with a substantially more expensive non hybrid model, ignore the obvious fact that you end up paying less than MSRP for it but cling to the resale idea – ignoring the.. wait for it, the true delta of your purchase. The difference between what you PAY (not msrp) and what it is worth after the depreciation.

    I would consider garbage as well mentioning 2004+ results in reliability for toyotas when talking about sludge issues from years earlier – which does nothing other than attempt to pander yourself.

    IF hybrids WERE the answer in their current form we would not see sales drop when the credits were done. We would not need to prop up sales with tax payer funding.

    We would see hybrid sales soar in the worst gas crunch most people can remember..

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    miked said “That’s how I get a general idea of how good a new “save-the-earth” type product is. FYI: wholesale cost on 100W incandescent lightbulbs is about $0.42 in bulk. For the new CF bulbs the cheapest I could find is $3.79 in bulk. That means that CF bulbs take about 9 times the energy to make! Of course I still use them because it actually does save me money, but I can’t say that it’s better for the environment when you look at the full product cycle (especially when you consider disposal because of the nasty flourescent chemicals on the inside of the tube).”

    Well, buddy, there are lots of ways of “cipherin’ and figurin’ ” aren’t there?

    What about the fact that the fluorescent bulbs generally last some 5 times longer than incandescent bulbs?! Your calculations are absent any lifetime calculations and therefore anyone reading your comments would erroneously assume the same life for the bulbs.

    Plus the benefits of using more fluorescent bulbs go well and truly beyond pure up-front costs. So much energy has been saved, that many power plants which would have been needed to have been built, were not needed due to conservation.

    As for the nasty chemicals, well, wow! Try living on an Amish farm and sitting behind a methane-producing ton of Belgian horseflesh and tell me about nasty chemicals!

    Fluoresent bulbs have been in use for decades, I can’t recall seeing one single knee-jerk lame-stream media account of horrific pollution from them…

    Our lives are nothing more than continued calculated risks and decisions, in one sense.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    # KixStart:
    January 17th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I think it’s a bit obnoxious to call hybrid owners “posers.”

    Some hybrid owners just want the latest and coolest technology. In any other situation, purchasing the latest tech wouldn’t get you a “poser” label.

    Of the rest, some think that our dependence on foreign oil is a strategic problem. Some recognize that some of the oil money flowing off shore is funding terrorists. Some think that global warming is a serious problem. If they could switch to other vechicles with better fuel economy, they’d probably do that.

    As far as I can tell, the “poser” label comes from people who are denial about the problems our oil thirst causes; strategic oil dependence, funding of terrorists and global warming.

    Well, OK, people are free to “remain unconvinced” about these problems but they don’t need to belittle people who do believe these problems are real and are willing to pony up to reduce the impact of these problems. Hybrid owners are putting their money where their mouth is. I respect that.

    That CNW study, by the way, is ridiculous. The cost of energy input into a vehicle can not be any larger than the cost of the vehicle. And is that the same study that figured the life of a Toyota was 100K miles and the life of a GM vehicle was 300K miles? As if!

    —————————-

    It is always a picky subject to try to inject sense into the environmental debate as far as hybrids are concerned. Hybrid owners in large parts, in my “web” experience, are a rabid bunch. They know they’re superior and they’ll brook no opposition to the orthodoxy that they are a sophisticated peoples with a simple love for the environment.
    They are very quick to respond to any allegations of inconsistency.

    For example, I should think that any research purporting to show that the Prius is less energy-efficient than it appears to be would be greeted with earnest curiosity from people eager to do right by the environment.
    But such studies are almost always immediately scorned. Why is that?
    Why must the Prius be the savior of mankind before the facts are in?

    Mr. Lieberman is absolutely correct:
    It’s about the image. Consequently, hybrids only do well when they scream their identity from the rooftops.

    There is one solid reason why hybrids can be argued to be “poser” vehicles:

    Anyone who really cared about the environment wouldn’t be driving anything. Period.

    Hybrid owners are usually more affluent than the rest of the population and here that almost always means that they use more energy by default.
    They invariably live in larger houses–or own more than one. Buy more expensive (and more energy intensive) items–and have more of them.
    They have more time for leisure–which is also energy-intensive.

    Since I can already see the fire, let me just run toward it.
    Anyone who really cared about the environment would move to a city, live in a multi-family dwelling and walk, bike or take public transport.
    Ironically environmentalists are in a better financial position to afford this than anyone else.
    You don’t get extra “points” for driving a hybrid.

    Environmentalism is a commitment that always requires more of you. If you consider yourself to be one, take a hard look at yourself before you sign up to join the New Crusades.

    Lastly, just a comment about this:
    ———-
    # GS650G:
    January 17th, 2007 at 8:21 am

    If it’s like most hybrids the estimated mileage will be much lower than advertised. But it should at least compete with the other offerings.

    This deal shows Toyota is willing to spread the tech on hybrids and negotiations with Ford may be circling around such a deal.

    I’m not sure about engines cutting out and back in while driving slow, that would get on your nerves after a few months.
    ———

    That is to be expected. Toyota’s “sharing”:

    1. Brings in revenue to help cover development costs.

    2. Reduces the number of potential competitors, since people who buy from them are unlikely to have parallel development going on.

    It’s strictly business.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Thanks for the kind words on my first TTAC review.

    Nissan claims 9.1 feet of trunk space, down from 18.0 in the non-hybrid model. The Camry suffers similarly: 10.6 cubic feet for the Hybrid, versus 15.0 for other models. The Prius’ hatchback trunk (16.1 cu. ft.) dwarfs both, with a folding rear seatback to boot.

    I agree with the sentiment that, if one’s goal is to save gas, a modestly powered, manual-transmission compact makes a great deal more financial sense. But given the hybrid demographic–their buyers are among the wealthiest of any vehicle segment–their standards for room, feature content, and novelty value are likely too high for them to realistically consider a plain-wrapper Corolla.

    And if they can afford it, why not? I find the “it’s-my-money” argument much easier to swallow when it’s applied to an innocuous hybrid than a vision-blocking H2.

    As for hybrid purchases being based solely on their image–and, hence, the popularity of the Prius–name recognition is almost certainly a contributing factor. Ask a non-enthusiast to name a hybrid (and non-enthusiasts are the people buying them), and one name comes up: Prius. Most people seem unaware that other hybrids even exist, which makes sense: the Prius was the first (and, arguably, still the only) hybrid to benefit from high-profile TV and radio ads.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    There is a Honda civic hybrid in my family – I drive it occasionally. It is not a sports car, like other civics, its about comfortable efficient transportation. The only way you would know that it is a hybrid is that the engine shuts off when u stop, then restarts. This is a little eerie when u first drive it, but you get used to it. It is also defeatable if you want to say, keep the air conditioner running in the summer, which i do.

    The owner of this car bought it because she is seriously interested in our enviromnent, and wants to burn as little gas as possible, she also wants to pollute as little as possible. The hybrids emit significantly less pollutants into the atmosphere. In the city, this is very important, as I dont like choking to death.

    The civic has one problem for me – it is not a hatchback or wagon – and you cannot lower the rear seats because the batteries are there. I need a place to put my bike. If they made this car as a hatch or small wagon, i would consider it. Also, the mileage in the city is GREAT!!! Beats the living hell outa me 4 cyl VW Golf, which in mixed driving gets about 30 mpg, but in the city returns only about 25.

    Again, its not just about purchase price vs. return on investment. A recent article here marvelled at the way Apple can sell so many music players, even tho there are lots of other players in the market, some selling a comparable product for 1/3 the price. Nevertheless the Apple products sell like hotcakes. Is it that much better? Are ipod users poseurs? depends on your point of view, and the amount of cash rattleing around in your pocket, and how much u want one, for whatever reason.

    I am glad there are people who are concerned about our environment so much that they choose to put their money where their mouths are. It sends a clear message, one that I hear and appreciate. Do all the drivers of these vehicles need flawless envio cred? NO. Even if it turns out to be a small contribution, its OK. Better some than none.

    Maybe we all will pay more attention, before all the polar caps melt and we are left drowning in our self righteous need for ever faster gas guzzleing cars NOW because, we can.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Ah, missed the last comment there.

    Regarding the rabid Prius owners populating blogs and web forums, the sort of buyer who goes online to discuss his/her vehicle is rarely representative of the greater population. Whether they’re devotees of VTECs, Hybrids, or Hummers, the ones online are usually the rabid ones who are either passionate about the product, or need to justify their purchase.

    As an example, consider that the majority of Mustangs sold are equipped with the V6 and automatic, and that their buyers are most likely to be female. But the forums and owners online are mostly devoted male power junkies.

  • avatar
    rrhyne56

    They should simply drop an oil-burner in it.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Somethingtosay:
    Anyone who really cared about the environment wouldn’t be driving anything. Period.

    Exactly. Anyone who thinks they’re ‘doing their part’ always thinks what they’ve done is enough and everyone should do the same. If you’re contributing anything to a problem, you’re still part of the problem just to a lesser degree. It’s like a heroin addict getting counseling from someone who only uses half as much heroin. Abstain or get off my case.

  • avatar
    shabster

    Jonny Lieberman.

    For a second there I thought you wrote the the Altima should have wings and testicles. That really caught my attention.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    P.J. McCombs -

    Thanks for the numbers – can’t seem to find them anywhere. BTW, does your info from Nissan say which CVT the Altima Hybrid has, belt (Nissan) or epicyclic gear (Toyota)?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ash78 asks a good question, why not use the Prius’ other tricks in more cars?

    Or we could ask, why doesn’t GM apply all the aero tech in the 2000 Precept concept, which had a Cx of under .2, to all their vehicles? Bending sheetmetal differently can’t be particularly expensive. Heck, never mind .2, if they could make a siginificant improvement in their current effective fleet Cx and get halfway from whatever it is to .2, that would be a real boon to our balance of trade.

  • avatar
    dean

    sometingtosay: great post, and spot on. That said, if you do decide you need a vehicle, and you are conscious of your environmental impact, then a hybrid might make sense.

    As for Jonny and his image thesis: here is my take.

    Consider, if you will, wealthy philanthropists. There are two types: one donates anonymously because they don’t want the attention. The other expects their name on a hospital wing or the business school when they make a megabuck donation. They figure if they are going to cough up some big bucks they want someone to know that they did it.

    Hybrid buyers are like that. The type of person that would donate anonymously will probably be happy with a Civic or Altima hybrid. The second type would buy the Prius, because if they are going to drive an anemic little beansqueezer for the environment’s sake, they damn well want people to know it.

    That is NOT saying that Prius owners all feel that way. (I’m talking to you Glenn A.) The Prius has a lot of things going for it that the other hybrids don’t (e.g. hatchback) so there are myriad reasons for purchasing one. But I think this dichotomy of personality types does explain why the Prius vastly outsells the alternatives. The number of anonymous donors (I’m talking big $ here, not the average citizen) is much smaller than those that seek recognition.

    It is human nature to want to be recognized for your “good deeds”. True altruism is pretty rare.

    Good review, P.J.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    Like jerseydevil, I’m seeing similarities between the Prius vs. Altima hybrid debate and the iPod article from yesterday. What I’m noticing is that the Prius is the iconic hybrid where the iPod is the iconic portable digital music player.

    It makes me wonder even if the Altima did have “wings and tentacles and seven wheels” that it’s too late to the game. As P.J said, when the average customer thinks of a hybrid car, most would not be able to think of one beyond the Prius (much as I’m sure many people couldn’t name another digital music player beyond the iPod.)

  • avatar
    KixStart

    “Anyone who really cared about the environment wouldn’t be driving anything. Period.”

    That’s a ridiculous statement. Many environmentalists believe there’s no incompatibility between having a “modern” society and having an efficient and environmentally friendly one.

    “All or nothing…” is a convenient excuse for those who prefer to do nothing.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    # P.J. McCombs:
    January 17th, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Ah, missed the last comment there.

    Regarding the rabid Prius owners populating blogs and web forums, the sort of buyer who goes online to discuss his/her vehicle is rarely representative of the greater population. Whether they’re devotees of VTECs, Hybrids, or Hummers, the ones online are usually the rabid ones who are either passionate about the product, or need to justify their purchase.

    As an example, consider that the majority of Mustangs sold are equipped with the V6 and automatic, and that their buyers are most likely to be female. But the forums and owners online are mostly devoted male power junkies.
    ———————————
    There is something to be said for that. I would agree.

    What I do not agree with, is another common “argument” (that you didn’t make yourself) that goes something like this:

    “At least they’re putting their money where their mouth is.”

    Now, here is why I take issue with that statement:

    1. How does this singular purchase, no matter how unjustified, redeem their souls entirely from “hell”?

    2. Since when is a Prius a “large, expensive compromise”?
    Not only are most hybrid owners more affluent than the rest of the population, but hybrids aren’t even that expensive (if at all).
    Think about it. For $25,000 to $30,000 you get a decent mid-sized car that does everything with the competence that people expect from a Toyota.
    Along with that you get instant and near universal adulation and instant “environmental credits”.
    Try that with a BMW.
    Whither the “noble sacrifice”?

    I live in the Northeast, so I have read this book several times over.
    There is a lot of environmental noise made by people unworthy of the name.
    Maybe I am stingy, but I do not hand out “credits” for free–especially if one uses them to beat on others (tacitly or otherwise).
    True environmentalism is about sacrifice. Buying a Prius is only a sacrifice in name–even after the most cursory of examinations (which probably explains the oft-attendant obsession with Hummers and the people who buy them).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Dean, you disprove your own case. If the Prius has distinct advantages over the Civic, that would be reason enough for purely rational decisions to buy it. Better fuel economy and more payload flexibility? If you’re thinking hybrid, anyway, you’ll probably go with the most efficient and most practical. Prius wins.

    As far as anonymous vs open donorship, if you think something is important enough to be worth a gift, why wouldn’t you want people to know it’s important enough to be worth a gift of yours?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Somthingtosay wrote, “At least they’re putting their money where their mouth is.” Now, here is why I take issue with that statement: 1. How does this singular purchase, no matter how unjustified, redeem their souls entirely from “hell”?

    Who says they get redeemed from hell – or need to be?

    Who says that we can’t have a modern society AND an efficient one? The fuel economy advantage of hybrid cars is an example of improving the efficiency of living without compromising the convenience. The compact fluorescent is another.

    Many people are “green” because they’re convinced that it’s not only good for the planet but “green” tech is a WAY TO MAKE MONEY.

    I’ve heard any number of people (not necessarily here) complain that environmentalists want to return the population to the stone age to protect the environment. Yet, here are environmentalists driving Priuses that say, “No, we don’t need to return to the stone age to take steps to protect the environment” and now some think this is wrong because it’s a useless half-measure?

    People need to get some balance.

    Driving a hybrid is not a useless half-measure. it’s a step. Steps come in varying sizes and this is a step that’s available now. Maybe it’s not a big step, but it’s still a step.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Starlightmica,

    Nissan’s press materials don’t specify the type of CVT, and if they did borrow Toyota’s epicyclic-gear unit, they’re certainly not forthcoming about it.

    However, Nissan’s spec sheet does admit that the CVT is “hybrid-specific,” which suggests that it’s not theirs.

  • avatar
    ash78

    shift_pollutionelsewhere?

    Not sure that would go over so well.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    # KixStart:
    January 17th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    “Anyone who really cared about the environment wouldn’t be driving anything. Period.”

    That’s a ridiculous statement. Many environmentalists believe there’s no incompatibility between having a “modern” society and having an efficient and environmentally friendly one.

    “All or nothing…” is a convenient excuse for those who prefer to do nothing.
    ——————–

    Why is driving indispensable to a “modern economy”?

    (You vaguely remind me of a friend of mine–an Angeleno of course– who became offended when I asked him whether or not he took the bus to school; saying with an edge in his voice that he wasn’t “that poor”.)

    When does posturing with one’s car become ridiculous?

    Which environmental hole is so deep that the Prius cannot extract you from it?

    This one?
    http://www.californiacoastline.org/cgi-bin/image.cgi?image=200500288&mode=sequential&flags=0&year=2005

    Is there a lifestyle that exists which even a Prius cannot redeem?

    I refuse to become starry-eyed on-command.
    Like I said: no free passes from me–especially if you like posturing.

    —–

    That said, I wonder why hybrids are not more popular than they are. I should think that the bulk of high-end models of cars in the Camcord class would be hybrids–since they are usually up-optioned anyway.
    In other words, is there a very large price difference between a Camry Hybrid and a heavily-optioned XLE?
    If not, why wouldn’t the Hybrid be more popular?

    (I did a quick TrueDelta comparison, and it seems as if the Hybrid is the better deal.)

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Somethingtosay, what are you getting at?

    For your information, I lived two years in a city without a car. I could have had a car but didn’t find it worth the bother. I did not say that driving is indispensable in a modern society and I didn’t say that environmentalists believe driving is essential but there are many people believe that it’s essential to their lifestyles (this would be most of the people in my town) and many people believe environmentalists would take away their cars in pursuit of a pointless quest to save an environment that they’re not persuaded needs saving. Or not interested in saving as long as they think it will last longer than they will live.

    And it is certainly the case that taking away most people’s vehicles would force lifestyle changes and they will resist that.

    Consequently, vehicles with better fuel efficiency can serve a purpose.

    Will improved fuel efficiency be inadequate response to the challenges that face us? Maybe. Does that mean it’s not worth doing? Absent the will to make other changes, I’d say we might as well do what can be done.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Ex-CIA chief Jim Woolsey owns and drives a Prius. He doesnt like the idea of middle east getting rich… Thats a political statement. But for the rest of the schlubs, its a different story.. But I disagree with all the hybrid bashing. Statements like “I will drive my gas guzzling pick up truck and brake purposefully in front of prius to have a good laugh” is ridiculous. If there are any rabid people they are the anti-hybrid types. If they want to pick on why hybrids are not worth the money then fine… go after a 50 grand SUV with 10 mpg and justify their existence. Dont pick on small hybrid cars that cost 5 grand more up front which will return that money in the long term with little enviro impact. I would take a prius over an escalade/hummer anyday.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    9.1 (hybrid) vs 18 (gasser) cu ft cargo space?!
    It lost NINE cubic *feet*??!?

    Just what are those batteries made of?

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Being a pistonhead myself, it’s probably unusual that I find a lot of appeal in hybrid cars, from an effeciency standpoint. Regenerative braking, the ECO button on the Camry Hybrid and the Japanese/Euro Priuses, etc. I’d use a hybrid for lots of short little city trips, and the big honking truck for the long ones. :)

    If one wonders how Toyota can offer a performance hybrid, I’d like to cite the GS450h. Best Motoring International, a japanese video magazine, did a series of driving tests on the GS450h vs a GS430 and Infiniti M45. It gives the M45 a very good run, besting the M45′s three-lap time by 2 seconds.

    The track test starts around 02:45. After the track test, they run a few more tests, one of them being the “creep” test where they sneak up on people from behind with each car. Unfortauntely, it’s all in Japanese.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6612467742832016983&q=gs450h

    I imagine the car is at a disadvantage once the battery is depleted, but braking might be better due to the regenerative braking, which takes a load off the brake pads themselves.

    Anybody see the turbo prius project over at autospeed.com? They scored a few extra MPG over the non-turbo drivetrain.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    9.1 (hybrid) vs 18 (gasser) cu ft cargo space?! It lost NINE cubic *feet*??!?
    Just what are those batteries made of?

    NiMH, like just every other hybrid car currently on the market. From the little I know, NiMH batteries are heavier/bigger, cheaper, and hold up for more cycles than lithium batteries of comparable capacity.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    RF and I are the only people who can see this?

    Jonny, you are absolutely correct, and if Civic hybrids didn’t have a unique trunk wing and wheel covers, I’d bet they wouldn’t sell as well as they do, either. IMO, Camry hybrids sell despite a unique look, mainly because of Camry ubiquity.

    In any other situation, purchasing the latest tech wouldn’t get you a “poser” label.

    How many people do you know who actually need a Blackberry, an iPod or will need the iPhone? How many, on the other hand, flaunt them in order to look cool?

    The electrolyte in these batteries is potassium hydroxide which is less toxic than sulfuric acid (in fact, it’s used to make hominy and lutefisk).

    Lutefisk – now there’s a substance with hazardous environmental impact!

  • avatar
    carguy

    I just don’t see the point of hybrids – Nissan could have got the same fuel economy by using one of their European diesel engines. At least that way the car would have been as much fun to drive as a I4 Altima, cheaper to build and didn’t involve any toxic batteries, no-grip tires or bad break-pedal feel.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    carguy,

    In fairness, the lead-acid battery in the standard Altima–and every other passenger car–isn’t exactly USDA organic, either. On the other hand, their recycling infrastructure is better-developed.

  • avatar
    miked

    cargy: Nissan could have got the same fuel economy by using one of their European diesel engines

    Yes, that would make sence, but remember that CA has ruined it for the rest of us when it comes to emissions. They’re such a big market, that if a car can’t be sold in CA (and the 8 or so other states that blindly follow CARB), it doesn’t really get a chance to be sold elsewhere in the country. In CA, they regulate things like amount of NOx at the tail pipe per unit mass of fuel burnt. They also do the same for CO2. I don’t have the actual CARB regs (nor did I look to see if they’re available on the web), but if anyone has them, please post them so that we have the real info.

    So what’s the problem with that? Fuel milage doesn’t come into the calculation when they calculate how clean a car is. So per pound of fuel burnt a diesel puts more NOx into the air than a gasser, however since in general a diesel gets much better milage, per mile driven less NOx gets into the air. But that’s much harder for the CARB people to measure, so the regs are built around a bad metric.

    Not only that, but CARB is more stringent on NOx (smog producing gasses) than they are on CO2 (a “greenhouse” gas). Since diesels run hotter they make more NOx and less CO2 than a gasser, so it’s harder for a diesel to pass CARB than a gasser. I’m not saying which is a worse pollutant, I don’t know enough atmospheric chemistry to make an informed decision there. I’m just saying that CARB cares more about NOx and diesels make more NOx.

    I spent a short time last fall in France and while my sample size is only two cities (Paris and Nice), I can say from experience that the cities weren’t choked in smog and pollution even though about 50% of the cars that passed me were diesels. The EU regulates CO2 more than they do NOx, so it’s easier for diesels to pass the EU regs and thats why they get more engines to choose from (plus the insanely high gas prices make them want to be more efficient).

    So that’s one reason we don’t have a wide selection of diesels over here.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Shabster — testicles would only help

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    GS650G: January 17th, 2007 at 8:21 am If it’s like most hybrids the estimated mileage will be much lower than advertised. But it should at least compete with the other offerings. That's an accurate statement, however utterly incomplete. I wouldn't have nitpicked it if you had said "if it's like most CARS the estimated mileage will be much lower…" EPA mileage figures are optimistic for all cars, not just hybrids. I’m not sure about engines cutting out and back in while driving slow, that would get on your nerves after a few months. Engines cutting out nd back while driving slow? You can't feel it in my Prius. My passengers can't feel it, either. Without exception, everybody remarks about how smooth the transition from electric to gas and back is.  jerseydevil to SherbornSean: you are right of course, but the people I know who bought hybrids are not interested in saving money, they are interested in not using as much gas, or creating as much emissions. The fact that they save money at the pump (and they DO), is a pleasent by product. But not the point. Indeed, this is the case for me. My friends who own these cars are well to do, and could buy anything they wanted. This is also the case for me. Its not always about money… Three for three! jazbo123:… As to the motives of the people who want to save gas, unfortunately basic economics foils their good intentions unless a majority of cars are equally fuel-frugal. The lowered demand that their vehicles make for fossil fuel drives the fuel price lower, which encourages other vehicles to use more. The net result is no fuel saved, and the intentions are purely symbolic. Your last sentence doesn’t make sense. I save fuel with my Prius. Unless you meant to say “the net result is no money saved,” I would have to disagree. I needed a larger car (than my Z-3). Whether with my Z-3, my Corvette, my Miata, or my old Trans-Am, I would often take the long way home. And I still do. But while doing it, I burn less gas. I save gas every time I drive my car. I save even more gas when I take more than one passenger with me (which was all I could take with my Z-3, Corvette, or Miata) or only have to make one trip rather than two because I can pack more stuff into my Prius than I could in my other cars. So yeah, I save gas! My gas and other people’s gas!

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    ash78: … I’d rather drive an RS4 like I stole it, then buy carbon credits–IF it’s just about paying for a clear conscience :D I think "carbon credits," are a big scam. Who's the person who gets to decide how much each person is allowed to "burn"? You? Me? Some government agency who doesn't have to report to anybody? The United Nations? Who died and made any of these people God? Puh-lease! The whole carbon-credits thing is just legalized bribery. It's just a sanitized way of paying off the health-inspector or the city/county building inspector. It fools everybody by making us all "feel" like we're doing something about pollution, but in actuality, it invites more corruption; as if we don't already have enough of that already.

  • avatar
    Glenn

    A Prius is approximately 20 times cleaner in the actual emissions than a 2006 US diesel car. TWENTY TIMES. Total CO2 emissions of a Prius are fewer than a SMART Diesel 2-seater. It’s a fact.

    Not everyone WANTS to live in the city. You want me to bring my Newfoundland and live above your flat in the city?

    Which is one of the reasons we got a Prius. We have a (somewhat average) 15 mile commute (though most of the time, my wife and I do carpool, probably 90% of the time). We were putting 20,000 miles a year on two cars, now it is about 20,000 miles a year on the Prius, 5000 miles a year on the Sonata.

    I actually managed to drive a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid in anticipation of considering one for purchase next year, not to replace the Prius, but in addition to it (replacing the conventional car). We might then be able to take a little load off the Prius by dividing the driving time. (Currently, it makes absolutely no sense to ‘just decide to commute in the Sonata’ since it uses twice the fuel to do the same job, savvy?)

    Nissan don’t sell the Altima Hybrid in Michigan, or I might have actually considered it.

    The Civic Hybrid has several disadvantages compared to the Prius. Smaller interior. Way smaller trunk. No flexibility of loads (Civic is a sedan and hasn’t even got a folding rear seat – the batteries are in the way). It is not as aerodynamic. It has less accleration, though is fairly comparable in town. The price is nearly as high. It does not have vehicle stability control even as an option (at least, yet – I’m hoping so for 2008). The Civic seat and roof is also lower and with nearly 1/2 century on my joints and spine, the Prius is much more user-friendly to climb in and out of. And finally, the overall efficiency is about 5-10% less in real life, compared to Prius. (The less advanced Honda IMA hybrid system may have fewer cost advantages once Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system is truly mass-produced).

    So, why not just become a two-Prius family? My wife does not like the middle screen in the Prius, and we want to have the ability to tow a small canoe trailer (and, obviously, canoe). The Honda salesman insists this is not going to void the Honda warrantee, whereas the Prius is not (yet) intended for any towing.

    Thus, next year we may be one of the first two-hybrid families in northwestern Michigan.

    And, no, we aren’t wealthy, just good stewards.

    By the way, my driving impression of the Honda Civic Hybrid (from the perspective of having owned many cars in 30 plus year and having had a Prius for 20 months) was that the car drives / feels more strange than the Prius!

    The CVT transmission felt similar, though the Honda system is a true CVT with belt compared to Toyota’s much more advanced electric planetary CVT system combined with two MG’s (motor generators, not British sports cars).

    The Civic ride is somewhat more firm than Prius, but the handling is slightly tighter. My wife was British, she won’t mind the firmer ride, and won’t any slight, added capabilities, as she never drives beyond 5/10′s.

    The back seat of the Civic was significantly smaller in leg room, I’d say the car is a comfortable enough 4 seater though, and there’s room for a Newfoundland, so that will work for us…

    I was not able to study the owner’s manual nor did the salesman show me so I was unable to see whether there is even an ongoing MPG read-out for the Civic Hybrid. As a Prius driver, I was looking for one to compare….

    I do think the engine shut-down and restart might be a tad smoother on the Civic than Prius, but the weakness of the Civic electric motor becomes evident when you read that Honda has included a second, conventional “gr-rr-rr” starter motor “in case the IMA needs assistance to start the gasoline engine” (?!)

    Honda has made a big deal of the fact that under very limited conditions the Civic hybrid can run under electric only – but it’s a gimmick, since the gas engine is still chugging along… all in all they should just be intellectually honest with the public and say their system is different and tout the (few) advantages.

    I did like the Civic Hybrid quite a lot, though I thought the car was somewhat underpowered. Written tests confirm 0-60 is about 2 seconds slower than Prius. As I mentioned, in town, there is not a lot to complain about.

    The overall weight of the car is approximately the same as Prius, but the engine displacement is less (1.3 litres vs. 1.5), and of course, the Civic runs on the less efficient Otto cycle, whereas the Prius runs Atkinson cycle (and the deficiencies of this engine type are more than made up for in the powerful electric motors).

    I also think the Civic struggles to capture as much kinetic energy as Prius is capable of doing, but at least it is significantly better than the entirely LAME General Motors light hybrid system.

    Now, you want a dumb system, consider that one. So one day, did the GM executives came to engineering and said “OK, guys, let’s do a hybrid. Let’s add all the weight and cost of the batteries, but cheap-ass out on the motor-generator and just replace the alternator on the front of the engine.” Wow a 10% improvement in mileage instead of 60%, 70% or 100%? Lame, very lame. Typically GM, too.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Somethingtosay to KixStart: (You vaguely remind me of a friend of mine–an Angeleno of course– who became offended when I asked him whether or not he took the bus to school; saying with an edge in his voice that he wasn’t “that poor”.) I have carefully considered this question for myself, and at the risk of making a few of you angry, I will state my points: 1) The bus doesn't go where I need it to go. 2) The bus doesn't go when I need it to go. We don't all work and shop at the same time, you know. 3) The bus isn't safe. Number 3 above is very intriguing for me, and probably will end up being somewhat controversial. So you may want to ask me, why isn't the bus safe? For a number of reasons. A) City busses are often run by governments. For some people, that's reason enough to avoid them. I despise governmental bureacracy, but it's not the only reason for me; just one of several. B) Bus stops need safety improvements. Often, they don't have enough protection from weather and traffic. C) Busses need safety improvements. They have no seatbelts, for one thing. D) Bus stops are easy targets for crime (robbery, assault, not-so-random shootings). This may be getting a bit too political for a car forum, but I believe that part of the problem is due to illegal residents. And I believe that another part of the problem is a lack of punishment in the courts. Both of these things have reduced the effectiveness of laws, which in turn reduces public safety. D) The bus itself often goes into and stops in bad neighborhoods. In my city, they're neighborhoods that are known havens for crime. Now, before the accusations begin to fly, I will say that I know that people of all economic levels need to have access to public transportation. They shouldn't be prevented from using the bus or accessing opportunity just because they live in a bad neighborhood. But having said that, I shouldn't feel that I must subject myself to these risks. So I take the most common-sense choice for me, and I avoid the bus. Much like I also avoid befriending people who constantly run afoul of the law, and much like I avoid cigarettes, drugs, high-fat and high-sugar foods, and too much alcohol.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Glenn–
    When you’re driving on the highway, is your gasoline engine doing all the work? From what I can figure, on long trips the batteries would die and there would be no braking heat to recover. That leaves only gasoline, and short of heat recovery (BMW turbosteamer) it would be inefficient to convert gasoline to electricity to mechanical motion.

    So, with that said, would a vehicle shaped like the prius with low resistance tires and an Atkinson cycle engine get the same highway mileage as a prius?
    If Atkinsons make less hp per cube but are more fuel efficient, would it make sense to make a bigger Atkinson to equal the hp of the Otto, or would that just throw away all fuel-efficiency gains.

    Where is my 2500lb Impreza sport wagon sized Atkinson highway cruiser? This sounds like an easy and cheap way to get 40 mpg.

    Anyone know if the corolla gets and honest-to-god 40mpg on the highway?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Glenn: the micro-hybrid design of the Vue isn’t “lame”, just different. “Hybrid” is a big tent, and getting bigger all the time. You’re going to see a lot more of micro-hybrids, BMW is going that way (standard) on their new revised 1 series in Europe. It’s all a matter of how much you spend, and how much return it gives. I could just as well say your Prius is “lame” compared to the Volt.

    Hybrid technology is going to filter it’s way down and out further in varying degrees as the components become cheaper. Anyway, if you’re concerned about total oil use, much better that 1 million cars had micro hybrid (10-15% fuel savings), than 100,000 Prius (30% fuel savings).

    Prius led the way, and T. should get full credit for that, but the real meaningful impact of hybrids will be when they “sneak” their way into lots of cars, as “micro-hybrids”.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    40mpg Corolla? At 10:18 today, Michael Karesh posted a link to the fuel economy page of the TrueDelta site. You might look there. Or check owner reviews on Edmunds.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    NICKNICK, yes, a Prius running just an Atkinson engine and no hybrid would get pretty good mileage, quite close to a hybrid Prius if it was on flat terrain. But the Atkins cycle engine has only 86 hp, so it would be slow to accellerate. Also, the Prius engine is optimised to run in a fairly narrow rpm range. It really works best when teamed up with the hybrid drive.

    The batteries never “die”, the Prius only uses a very narrow range of it’s batteries capacity, never less than either 60 or 80%, in order to make them last longer. As soon as they go down to that level, if they’re not recharged by brakes, then the engine recharges them. That way they’re ready to use when you want to pass on the freeway. You could get to a situation on a long uphill climb at high speed where you run out of battery assist, then you’re down to 86 hp!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    ZoomZoom,

    As another man once said, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

    But more to the point, I just don’t like buses.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well, here I am, comment #80 and having stopped reading at comment #20 or so, it occurs to me that opinions are like… talk show hosts: uninformed and all over the place. I quit reading, not so much because the opinions expressed weren't expressed well, but there was a certain redundacy that almost made them seem like what Brock Yates might call "mindless blather." But I know the readers of this site are anything but mindless – opinionated yes, but mindless no. Maybe it goes back to what Will Rogers once said, that we're all ignorant, when you take us out of our area of expertise. And how many of us are engineers, how many are financial analysts and more importantly to the debate here on hybrids, how many of us are are forecasters of the future who might be on target, due to successful extrapolation of data? Well admittedly, I am not the first two and doubt I am the last. But allow me to say that more than "eco-poseurs" as someone called them, are interested in hybrids. And the real world applications are literally bigger – much bigger – than the Nissan Altima hybrid. Last week, I travelled to what we in Seattle call "the other Washington" (D.C.) and attended a presentation on a Mack Granite Axle Back dump truck, powered by a hybrid (Mack MP-7 diesel and 161 HP permanent magnet synchronous electric motor drivetrain. The customer was the U.S. Air Force, who has ordered up two of these machines and will be testing them for Mack and its parent company, Volvo Group (no longer affiliated with Volvo Cars since 1999, when Ford bought the car division). There was no admission on how much of taxpayers' dollars these big rigs cost; but the claimed fuel savings was 35 percent (and supposedly that was based on testing done at a engine test and development facility in Hagerstown MD). There is also concern about noise and how that will affect work trucks – suburbs want less of it – and pollution, most especially in China, which is poised to become the world's largest consumer of fossil fuels by perhaps as early as 2010. So while indeed Nissan might have only reluctantly bought a hybrid drivetrain from Toyota and stuffed it into just enough Altima cars to meet the emissions standards of a certain select few states, that want to emulate California – don't ask me why – there are indeed bigger things at stake here, and bigger markets, too.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Replying to quasimondo:
    And that’s where the ‘poseur’ label comes in. Why spend all of this money on an Altima hybrid when you already have the Sentra and Versa which is nearly as effieicent? Same goes for the Camry hybrid. The Corolla and Yaris come to mind?

    The technology is fine, it’s just being applied to the wrong vehicles. Put out a hybrid crossover or other vehicle that has a high fuel consumption rate and you’ll generate my interest.

    Lol. Your two paragraphs contradict each other.

    Your 1st one stated that people should buy a Yaris instead of a hybrid Camry to save gas. And then you asked for a hybrid crossover?

    Using your own logic, people should never buy that hybrid RAV4/Highlander, since a hybrid Camry makes more sense. And then you are back at square 1.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Now here’s a car with testicles…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wThExaW14oM

    Vot!

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I’m glas to see major improvements in the Altima interior. The orange-on-orange gauges really had to go.

    I agree with many of the postings regarding hybrids. If I want a small fuel efficient car, there are plenty of choices out there, and without the hybrid price tag.

    When somebody delivers a full size hybrid pickup that can tow 6000+ pounds and delivers 25-30 MPG then I’ll be willing to throw my cash on the table. Till then, a hybrid is just another feel good environmentalist toy.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Miked

    I agree: The cost of a product largely reflects the resources that it uses.

    I apply this to ethanol. While people waste man-years arguing and making studies showing small energy loss or gain, I simply look at the price; at wholesale prices ethanol costs about 2.5X more per energy unit. You can hide this with subsidies but there is no free lunch.

    Regarding light bulbs: actually you can get fluorescent bulbs now for about $1.20 (Walmort, IKEA). When I do the math I see the bulbs easily paying for themselves several times over. You save electricy and the cost of bulbs (last much longer) and this is without the labor savings of less frequent bulb changes.

    Assume you pay 1.20 vs. 60 cents for a bulb, and use it 4 hours per day with 10 cents per kw-hr cost. Assume you use 15 v 60 watt. You save 0.18 kw*hr per day, or 1.8 cents per day. After one year you save $6.57 in electricity, more than making up for the 60 cents. In the summer you save on AC.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    cheezeweggie:

    When somebody delivers a full size hybrid pickup that can tow 6000+ pounds and delivers 25-30 MPG then I’ll be willing to throw my cash on the table. Till then, a hybrid is just another feel good environmentalist toy.

    So until it serves all of your personal purposes, it’s only a toy? Let’s not be so shortsighted here.

    Every new technology, especially if it’s a particularly visionary technology, has to start someplace. Crawling before baby steps. Baby steps before walking, and walking before running!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Considering that the ‘poseur’ ranks include the likes of Harley-Davidson and Hummer owners, at least the Prius poseurs are driving a vehicle that has much less of a negative impact on the world’s resouces and environment.

    The simple fact of the matter is, looking past the outré appearance, the Prius just has the best, most efficient packaging of any current hybrid. If you’re going to spend hybrid-level money, you might as well get the best one, right? Maybe when someone else gets around to producing another, more normal looking hatchback hybrid that has better packaging, regardless of the appearance, we’ll see many Prius owners trading their cars in on that.

    In fact, I strongly suspect that next big winner in hybrid sales won’t be a car at all, but will be whomever is first in producing a hybrid minivan, a vehicle that has inherently more efficient packaging than a car to begin with.

    As to the behavior of Prius owners being any more obnoxious and self-righteous than other bloggers, it might be worth viewing the discussion forums over at popular Prius owner gathering places like priuschat.com. It would likely be found that contrary to popular opinion, most Prius owners are more rational, lucid, informed, and open-minded not only in discussions about their cars, but other topics, as well, than those owners of other ‘poseur’ vehicles.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Actually, rudiger, poseur Harley’s are better on gas than Priuii

  • avatar
    Captain Neek

    ZoomZoom

    I took a bus in the city of angels once. Every point you make was validated by that single bus ride.

    Long-haul bus trips in the US ain’t much better.

    Only thing that would make a bus bearable is Sandra Bullock ;-)

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Johnny (Lieberman), au contraire. My boss has a newer Harley, I have a Prius. He uses more gas than I do per mile (though of course, not per year, since he only puts a few hundred miles of pleasure riding into his Harley per annum).

    He was absolutely floored when I took him to the Ford dealer to pick up his (once again broken) SUV, watching the MPG numbers. He said the Prius was more economical than his Harley, so I suppose he’d be the guy to ask…

    thx_zetec – I have to agree, and expand on your ethanol comments. Ethanol is a complete and total waste of resources. I recently read that filling a 25 gallon tank full of ethanol (that’d be a 29.5 gallon tank filled with E-85 in the real world), removes enough grain (food) from the worldwide table to feed a person for a year.

    I also have to say that I was given a $100 gas card as my Christmas bonus by my boss, unfortunately it was for a station which only sells E10.

    Right now, my Prius is registering 40.5 mpg on the meter over the past 100 miles, which is down nearly 10% over the normal winter-time mileage of 44. In summer I usually average 48-50 mpg per tank with AC on. Our conventional car also loses approximately the same MPG % in winter, and loses even more % mpg with E10.

    Therefore, I’d have to say unless ethanol is used in E85 cars, it is entirely wasted (every car I’ve ever tried E10 in essentially has wasted it by losing 10% MPG or more while driving on it, except one which “only” lost 7%).

    But then when the Government brainiacs choose a technology and put subsidies on it (i.e. throw our taxpayer money at it), it often results in stupidities, or you might say “betting on the wrong horse.”

    I won’t even argue FOR giving tax money to those of us who buy hybrids. But then I’m a free market Constitutionalist so don’t believe in giving away money that isn’t mine anyhow…. but that’s another post entirely, for another place!

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    A Harley for gas or even performance is a joke. If you want gas savings get a nice 250cc bike. Cost you about 3-4k and you get 60mpg. For performance there isn’t much better than a GSX-R.

    When a hybrid costs only $500 more than a comparable gas only model is when they will sell more of them. For American driving habits in general diesel is still the best way to go.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    So, SteveS, why do you think a diesel is better? 2006 diesel cars pollute 20 X more than a hybrid car of similar size and emit MORE CO2. Fuel costs fully 25% more.

    Toyota have indicated they are planning on cutting the price differential between conventional and hybrid cars in half for the next-gen Prius, but diesel cars will probably cost significantly more due to the new emission regulations, urea systems, catalysts, etc.

    And speaking of hybrids vs diesels, you can say – yeah, Americans like torque – accerlative force.

    You need to come to my town and watch the faces in my rearview mirror as I depart the intersections at green lights with my Prius. All the over-weight slug-o-matic Stupid Useless Vehicle owners’ faces look like they just saw a UFO when they realize that “the little ‘yota electric thingie’ just blew their doors off and got up to speed, leaving them in the dust.

    After all I can use the reasoning/excuse that zipping up to speed using electric and gas at 11 mpg the easing off for 50 mpg is much more efficient than crawling up to speed at 15 mpg for 3 x as long. (Which is true). Heh heh.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Glenn A.:
    “You need to come to my town and watch the faces in my rearview mirror as I depart the intersections at green lights with my Prius. All the over-weight slug-o-matic Stupid Useless Vehicle owners’ faces look like they just saw a UFO when they realize that “the little ‘yota electric thingie’ just blew their doors off and got up to speed, leaving them in the dust.”

    Were they even participating in your race? Did you also blow the doors off any mailboxes? See below from Consumer Guide:

    2007 Toyota Prius Road Test:
    “Slow movement away from a stop accounts for middling 10.5 sec 0-60 mph in our test.”

    2007 Nissan Xterra Road Test:
    Strong from a stop and around town; test automatic-transmission 2WD SE did 7.1 sec 0-60 mph.

    2007 Ford Explorer Road Test:
    Test 2WD Explorer Limited did 7.4 sec 0-60 mph.

    2007 Toyota Sequoia Road Test:
    Plenty of power from any speed. Test 4WD SR5 did a brisk 7.9 sec 0-60 mph.

    I’m not trying to be a smart-ass about it. I think it’s great to save gas but this is the truth about cars.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Hi chainyanker. Well, yep, all those nice rigs you quoted go pretty fast, and probably get about 2 mpg doing acceleration runs, to boot.

    Generally around here, SUVs are Tahoes, Excursions, Slowburbans, etc. it seems, and obviously the drivers are about as wide awake at the light as they are in the dealer showroom, because numbers nothwithstanding, I often get to speed well before they do.

    Of course, I don’t have 5000 plus pounds of mass to move off the dime, do I?

    I equate it to a sprint between a guy in shape and an overweight banker.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    chainyanker –

    All true, and although I personally enjoy the instant torque electric motors provide, I wouldn’t stump for the Prius as a stoplight racer.

    That said, depending on who’s driving, you could easily get the jump on some of the more egregious ‘utes, including the Hummer H2, late Ford Excursion, and any Dodge Ram sans Hemi. On the other hand, recent Tahoes and Suburbans tend to run high 8s or low 9s to 60.

    Still, given the sorts of folks driving such machinery, and the sorts of folks driving Priuses, there’d be no small amount of satisfaction in that.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    Yeah,

    Reaction time isn’t exactly the same thing as accelleration capability, but can have the same effect at stoplights.

    E.G.: I frequently commute by 50cc scooter (60mpg city, btw) and with all of 6HP I’m rarely beat away from stoplights, because I’m paying attention.

    That being said, I wouldn’t boast about how I “blew their doors off and got up to speed, leaving them in the dust” as if there was somethin’ special going on.

    I hate SUVS just as much or more as any Rabid Prius Pilot, but Prius drivers shall not call quicker vehicles slugs, or risk being called out on TTAC.

  • avatar
    Jeb Hoge

    So is there a NISMO exhaust package for this thing?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    The Altima is the ultimate who-cares vehicle. If they stopped being made tomorrow there would be nothing missing from the automotive marketplace. A me-too product. So what if they now offer a Toyota based me-too hypebrid version?

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    explosions, and now electocution, acid, and other noxious chemicals? Sign me up

    Nowhere to sign. Lithium ion batteries don’t have any acid or leaky noxious chemicals, as anybody with a passing understanding of basic engineering would know.

    I do so wish that people would take the time to educate their opinion before they foist it on everybody else.

  • avatar
    Captain Neek

    I am no engineer, but if lithium ion baterries are so safe why did sony recall so many of them? Spontaneous combustion, if I’m not mistaken…

    Two BILLION lithium ion batteries are sold a year, which will last 300-500 recharges (approx. 1-3 years). “Luckily”, they are safe for landfills in the US (not in the EU), which is probably where they are going to end up. This is due to the fact that the scrap value is approx. $100 per ton. In other words cost>scrap value.

    My point is that, in the rush to save the planet, we are overlooking the fact that hybrids have a much larger environmental impact than their MPG or CO2 figures suggest…

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Hybrid cars have nickel metal hydride batteries, not lithium ion batteries at this time (which may change in the future).

    OK I’m not a hoon, and I don’t floorboard the Prius at every green light, I was trying to make the point that the Prius is NOT – repeat – NOT a rolling roadblock, and yeah, I DO have fun zipping away a tad quicker than other drivers when possible and practical, because it actually seems more efficient (AND fun) to zip up to speed then back off. 0-60 in 10.5 seconds is better than your average mid-sized V8 family car in the 1960′s (with 5 liters of V8 and automatic), by the way. How spoiled are we to expect 0-60 in 9 or 7 seconds, and in reality, other than hoonerism, when do we get a chance to use it on crowded, real-world roads? Am I right?

    I don’t think hybrids have a larger environmental impact than conventional cars, I think it that were the case, Toyota and Honda would have nixed the whole idea and perhaps tried to go with hydraulic hybrids instead, or flywheel hybrids instead.

    Let’s be serious, Captain Neek, do you think Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, GM, perhaps soon Hyundai and Kia, and others would set themselves up for massive environmental lawsuits in the litigous society we now live in? I don’t think so….

    Which reminds me of a story I read by an ex-Jeep/Chrysler engineer who quit in disgust. When “blow-job” Clinton thew away God-only-knows-how-much-money and gave it to the then big-3, Chrysler attempted to make their 80 mpg “super car” hybrid from a then current Dodge Intrepid LH with a massive rubber band in a tunnel. I know, I know, sounds far fetched, but he says yep – they tried it. Unfortunately it let go and killed a technician, so being (finally) bright enough to realize it was a mistake, they dumped the idea.

  • avatar
    ash78

    jthorner
    The Altima is the ultimate who-cares vehicle. If they stopped being made tomorrow there would be nothing missing from the automotive marketplace

    I don’t know about your area, but here the 2.5 models are almost the standard issue flossin’-mobile for those with no money down and $199 a month. The real high rollers stunt the 3.5 V6 with 20″ rims.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    BTW, I take umbrage at the insinuation that I’m a rabid Prius or hybrid fan. I beg your pardon, but I’ve had my shots…

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Jalopnik has a little link which I followed, which should more likely than not, gob-smack the Brits who love to brag about their little Frenchie micro-car diesels which get 100 MPG Imperial when nursed along, with a tail wind, down hill, etc.

    Ha. Just taking the mikey, blokes.

    But “lookadis!” 80 mpg next gen Prius, that’s 100 MPG Imperial. 5 seats, D-class automobile, fuel costs less than diesel, lots cleaner. Read it and weep.

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/spyphotos.cfm/spyphotoID/6070119.001/pageview/photo/photo/1/page/1/lang/eng/country/jcf/toyota/spy-image-next-gen-toyota-prius

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    OK let’s try this link which actually has more than just the photo. Sorry, I make a mistake. Excuse me for awhile, I have to go get something to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

    Maybe my wife and I will have to be a two-Prius family in 2008 instead of that Civic Hybrid and the current Prius….

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/spyphotos.cfm/spyphotoID/6070119.001/page/1/country/jcf/toyota/spy-image-next-gen-toyota-prius

    For you hybrid haters, ah, what’s to like about it anyhow?

    Faster? Check.

    Roomier? Check (prior articles read say interior will be even larger than now)

    More economical? Check. Using the ‘old’ formulas, it would have been over 100 mpg, but the EPA ‘fixed’ the formula, eh?

    No more expensive? Check. Toyota have been saying for a couple of years they will reduce the price differential between conventional and hybrid cars.

    Roll on, Toyota!

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Glenn,
    You are probably right that the Prius is not a rolling roadblock. However, many of your fellow Prius owners drive that way. On the highway, they focus on getting their mileage meters up the way a 16-year old might focus on getting the speedometer needle up.

    Meanwhile, they’ve got 30 cars behind them in the left lane flashing their high beams. And no, we are not trying to light up the Prius’ solar arrays to transfer energy to it to improve mileage further.
    ;-)

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    You made me laugh, SherbornSean!

    Yeah, I don’t drive like someone in a 1960′s VW microbus (following which is where the phrase rolling roadblock HAD to have been coined). On the contrary, I’m forced to go around the right side of left lane blockers in their slug-o-matic specials, whether automotive, pickemup or suv variety. I hate “undertaking” as the Brits say. But on US roads, there appears to be little alternative. No lane discipline at all. Plus the Michigan lawmakers finally gave up and took the “no passing on right” law off the books (amazingly, a law got taken off the books – of course I’ll maintain they should have left it on the books and had the police ticket left lane hoggers, but there you go…)

    I think I might have even come up with the phrase, because that is the one thing I am just about rabid about – I hate VW busses with an absolute passion.

    Probably why I never ever have bought a minivan…

  • avatar
    ash78

    All the Prius drivers I have seen have been low-key older folks out getting groceries, far from the attention-whoring stereotype.

    If they can work on the looks of the next Prius a little, I might be in the market. What I would REALLY like is a versatile, fully factory-hackable Prius whose drivetrain can be preset or adjusted to 8 or 10 (or infinite) different settings based on the economy/performance tradeoffs. That function would be worth a couple grand in the market, I think. Everything from ultra-conservative cruising to short bursts of high-torque hoonage.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Ash78,
    I just bumped into a Rock-n-Roll friend of mine who bought an adjustable Prius as you describe.

    But whereas most people’s knob only goes to 10, his goes to 11.

  • avatar
    bmilner

    I’m getting a little fatigued at the thinkly veiled political cultural wars posing as rational argument in this forum. Like people who care about the environment called “poseurs”, and people who don’t care being called “stupid”

    Like most purchases, it’s a question of values, fashion, quality, ease of use, and real world economics.

    People buy iPods for ease of use (simple controls), fashion (others have ‘em, cool ads, nice design, apple seems rebellious).

    People buy cars for a combination of those things too. In the hybrid case:

    1. Ease of use: Not a factor. Not easier or harder to drive.
    2. Fashion: Sure, you likely feel cutting edge in them
    3. Quality: Well, the brands that have hybrids so far have high perceived quality anyway (toyota, Honda, Nissan). GM has uphill battle anyway here.
    4. Economics: I don’t think any hybrid buyer really thinks they’ll save money overall.
    5. Values: Ok, here’s the crux. We buy them because a) It makes a statement to others including the car manufacturer that we care about fuel usage. b) It hypothetically reduces dependence on foreign oil as seeing as major wars and political conflicts are in regions with oil, this is our way of helping. (issue: Do people drive hybrids more thinking they’re saving gas, thus negating any benefits?). Hybrid owners would LOVE to take public transport if it was remotely as convenient/luxurious/private as driving your own car. It’s NOT, so the next best thing is a hybrid.

  • avatar
    bmilner

    It would be interesting btw, for someone to do a real cultural breakdown of what sorts of people buy hybrids, prius and otherwise.

    I’d want to kow the following –> Age, race, income, sexual preference (for fun), political leanings, education level, etc.

    I’d guess that buyers tend to be 30-40ish liberal, reasonably well off, well educated sorts. I’d also guess that they tend not to be VERY wealthy or conservative politically. Could be off though, which might be interesting.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Heh. Always enjoy a good Spinal Tap reference.

    Glenn A., I got to thinking about the Prius vs. SUV haste debate above, and found a few victories for you, most of them in the area of top speed (as measured by C&D):

    The Prius tops out at a governed 106 mph. but check out these max velocity stats:

    Chevy Silverado/Tahoe/Suburban (prev-gen): 100 mph
    Ford Explorer V8: 98 mph
    Ford Excursion: 92 mph
    Ford Expedition: 100 mph
    Ford F-150 V8: 100 mph
    Hummer H2: 99 mph
    Hummer H3: 99 mph
    Lincoln Navigator: 105 mph
    Toyota Sequoia: 101 mph

    Thought you’d enjoy that.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    bmilner: “I’d guess that (hybrid) buyers tend to be 30-40ish liberal, reasonably well off, well educated sorts. I’d also guess that they tend not to be VERY wealthy or conservative politically. Could be off though, which might be interesting.”

    For the most part, this is likely accurate, and hybrids are bought for all the ‘right’ reasons. However, I’d guess there is a (fortunately) relatively small minority whose main motivation in buying a hybrid (particularly a Prius) is their excellent resale value. In fact, there was a brief period when gas prices were at their peak that it was theoretically possible to sell a used Prius for MSRP. I’m certain there were a few of these folks who cashed in at that time.

  • avatar
    davaguirre

    This great car cost me 24100 with convience package. When you subtract 2350 tax rebate and fact that it comes standard with alloy rims and other features that non hybrid does not, it becomes an easy choice. So far average is 41 mpg. Love this car.

  • avatar
    adelie

    Anyone who really cared about the environment wouldn’t be driving anything. Period.
    Anyone who really cared about the environment would move to a city, live in a multi-family dwelling and walk, bike or take public transport.
    Ironically environmentalists are in a better financial position to afford this than anyone else.

    Normally a site about cars is the last place I would be leaving a comment, but curiosity/boredome seems to have led me here. I suppose I myself could be considered somewhat of an environmentalist… I in fact do not drive or own a vehical. I have never owned a vehicle. I don’t even hold a driver’s licence. I’m not saying that makes me a better person, it has just been my personal choice of how I wanted to live my life. Walking/biking/taking public transportation everwhere I want to go has it’s challenges at times (particularly in small towns). I am not sure I understand where having more money would make this sort of lifestyle easier? I didn’t have a lot of money when I decided to live this way… in fact I had very little. Perhaps I have misunderstood that portion of the comment? Anyway, in my oppion as a person who does not drive, I still think that people’s choices to drive a hybrid don’t exactly make them a poser. Sometimes people just don’t take into account all the other factors that contribute to environmental problems.

  • avatar
    johnpt

    I bought a Nissan Altima Hybrid a few weeks ago. This is the best car anyone could possibly buy. I have spent much time and effort researching everything that was available in my price range and this car is outstanding. Since the car is new I received the federal tax credit of $2000.00 and a Pennsylvania State tax credit of $500.00. Since I live in a state that borders on of the nine states that sell this car I was permitted to buy it and tittle it.
    This car is just amazing. I am 6 foot 7 and I fit in it better than all of the cars that I have test driven. (Even better than my Nissan Murano.
    The steering wheel adjusts in and out. The seat adjust amazing well.
    I can basically get almost what ever gas millage that I want. If I drive it slow and try to keep it in electric mode more often or at least until I get up to 40 miles per hour, it gets 47-57 miles per gallon. The hills where I live do hurt the gas millage due to it needing more than 40 horse power to keep up with traffic going up steep hills. If you live in a flat area I’ll bet you could get over 50 miles per gallon always. I ddrove it to Ohio this weekend and the mileage was great. Then I drove it 100 miles back home with a full tank of gas and I had three people in the car along with at least one hundred pounds of stuff. I drove on cruise at 75 miles per hour and pulled into my house with an average of 31.5 mpg.
    Then the next day I pulled out really fast. The multivariable transmission makes this car plenty fast. I have had fast cars in the past and this car got planty of pick up!!! Merging is super easy.

    Plus all the hybrid parts are made by toyota!! Who else could be more reliable. All the hybrid parts are guaranteed for 8 years or 150,000 miles.

    This car is a 10.

  • avatar
    randygrenier

    It’s not just about saving money and saving gas. Everyone who buys a hybrid or other fuel-efficient car is influencing the automakers to produce more and influencing others to buy. It’s about creating a greener trend. It’s about waking people up.

  • avatar

    I bought a Nissan Altima Hybrid in August and I love it. I had to jump through some hoops to get it here in Arizona, but I finally got it. I got the full package (with Nav, leather, etc.) since I hope to not have to buy a car for at least 5 years. I bought it to take advantage of the tax refunds, since if you lease you can’t get rebates.

    I really love the car so far. I trade in an SUV which used to get me 14 MPG with my driving style. The Altima has gives me 31 MPG so far, but I have also adjusted my driving style a bit, since I can only use EV under 40 mph. By the end of my time in the SUV, I tried hard to increase MPG but only got up to 16 MPG.

    So, right off the bat, I’m saving about half with each fill up. Granted, I bought it in the middle of summer, where the temps go above 110 F, so I’ve had to use the A/C a lot! My last fill-up was 10/8, 16.32 gallons, 481.5 miles, avg. MPG 31. I’m hoping it will improve once the weather improves.

    The trunk space is still pretty big, though the batteries take up a good chunk of the back of the trunk. (Its been hard adjusting from the space in the SUV to the car. Where do I put my ladders now?)

    I’ve noticed a few places where you can tell Nissan took shortcuts in the interior and such, but the keyless entry/start is cool and the tech package has bluetooth phone, iPod connection, navigation, XM radio and even traffic warnings.

    So far, I’m happy with it. In fact I love it.

  • avatar
    teeasal

    I bought a Pontiac G5 last year. It advertised as 27mpg city, 40mpg hwy. It’s real life gas milage based on my real experience?
    24 mpg city, 34 mpg hwy. My son’s Honda Civic died last month, I gave the G5 to him and I just bought a 2010 Prius. Reason?

    1. Same price…er…cost as the G5 in the long run. Real life gas milage of the Prius (brand new, not even broken in) are 50mpg city, 52 mpg hwy (and I am not a hyper-miler). Saves around $1000 worth of gas a year as compared to the G5 (my own real experience, not from manufacturer’s projected data) = $10,000 in 10 years, which is exactly the amount I paid for the Prius more than the G5. ( I drive every car >10 years until they go to car heaven, no re-selling)

    2. More room in every aspect. Mid-sized vs compact, huge leg room for all, huge trunk for cargo (can carry a bike inside when back seats folded down, G5? forget about it.)

    3. More comfort, looks and feels better quality.

    4. 134 horses vs the G5′s 150hp, but way more startup torque because of the electric motor. If you use its power mode, it runs like a sporty car at the cost of slightly worst fuel economy, like 40mpg city, which is still better than many cars. Once a Mustang rev his engine on idle at a red light beside my Prius. I took the hint and challenge and stepped on it in power mode when the light turned green. He couldn’t out-run me, period. (He actually gave me a thumbs-up before he turned away). Can’t do that with the G5.

    5. Potentially the Prius can be converted to a plugged-in, making it virtually unlimited mpg city for normal daily driving, and yet has no limit in range because of the ICE. (Just waiting for the battery technology to mature and cost to come down, maybe in a couple of years.)

    Just a statement for the rich people? I don’t think so!

    Forget about hybrids of normal car models which makes them marginally better fuel economy but much less practical. I’m semi-retired working part time, not rich, just smart.


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