By on May 18, 2008

18_08_prius.jpgFrom TTAC commentator kawaii: New to this forum and found it interesting, however, confusing since I am a “mature” female on the waiting list for an ‘08 Prius. Husband just got a huge Tundra last December. I drive an ‘05 Subaru Outback getting 22 mpg. Now that I’m waiting for the Prius (which I wanted simply because of mpg and because I like to consider myself as “one who considers making small changes to help the environment”), but now I’m really wondering if this is a wise decision. Do I really NEED this vehicle? Will the Yaris ($10,000 less equipped the way I want it) or Corolla be a better choice? Drove the Yaris and liked it; have not driven Corolla. I live on a mountain in northern GA, drive 10 miles to work each day, rarely drive road-trips and go into the city 65 miles occasionaly. This next car will be one that I’ll drive until the wheels fall off. I can afford either car, but which makes better sense? Husband works from home (good thing with the Tundra mpg) and will retire in 5 years. Any advice?

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73 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Yaris or Prius?...”

  • avatar

    Depending on age/physical condition 10 miles might be do-able on a bicycle. Riding up the mountain might be a problem though. Just wanted to put in the plug for bike commuting.

    Grab your calculator and see how many times $4 goes in the $10k. That’s how many gallons of gas you can buy (currently) for the price difference between the Yaris and Prius. You know how many miles you drive in a year, so you can figure out how many years it takes for the Prius’ superior mpg to make up for the price difference. You also know how long you like to keep cars. (’till the wheels fall off means different things to different people)

    My guess is it takes several years of driving to make up the difference in price. Battery disposal is also an environmental concern.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The first question is whether you want to save the planet or save your finances. Once you have answered that question, the answer to the which car question is easy.

  • avatar

    Great Question.

    seems like you’re an empty nester and 90% of the driving time will probably be spent with 1 or 2 people in the car (ie: back seat probably doesn’t matter much).
    Given that you own a truck, you don’t really need a hatch back to haul stuff…

    So, if you don’t need to carry a lot of stuff, or use the back seat for kids, teenagers, carpooling, etc… it’s definitely wise to drive all three and then choose which one you like the best.
    If you want to vote with your wallet, you’ll get the yaris.

    However, at some point (if you can afford the money), one may [/can] think about spending some more money to support a cause they believe in.
    Now, forgetting all the ‘smug’ that associates itself with the prius, I would say, it is not ‘unwise’ to vote with your dollars to support a bridge technology to better transportation options (beyond the internal combustion engine)…
    You can think of this as a ‘sort of a grass roots thing’ – helping society (collectively) move towards a tipping point…

  • avatar

    If you can get SAB/SAC and ABS on the Yaris, get the Yaris. There are less electronic gizmos to go wrong with the Yaris; the difference in fuel saved with the Prius over the Yaris (if any, depends on your driving style, terrain and speed) is negligeable; it will be cheaper to repair.

    Put the difference b/w the two in your retirement plan/invest it.

    But above all, make sure you drive them before signing for it. We can suggest any car, but if it doesn’t feel comfortable/right when YOU drive it, does it really matter?

  • avatar

    When I ran our spreadsheet assuming our 2nd car would be used primarily to get me to/from work, I compared the Fit, the Corolla/Civic, and the Accord/Camry to the Prius over 5 years with a set of reasonable assumptions built in (avg $3.75 gas, estimated depreciation, etc). I didn’t consider the Yaris because it’s so poorly rated, BTW, and I think the Fit much more useful at the same price point.

    The conclusion was that the compacts were essentially about the same price as the Prius over 5 years (so a loser); the Camcord a few grand more; and the Fit about $4K less.

    So had I not then been saddled with the additional requirement that it become the NEW ‘family car’, I’d have gone with the Fit, even though I love the Prius.

  • avatar

    It is to your financial benefit to only buy a new car when you actually need to replace your current car. From a financial standpoint it makes absolutely no sense to replace your 2005 Outback. So you really shouldn’t buy anything right now for the sole purpose to save gas as you won’t save enough to justify the purchase.

    I drove a 1st generation Xb and drive about 25,000 miles a year I save about 400 gallons a year on gas over my old Honda. So even at 4 dollar a gallon gas I would save about 1600 dollars a year. I would take 8 years to recoup in savings the cost of buying the Xb. In my case I was going to buy a new car anyway so I simply chose the most inexpensive and most fuel efficient vehicle that allowed me to carry a lot of stuff available.

  • avatar

    Environmentally, the best choice is to keep the old car, keeping it well maintained and tuned so that you get the best mileage possible, and then drive it as little as possible.

    Financially, drivers who do a considerable amount of city driving can benefit from driving hybrids. Since it sounds as if you drive relatively little (I’m guessing under 8,000 miles per year), then the fuel savings to you would be negligible, and would be far outweighed by suffering depreciation on both the sale of the current Subaru and on the new vehicle that you buy.

    All and all, if you don’t drive much and the current car runs well, then keep the Subaru. If you insist on buying a car, then the Corolla is a safe choice — highly reliable and dependable, and relatively efficient for what it is. It’s not a thrill ride, but if you want solid consistent transportation and can live with the dullness, then it’s hard to beat. The Fit is also a fine choice, although it’s in a smaller size class than either the Prius and Corolla, and therefore not directly comparable.

  • avatar

    Robert Schwartz : The first question is whether you want to save the planet or save your finances.

    For me it is the latter, which is why I’m driving a 2002 VW Jetta TDI on home-brewed fuel. I don’t intend to buy anything new until I can buy another Diesel. I’d really rather drive something convertible with 2-seats… I imagine I’ll be waiting for a loooooong time for that. Good thing Diesels last a long time.

    As for kawaii, my first suggestion is to keep the Subie, until its wheels fall off.


  • avatar

    I cannot image that the Prius will “save the environment” much more then the yaris for your situation.

    You are paying for cutting edge technology so it is not the wisest choice. As you stated a yaris or corolla are the cheapest to operate when considering all factors, even of Tdi(s).

  • avatar

    If you want to save the planet AND save your money, buy a Yaris, then plant 10k’s worth of trees or fund a tree-planting organization or something. Yaris is extremely reliable (according to surveys) and the trees will be sucking CO2 out of the air even after you’re dead.

    Or, you can keep the Subie (they last forever) and plant 20k+’s worth of trees.

  • avatar

    Financially, one doesn’t even have to run the numbers to figure out the Yaris will have the lowest total cost of ownership.

    Environmentally, the Prius may rule on fuel economy, but the batteries involve a lot of nasty heavy metals.

  • avatar

    There are a lot of ways to help the environment than buying a car. I think its a little fantasy fairy tale to buy a Prius and safe the planet. I say donate money to environmental non profit organizations. 500 trees I think is what it takes to absorb all the CO2 a car kicks out. Plant 500 trees, its 500 bucks. Recycle, Use more environmentally safe materials. I don’t want to be harsh, but buying a car to safe the world is not very smart I think. Its running from reality. Its a fairy tale.

    If it were me, I’d say Fuck the Yaris and the Prius. I don’t like what I Tundra puts out on the environment but I cannot head (most of) the life of others. I buy cars I like and think about helping the environment in others ways. I donate to the Nature conservancy, I buy healthier, more responsibly made food, I use paper instead of plastic when its practical, I pick up trash once in a while, I put my trash in the garbage. I do not think we are needed by mother nature to by Prius necessarily, just pick up after ourselves.

  • avatar

    Something to take in to account is the resale/trade-in value of the Subie. They hold value pretty well, from what I hear.

    If you can get out of the Subie for a reasonable dime, my vote is for the Corolla. Even though the Prius has been around for 10 years, it is still unproven over the very long term. Nothing in the Corolla is rocket science. Twenty years and 250,000 miles is a piece of cake in a Corolla.

  • avatar

    You may also want to consider the safety of each car you are considering. I suggest consulting Informed for Life

  • avatar

    Something else to consider:

    You have a 2005 subaru, it’s already had it’s hardest depreciation hit.
    Within 3,4,5 years, there ‘should’ be significantly more [and better] options for a high mpg car in NA. Given the small amount of miles you’re currently driving and the fact that you want to buy a high mpg car and drive that one car for 10+ years, another prudent move would be to say you’re UNSATISFIED with the current options. Keep your subie for several more years (it’s a safe, reliable vehicle) and then buy something when you find something you really want.
    Projections / predictions say that plug in hybrids should be here in 3,4,5 years…
    diesel hybrids (probably a little further in the horizon),
    diesel in a compact / sub compact, etc…

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    ^^Agreed, Informed for Life is an excellent site.

    For your decision, I think the best choice would be the Yaris. Assuming you don’t have to drive around children or other people too often, and you don’t have to haul TVs around every day, the Yaris just makes more sense. It’s not quite as fuel-efficient as the Prius, but it’s still very efficient. The main advantage of the more expensive Prius is the Camry-like space and versatility, which it seems you probably don’t need. Thus, get the Yaris and, if you want, donate some of the money you saved to an environmental cause. Or, if you actually want some fun in your car, get a Honda Fit.

  • avatar

    If you drive primarily in heavy city traffic, the Prius will return notably better gas mileage than a Yaris or a Fit. Not enough to justify it on a solely economic basis, but if fuel economy is important for its own sake, it has an advantage.

    If you drive mostly on the highway or in longer, steady-state trips, or in hilly country, the Prius no longer has a great advantage, other than its slick aerodynamics and skinny, hard tires. I’ve been on Georgia freeways, and the Prius is really not in its element there — the 85 mph+ speeds leave it panting in a hurry.

    I’d go with the Yaris, or take a long, hard look at the Honda Fit.

  • avatar

    Answer –> Yaris…

    Overly long explanation:

    First of all, concerning the green factor, the real fuel economy might not be such a big difference. For instance, I don’t know how big that hill is but if it’s of any significance I doubt the electrical motor will do you any good.

    Also, there are some rumors that the extra energy it takes to create the hybrid drivetrain will never be regained by fuel savings. I don’t exactly know for certain of whether that’s true though, probably someone else here does…

    Then there are some long term durability concerns with the hybrid technology, since you do intend to drive it till the wheels fall of, you might want to hope that is within 7 years when the hybrid engine and battery packs are due for a replacement.

    And finally, what happens when the car has to go to the garage in the sky and ends up on the scrap yard. How are those batteries affecting the environment then…

    In the meantime, as a car the Yaris is probably as good or better to drive than the Prius, cause the Yaris has sensible tires and is much lighter. It’s still a Toyota of course but as far as Toyotas go the Yaris might not be the worst car in the world.

    And as for the ‘image’ question…
    I don’t know how a Prius will make you look like in your area of the US, neither whether you care, but to me it seems like most people who buy it do so to convey a green image or make a statement. Although you might not care about the image aspect of it yourself you will have to deal with those who do…good or bad.

    Oh and scrap the Corrola of the list. There’s a good review on these pages of one, making perfectly clear there’s no reason to buy one whatsoever.

  • avatar

    Since you say this shall be a car that you will drive till the wheels fall off, the choice is simple. Get a prius. Seems like toyotas can take 200,000 miles pretty easily. The combined rating for the yaris is 31mpg while the prius has 46mpg combined.

    So you drive 100 miles a week for your work commute, and then go into the city occasionally? Probably once a month? 65 mile round trip or one way?

    Either way it doesn’t really matter to see how much you save per year. Like I said you’ll probably be putting 200k on either car. That’s 6,451 gallons of fuel for the yaris, and 4,347 gallons of fuel with the Prius. So thats 6451-4347= 2,104 gallons less of gas. If gas averages $4/gal over the whole life of your car, you save $8,416, but you know gas is going to be way more than $4/gal 5 years from now. So I’d probably get the Prius.

    Also, since the Prius is a hybrid, it should be more reliable. I mean since the internal combustion engine doesn’t run 100% of the time for those 200k miles, there’s less wear and tear on it. Also since the brakes use regenerative braking, and only use the brake pads if you press really hard, your brakes will last a long time too.

    And, if and when gas ever goes up to something like $6 or $8/gallon, do you want to be getting 31mpg or 46mpg?

  • avatar

    Yes, because the Prius can operate under certain driving conditions without using fuel. The Yaris and Corrolla needs fuel regardless of the driving conditions.

    If she drives 50 miles a week how much fuel will the Prius use vs. Yaris and Corrolla. We are talking real world fuel use.
    I am referring to how much fuel will be left in the tank at the end of the week.

    In theory, if she does 20 miles of city driving the Prius should not use an significant amount of fuel while both Yaris and Corrolla will use at least 2/3 of a gallon of fuel.

  • avatar

    Sigh. More FUD. The batteries have a bounty on them – their environmental impact is likely LESS than the normal batteries found in a non-hybrid car.

    As for highway, I doubt very much whether the Yaris is going to be comfortable for long stretches at 85 either. Corolla, maybe. But the economics on Corolla vs. Prius show break-even after just a few years, and then the Prius winning. (The economics on Prius vs. Yaris would have a very distant break-even point).

    Most of us don’t spend most of our highway driving going 85 either. Yeah, great, you take a few trips a year. You aren’t going 85 on your daily commute though, for most values of “you”.

  • avatar

    Disappointed that kawaii seems to be considering only Toyotas. Obviously, there’s no consideration for a car’s “hoonage” qualities or style–two factors which neither Toyota scores especially well in. But it is her money, so…

  • avatar

    I heard Mr. Al Gore Says if u buy new vehicle u’re using up the environment already.
    Changing cars every 2-3 yrs also wastng alot of natural/un-natural resources.
    Except the haves can justfly to waste more inorder to save the planet?

    Her 05 Subie has anythng wrong?
    Then she may miss the AWD then what?
    Or find FWD unsafe too.

  • avatar

    Most of us don’t spend most of our highway driving going 85 either

    U may not need to get up to 85. But times merging nto freeway or changing lanes do need the most power. Just lke a plane takng off , u need all the power u have or else will be sitting on the side till traffc dies down.
    A underpowered car can be can be quite dangerous at times.

  • avatar

    Thank you all for your opinions and insight. No, there is nothing “wrong” with my Subie. I normally keep my cars for many, many years. The Subie replaced a 1993 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van that we gave our son. Because he is now living in CO and the Town and Country’s reliability is in question, I thought I’d give him the Subie with it’s AWD and get me something else. I’ve put a deposit down for the Prius, but, while waiting, began to question that decision. All of you have certainly given me food for thought! Prius, Yaris, Corolla or Fit? With fuel prices soaring and being on a fixed-income in about 5 years, I’m beginning to think the bicycle idea sounds great — except for the fact that at my age, I couldn’t peddle up the 2,000 foot mountain (by GA standards) that I live on!

  • avatar

    Blowfish: I think you mean “you.” I know not of this word “u” that you use.

    As for question, I have to second all those that recommend she keep the Subie for at least another few years. By 2010-11, Volt or not, there will be a plethora of options available, including what may be some very slick compact hatches.

  • avatar

    kjc117 : you write:
    “In theory, if she does 20 miles of city driving the Prius should not use an significant amount of fuel while both Yaris and Corolla will use at least 2/3 of a gallon of fuel.”

    How does a prius charge it’s batteries? BY RUNNING IT’S ENGINE!

    over a large sample average, if all one does is drive 10 miles at a time, city style driving, the Prius will use at lease 1/2 the fuel a Yaris or Corolla…

  • avatar

    I’d say the first question is, “what did you think of each car when you test drove them?” Did you prefer driving the Yaris or the Prius? You should also to take the Corolla for a spin to compare.

    Once that’s settled and you’ve determined which ones you really want to drive, it’s a simple calculation to figure out which one is cheaper (and therefore consumes less energy and resources) in the long run under your driving conditions. The only tricky part will be in predicting future oil prices over the life of the car! Keeping the Subaru might even be the best option, but I doubt it.

    Another factor to consider is that the Prius and Outback will be safer than the Yaris in a collision.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the clarification on your situation.
    So, with the subaru going on to a useful life else where, you ‘need’ another car.

    have you looked into buying something used?
    Buying a 1,2,3 year old vehicle is probably more environmentally friendly than buying a new yaris…

    you could get into something that still has a warranty and gets good gas mileage, etc…

    as mentioned above, there’s going to be [fingers crossed] a lot better options in 2,3,4 years…
    you could then flip your used car into a new one before you go on your retirement fixed income.

    Something else to consider: once you retire, do you plan on doing road trips? With the trend in gas prices, you won’t want to take the tundra, so getting something that is comfortable for long trips may be something to look into.

    Check out the VW Jetta TDI. – it arrives late this summer. It’s a small car on the outside (size of a corolla / civic), but is very solid for highway cruising.

  • avatar

    improvement_needed wrote: “over a large sample average, if all one does is drive 10 miles at a time, city style driving, the Prius will use at lease 1/2 the fuel a Yaris or Corolla…”

    Another way to put that is ONLY 1/2 the fuel. Which becomes a pretty small amount of fuel.

    Kawaii, You drive to work and back, 10 miles each way. Over a work year that’s about 4400 miles. If you look at your odometer, is that really all the driving you did? I would tend to doubt it.

    If your husband just bought a Tundra and you buy a significantly more fuel-efficient car then it seems to me that when you go places together, you are going to be more likely than previously to take your car, rather than the Tundra. The Subaru doesn’t have the same edge over the Tundra that a Yaris, Coroll or Prius does. You might think about how that affects the number of miles you will drive and take it into account in your plans. You might also ask yourself which car your husband will like better and assign some weight to that. If there’s he wouldn’t want to be found dead in a ditch in a , you might avoid that car.

    Others advised you to check other vehicles in this class… good idea.

    Me? I’d buy the Prius but that’s because I think energy recapture when braking is nifty beyond belief. We would end up doing most of our driving in that car (my wife has the longer commute, so she’d get the Prius weekdays). People who drive moderately will almost certainly see pretty good fuel economy. If circumstances change and you must commute longer, take other trips routinely, etc, the Prius gives you a litle extra hedge against rising gas prices taking a too-big bite out of your budget. Down the road, it may hold its value better than other cars (although Toyota is planning to ramp up production and that may change things a bit).

  • avatar

    No stick shift = no deal. :-)

    Also, since you are on a waiting list for the Prius, you will be keeping someone else from buying the Prius. Since you don’t drive all that much, you will probably be putting the Prius to less use than whoever you keep from getting that Prius. So, if you want to save the planet, then you should let someone else get a Prius.

    Finally, keep the Subaru for a few more years. By then, there will be tons of other high-mileage options.

  • avatar

    I don’t want to hijack this thread, but…

    improvement_needed wrote: “over a large sample average, if all one does is drive 10 miles at a time, city style driving, the Prius will use at lease 1/2 the fuel a Yaris or Corolla…”

    Another way to put that is ONLY 1/2 the fuel. Which becomes a pretty small amount of fuel.

    I agree with you, BUT double the amount of a small amount of fuel (given the original situation), is also a pretty small amount of fuel!

    In terms of fuel mileage, please accept that a hybrid (in current form – ie: prius) is marginally better than a similar sized vehicle (corolla)…
    (especially given the price differences)…

    When plug-in hybrid technology is brought to market, then the story will change… – in the mean time, there’s nothing wrong with the bridge technology, just please don’t tout it for something it isn’t…

  • avatar

    SunnyvaleCA – Yes, I have placed a $500 deposit on a Prius and on a waiting list; however, if I get my deposit back and remove myself from the waiting list, I don’t see how I’m keeping someone else from buying that car. There is no doubt in my mind, it will be snapped up before I could receive my deposit refund.

    Improvement_Needed – You have some very valid comments regarding purchasing a used vehicle and then flipping it for something new before we get into our fixed-income status.

    I trully appreciate all the comments on this post — ya’ll may have different points of view, however, it’s all very helpful to me!

  • avatar

    I’d generally vote for the Yaris over the Prius, for a number of reasons. I’m definitely on the side of the fence that believes the Prius essentially costs more against the environment (as compared to other cars) than it will ever save in fuel savings, as far as “the environment” goes.

    I sure like the Yaris, especially in hatchback form. It’s the kind of ultra-simple, ultra-low-maintenance car that captured millions of Americans’ hearts over the past 30 years, and kept those folks in Toyotas ever since.

    I would have said “keep the Subaru” if not for your further updates, but since it can be far more useful elsewhere, let’s indeed look at new cars. Unless….

    I’m not really a big fan of the “new” Corolla — especially if you get the bigger engine, which ruins the gas mileage. I’d far more prefer the previous-generation Corolla, which sold in great numbers, and satisfied millions of people.

    So, indeed, think about “letting someone else eat that drive-off-the-lot depreciation,” and consider a lightly used, previous-generation Corolla. It’ll get very good gas mileage — without looking up the numbers, I’d expect it to challenge the Yaris pretty closely. And, ultimately, it’ll probably be a more comfortable car to drive than either the Yaris or Prius.

    Good luck!

  • avatar

    thoots – Thanks! Long, long ago I drove a 1973 Super Beetle for 13 years. It was pure joy — loved the “compact” feeling and stick; however, I do not want a manual transmission at this stage of my life. The Yaris was fun to drive (2 door hatch) and reminded me just a little of that VW from my other life. Many people say the Prius and the Yaris are not “comfortable” cars to drive; the Yaris has an uncomfortable driving position, they say. I did notice my arms were extended quite a bit during the test drive, but thought perhaps that I had not adjusted the seat properly. The Prius has terrible visibility out the back window. I guess there are no perfect cars!

  • avatar

    I would vote for the Yaris or even the Honda Fit. The mountains would be tough on the Prius’s synergy drive.

    Or if you really want to go green check out

  • avatar

    You won’t want to go from an outback to a Yaris. You will definitely regret that decision. The Prius is a decision you will less likely regret because it’s a nicer car (nicer than the Yaris, but not as nice as your Outback). I would argue that you don’t need the car. It would take a while with a 10 mile commute to realize any fuel savings. Keep the Outback, it’s still pretty new, and it’s a great car that will last you while.

    That said, I just drove a Prius yesterday, and I gotta say it’s not that bad of a car. Though you really have to pay attention to everything that is going on to realize its full potential. I got 50mpg through hills with the AC on. I could see how a Prius would make sense for some, but definitely not all people.

    For those who are trying to calculate the Prius’s cost savings, simply dividing the price difference by 4 bucks is way too simplified, and there are definitely circumstances where a Prius could work. To name a couple examples: 1. If you drive more than 20,000 miles/year in an urban area 2. If gas prices rise to European levels.

    And batteries can be recycled. It’s not as if your Toyota dealer will take your old battery and throw it into the ocean.

    I’m all for hating on the Prius movement, but the Prius itself is not that bad.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    You live in North Georgia? I live in Powder Springs. Here’s the complete answer for your question.

    1) The best decision you can make from a monetary standpoint is to simply keep what you have and wait about five years for a real paradigm shift to take place with fuel economy. The Subaru is an excellent vehicle and with all the oney that you save from not buying the car, you can give it the care and quality parts it needs.

    As an aside, I just sold a 1998 Outback Limited with 77,000 original miles for $5500. If you are a conservative driver who doesn’t put on the miles, these models are among the best for resale value. My wife drives a 1997 right now and absolutely loves it.

    2) The best decision from an environment standpoint is to also keep what you have. Approximately 40% of a car’s ‘waste’ takes place before the car leaves the showroom floor. It takes an awful lot of materials and energy to build a car, and your next ‘new’ car will be more polluting regardless of what it is.

    3) The best choice between the Yaris and the Prius is… the one you like more and/or the one that can tolerate your budget. You can get the Yaris for about $10,000 less immediately and the car is definitely one of the best in it’s class.

    If it were me, I would keep the Subaru and just take five or six nice vacations. Your enjoyment on those journeys will be far more than what you’ll get from driving either one of these two vehicles. By the time the Subaru reaches 150k the automotive landscape will be vastly different than it is now… and so will the fuel economy.

    Hope this helps…

  • avatar

    Buy the Prius. It is fun to drive. I enjoy being the quietess guy in the neighborhood. I enjoy glancing at the MPG readout – who knew how much gas it takes to excellerate up an on ramp!
    The Yaris and Corolla seats do not support my lower back so I couldn’t consider them and the new Camry doesn’t come in a station wagon model so I couldn’t consider a Camry but the seats are nice. The Prius hatch back does fairly well with my load of sound equipment and the seats are OK. It has a strange shape which provides a surprising amount of room inside.
    The Prius model is over 10 years old and Toyota has had a lot of time to refine it.
    The argument that you could save so much money to buy gas with by purchasing a Yaris/Fit/Aveo/etc. really doesn’t make sense. Think about how much gas money a BMW owner could save by buying an Aveo instead of his BMW – so why didn’t he buy the Aveo? Because the BMW is so much more fun to drive and so is the Prius.

  • avatar

    Steven Lang – Thanks for your opinion. I’m up in Jasper. Left Alpharetta and all the congestion to build a log cabin in the mountains. You and “improvement_needed” make a very good argument about keeping the Subie. It is an excellent car, but my concern for a son in CO who drives our old ’93 mini-van when it’s raining and bikes to/from work when he can has me in this quandry. He can’t afford to buy anything – used or new. The Subie would be a perfect car for us to give him. Therefore, I would need a replacement. Still, I could just do nothing until forced to when his mini-van dies. Hopefully, if I made the decision to do nothing, I could retrieve my $500 Prius deposit.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer


    You will be fine with either car. If you put a deposit on the Prius, and like it, and the capital cost upfront isn’t much of an issue, go for it.

    One possible advantage for the Prius: if you live on a mountain, you might go down it in the mornings with little or no gas engine usage, depending on your speed.

    Coming back up the mountain, if it’s a long steady steep grade, you might run out of battery power, which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a moderate/mild driver. If you drive briskly, and want full power at your disposal at all times (coming up), that might be an issue (see review, although I doubt you drive like our reviewer did).

    If you think oil/gas prices will continue to rise, the Prius is a good hedge.

    The biggest difference is that the Yaris is a smaller, lighter, stiffer-riding car. The Prius is more substantial, quieter, and has a better ride, as well as getting better mileage.

    One last thing; the Prius’ depreciation is incredibly low, and will stay so as long as gas prices stay high.

    Enjoy your new car (I suspect it will be the Prius).

  • avatar

    Keep the Subie!
    If you REALLY need a versatile fuel efficient small car, take a look at the Honda FIT before settling on the Yaris.

  • avatar

    kawaii, Prius makes a lot of sense in city traffic (so it would be a good buy for me), Yaris makes more economic sense out in the country (so it would be a better buy for you). Hatch with a 5sp is fun (but even an auto is not bad, and the fuel efficiency is almost identical).

    With your driving patterns there is no way you will ever make up for the price difference with Prius.

  • avatar

    My own opinion is this…
    You have a car now.
    The problem you have is the mountain commute and the seldon taken city trips.
    That means more hwy than city…not a real hybril specialty.

    Keep your car until the whole diesel thing shakes out.
    By this time next year, we will have a much better idea of what diesel price is, what tech breakthroughs show up in cars like the VW, BMW, Subaru and I hope even Chrysler…and where they really end up price wise.
    These could be wonderful options.
    So I would hang in there for a year.
    And cancel the Prius.

  • avatar

    I was out with my mother today, and I saw several Prii. Look like nice little cars.

    I would say it depends on several factors. The $22000 base price of the Prius today makes it about the same price as a typically-equipped midsize car. It’s about the same size as a Focus or Corolla, but appears to have more interior room on paper. The Yaris is outperformed in fuel economy whether on the highway or in the city according to the EPA, and has less range (around 320 miles versus 570 in the Prius). It is also smaller than the Prius in just about every interior dimension save headroom. It has less storage space behind the seats. Edmunds ranks the Prius higher than the Yaris.

    On the other hand, the Yaris is lighter and has more torque and not much less horsepower, meaning the Prius would not be the way to go if you want a sporty car, at all. The Yaris is half the price of the Prius.

    Overall, I would almost certainly go with the Prius.

  • avatar

    The Yaris. For many of the reasons stated already.

    Primarily, I think the Yaris could be fun to drive, especially with a little work.

  • avatar

    First off, either vehicle you mention would be a fuel-efficient choice, as are other vehicles mentioned in this thread (e.g., the Honda Fit).

    Here are a couple of Web sites you can use to help you decide: (for both reliability data and “apples-to-apples” price comparisons)

    Finally, if you often have to drive during inclement weather, you might want to consider the Suzuki SX4 hatchback Crossover with AWD. While the SX4’s fuel economy isn’t in the same league as the other vehicles mentioned in this thread, it’s still an improvement over your Subaru Outback (24 MPG EPA combined cycle, versus the Outback’s 22 MPG EPA combined cycle [I’m assuming that you have the 2.5L 4-cylinder, as other 2005 Outbacks have worse mileage on the EPA combined cycle]).

  • avatar

    I’ll try to offer a different perspective as someone who worked in detail at a Toyota dealership over two summers.

    People have argued the economical merits between the Yaris and Prius, so I won’t go there. One thing that hasn’t been beaten to death is aesthetics.

    Simply put, the Prius is a waay cooler car on the inside than the Yaris. You get the touchscreen and the backup camera and stuff for under 25k, and the interior is very nice to be in. The vehicle is more functional (unless you go with the Yaris hatch, known in the States as the Scion xD) to haul stuff and it just feels like more car, because, well, it is.

    The Yaris is basic transportation, nothing more. The interior feels cheap, the seats feel cheap, but if that’s what you want, then more power to you! But if the initial money isn’t a huge deal, then the Prius is the better vehicle by far.

    People mentioned the Corolla, and that’s not a bad buy either. People on this site don’t like it cause it’s a boring appliance, but it’s that attribute that makes it a great all-arounder. A three year old Corolla might be a steal – you’d get that car at a Yaris price or less and still have good economy, then you’d be in position to get any one of the next-gen compacts that’ll be out in a few years.

  • avatar

    Brendino: unless you go with the Yaris hatch, known in the States as the Scion xD

    Sorry, two different cars, different look, different dimensions, different engines:

  • avatar

    If you really only need a car to commute and occasionally go into town, may I recommend you lease a car? It’s better to lease things that depreciate and buy things that appreciate.

    You could easily get a lease for 10,000 miles per year. And, as hybrid technology matures, at the end of your lease, you could buy the next generation of hybrid powertrains, if you choose. I believe the residuals (value at lease end) are going up as fuel prices trend up.

  • avatar

    If you’re going to drive it for a long time to come, I’d go with the Prius, for its upscale interior (relative to your other choices) and wagon utility.

  • avatar

    If you go for the Yaris, at least make sure that it has ABS and side airbags, Consumer Reports rated it very low because it was available (2007MY) without those essential features.
    If you must have to two-door hatch, get a Yaris per above, if not, consider the Honda Fit base model — it rates considerably higher than the Yaris, and is only a few bucks more. Overall, it’s just a nicer car in many small ways.

  • avatar

    With professional pundits declaring that oil will be $200 per barrel by next year, all of our Presidential candidates from the major parties presumably solidly in the pockets of the oil companies (as always), an upcoming CO2 bill which will add $1.50 to $5.00 per gallon of gas in the US which will pass since all 3 major Prez candidates are swallowing the global warming hype hook, line and sinker, and very thin profit margins on the retail side of the oil market – I did a little calculation.

    Figured a more normal retail market profit margin (comparable to the Katrina shortage), $175 per barrel pricing (long term), a modest $1.50 extra per gallon from this stupid CO2 bill which is going through Congress early in June (and will surely be passed), and concluded that by Memorial Day 2009, the average US price of fuel will be:

    $12.00 per gallon.

    I calculated that it would have been $12.77 a gallon except for a rather massive 12% drop in US demand (working out as a 6% drop in price) due to a massive recession and reduced fuel demand, exacerbated by the projected fuel price.

    Anyone want to scan their credit card SIX TIMES to fill up an SUV, being limited to $50 per swipe?

    Go Prius. You’ll find the room and comfort more to your liking long-term, compared to what you have now. Plus, by the time you add the equivalent safety equipment on the Yaris, the price is quite significantly higher than you might think.


  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Kawaii, in that case the best thing you can do is have him keep the minivan until it dies. However, it would pay to do a few thing for him.

    1) Preventive Maintenance

    Have him grab a copy of the Hayne’s manual (which is very easy to read) at a local part’s store. If he is truly financially impoverished at this point, give him the means to get a very simple tool set and learn to do the basics on the car. (oil change, checking the air filter, cleaning the battery terminals, checking the fluids, etc). These are things you can train a monkey to do.

    My decision to do that at an earlier age eventually helped me keep my wife’s cars running in good order until we got married and I could finally afford to buy her a late model vehicle. Over the course of a lifetime, that basic knowledge and understanding will net him a savings well into the five figures.

    2) Have him hook up with some of the enthusiast groups and, yes, they do exist for minivan owners.

    Yahoo has a few, is a neat site for minivan owners, and I think Paul Niedermeyer may know of a few others as well. These sites can help greatly demystify the car repairs and car ownership experience and can help him from getting ripped off. Even today, if I still have a difficult issue with a vehicle I refer to those sites.

    3) Small things can help an older vehicle run for a very long time… and will yield a happy and intelligent owner.

    If the car looks tired it wouldn’t hurt to get it detailed. Also using top quality tires and parts make an ENORMOUS difference in how well a vehicle will run and be kept. I had a car that I kept for 239,000 miles and it still ran and shifted like new because I kept up with the maintenance schedule and used top quality components (the one area I’ve never skimped on). I was able to sell it for the same price as one with 100,000 fewer miles due to my diligent maintenance and conservative driving.

    The only exception to this rule is fluids (engine oil in particular) and filters, which can be had on the cheap so long as they pass API SL standards. There will be a little insignia on the oil bottle that shows that sticker.

    Overall, you will be far better off and he will be better off if he takes this time as one that can educate him and give him a greater degree of independence. When it comes to big issues, email me. Robert Farago will be happy to provide you with that information.

  • avatar

    Will the Yaris ($10,000 less equipped the way I want it) or Corolla be a better choice?

    I’d suggest you add the (non-hybrid) Honda Civic sedan to your list.

    The Civic has a lower initial purchase price than the Prius, offers more amenities (in EX trim) than the Yaris, and is rated as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).

    My 2006 Civic coupe (manual tranmission) has a lifetime average of 31.x MPG, from purchase date (7/11/2006), up ’til now (at 31k miles). And the Civic with an automatic transmission is rated a bit higher (by the EPA) than the manual.

    It’s gotten good crash-test ratings; is a front-wheel drive car (so with four snow tires on it, goes great in the snow), and is quite reliable.

    Just a thought.

    Finally, as others have mentioned, the Honda Fit, (with its flexible interior), and due for a total redesign in 2009, may also be worth a look.

    Good luck with your decision!

  • avatar

    If you can, test drive a FIT before deciding. The interior is huge compared to a Yaris and bigger inside than a Prius. Although the FIT doesn’t get quite the mileage of a Yaris or Prius, I hear it is a much nicer place to be, and way more fun to drive.

  • avatar

    Cheapest solution: Send your son $5-6k and tell him to buy a used Subaru or something like it. He can probably pick up a not-fuel-efficient SUV for a handful of beans at this point, nobody’s buying them and it would give him the utility he might need in CO. Keep your Subaru for a few years and buy a used Prius in 2011, assuming there isn’t some game-changer on the market. That way your kid gets a more reliable, safer car, you save at least $6,000 ($16000 if you were going to buy the Prius) and you’re really doing what’s best for Mother Gaia.

  • avatar

    If you’re going to drive it ’till it drops, a manual transmission Yaris would be my preference, although, like others, I’d look at Honda’s Fit/Civic too.

    Pruis are fine cars for urban scooting. But until they have the same 30 year+ track record as 4 cylinder sticks, I wouldn’t recommend them for owning/driving into the ground. Full disclosure: I’m NOT environmentally conscious, but I like small cars. Happy shopping…

  • avatar

    Corolla or Fit

    the Yaris is a piece of trash

    the Prius drives like novacaine

  • avatar

    My father drives a Tacoma, my mother drives a Prius, and my brother drives a Yaris. Having driven all of them, I can say that, frankly, I don’t really like any of them.

    As for this:
    I like to consider myself as “one who considers making small changes to help the environment”

    Consider the Truth About the Toyota Prius.

  • avatar

    @hwyhobo – sorry, should have been more specific. I was referring to the 5-door hatch, which isn’t sold in the States because there’d be waaaay too much overlap between that and the xD. they took the 5-door Yaris, added an inch or two to the length, and touched up the exterior a bit. Basically, they’re the same car.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Ten mile commute?

    Twisting mountain road?

    Neither. Yaris or Prius.


    So you use 20-30 percent more fuel. You can still easily eke 25 mpg hwy out of the little Porsche. It’s not like it’s a planet killer. Just sayin.

    Mountain roads. Short commute. Big smile on your face every morning. And evening when you get home.

    No brainer of no brainers.

  • avatar

    get a honda fit.

  • avatar

    pariah – Went to the site. Very interesting reading.

  • avatar

    I would agree with Domestic Hearse,
    but buy STI instead. Cheaper than boxster, and I’m
    getting ~23 mpg on mine ( I live on 9000 feet mountain in CO, 50 miles commute down to Boulder ).
    As for safety, I would not drive anything but AWD here in CO.

  • avatar

    pariah, I cant believe you are trotting out that bogus study which has been thoroughly debunked here and elsewhere, just to confuse kawaii.

    kawaii, check out these links to dispell those myths you have just read.

    That being said, (speaking as someone who drives the San Francisco hills daily) a Prius will be a tough ride as you climb and climb the hills. Any car will hate the climb, it just feels worse in a Prius because you can see and feel the mpg loss. It feels great going down the hill though!!!

    I’d still say go with the Prius, it is just way more livable a vehicle, especially if you intend to keep it for the life of the vehicle.

  • avatar

    pariah, that article about a Hummer being more environmentally sound than a Prius has been debunked in so many ways and in so many places, that it boggles the mind that it keeps appearing when people discuss the Prius online.

    Plus, it just simply does not make anything like common sense to even consider that it could be so. But then, sense appears to be rather uncommon of late in the world we all share.

    I’ll let you all know how my 2008 Prius works out after it reaches 260,000 miles at my retirement in 16 years 2 months. At that time, I plan to retire it and buy a retirement car to last me the duration. I’m already saving up a little at a time.

    I have every confidence that it’ll reach the goal (unless some knuckle dragging imbecile drives into it and totals it out, or a tree falls on it in a storm, or something).

    Why can I say that? Because Prius’s are now running 400,000 km (about 250,000 miles) in two years, in taxicab duty up in Canada and they are so successful, that the cab drivers simply go out and buy another.

    How many gallons of fuel will a 2008 Prius save vs. a 2008 Hummer over 260,000 miles?

    Of course, it’s a bit of an unfair comparison, because at the rate things are going, nobody will be able to drive a Hummer that many miles to find out!

  • avatar

    BTW the nickel mining “moonscape” around Sarnia, Ontario is from damage done prior to about 20-30 years ago, when environmentalism started coming into the fore in Canada as it already had in the United States about a decade before that. Yes, I recall reading in my father’s 1955 Popular Science magazines about how AMERICAN companies had invented catalytic convertors to eliminate air pollution in smoke stacks, and how they could reduce costs for the companies using these stacks by pre-heating the furnace intake air by running it past the catalysts. It was a win-win situation all around, and we were at least 1/2 century ahead of the biggest polluters in the world now – China and India.

    No Prius has ever been built prior to 1997. To link the Prius to the nickel mine wastelands near Sarnia is utterly disingenious, and worse, it is totally misleading, false and hyperbole of the worst kind.

    Unbelievable nonsense, and it’s even coming out of a university web site. They should be ashamed of themselves for writing and publishing such stuff.

    Don’t be gullible, folks.

  • avatar

    FWIW safety ratings as reported by the Informed for Life site mentioned above (lower scores are better)

    2005 Subaru Outback 92.0

    2008 Toyota Prius 79.1
    2008 Toyota Corolla 99.3
    2008 Toyota Yaris 117.7

    2008 Honda Civic 90.1
    2008 Honda Civic Hybrid 91.6
    2008 Honda Fit 107.7

    Safest car out of those choices the Toyota Prius. Next safest is the Honda Civic.

    The Corolla, Yaris, and Fit are all less safe than a Prius by a noticeable margin.

    Going outside the obvious choices in this thread the safest car is

    2008 Acura RL 4-DR. 46

    But given it’s horrible gas mileage it sure isn’t an option in this discussion.

  • avatar

    The Yaris is a subcompact. The Prius is a midsize, almost as big as a Camry. The reason the Prius sells so well is because you get better-than-sub-compact fuel economy in a midsized vehicle. If you want a smaller, cheaper vehicle, then get a Yaris (or a Corolla (compact), or a Scion xD (five door, better equipped version of the Yaris hatchback)).

  • avatar

    menno :
    May 19th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    pariah, that article about a Hummer being more environmentally sound than a Prius has been debunked in so many ways and in so many places, that it boggles the mind that it keeps appearing when people discuss the Prius online.

    That “study” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve already been involved in one bash-fest of that study, so I won’t go any further with it except to say that anyone who believes that study would be best to keep quiet about it if they’re ever surrounded by engineers. You might as well be arguing against the law of conservation of energy at that point!

  • avatar

    dhanson965 – Thank you for the figures from Informed for Life! I thought my Subaru Outback was far safer; weight is a big factor, I suppose. In any event, since I’ll be driving this next car for 10 or more years, it bears keeping these figures close at hand. Of course, I am in a small town and rarely on interstates, but . . .

    There have been many opinions offered on this thread and information provided to me that I had not considered previously. Options presented that hadn’t crossed my mind. I do feel better informed by “the best and brightest” — still undecided, but certainly better informed!

  • avatar

    I only do whatever Al Gore says to do.

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