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Hybrids and FlexFuel revisited: recommend banazir's next car!

Poll #701270 What would Bana drive?

Bana is getting a new car! What should he get?

Ford Lincoln Town Car (4.6L, 2-valve, claimed 17 city/25 highway MPG, no 4WD)
Toyota Prius hybrid electric 4-door sedan (1.5L, claimed 51 city/60 highway MPG, no 4WD)
Honda Civic FA hybrid electric 4-door sedan (1.3L, claimed 49 city/51 highway MPG, no 4WD)
Toyota Highlander hybrid electric SUV (part-time 4WD, 31 city/27 highway)
Ford Escape hybrid electric SUV (all-wheel drive)
Something else

If you selected "something else", please provide the make and model of the vehicle you recommend (and list specs as above, if you know them).

If you selected "something else", please provide a URL to the vehicle's spec sheet.

Is your recommendation a joke?


Some notes:

  • SUVs: When it comes to SUVs, I'm leaning towards holding out for an E85 hybrid. Even the Ford Escape Hybrid E85 (whose prototype was unveiled in January, 2006) isn't out yet.
    Since I don't have a wife or kids yet, I figure I should wait until Toyota unveils a Higlander Hybrid E85 - those things seat 6-7 people!
    The Ford Taurus sedan and station wagon, which I was considering, come in an E85 non-hybrid variety, but it was discontinued for commercial sales in 2005 and is being sold exclusively to rental fleets this year.

  • FlexFuel (E85-compatible) Cars: The Lincoln Town Car is in the above list because it comes in an FlexFuel version that can take E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline), which I forgot to mention. I don't know the claimed mileage, though.

  • Hybrid mileage: There has been some controversy over inflated mileage claims for hybrids1, as you may have read.

  • Hybrid battery life and replacement costs: The cost of a hybrid battery replacement can run about $3000-4000, according to many sites.2, 3 I've heard $3500 and I've heard $5000. I think the estimates far over $4000 are exaggerations, courtesy of the anti-hybrid lobby. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

1 Gartner, J. (2004). "Hybrid Mileage Comes up Short", Wired News, May 11, 2004.
2 "Reliability", The HybridExperience.ca.
3 "Batteries are Key", HybridCars.com.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
I would say go for the Toyotas! Not just because my dad works for them either. :P They are a really stable company that produces reliable cars. Plus they did this whole commercial hybrid thing first, so they have been able to improve things. (plus a bunch of other companies are licensing Toyota's technology, so why not get it from the source?).
Mar. 30th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
I adore my little MINI Cooper. She's first-generation of the new ones (2002), so she's had some...problems...but I wouldn't trade her for the world.

And quite roomy, too!
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Nah, it has to be a classic Mini, those BMW thinggies should never have claimed the title of Mini.

So Mr B. get yaself a classic mini http://www.minimaster.co.uk/

I like them so much I have two (one is in bits, the other is waiting to be taken apart hehehehehhehehehe)
Mar. 30th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
What the hell dude?! You're a CS professor, you should be driving a BMW!

Seriously, a late 90s 325i would hit the spot.
Mar. 31st, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
Beemers, bleh
I had a student once who had an old Beemer. I find Benzes and Beemers generally a tad bit pretentious. I did like my uncle's Beemer and Benz SUVs, but they were 12 mpg gas guzzlers (9 city / 12 highway IIRC). I would much rather drive a Highlander Hybrid or even an Escape until I can get my fusion-charged electric hovercar. ;-)

Mar. 30th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
If you're looking at renewable fuel sources, be sure to check out biodiesel. If you're concerned with environmental impact, I've got four words when it comes to hybrids: battery manufacture and disposal. Also, diesel pollution has gotten much better in recent models, and will continue to get better when ULSD gets on the market. Biodiesel burns very cleanly.

The new TDis can run on up to B100 biodiesel straight from the factory. You'd need to make modifications if you want to run on straight vegetable oil.

I have a 2006 Jetta TDi with 8000 miles. My sister drives a 1999 Jetta TDi with over 200,000 miles. If you want to know more feel free to ask.

If you want an SUV, there are rumors that VW is going to bring a TDi version of the Toureg to the US for the 2007 model year. Also, Jeep now sells a version of the Liberty with a Mercedes diesel engine, but I don't know much about it.
Mar. 31st, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
My SO has a 2003 Civic Hybrid with standard transmission, on which he has put something over 70K miles so far. He follows the recommended maintenance schedule and has not had any major problems yet (except when someone dinged him in the parking lot, but that's irrelevant to your point). The mileage is not as good as claimed, though he drives too fast for the best mileage. I drove it last summer up to Minneapolis and back and got 45 mpg on that trip, but he generally gets more in the 40 zone.
Mar. 31st, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
I am not enthused about hybrids...but this is mostly a question of routine maintenance and safety. [The more I can repair or modify about a car, the better when owning.]

Mar. 31st, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
A valid concern, but...
... how much of your existing fuel injection system can you repair or maintain? I couldn't begin to tell you anything about the controller in my present car, a non-hybrid Honda Accord LX.

If I studied my car carefully, I would learn how to replace my battery, spark plugs, and fan belt. I MIGHT learn enough to replace a faulty distributor or starter... certainly not enough to tinker with the fuel injection or rebuild my engine.

Mar. 31st, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
Re: A valid concern, but...
Once you get into the integrated electronics (e.g., fuel injection), the real question is how far one is willing to go to legitimately be able to purchase replacements and otherwise sink capital into specialized hardware. It's a credential problem; the physical and intellectual skills required are actually less extreme.

Fact is, I haven't — but it's not that I cannot, it's that I'm not willing to divert a few hundred dollars of instant debt and tens of hours of time towards the cause.
Mar. 31st, 2006 06:41 am (UTC)
I prefer SUV's, Ford Escape or Jeep Cherokee. Not much of a foreign car fan. Not much of a car fan either, anything that can take me from point A to point B !

Speaking of which, I am working on Unmanned Vehicle, don't have to worry about the luxury parts, as long as it doesn't crash, hehe.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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