After a recent car accident, and faced with higher fuel bills and a real phobia about buying new vehicles, I've broken down and done the most gay thing I've ever done in my life.
I bought a 2006 Prius. Used. For a thousand less than blue book.
And now I'm learning to drive all over again.
Things I've learned about driving a Japanese Parallel Hybrid (hate the "Synergy Drive" transmission on this thing):
If the car dies and you can't jump it, check the el-cheapo battery connectors that might have fallen off (Seriously- the prius spent 24 hours in my garage this week because I couldn't boot the computer- and it turned out to be the freakin' 12V battery connector fell off).
This hybrid is the worst of both worlds, it gets its best gas mileage under 25MPH accelerating very slowly or between 45 and 60MPH. Anything in b8etween sucks rocks. That means in city driving, I'm the slowest car on the road, and for entering the freeway, I'm the fastest car trying to get up to speed so I can put it in cruise control.
Light on the gas is best, except when it isn't- and it isn't whenever the speed limit exceeds 45. Then it is best to floor it until you hit the speed limit, and use cruise control. This sucks in traffic.
There is no physical neutral on the synergy drive. If your electronics die and you can't boot the computer, you can't shift to neutral to get the car out of the garage.
Likewise, the back trunk- where the batteries are- only has an electronic latch on the outside. If the battery is dead, you have to get your kid to crawl into the back seat, fold down the seats, crawl into the trunk, empty the trunk, remove the carpet, remove the floor, pull a rectangle piece of plastic out of the toolbox, feel around until he finds the latch with his hand, and then you can open the trunk. THEN you have to remove the toolbox, take out a body panel, and then you'll find the battery.
Despite all of that- I'm getting 45MPG in town- better than my manual Escort ever did. 51 highway- about the same as the manual escort. But it's a way more complex car that I do not entirely understand yet.
Maybe one day I'll add a better HV battery and charger and the EV mode button, then I'll have a car almost as decent as the Ford C-Max. Or, if I end up doing what I did with the Escort, in 10 years when the Prius dies on me the Ford C-Max will be available in the used market in the under $7000 range- and that may well be better.