Prius? HHR? Camry? Altima?


#1

I’m becoming an ex-minivan driver soon, and want some advice about what to get. I love some things about the minivan-- the seats (Sienna-- nice captain’s seats) and – the ability to haul lots of stuff. But I’m tired of driving a vehicle so hard to park and back up in. And the Sienna has 170000 miles on it. So here are my top four car choices, as well as my thoughts about them. I’d like feedback on some of my thoughts, below:

1. Prius. I would have bought this today, except for the 4 star crash rating on headons for passengers and drivers. Any thoughts on why how much difference there is between 4 and 5 stars? Or whether other factors, like the stability control, are really more important? I have a teenager, and live in southern California, where I have to contend with inattentive, aggressive jerk drivers. On the other hand, I like the way the Prius is laid out, with lots more space to haul stuff than I had expected, and I like the gas mileage.

2. Chevrolet HHR-- I like this because of the seats which hold you up nice and high, and I like the retro styling, and especially the cargo area. Downsides are that it’s hard to see out the back, and the JD Power ratings for reliability are stinko. Anyone had any experience with this and quality?

3. Camry-- This is still in the running because of the crash test rating. However, I liked the Prius better in terms of room and gas mileage. The Camry hybrid was a disappointment for trunk size, and price. I’m still considering the regular Camry for the safety.

4. Altima Hybrid. I haven’t driven this yet, but will tomorrow or Monday. Am I going to be as disappointed in the trunk size? Thanks!


#2

Try them all and see how you feel. On the Chevy HHR buy used as they have high depreciation making them a good buy at least if you live it.


#3

I’d like feedback on some of my thoughts, below:

You seem to have a number of hybrids in the list. Does your driving mix (much more around town, stop and go) favor a hybrid rather than just an economical regular vehicle? Remember that hybrid mileage tends to be much lower than the hype would lead you to believe, and you pay quite a premium, with debatable payback.

Any thoughts on why how much difference there is between 4 and 5 stars?

I don’t feel that there’s all that much difference between 4 and 5 stars, but others may differ. Why don’t you go to the website of whoever comes up with the ratings and see what the specific criteria are? You may need to write to them and ask.

Or whether other factors, like the stability control, are really more important?

That’s difficult to answer without knowing what kind of roads you’re on. Do you drive in snow during the winter (higher elevations, or head up into the Sierras to ski)? Are you on freeways and boulevards or twisty mountain roads (or the Coast Highway)?

I have a teenager, and live in southern California, where I have to contend with inattentive, aggressive jerk drivers.

May I suggest an M1A1 Abrams tank? If I had a nickel for every time I wished I had a rooftop remote control turret with a pair of .50 calibre HMGs and a “heads up” point and shoot aiming system, I’d be a very rich man and the highways around here would be littered with shredded vehicles. Anyway, the tank has a turn signal that just can’t be overlooked!

The Camry hybrid was a disappointment for trunk size, and price.

Those hybrids need a place to stash the battery packs, and most sacrifice some trunk space.


#4

Thanks to both of you. I hadn’t really thought of buying the HHR used, but that’s a good idea, if I go that way. I’ll do some research on the star system. I do a lot of stop and go driving mostly fairly close to home. (The salesman joked that here, north of San Diego, that also includes freeway driving-- sadly enough.) That’s the appeal of the hybrids for us, along with a desire to pollute less. We probably would not use this car much for long trips, so that’s not too much of a consideration.

Personally I’ve been fantasizing about some kind of flame thrower that would instantly vaporize the offending jerks.


#5

Since you are looking at a couple of Toyotas, also consider Hondas. There are conventional and hybrid versions of both the Civic and Accord. Gas mileage for the conventional Civic and 4-cylinder Accord is so good that you are unlikely to recover the hybrid version’s higher purchase price, especially when you figure in lost investment income.