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To buy a Prius or not to buy a Prius

I have been a VW owner all my life and I am planning to take the leap in buying a Prius. I currently have a 1999 VW Jetta w/ 165,000(replaced the timing belt once). We’re debating whether we should purchase a 2010 or 2011 Prius, ORRRR wait for 2012 Prius, which is supposed to have an electric plug in component. Your advice would greatly be appreciated! Thank you - Lisa & Brian

If you keep waiting for future improvements, you will be like me. I still drive my 1978 Oldsmobile because I keep waiting for the next round of improvements. I have a friend who has a 2005 Prius and has driven it about 90,000 miles. He has had no problems and gets about 50 miles per gallon. Keep in mind that the plug in component will take electrical power which you will have to pay for through an increased electric bill unless you sneak an extension cord to a neighbor’s house in the middle of the night and run up his electric meter. In terms of savings, I’m not sure how much you will save by using the energy from the electric lines. I guess if you can get a good price right now on a Prius, this might be the time to make the purchase.

I would buy a Prius reasonably soon if you can justify that it makes sense for you.

You have an 11 year old car with 165,000 miles on it, or 15,000 miles per year of driving. That is normally not enough to justify the extra cost of a Prius over a similar car without hybrid design. Prius operators tend to be high mileage drivers, and they make it pay quickly even without $4/gallon gas.

If you wait till 2012 to buy your Jetta will be getting into the phase where major and expensive repairs will start happening.

Since you are likely going to keep the car a very long time, try to project what gas will cost in the US 11+ years from now. That’s likely at least $4/gallon. So, if you plan to drive the same car a longg time, buy a Prius. And I’d buy a 2010 at a discount when the 2011 models appear in the showrooms. Depreciation is not an issue if you keep the car a long time.

Reliability-wise the Prius will be substantially better than any Volkswagen, and a $2800 battery replacement at about 10-15 years will be much less than a rebuilt transmission in a Jetta.

If gas prices stayed at their present levels forever (not likely) I would buy a non-hybrid car such as a Corolla, Civic, Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra. All these will cost less to maintain and repair than your Jetta.

Thanks for the laugh. In my mind’s eye I can see you waiting for the next new Oldsmobiles to arrive…

To the OP: I’d get one now. If you can find a leftover 2010 you should be able to get a good deal. They’ll be looking at clearing that inventory.

Thanks for the laugh. In my mind’s eye I can see you waiting for the next new Oldsmobiles to arrive…

Actually, I’m waiting for Chrysler corporation to bring back the DeSoto.

Are you asking whether or not to buy a Prius or ‘when’ to buy a Prius?

If it is whether or not, it’s going to depend on number of miles, gas price pridictions, and the like. For me it was a break even vs. similar sized cars at 10 years and I didn’t want to risk battery replacement and the surcharge that you’d be certain to face by mechanics knowing they can charge you more on repairs specific to hybrids.

If it is when, I like to ‘make payments’ to my bank account for a while to get used to the monthly hurt and to be able to finance less. I’d also start talking to dealers, but not buy… wait until they call you when the rebates and deals. At this point if you buy now or a year from now your 99 Jetta will trade in for about the same. Let them know you are willing to wait for the 2012 and they may make you a deal you can’t refuse on a 2011.

If you really want a Prius, now is a good time to buy a 2010. You can get one for about $350 over invoice, and Toyota is offering $750 cash to the dealer for each sale. You should be able to get the whole $750. You could wait for a 2011 and might pay near MSRP. You keep your cars a long time. I would not be concerned about resale value at all.

Or you could look at a 2010 Jetta TDI if you haven’t already.

Prius is a gass/electric hybrid. It does not need to be plugged in at night to recharge. When the batteries need charging or in a high load situation, the small gass engine kicks in and recharges the batteries.

Yes, buy the Prius, not because it’s hybrid or anything like that, but because it is a nice car with an outstanding track record for reliability.

My boss bought one just because he drove a friend’s Prius and was so impressed that he wanted one for himself. Probably the only Prius in town driven by someone who tunes his radio to Rush Limbaugh instead of NPR.

OP: Everyone thanks so much for the advice and information! I am going to go for the Prius NOW and see what I can negotiate. Have a good weekend!

The plug-in would be almost worth waiting for. But why are you only considering the Prius? Is it the ‘cool’ factor, the myth of being ‘green’ by owning one, or the MPG?

You will not likely ever recoup the extra expense for a Prius regardless of how good of mileage it gets. If you have your heart set on a Prius, I really would wait for the plug-in version, especially if you do a lot of around-town driving. Of course if you do mostly highway commuting, you will not see much of a gain over an economical non-hybrid car.

Let us know how it turns out.

If you regularly drive about 40 miles a day at about 50 mph or less then wait. The point of the plug in is it allows daily commuters to use -0- gas on short commutes. If this isn’t going to be your normal driving pattern then there is no advantage worth waiting for.