Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Continuing on in a world with expensive oil: shopping for a hybrid

I had not planned to continue this blog following the end of "World without Oil", but I changed my mind. I find that I enjoy blogging about such things, and one more small voice appealing for change perhaps can't make much too much a difference, but it certainly can't hurt.

The post about the old Sachs moped wasn't just for show. I've actually enjoyed resurrecting the old beast, and have enjoyed riding it to work. There are some qualifications for a "moped day": I need to be able to wear comfortable clothes (i/e no meetings), no kids to pick up, and no rain expected. I had been hitting about 1 to 2 moped days a week, which wasn't bad. On each moped day, I would save about two gallons of gas over driving my Mercury Mountaineer which gets about 13-14 mpg in the city.

Last week I test drove a '07 Honda Civic hybrid, which gets about 49 in the city and 52 on the highway. I must say, its my new dream car. I always remember Civic's as being tiny, cramped little cracker box cars that drove like plastic soapbox racer. But driving the hybrid Civic was a really fun experience. The interior is much roomier than I had imaged a Civic would be; the roof was higher than I remember. Most interesting to me was the Civic's spacious backseat. Even with the drivers seat set comfortably for me, there was still plenty of leg room in the back seat. This is in CONTRAST to my Mercury Mountaineer, where I need to scrunch the drivers seat forward if I am going to be able to fit in the back seat.

The only thing missing from the Civic was a sexy digital gas mileage indicator which would track the high mileage I was receiving in this car. I would think that Honda would really want to reinforce that.

The Honda Civic drives nicely. You get used to the slightly perceptible "shudder" that occurs when you start up from a red light. Its just the Civic kicking on the gas engine, which it automatically shuts off when the car is stopped. It would be ideal if this shudder were imperceptible, but it really wasn't a big deal to me.

The only thing that kept me from buying the Civic was the extremely low trade-in that was offered on my Mountaineer, which won't let me pay off the loan on the Mountaineer. I was told (actually by two other dealers before this one) that the resale market for SUV's has gone into the toilet during the past 6 months. Even though the Bluebook indicated my car should be going for about $17,500, the best I've been offered on a trade is $12k.

Oh well...

I know that my next car will not be another SUV, even though I've driven SUV's since 1984. The times have changed, and I ain't going back.

Lets see what those 2008 model Civic's look like. If they've put in a sexy MPG computer, I may just have to bite the financial bullet and dump my SUV for a loss.

Meanwhile, the old 1978 Sachs Westlake moped is still cranking out 150 MPG, twice a week (weather permitting).