Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

A bunch of questions

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Posted by Cathy F. on July 6, 2006, 12:39 pm

Background: I have been driving Corollas since '84 (after switching over
from a Plymouth Duster & then a Datsun B-210), & bought a new one in '04.  I
seriously considered getting a Prius this last time - instead of yet my 4th
Corolla ;-) , but... logistics weren't in my favor.

First, I'd promised (since '03) to sell my '98 Corolla to a buyer by the end
of June '04. Went car shopping in April, thinking that was plenty of time.
Ha!  Quickly found out that it was a minimum of a 5 month wait for a Prius,
& I couldn't even find one to test drive - or even just gape at.  Despite
trusting Toyotas - based on experience, I wasn't about to plunk down over
$0K on a new model of car, sight unseen or undriven.  Through the help of
the internet (actually I *think* it may've been a woman on this ng who
kindly e-mailed me about it) I was able to test drive an '04 Prius which the
Ithaca, NY Toyota dealership had as a rental.  Ithaca's 100 miles from here,
but was worth the trip.  Loved the car.  But... there was the little problem
of the gap created by selling my car when promised, & the new one arriving -
sometime in the future. At least a 4 month gap, probably longer.  My local
Toyota dealership offered me a deal of renting me a Camry for $00/month
until my Prius came in, but that could go on for months & months & months
(they acknowledged that they had virtually no control over which option
pkgs/colors arrived in their monthly Prius allotments), & so it would be
just more $ down the drain - despite being a great rental offer.

Secondly, no matter how many times I did the math, I realized that it was
economically smarter to just get another Corolla.  Even with gas consumption
figured in (although I wasn't figuring close to $/gallon at that point!)
along w/ federal & state tax breaks, over the course of approx. a 6 year
ownership the Prius would run me about ~$K more (than a fully loaded LE
Corolla - for which I bargained likely crazy & paid $00 above dealer cost)
for the pkg. options I definitely wanted on a Prius (IIRC, it was the 3rd
pkg - not the lowest deal, but not near the top, either).

Okay... So... I'm presently driving an '04 Corolla, not a Prius.  But in the
back of my mind, I'm still possibly thinking of one for the future, after
this car's paid off next year.  I usually like to drive my cars for 2 - 3
year loan-free, & then sell or trade them before they -really- lose value
(IOW, sell them just before they hit the "sell it now or drive it into the
ground" stage), but we'll see...

In the meantime, I have some questions:

1 - What changes, if any, have already been made to this present Prius since

2 - When is the next generation of the Prius supposed to come out?  '08, or
'07?  In reality, several months early for either date?  And what changes
since '04 have been bandied about as being liable to happen?

3 - I've had automatic daytime running lights along w/ automatic full
headlights (light sensor is on the top of the dash, near the windshield) -
which I *love* - on my last 2 Corollas.  Does the Prius have automatic
lights - no manual turning on & off, except for brights?  I got different
answers on this back in '04 when I asked salesmen, & I couldn't find it in
mentioned in the Prius literature back then.  Odd, IMO, but true.

4 - What's known - if anything other than pure guesswork - about the future
of the tax breaks for the upcoming years for hybrid purchases?  Federal?

5 - I've noticed in the last few months that all-of-a-sudden there are more
Priuses on the road here in upstate NY, & the local dealership has actually
had 1 - 3 of them sitting on their lot from time-to-time.  Are they still
being built in just one factory & just in Japan?  I know they added a work
shift in '04 to try to help out with the long wait list problem - did they
add more?  Or are sales down, compared w/ initial sales?  (Although I'm kind
of doubting this last one...)  Is there still a lag/wait time for the option
pkg. & color one wants, to show up after ordering?  Are dealerships helping
each other out & doing trades w. each other as they do with other models, if
they don't have what you want on their own lots? Or are most Prius orders
still being filled via monthly allotments & you have to wait for the next
fresh batch to show up & see if what you want happens to be on that truck,
or forfeit to the next person on the waiting list?

6 - How about price - MSRP?  I haven't paid anything *near* MSRP for the
Corollas, & refuse to.  In the end - usually by the 3rd bargaining session,
the salesman/manager always moves down, down, down... to what I was after in
the first place; they'd rather make any sale than lose it, is my
understanding.  I realize that supply/demand has mandated otherwise w/ the
Prius, re: price.  Are dealerships not budging an inch from the sticker
price, are they budging a little, or are they still getting *more* than

7 -  What tires come on it?  Do they handle well?  Do they corner well on
dry roads, are they good in rain - no hydro-planing, or on snow?  (I *hate*
the tires Corollas come with, & change them over as soon as I can - they
don't corner very well, & they're *horrible* on snow.  Waste of $00, but I
really can't stand the factory equipped ones - don't feel safe, esp. on

8 - The back-up beeper... is it heard only on the outside, or does it sound
on the inside, too?  How loud or soft is it?  One can get it disconnected, I
think?  (I can't imagine my neighbors appreciating it if I were to pull out
of the driveway late in the evening, esp. in the summers when windows are

Okay, I think that's it... thanks to anyone/everyone who replies with info.


Posted by Bob Wilson on July 6, 2006, 1:55 pm

I can't answer these questions since many of them 'depends.' What I can
share is how I got my NHW11 03 Prius after losing my '91 Camry in an
accident last September.

I looked at the Ford Escape and local Prius but neither was offered at
any reasonable price. The local Toyota dealer was adding $,500 to MSRP
and putting everyone on a waiting list. Then two months later, they
called me at work and said, "First one with $,000 to our door gets the
next Prius." I declined.

So I started looking at Ebay and in three weeks, bought a 2003 Prius,
last year of that production run, with 49,300 miles. I paid $7,300 and
flew out to Texas to pick it up. It now has over 64,000 miles and I'm
getting a little over 51 MPG.

Toyota has shifted the allocation around from time to time and one
California couple flew to Fairfax VA to buy a new Prius at MSRP and
drive it back home. One thing for sure, Ebay opens your options, a lot.

There are two Prius warrantees, 3/36000 and 8/80000. My thinking is a
Prius after the 3/36000 will have a lot of life left and give you years
and years of good service. You won't get the tax credit but the reduced
purchase price will make up for it.


Bob Wilson

Posted by Cathy F. on July 6, 2006, 3:09 pm

Thanks.  You're braver than I.  I've bought things on eBay & had no
problems, but somehow would be very leery of buying a big-ticket item - such
as a car - via that route.  And no matter how much I wanted one,  I doubt
I'd be willing to fly somewhere to pick it up. ;-)

No middle route of 5/50,000?

 My thinking is a

Thank you - just doing groundwork, to eventually make up my mind...


Posted by Bob Wilson on July 7, 2006, 8:52 am

It was a one-owner car and the price and age were right. I bought it
from a Toyota dealer so risk was minimal. I wouldn't have done it with
an individual.

I understand in some states it is 10/100000.

Bob Wilson

Posted by Cathy F. on July 7, 2006, 5:18 pm

Okay, that makes more sense - to me.

Well, something that I'd find out easily via the dealership. I'm pretty sure
I rmeember that the battery has a 10 year warranty, but don't know about the
rest of the car, in general.


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