Why we bought a Prius...

Let me start off with an apology for this looooong post, ultimately, some person may some day do a search when they are trying to decide what car they want, and this might be helpful...

So while I usually am posting about my crafting prowess, I also have an issue with doing way too much research. Staying in a hotel? You bet I compare prices, locations, nearby restaurants....Sewing a quilt? I'm checking & comparing prices, looking at new fabric lines, and changing my mind in hopes of making the quilt bigger and better...in my house it is no different, when purchasing a new house I swear I scour every listing on the market...so of course it is no surprise that I do the same research when looking at a new car.

My husband and I purchased a brand new Honda Pilot a few months after we were married, 6+ years ago now. We did no haggling, and probably paid too much. At the time we were living in Colorado Springs, and my husband was going to be deploying for what we thought was a year long deployment. We had just brought home a second dog...so we decided we needed a new car with ample space for visitors, and dogs, but could handle the harsh Colorado winters (and I will add: I was told that that was the harshest winter in 20 years!) We have absolutely LOVED our Pilot. We've grown into it, adding two children to our family, and we still have room for more children! We've used all 8 seats, we've installed car seats, we've traveled crossed country multiple times...and all the miles were adding up, but most of all I was cringing every time I drove up to our new house (up a mountain) and having terrible gas mileage. {17 mpg IF we were lucky!} Most of the time I was making trips to Target/Walmart/School or the Grocery...no need for a HUGE SUV when it's just me and the two kids!

It reminded me of my favorite college professor (Dr. Mark Graham) and my decision to take Environmental Ethics my senior year, even though I didn't need the class to graduate, I loved his Christian Ethics class my sophomore year. {Remind me to tell you the story of throwing up in his class...but I digress.} In Environmental Ethics, I recall debating the various environmental issues plaguing our country/society/world...and something that stuck with me is the fact that ethically if you drive an SUV, you should also level out the consumption by having a very fuel efficient vehicle....for a while we only had the Pilot (while my husband was in Iraq) and then when we moved to DC my parents gave us an old Honda Civic with 190,000 miles that they were needing to replace. My husband drove that car daily until we moved and soon after he received his company truck....and then the civic sat in our garage basically unused. We never installed car seat specifically for this car, so usually only one child could ride, otherwise we'd have to do a major car seat shuffle....we barely put 3,000 miles on the car in two years....(which honestly if we did put 3,000 miles on it, I'm shocked...)

Best car ever. 
So let me get on to why we bought a Prius...I did all this research, we knew we wanted to keep the Pilot and only use it for long car trips when we need more space, so to offset the terrible gas mileage of the Pilot I wanted a car with 30+ mpg minimum, BUT could also fit three car seats....in case we have another child. And I went from car, to car, to car, checking, comparing, reading about possible 3 car seat scenarios, ultimately determining for most 3 car seat situations, in smaller cars, it is necessary to have slim car seats: either a Diono Radian, a Combi Coccoro, or some combination of both....but ultimately I realized it was going to be hard to find a standard car/station wagon that fit my 30+ mileage. I did not want to compromise on the mileage. So, when we were on vacation at my in-laws' my husband and I went to a Toyota dealership and scoured the lot. I actually really like the Venza, but it just couldn't touch the mileage requirement, don't even get me started on the minivan....but that definitely didn't fit my mileage requirements anyway...and I was surprised to really like both the Prius 3rd generation, AND the Prius V. We were happy to have driven both.

Fast forward a few weeks, we came home from vacation and continued to talk about the possibility of what cars we should check out. I really liked the new Mazda CX-5 SUV, and it came in a manual transmission (something we liked a lot!) but why get a second SUV when you already have one? Everything kept going back to the Prius.

Our bank has a car buying service, so on a whim I randomly checked out the prices there...and found that the Prius deals were minimal at best. I guess other people are onto the fact that the Prius is a pretty awesome car...that seriously gets 50 {yes, you read that right FIFTY} miles per gallon...Toyota doesn't have to offer fantastic deals, I suppose. I'll just go out an say it: I had a serious crush on the Prius once I drove it! 

Random Side Note: I chose the standard Prius (3rd Generation trim III) over the Prius V, only because of the additional gas mileage. The V averages 41mpg, but the Prius averages 50mpg....and we still have a big SUV with plenty of storage space. We decided to choose mileage over space, although the V had a few features we liked more (huge trunk area with cargo bins underneath--which the Prius does have, but they aren't as big) and the seats are slightly wider across the back. The V's front console isn't quite as futuristic, and had a better slot for purse storage, which this mom appreciated. Oh, and I also really liked that the V's back seat moved forward and back and wasn't fixed in place. It was also possible to recline the back seats of the V slightly, if I recall correctly. Both were clearly awesome cars, but for our needs we felt the standard Prius was a better fit (and also cost slightly less!)

From the bank's car buying service I was in contact with a dealership that was about 2+ hours away...and I kept reading on online posts (primarily from priuschat) that people COULD get deals, but mainly through mega-dealerships that sell LOTS and LOTS of cars. Through the Toyota website, I determined that Koons Toyota right outside of DC was a mass dealer. {This was later confirmed, I was told by the guy in financing that they are not the largest lot, but they do the 2nd most sales in the US, only behind a dealership in California---I don't know if it is truth, but I'm guessing they sell way more cars than our local Toyota dealership!} Although it was a slightly longer drive, when I contacted them over email they dropped over $1k off the price (so they were lower than the dealership my bank had linked me up with) they also had a HUGE selection, I'd been looking at local dealers and at most they had a dozen Prius on the lot, at Koons they had HUNDREDS. I did all of the haggling over email and the phone, ultimately getting them to drop $2700 of the initial MSRP, (just by asking, is this your lowest price?) and realized they were offering me a pretty awesome deal....and I was even getting the all weather floor mats included! OH, and I should add: our Prius has an optional sunroof with a solar panel that can vent the interior of the car off the battery so the inside of the car doesn't roast on hot summer days!!

It was a lot of driving in one day. But we came home with a beautiful new Prius, that can fit 3 cars seats across the back, PLUS fit all of the groceries and a small stroller. AND, I'm averaging 50 mpg!

We ended up NOT trading in the old Civic (they told me they were going to send it to salvage and crush it) which just seemed contrary to the idea of getting a new "green" car...why put a perfectly drivable car into a landfill for eternity when it could still be driven for a long time...my husband {who is the best sport ever} drove the Civic home and sold it the following day on Craigslist for DOUBLE what the dealer was going to give us! I'd call that a deal. {I was going to donate it to charity on Monday had it not sold on Sunday!}

Now, I still need to install said car seats (we've purchased one new one for now, with our spare Britax set to expire in June of 2013, so we'll replace that next year!) In the meantime, I'll be smiling all the way to the pump, it's amazing being able to go 500 miles between fill ups, and only having an 11 gallon tank---a fill up is barely $35. (I don't even think that's half of what it costs to fill up the Pilot!)

Although I am certainly no Prius expert, I think the best thing I read about the Prius was that (and I'm paraphrasing) the Prius is not the pretty girl, but it is the smart girl, and once you wise up and realize sometimes the pretty option isn't always really as attactive as the smart option, you'll be hooked.

I'm hooked.
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