Friday, August 30, 2013

I feel so ashamed!

 Well, sorta.

I started a new role at work this week. I'm serving as a chauffeur and companion for a developmentally disabled gentleman. This morning, I had my first opportunity to drive him around in the car that is designated for his use.

Yes, it's a Prius C.

I know, I know, I feel so dirty. OK, not really, but I was certainly not excited about driving the evil contraption. It's not a bad looking little car, sure, and it's nice and small, which I like a lot, but when the key is inserted in the ignition there is no "Vroom," no "putt putt putt," nothing but some pretty lights on the dash and maybe a dull hum. It's downright unnatural!

Putting the car into gear and pressing the accelerator doesn't immediately produce any discernible difference in sound output, but it does make the car go, which is, I suppose a good thing since if the car didn't go, no one would want it. In any case, it didn't go all that fast really. Acceleration was somewhat sluggish, but not too much worse than other small automatics I've driven. When we got up on the highway it sprang to life with more vigor than I expected, easily keeping pace with the other vehicles

The ride is surprisingly smooth, better even than any other small cars I've driven. Yes, potholes and manhole covers and rough road surfaces still telegraph up the spines of the vehicle's passengers, but it's not quite as jarring as it could be. The ride almost felt a little spritely, if not sporty. The driver's seat has a nice comfortable shape to it and supported my back well, despite the periodic jolts from the suspension.

I gradually found myself liking this little piece of machinery with its off-center instrument panel and quiet little engine. It still felt unnatural, but it had wooed me with its fiendish tricks.

I'm not sold on the hybrid idea. Sure, the fuel economy isn't too bad, but I owned a Hyundai Accent ten years ago that got comparable fuel mileage. The technology exists to make cars with comparable gas mileage and no hybrid engine, or to make vehicles that neither use gas nor an outside electric power source (Hydrogen fuel cells use no gas at all and run cleaner in every way, but have been abandoned by the auto-makers), but instead we have these fashion statement cars that cost quite a bit of cabbage, but allow the hippie types to feel good about themselves.

But, I liked the Prius C. It was fun to drive, was comfortable for a small car, and was reasonably peppy once the gas engine kicked in. I don't think I'd buy one for myself, but I can now see why someone would. I still think it's a bit of a fashion statement (as evidenced by all the greenie bumper stickers festooning the hindquarters of many a Prius), but it's actually a decent car. Of course, until the EPA uses the same standards they do in Europe allowing high mpg diesel and gas engines, It's one of the few current options for a decent high MPG vehicle in this country.

I think I need to go take a shower. I can't believe I liked driving a Prius.

No comments: