I have to say that as a geek, I was very excited to drive my first hybrid. I’d seen all the commercials and had daydreams about the gas mileage saved and how smooth the ride would be…wow was I disappointed.
The first hybrid I tried was the Honda Insight. Words can’t even describe how bad this car is. Now, it’s been a while since I drove this car and I should have written down all the (many) faults at the time, but honestly? I wanted to block them out. The thing I remember most is: NO POWER. Holy crap this thing was like being powered by gerbils! At one point in my weekly commute, I go over a smallish set of mountains so the incline’s pretty steep. With this car, I was put-put-putting along at a rough 50mph and that was with the gas pedal to the floor. When a car from the 1950’s flies by you and it’s practically rusting apart, there’s something very wrong with your brand new car.
Living as I do in southern California, power is a must have for the freeway. I wouldn’t use this car again unless I was desperate and even then, walking might be faster. And safer. Oh and the gas mileage? Meh. Didn’t notice a difference, but then, I didn’t have the econ on, because my Prius-loving boss told me that would give me more reponsiveness/power for the ride home. It didn’t.
The second hybrid I tried was the Honda Civic. This was… not great, but better than the Insight. (Not that that’s a high bar to get over, but…) It didn’t really have the power I need for getting on the freeway or over the mountains, but it did okay tooling around the city. The weird thing about the Civic was the location of the brake pedal. It was dead center, which meant I almost missed it a couple of times with my foot until I got the hang of where it was. Very odd. The Civic was a little more high-tech than the Insight, in that it didn’t feel like a car that someone shoved hybrid equipment into, but more of an equal mesh. I didn’t notice any difference on the gas saving in this one either, but again, I forwent the econ in exchange for hoped-for power.
The last hybrid I tried was the Toyota Prius. After all the things my boss waxed poetic about, I figured that surely, the Prius had to be the ultimate car ever made. Here’s my main problem with the Prius: I had to call Zipcar and ask them how to use the damn thing. Seriously. I couldn’t get it to turn on, figure out the gear shaft (B as an option? wtf is that about, anyhow? Even the zipcar lady didn’t know. And why is Reverse in FRONT??? Even as a lefty (meaning most things are backwards to me) that makes no sense.), or find the lights, or get the music to work with my iphone, no-thing. And then I got to the gas station (thank you person before me for leaving not enough gas), and couldn’t figure out how to turn off the car or get the tank to open so I had to call them back. *headdesk* It’s the first time in my life that a car made me feel like a moron.
All that aside, the Prius actually drove pretty well once I got going. I’m not saying that it’s the second-coming of cars (Sorry boss), because it’s not. But it had decent power and maneuverability on the road. I didn’t feel like I’d wind up getting flattened by an on-coming 18-wheeler because I couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. I didn’t see all that much gas saving on this car either, but I also didn’t use the econ because I wanted more pick-up.
One thing that all three cars had in common that bugged the crap out of me? Lack of visibility looking in the rear view mirror. What’s with the bar across the back window in exactly the wrong place for me to see the cars coming up on my tail? Because you know on a SoCal freeway, someone’s always on your tail and you need to know how much room you have in case you have to hit the brakes. Or even, I don’t know, changing lanes. Yeesh. Is it a thing that all hybrids have to be half-box/half-round? Am I too short to enjoy proper visibility?
Lastly? They’re all ugly. Just as a purely aesthetic issue, I have yet to see a hybrid that flips my tires.
Of course, after these experiences, I doubt I’ll go looking, either. My inner geek has been emphatically denied. I’ll have to wait until this becomes a reality I guess: Flying Car.