Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hybrid Heartache

In which Green Bean gives the minivan the boot.

I've been in love with hybrids since they hit the market back in the late 1990's.  Too expensive, I decided in 1998.  And I already owned a car.  But wow! Look at that gas mileage.

In 2000, I thought about it again but who was I fooling!  I was having a kid.

In 2004, I lamented the lack of larger, family friendly fuel efficient vehicles and bought a minivan instead.

Seven years later, after over a decade of longing, I thought again about kicking my gas-guzzler to the curb.  I found myself doing a lot of driving for personal reasons.  My carpool had shrunk as a result and, on most days, I only had a total for 4 kids - including one teen who could sit in a front seat.  

We took the plunge and traded our minivan in for a hybrid.  Not a fancy new plug-in.  Not the all electric Leaf.  Just a run of the mill, used Prius.

I felt good.  Virtuous, even.  No wasted resources as I toddled around town on errands or schlepped the kids to lessons and tutors.  My gas tank stayed full.  I figured out how to run on electric mode as much as possible.  We took a road trip to a national park and felt proud - though cramped.

So much so that I begged my husband to unwind the transaction.  Carpool was tight making boosters a "luxury" which my kids (technically over the legal booster limit) suddenly "didn't need".  Everything is louder and less comfortable when the kids are RIGHT behind you, instead of lounging in the third seat.  Garage sales and antique hauls were going to be impossible.  Visits from my family or if both kids have a play date will necessitate trips with multiple vehicles.  And gone were the days when I'd offer to pick up extra kids when I drove the carpool home from school.

But, do I miss my minivan?  Not so much.  Good riddance to the cavernous feeling, the giant bus-like turns, and accidentally bumping into things with that tail end all the time.  Oops!  I can fit into snug spaces, parallel park anywhere and never feel like I am "too much."  And then there's that gas mileage thing.  51 miles per gallon ain't too shabby!

Going from minivan to mini is an adjustment but I don't think I'd ever go back.  Turns out most of the inconveniences to owning a small car don't come up that often.  Certainly not enough to justify the carbon footprint and fuel in-economy of a minivan or SUV.

So much for heartache.  

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Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

You know I am so jealous of your downsizing to a hybrid! I think we've got 4 more years with our minivan, and then we plan to shop for a fuel efficient station wagon. With the three kids and our many long annual trips, I think a Prius would be pushing it for us, but we definitely don't need a car as big as the one we have!

robbie @ going green mama said...

I am jealous - when they first came out (and we were in the market for a car), they only sold hybrids to rental companies. A truck (now a minivan) later, and I have no idea when/if we will ever get one. Though that old Toyota Echo I'd bought back in 1999 still works great and has great mileage-even with 193,000 miles!

Jess said...

How exciting! I am missing so much these days. I can imagine the smaller space takes some getting used to, this is what pushed me from Civic owner to Element owner. I couldn't take the dog being two inches from me panting all the time. We are stuck with the Element for now, but luckily not driving much anymore.

Dea-chan said...

What fun! Enjoy your new-to-you hybrid! The only thing I don't like about the Prius's is that obnoxious piece of plastic dividing the rear window. But mini-vans are overrated anyway.

Do you have a rent-by-the-hour company like Zipcar near you? Zipcar was started in Cambridge, MA (three or so train stops from me), so they're EVERYWHERE in my neighborhood. But they offer hybrids, pretty sporty cars, and trucks. So that whenever we needed to move, we just rented a Ziptruck for the day and hauled a**.

So you might look into something like that for your antiquing, or there are a lot of car sharing companies these days that also might be worth looking into.

Kristen said...

Happy for you that you made the switch! Every year I get excited to see the new models/options, but we still haven't found the right fit for us, so I'll keep driving what I've got, and doing what I can to keep it green. I'm excited to see the new fleet of prius models!

Bethany said...

that kind of mileage would be great! We have a CT-V which gets most of the driving and my dodge ram which gets SOME of the driving, but baby #3 is on the way and when that happens we'll be taking the truck a lot more since I can do 3 car seats in the back of it but not the CR-V.

I just look at it as an excuse to be able to run my errands by myself sans kids ;) At least, I hope it works out that way.

rental mobil said...

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Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Also jealous.

Green Bean said...

@Erin - Hopefully there will be more advances in fuel efficiency in 4 years. Maybe even something electric!

@Robbie - It's all about the fuel efficiency! :)

@Jess - How is the mpg in the Element? It's such a flexible car. Plus, as a one car family you get a pass!

@Dea-chan - I hate that thing too!!! Yes, we have a ZipCar. We may avail ourselves of it if need be.

@Kristen - I also get excited. I was really excited about the Leaf this year but it just wasn't right for us. I'm wondering how the Prius wagon will be.

@Bethany - Ahhhh, running the errands without the kids. I mean, you're doing it for the planet, right? Sacrifices.

@Betsy and rental - Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty jealous too! I have been looking for cars that would work for a family of 5 and there's nothing. We just can't squeeze into a Prius. I guess I'm stuck with a minivan for now. Enjoy your awesome new car!

Green Bean said...

groovygreenlivin - Hopefully there will be some more options on the horizon for bigger families! We are okay for now but my boys will someday be big big boys and then a Prius will be tight.


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