Hunting for hot, handy hybrid
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FEW CONTENDERS WHEN BUYING BUDGET AND ECO-FRIENDLY CAR
Brian has given up his company vehicle to start a new career which doesn’t match his former pay packet so he needs a new car that helps with his budget.
“At the moment I have to start at the grass root levels and learn every part of this new business. The budget is tight so I’m looking for a cheap, reasonably roomy and safe vehicle that has low overall running and servicing costs,” said Brian.
The budget: $12,000
The hybrid Toyota Prius has caught his eye but he is asking Driven if there are any potential long term problems or pitfalls.
Historically, Toyota’s hybrid system has been an effective way to reduce fuel consumption and tail pipe emissions especially in an inner city environment.
And as the technology has evolved and improved, those benefits have been extended to motorway travel.
My sister in-law purchased a new Prius c (the baby Prius) a couple of years ago as she has a regular daily work commute of more than 100km and wanted to keep the fuel bill as low as possible.
The car has travelled more than 100,000km, with average fuel consumption of 5l/100km and her only costs, apart from routine servicing, being a replacement set of tyres.
Taxi drivers in big cities are a group who always seem to sing the praises of the big Prius.
Your budget covers the 2009 models, the earlier pioneering days of this technology. Fuel consumption may not be as good on the open road as you may expect and safety features could be limited. There are a number of used imports on offer also, so safety specification levels such as the fitment of Electronic Stability Control may vary between them and NZ new examples.
The hybrid battery condition may be your only concern but replacement costs have lowered in recent times. The hatch design offers a degree of practicality, plus it’s a vehicle that offers a lot of occupant space front and rear. Towing is not recommended.
The Insight is the other alternative hybrid vehicle and is available as both a New Zealand-new or used import, and again you’ll be looking at the 2009 model.
It continues to sell in small numbers new, but that is more about exterior looks than hybrid technology.
Around town it may also struggle to match the Prius on fuel consumption, but on the open road savings may be reversed such is the way the Honda petrol/electric system works in this particular age bracket of hybrid technology.
The replacement hybrid battery prices have fallen also.
A long-time Kiwi favourite, the Swift offers cheap transport and good reliability. You’ll be looking at 2010 models.
The difference in specification levels between used imports and New Zealand-new puts the responsibility on potential buyers to do the comparisons in relation to engine size and safety features.
As fuel prices fluctuate, hybrids and more fuel efficient vehicles will definitely become more attractive to potential buyers.