Tag Archives: minivan

Prius Envy

I love Toyotas. I had a 1988 Camry station wagon for ten years till I bought my current Toyota, a 1998 Sienna MINIvan. Except it’s not so mini. In terms of gazzling (my new word for gas-guzzling), it’s MAXI – 19 mpg. A tankful will probably cost me $80 this week. Last tank was $70. (I’m trying to use it as little as possible…).

My friends who have Priuses love them. They got theirs when they weren’t quite so scarce and when trading in their SUVs for them was a viable option. One of these years I hope to be able to afford one. Meanwhile, I need to learn to drive differently.

For starters, I need to leave for my destination BEFORE I’m due there… Well before. Novel idea.

An article in today’s NY Times describes other options: how to “Be a Prius:

In Europe, where gas prices are often more than twice what they are here, eco-driving has become mandatory in the driving curriculums in Germany, Sweden and, most recently, Britain. Beginning drivers are taught to avoid idling, unnecessary braking and jackrabbit starts at traffic lights, among other lessons that can bring fuel savings to as high as 25 percent.

Other fuel-saving tips include carefully timing one’s approach to slowing traffic or red signals and not accelerating toward a “stale green,” that is, a signal that’s about to change…..

Consider also driving less aggressively. An Australian study found that an “aggressively” driven vehicle saved a mere five minutes over a 94-minute course compared with a “smoothly” driven vehicle — but the smooth car used 30 percent less fuel.

He also suggests policy changes, like replacing stops with roundabouts, requiring drivers take a driving efficiency course, and encouraging less driving thru tax credits for miles not driven or miles on public transit.

Pumping Gas – preposterous!

Astro, a 9-year-old dalmation waits for his owner to fuel up in Eugene, OR.

I fueled up today too. At Costco. $70.37 – first time ever over $70/tank. I swear it was just a month ago that I first topped $60/tank. Costco is at least 20 cents cheaper than the Shell station. However, the lines were ridiculously long and if my time were MONEY, which it is, I might more productively spent the $2.80 I saved doing something else.

There’s no question it’s past time for me to downsize my car. OK. It’s a 1998 Toyota Sienna. Truly the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. 118k miles and NO problems besides a dead battery. Fully paid for. A known and trusty quantity.

To buy another smaller car -even if it were used, and I was able to trade straight across price-wise (unlikely), I’d be paying at least $800 in sales tax for the other car. Plus mini-vans are not exactly hot sellers these days, and decent small or hybrid cars are scarce and/or spendy.

What I really should do is get a horse. He can eat my weeds, and I can ride him for short-haul errands, only using the Sienna for longer trips.

That or a motor scooter. (I live at the bottom of a long steep hill… daunting on a bicycle).