01 Nov 2003|Christoper Ireland

I am the proud new owner of a Prius Hybrid. For those of you who don’t know about them, hybrids combine both gas and electric engines to deliver roughly 60 mpg fuel efficiency. You don’t have to plug them in and they aren’t sluggish golfcarts.

In some ways, this was an easy choice for me. Since I believe our behavior in the MidEast is largely motivated by our thirst for oil, and since I am adamantly against the war, I realized that driving a car that got less than 25 mpg made be a big ole hypocrit. But that car was a gorgeous blue Jag XK8 convertible that I had wanted all my life. I hoped that the car makers would notice that people like me are starting to define luxury to include environmental and political responsibility. But no luck. GM and Ford are promising fuel cell technology about 10 years from now–way too late in my book.

Toyota and Honda both offer hybrids. I went with the Toyota Prius because it looks different (the Honda hybrid looks exactly like every other Civic). By looking different, I’m making a clear expression of my choice. Apparently, others are starting to make the same choice. Over 100 Prius’s were pre-ordered from my dealer. Most of us loaded them up with extras and installed leather seats (you don’t buy a Prius to save money, but unfortunately, Toyota markets them like they are economy cars).

The biggest surprise–in fact, delight–with my new car is how incredibly modern it is. I have a fabulous GPS navigation system, a keyless entry system that makes me feel like a magician, an excellent touch screen sound system, Bluetooth enabled connectivity, and built-in PIM software (rudimentary, but an impressive effort). I still miss my lovely Jag, and the minute they offer a hybrid engine, I’ll reconsider them. But the bar is definitely raised now that I know all the good things I can get in a car for a grand total of $30K.

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