I can't decide what's more annoying about the Toyota Prius: the people who buy it, or the fact that the car does such a good job of delivering ridiculous gas mileage. Seriously—the harder you beat it, the less gas the damn thing uses. It's infuriating.Now, I was curious about the price, so I checked it out. The 2014 Prius starts at $24K. This is $4K less than it was selling for in 2007. For comparison's sake, the 2014 Corolla is $17K, which is about the same price as 2007, give or take a grand or so. Isn't competition wonderful? As more hybrid vehicles have entered the marketplace, the stranglehold the Prius once had is gone, and now it's being sold at more reasonable rates.
Discounting the fact that the World's Worst Drivers Club somehow managed to get 75 percent off pricing on the purchase of a Prius, and evaluating the car on its actual merits, the hybrid nerd-machine is an amazing piece of engineering. Its sole mission is fuel economy—so it's not particularly fun to drive, but it's not a bad car, either. Yes, it's ugly. But it's amazingly inexpensive given what it is, reasonably comfortable, impressively roomy, and even surprisingly lightweight. And it's actually more than quick enough to keep up with traffic.
It's still $7K more than the Corolla, which gets 28 MPG city, 37 MPG highway mileage. The math still doesn't really work out - unless you drive 20K miles of city driving a year, you're unlikely to recoup the difference in price. Showing the math:
Prius: 51 MPG city. Corolla: 28 MPG city. 20K city miles a year = 714.25 gallons in the Corolla, 392.16 gallons in the Prius. The Prius will use approximately 322 gallons of gas less a year. At $3.50 per gallon, that's $1,127 a year savings in fuel. At a difference of $7K in price, that's more than 6 years before the price difference breaks even. And that's if you drive 20,000 miles of city driving every year. Cut that in half, you double that time to around 13 - 14 years. Simply forget recouping your money if you drive mostly highway miles - at a difference of only 11 MPG on the highway, you'll save ~ $400 a year with the Prius over 20K miles a year. That's a 16 year recoup time
Bottom line: If you're driving a Prius to save money, you suck at math.
With all that said, the results of the quasi-scientific test are interesting, but not the least bit unexpected. The Mercedes is a smallish car with an efficient diesel engine; it's hardly surprising that it would put out excellent gas mileage. 20 years ago, the Volkswagen Passat diesel was getting very similar mileage - the ads for the TDI Passat claimed it had something like an 800 mile range. Efficient diesel engines in medium-sized cars will perform exceptionally well in regards to fuel economy.
Personally, I blame General Motors for the general public dislike of diesel engines in passenger cars. In the late 1970s/early 1980s, after two gas crises, GM had the brilliant idea of building a diesel engine with gas engine parts, not training techs properly, and generally acting like GM. The end result was a diesel-powered car that belched smoke, achieved 0-60 times measured by a sundial, caused the motors to melt down faster than a Chrysler 2.2L Turbo, and cratered the resale value harder than finding a trunk full of rotten carp.
With crap like this foisted upon the American motoring public, no wonder it's taken the better part of a generation for us to start thinking about diesel power again...
That is all.