Picking Your Preferences & Poison

Posted on October 18, 2011 by The Modern Gal

I know Allie just mentioned her own search for the right kind of car that suited her needs, that car being a station wagon. The Modern Hubby and I are in the middle of our own search for a vehicle to replace his 15-year-old Nissan Altima that is falling apart before our eyes and has gotten far too expensive and difficult to manage. Like Allie, we’ve decided to go the station wagon route as we also have two dogs that travel frequently with us and need the cargo space for our frequent trips to Home Depot but aren’t a fan of the lack of fuel efficiency when it comes to SUVs.

While we’re looking at some of the same cars Allie took a look at, we’ve also got the option of Toyota’s brand-new Prius V, which is basically a standard Prius with a station wagon-like cargo space on the back. And after fully investigating, we’ve discovered the Prius V is only slightly more expensive than the comparable gas options we’re looking at but with far better fuel economy, and the math works out so that we’d make back the difference in price in savings on gas in a couple of years.

But like any green-minded sensible consumer, I’ve set out to do my research on all the cars, and I am absolutely blown away by the amount of conflicting information that’s out there. Hybrids can be great! Hybrids aren’t worth it. Hybrids help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Hybrids have a negative environmental impact because of their batteries and production. So which is it?

The best answer I can come up with after pouring over information is that there is no right answer. You have to prioritize for yourself what is important to you and then come to terms with what the tradeoffs are going to be. We may go the Prius V route because the money works out in the long run and we feel passionately about the need for the US to wean its dependence off foreign oil. But we’ll also have to come to terms with employing a hybrid battery that’s made with toxic metals and possibly compromising in the interior design of the car (we haven’t yet seen the Prius V in person — it’s due in this week or next, so we’ll know for sure then). Or we may get a Jetta Sportwagen or Subaru with their snazzier interiors and know that we’re still getting a pretty efficient vehicle made through a more environmentally friendly production process. But in the back of our heads we’ll know it still relies more heavily on those fossil fuels, and the prices on those fuels will inevitably continue to rise.

It’s not an easy choice, that’s for sure. But I take comfort in the fact that there’s something good and green in each choice, and we will stand up and own whatever choice we make and forego the guilt. We’ve also got to continue talking about the shortcomings so that with every generation of vehicles the positives become greater and the cons become fewer.


  1. It’s funny, Allie and I were talking about the new Volvo V60 diesel plug-in hybrid this morning. Dianne and I had the same debate when we were buying our last hybrid. There were hysterical people telling it was a bad choice, that we’d never make back the money in gas savings. So I just took the price difference divided it by the number of years I planned to keep the vehicle, took it down to the price per week. Came out to 14 dollars a week. At that point it became a waste of time to worry about. This was back in the days of two dollar a gallon gasoline. Needless to say I don’t regret the decision now, despite having to pay the extra upfront cost.

    On the battery issue, that’s a bit of a misleading argument invented by the anti-Hybrid crowd. Batteries have being recycled for decades now, without much trouble. Now suddenly because it’s a bigger battery they make the argument that they won’t get recycled. Doesn’t make any sense. Just because so few had actually been recycled to show up in the listings yet. I expect that as the first wave start getting recycled that suddenly the imaginary problem will suddenly just disappear. It’s the nature of these kinds of fabricated issues.

    October 18th, 2011 at 9:14 pm
    Comment by Jamison
  2. Jamison, those are good points on the batteries. Plus, the car companies appear to be doing the right things by asking that hybrids are returned to them so they can reuse what is possible to reuse and oversee proper recycling of the rest.

    October 19th, 2011 at 9:23 am
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  3. SUVs are great…if you buy hybrid! A cadillac hybrid SUV..is best for you and your kids and your dogs and your family and your stuff and gives you that very american feeling of command and control :)

    October 24th, 2011 at 2:29 am
    Comment by Samuel

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