I think this is the right way to think about a Prius: the Prius is a sports car.It so happens that the Prius's sport is an endurance sport, and its "boast number" is MPG rather than its 0-60 time. The Prius is arguably the champion or anyway a superstar at its sport.When you think about it this way, you see that counting the dollars saved in gasoline by a Prius is pretty much like counting how much time a Porsche cuts off your commute: it half-misses the point. The point is not so much the practical need for the car, but how the car makes you feel about yourself and what you think the car says about you to others.There are scoffers and bashers who say that driving a Prius doesn't make you enviro-hip and techno-green. But whatever sports car you buy, there will be some scoffers and haters who say it doesn't make you adventurous and exciting. You can listen to them or not as you choose.Tinker: If you can drive a larger BMW, and on average get within a few miles per gallon to what the Prius gets, no one is going to care, if say the BMW gets 35 mpg overall and the Prius gets 41. People will go with the BMW.Of course a lot of people won't even really be considering this decision because the BMW costs over $50K versus $25K for the Prius.But some people might actually be pondering this decision, and in a way, I see that as a huge testament to the Prius and its image. "I have $50K to spend on a car. Which one is more 'me'? Hmm, maybe this Prius is cooler." That buyer might not be seriously considering any other $25K cars, but the Prius makes the shortlist because of having a superstar image in its own way.Tinker: My Lexus sports car, and it is quite sweet. At 60 mph, without even trying or tapping into its power, I can still push you back against the seat accelerating up to 80.And what good does it do you to push people against the seats? Do you get to work any faster? Not enough to really matter. The main point is that you like it; you have fun doing it.Someone else might feel that driving all over town on a gallon of gas is "quite sweet."Tinker: So I think the point is, we don't need to all be driving some compromise cars that make us feel goodI disagree. We all need to drive compromise cars because every engineering decision is a compromise and every car compromises on something. And we are all going to choose cars that make us feel good. That may mean a different balance of acceleration, mileage, etc., depending on the image we want for ourselves.Tinker: Anyway, good gas mileage is not the product of exotic technologyThat may or may not be true, but I don't see how you would draw that conclusion from the BMW 520D, which has regenerative braking, low-rolling-resistance tires, and other Prius-like technological innovations to improve mileage.
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