I bought a Prius | Column

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Nov 20, 2021 | Toyota, prius, Column | Posted in Columns | From the Nov. 2021 issue | Never miss an article

Perhaps you’ll read that title and think, “Well, I guess he’s finally just given up. Certainly slippers and some sort of muumuu can’t be far behind.”

While those things are appealing in their own right, I want to present a far stronger case for why the Toyota Prius is worthy of appreciation in our world. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the Prius is the Miata of derp cars.

[Is the Prius the Miata of derpy cars?]

I mean, all you have to do is look at production numbers to see that both of those iconic marques have owned their respective niches since introduction. Mazda has churned out over 1.1 million Miatas since the car’s debut in late 1989 as a 1990 model, while Toyota has built around the same number of second-generation Priuses–like the 2005 model I just added to the fleet.

But if you need an even more stark example of the ubiquity of each car, put down this magazine and go to your computer–unless you’re reading it on your computer, then just make a grunting sound of acknowledgement or something. 

Now go to Wikipedia, open the page on hybrid vehicles, and tell me the first picture you see. Yeah, it’s a Prius. Now browse over to the Wiki entry for roadster (automobile). Do I even have to prepare you for the fact that the image at the top of the page is a Miata? No, I don’t. You knew before you even clicked.

The Miata legitimized the rebirth of the roadster into modern times–not simply by existing, but by being really, really good. Likewise, the Prius’ success legitimized a new automotive category. It was the first mass-market hybrid to be delivered to consumers (in Japan), and while the Honda Insight beat it to market in the U.S., the Prius that dropped as a 2001 model could seat five to the Honda’s two and was priced right in line with the rest of Toyota’s lineup. Honda may have fired the first hybrid shot in the States, but Toyota officially kicked off the revolution.

By the time second-generation hybrid models like mine came around, the novelty had largely passed and the Prius was one of more than a few affordable hybrid options. But the second gen basically defined the category, both to the general public and to knowledgeable car enthusiasts. Like the Miata, the Prius became a near-permanent fixture on Car and Driver’s 10Best list. Both cars received awards from the automotive and mainstream press as well as consumer and industrial organizations focused on reliability and engineering. 

To a large extent, both models rewrote the rule books to show the car-buying public that ubiquity and personality could co-exist–something didn’t have to be rare to be precious.

And as the Miata birthed a legion of fan clubs, internet forums and YouTube channels, the Prius has earned a knowledgeable and dedicated fan base. Head over to PriusChat (priuschat.com) and you’ll find one of the top 20,000 websites in the U.S. and one of the top 80,000 in the entire world. It’s the place to get extensive and vetted knowledge about your Prius–including maintenance it might need and modifications you might want to make–or just compare performance with other owners. In other words, it’s pretty much like any enthusiast car forum. 

Now, I’ll admit that from behind the wheel, the Prius experience feels a bit different dynamically. While the Miata tracks your every direction-changing whim with sticky tires and direct steering and a willing gearbox, the Prius is, well, less exciting to drive. 

[2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition | New Car Review]

But the Prius engages you in different ways, mostly through displaying several operational parameters on the driver info center–including fuel efficiency. A new “round” of feedback begins every 5 minutes, and you quickly find yourself changing your driving habits to “beat” your previous 5 minutes–and yelling at the driver in front of you who didn’t allow you to coast long enough to maintain essentially zero fuel use for an extended period. 

Where the Miata tests your driving skills in terms of apexes and exits, the Prius challenges you to simply extract maximum distance from minimal resources. It doesn’t reward your performance with an NPR tote bag or tickets to a taping of Radiolab; it just acknowledges that you did better–or worse–than before. Any value judgments come from you, and if my experience is any indication, they’re plenty. 

Look, the whole point here I’ve kind of already addressed: For a car to be worth driving, it doesn’t necessarily have to be “exciting,” but it has to be “engaging.” What my $5000, 130,000-mile, second-gen Prius lacks in thrills, it more than makes up for in efficiency, ease of use, frugality with parts (they hardly break, and when they do, they’re usually cheap to fix), inexpensive insurance (less than half the rate of my old Nissan Leaf for the same coverage) and a massive and enthusiastic fan base. 

Sure, some people call them appliances, but my refrigerator is an appliance and I opened it earlier this evening and took out a delicious piece of chicken. I fail to see how “appliance” could possibly be used as a disparaging term after that. 

Also, don’t think I haven’t checked Tire Rack to see what other wheels fit on the car. (Answer: Oh, slightly over 600 styles, all with great tire availability for a somewhat sportier ride.)

Look, I don’t know if my Prius would ever to show up in the grid at a Track Night in America, but I’m fairly sure it could. And, if driven well, it likely wouldn’t be the slowest car in the slowest group. And afterward, I could take it to pick up some chicken.

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Comments
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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/17/21 2:19 p.m.

TBH: If Toyota still built the Prius V, it'd be on my shortlist for our next family hauler.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
11/17/21 3:55 p.m.

Agreed on the Prius V. They make so much sense. I wish they would have made one with a little more upright, dorky green house. Like double derp, or something.

And regarding the sporty-ness or lack thereof in the Prius, I've definitely driven worse handling cars.

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
11/17/21 4:08 p.m.

I drove a friend's Prius back around 2013 or 2014, don't know the model.  She asked me to drive our group back from a picnic in Columbus to Dayton OH, about 1.5hr drive.  I don't know what I expected but it handled well and I was cruising at 85mph on I-70 before I realized it.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/17/21 4:17 p.m.

I really want to get one and to throw one of the body lift kit (strut spacer) kits on it, after caging the cat of course. 

jerel77494
jerel77494 New Reader
11/17/21 4:47 p.m.

"Cool Prius"

                - nobody

Buck Futter
Buck Futter SuperDork
11/17/21 5:23 p.m.

Lmfao. This isn't something you announce around here. Just kidding. It's cool you can own one and think of yourself in a manly way.
 

(grunt if you read the article)

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
11/17/21 5:34 p.m.
CyberEric said:

Agreed on the Prius V. They make so much sense. I wish they would have made one with a little more upright, dorky green house. Like double derp, or something.

And regarding the sporty-ness or lack thereof in the Prius, I've definitely driven worse handling cars.

AWD Prius V would be a car I'd buy tomorrow and own forever. But I've given up looking for a clean V resale is way too rich. I'd rather wait for the sienna hybrid to fix their non removable rear seats.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/17/21 5:42 p.m.

The current Rav4 Hybrid is a hot seller. Is it a reasonable substitute for a Prius V? 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/17/21 7:59 p.m.
John Welsh said:

The current Rav4 Hybrid is a hot seller. Is it a reasonable substitute for a Prius V? 

I was a massive fan of the XA40 (2012-2018) RAV4 Hybrid. It was all the great driving dynamics of my wife's CX-5, but with killer fuel economy. I got 42+ on a trip from Florida to NCM in one.

The current generation XA50 is just as good, I guess, but the price has gone up and I wasn't able to duplicate my economy figures in our recent test loaner that I got with the previous generation. It's not necessarily a downgrade, but it's a more expensive side-grade at best. Those XA40s were the bomb, though.

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress HalfDork
11/17/21 9:15 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

TBH: If Toyota still built the Prius V, it'd be on my shortlist for our next family hauler.

It costs nothing to be kind.

We bought a used one just before our first kid was born and we've been really happy.

If you're still in the "I need to take a diaper bag, a stroller, a huge car seat and still have room for remodeling supplies and/or 4 autoX tires" phase, they're great. 

Buck Futter
Buck Futter SuperDork
11/17/21 10:03 p.m.
Buck Futter said:

Lmfao. This isn't something you announce around here. Just kidding. It's cool you can own one and think of yourself in a manly way.
 

(grunt if you read the article)

Yeesh. Tough crowd. 

msterbeau
msterbeau New Reader
11/17/21 10:23 p.m.

Nothing that ugly deserves to be on the market no matter how many planets it saves.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/18/21 8:02 a.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

Good to know.

My wife ad I quickly realized that we're going to need something bigger soon not because of the kid, but all the stuff that goes along with the kid.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/18/21 8:19 a.m.

In reply to twowheeled :

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only person who loves the new Sienna, which are all hybrids, the 26" of slide distance on the middle row cabins chairs and the chaise lounge like reclining on them in a game changer if you're dating a single mother. And 36mpg is nice as well. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/18/21 1:42 p.m.

Also, don’t think I haven’t checked Tire Rack to see what other wheels fit on the car. (Answer: Oh, slightly over 600 styles, all with great tire availability for a somewhat sportier ride.)

Look, I don’t know if my Prius would ever to show up in the grid at a Track Night in America, but I’m fairly sure it could. And, if driven well, it likely wouldn’t be the slowest car in the slowest group. And afterward, I could take it to pick up some chicken.

{emphasis added}
those are some pretty bold words.

You should probably be careful saying stuff like that, lest I enquire how empty the first week of May is for you?  cheeky

calteg
calteg Dork
11/18/21 1:46 p.m.
twowheeled said:
CyberEric said:

Agreed on the Prius V. They make so much sense. I wish they would have made one with a little more upright, dorky green house. Like double derp, or something.

And regarding the sporty-ness or lack thereof in the Prius, I've definitely driven worse handling cars.

AWD Prius V would be a car I'd buy tomorrow and own forever. But I've given up looking for a clean V resale is way too rich. I'd rather wait for the sienna hybrid to fix their non removable rear seats.

Every seat is removable with enough angle grinder 

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/18/21 3:02 p.m.

"...But the Prius engages you in different ways, mostly through displaying several operational parameters on the driver info center–including fuel efficiency..."

My Dad claims that I think that the goal is to get the lowest possible fuel efficiency whenever I drive my Mom's Prius.  That's not really true but I can't say that fuel efficiency if very high on the list of things that I think about when I'm driving. 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
11/19/21 6:12 a.m.

If it is any saving grace, you can get the newer Prius with AWD..

gumby
gumby GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/19/21 6:46 a.m.

I just keep seeing "I bought a Prius column" and I'm like yeah, me too....

RichardSIA
RichardSIA Dork
11/19/21 9:39 p.m.

In reply to msterbeau :

Since the "Thumbs up" button seems to be inoperable for your comment, I will say X2!

Junkers
Junkers New Reader
11/22/21 11:29 a.m.

Smokey Yunick drove an old Ford Fiesta (maybe late 70's vintage) as a daily for years and years.  Seems like Toyota found out how to make frugality into a fun competition and get the drivers engaged hypnotically with the "game."  I'd say some people push it a bit far when they drag down the common speed of the thoroughfare they're clogging and that can be unsafe.  One thing people should be aware of is that most cars on the roads today are "optimized" to get those MPG numbers that they like to boast and that optimization occurs in a "type situation."  The highway situation is based on ...... wait for it.... the 55MPH national speed limit.  Yes, that's right it's out dated but you don't know that and that's why you never get the advertised numbers (your results may vary).

Years ago I was in process of moving from one city to another and I stuffed my old Focus ZX3 to the gills.  I was overloaded so I stayed at or below 60mph.  Normally I drove about 72mph on the highway and got 27-28mpg.  With these trips I was getting 34-36mpg.  It blew my mind.  The "pickup truck" cam on that car was hitting just perfectly with the gearing in 5th gear to get amazing fuel mileage despite the extra weight and rolling resistence.

Years ago I had an old carbed slant 6 in a Dodge van.  Full throttle barely got 70mph which turned into 60mph in a strong headwind.  Moving from college one time, I had to take a 350mile trip and keep the van under 45mph to keep it from vapor locking.  The trip usually took one full 25gal tank or thereabouts.  I topped the tank and set out on the back roads through all the small towns to keep off the highway.  I had to stop and go in some towns, and slow down to 30mph every few miles for every new town.  The trip took over 10hrs but I noticed that I still had more than half a tank of fuel!  When I filled up I found that I was getting about 38mpg out of a loaded full-sized dodge van with a carb!  What the hell?!?!?  Somehow, I had engaged "camel mode" and my Dodge van turned into some kind of Super-Mega Dino-Prius (prius-saurus rex?).  The problem was a decayed fuel line by the tank that was constricting fuel flow causing the low fuel pressure and vapor locking.

These are fun things to engage in when you're not able to race or hotrod, so I can say I "get it."

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
11/22/21 11:34 a.m.
John Welsh said:

The current Rav4 Hybrid is a hot seller. Is it a reasonable substitute for a Prius V? 

One of the big draws of a large hybrid is being able to sleep in the back letting it "idle" all night which is really kicking on a few minutes per hour but still letting you have HVAC and a generous power source. RAV4 doesn't help accomplish that much better, cargo space is taller but not longer. Hence why I'm also waiting for sienna make the rear jets removable.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/22/21 11:47 a.m.

How's the Ford CMax? 
This one is selling for $4000. 
 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 11:51 a.m.

In reply to twowheeled :

Stealth camping for one in a Prius is a well documented thing on the internet

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 11:57 a.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

I have nothing against the C-max.  Actually they look quite nice.  But, I am reminded of this GRMers experience which seemed to boil down to little internet support and even poorer dealership support for this somewhat rare vehicle.  

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/lets-diy-a-new-appliance-broken-hybrid-dd-content-/178472/page1/

Unlike the printed experience above, I would think Ford dealers would be better.  There has been the Fusion Hybrid as well as current Escape and newley launched Maverick.  But, even all those models combined don't add up to what Ford Dealers likely see the most which is F-150's.  

stan_d
stan_d SuperDork
11/22/21 3:36 p.m.

The 03 Prius I drove  registered 13mpg on Road Atlanta during touring laps. It had lots of green for regen breaking , a lot more than normal.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/22/21 4:01 p.m.

I drove a rental Rav4 Hybrid the other day, and it was... fine.

Differently from my one experience with a (slightly ratty) 2nd gen Prius, the "torque request" response was no worse than... an automatic? Which I don't love, but they are getting better. Not as crisp as an F30 3-series in the pedal-to-tires connection, but not terrible?

I think that's my single biggest reservation about the driving dynamics for an appliance. I've discovered that while I can autocross the Mini, and it's remarkably good at it for a stock car, that doesn't translate into "pleasing feedback" while slogging through the daily driving.

So I guess what I'm saying is that short of DDing something awesome and fully tweaked, the spectacularly competent blandness of even really good modern cars is wearing down my resistance to just normal modern cars. I half wonder how I'd feel about the Leaf's "dynamics" (or lack thereof) post-Mini...

EDIT: I didn't realize they'd dropped the Prius V...

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
11/22/21 4:09 p.m.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
11/22/21 4:11 p.m.

That car is mine. Well, mine and my wife's. I love it for what it is. I paid $3,700 out the door for it. It had 291,000 miles when I bought it. It is now approaching 300,000. It runs like a dream. We got 50 miles per gallon without even trying. If we actually try, I have hit as high as 60. When my daughter turns 15 in a few months, it will be the car she learns to drive on and will take ownership of it when she turns 16.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 4:18 p.m.

In reply to SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) :

Is that a Prius C (compact)?

I seem to remember you previously had a bad experience with a Gen3?

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
11/22/21 4:34 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Yes, that's a '14 Prius C, the tiny hatch.  My prior one was a Gen III hatch, '10 I think.  They are apples and oranges. The '10 was absolutely miserable to drive. It had no body control whatsoever. The steering was as accurate as a 1914 tractor.  It was just truly horrible to drive in my opinion. While this car is not a sports car by any stretch of the imagination, it's much better. It has respectable body control, the steering is at least decent. It drives not unlike many other small hatchbacks.  The ride is decently firm. I also like the interior much better than the older car. The only downside to this car is the complete lack of power. 99 horsepower isn't going to win many drag races, even against a Schwinn. laugh

 

IIRC, the C is based on the Yaris platform.

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
11/22/21 4:57 p.m.

I'm not as anti prius as I thought I would be.  I haven't driven one but if they have decent ride quality I'd be very interested.  For my use (6hr highway run every weekend)  ride quality and fuel economy are the top two spots on the list of wants.  Unfortunately I don't believe it will come close to meeting my ride quality expectations.  

But I do enjoy the fuel economy game.  With careful and conscientious throttle control I get joy out of  beating cruise control in the mpg game.  My record is 4.6mpg better which was just achieved last weekend. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 5:14 p.m.

In reply to Nick Comstock :

For luxury hybrid there are many Lexus to choose from as well as the Toyota Avalon.

With an epa rating if 45 mpg, the Lincoln MKZ is the highest rated lux sedan.  They made these for many years but the 2013+ look the best. There are tons of them out there.  Heated and AC seats too! 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/22/21 5:15 p.m.

In reply to SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) & John Welsh:

so, I found out recently, thanks to this thread, that apparently there's a "Plus Performance Package" Gen3 Prius, which has different springs/struts, 17" wheels, and a bigger rear sway bar.  I think I mis-read the original comments about it "enhancing steering response" as it having a quicker steering ratio... rather than the more obvious "different tires/springs/struts and a rsb make it turn in better"

also, apparently the Gen2 Prius can fit the aftermarket rear sway bars from a Vibe.

plus, apparently there's someone building LiFePO4 replacement packs for most Prius.

I am not taking a Prius to OneLap, I am not taking a Prius to OneLap, I am not...

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 5:31 p.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Is the Gen3 the Persona Package?  I thought that was just leather and lux touches.

Yes, the Gen2s can add a rear sway bar. I think from Corolla but could be Matrix (Corolla wagon.). I have not done. 

 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/22/21 5:43 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

nope, Gen3 Plus Performance,  although I've seen 24#s listed weight for some OEM Prius 17" wheels... which probably wouldn't be great for performance

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/22/21 6:27 p.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

The Toyota Engineering Gen4 Prius out there on One Lap for 2018 didn't look like that much fun.  I'm sure a Gen2 wouldn't make it any more fun.  Possibly less fun. 

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
11/23/21 7:39 a.m.

Once the battery runs out you're left with a pretty miserable engine doing all the work. Prius isn't even happy climbing long grades.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
11/23/21 7:49 a.m.
twowheeled said:

Once the battery runs out you're left with a pretty miserable engine doing all the work. Prius isn't even happy climbing long grades.

I think the batteries are pretty stout.  As I mentioned above, my Prius C is now approaching 300,000 miles.  The battery is fully healthy from what I can tell.  It fully charges and discharges as it should.  Even if it does crap the bed, a refurbished one isn't prohibitively expensive...it's less than it costs to do a significant repair on some engines.

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/23/21 8:29 a.m.

I think twowheeled's comment is more about the battery running out of capacity and it degrading performance; especially from an on-track perspective.  (I think that particularly hurt the Gen4 when we were at Cresson in '18, where it was impossible to put juice into the pack after 1.3 and before the 1.7 courses which were run back-to-back.).

the Gen2 & Gen3 have a 1.3kWh pack, which seems to have ~0.5-0.7kWh useable (based on Toyota limiting how much it can charge/discharge to improve cycle life), while the 'c' has a 0.9kWh pack, which I'd guess has ~0.4kWh?  Still, the 'c' can surprise people in novice classes.

Not that I'm a big fan of the author; and NJMP Lightning is a short-ish track (at 1.86mi)... but, one can manage the pack for meaningful boosts, and use the regen to help the handling dynamics.  Swapping to the "project lithium" pack would mean a ~45lb weight reduction and doubling of capacity... which probably still isn't enough to 'drive flat out'.

The main draw to the idea, this year... relies on two things:  1) the existence of the lithium swap pack (which, admittedly is a risk as well);  2) that a bunch of other slow cars are headed to OneLap this year as well,  which with some weight loss, a Prius is 'in the range of matching 25:1 pwr/weight'.

The route seems to favor shorter tracks this year; and on the surface there's a chance at a class podium (2 teslas entered, and 1 Panamera Hybrid), but there's a 3rd Tesla on the waitlist... which probably dooms that possibility.  So, that's the attraction to the idea on my end.

Then again, it's probably nearly impossible to find a co-driver that would want to attempt such a fools errand.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/23/21 9:08 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

As I should know for this, you have given it great thought and consideration.  Certainly more than my knee jerk reaction of, "not much fun."    I should not have doubted you.  

As for co-drive, I'd like to but "life since covid" has caused me some debt and until I get that wrangled, the tank is pretty empty for "personal fun" endeavors.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/23/21 9:46 a.m.

Since Tim might be shopping a Prius and Klayfish just did, it might be a good time again to highlight the Owners section of the Toyota website.  

Set up a free account with username and password (but this requires no proof of Toyota ownership.) 
Then, once you have an account, plug in the vin of the car you own or the car you are shopping.  
This will then give you the ability to see all the dealer service records done at any Toyota dealership in the US...for FREE.  

One of my favorite things about Prius is it is amazing how many of them are dealer serviced for everything.  I bought (took a risk) on a salvage Prius with 188k miles because I could see that the car was so dealer serviced that the PO was even buying tires from the dealer.  Its a great car!  

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
11/23/21 10:07 a.m.
John Welsh said:

 

One of my favorite things about Prius is it is amazing how many of them are dealer serviced for everything.  I bought (took a risk) on a salvage Prius with 188k miles because I could see that the car was so dealer serviced that the PO was even buying tires from the dealer.  Its a great car!  

This.  My car piled on all of those miles in just 6+ short years.  One thing that attracted me to it was that the Carfax showed it had been meticulously maintained...and that shows in the car (inside and outside).   Through some digging, I found out the guy was a medical supply delivery person so he ran up and down the highways carrying supplies.  

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
11/23/21 10:22 a.m.
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) said:
twowheeled said:

Once the battery runs out you're left with a pretty miserable engine doing all the work. Prius isn't even happy climbing long grades.

I think the batteries are pretty stout.  As I mentioned above, my Prius C is now approaching 300,000 miles.  The battery is fully healthy from what I can tell.  It fully charges and discharges as it should.  Even if it does crap the bed, a refurbished one isn't prohibitively expensive...it's less than it costs to do a significant repair on some engines.

No you misunderstood me, I'm talking about the state of charge of the battery. Under full load the engine won't charge it and once drained you have the little engine whizzing away with no help from the MG motors

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/23/21 10:28 a.m.
John Welsh said:

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

As I should know for this, you have given it great thought and consideration.  Certainly more than my knee jerk reaction of, "not much fun."    I should not have doubted you.  

As for co-drive, I'd like to but "life since covid" has caused me some debt and until I get that wrangled, the tank is pretty empty for "personal fun" endeavors.  

While I'll admit to doing some 'fishing' here... since I think you'd have useful background, and fun with the crew that's doing this... but also, since anyone else that might be open to the idea might wander across it.  I would be upset, though, if your participation came at the expense of y'alls' wellbeing.  I can grok many of the ways the last bit of time have been impacting things for all of you.

additionally, writing it out like this is helpful in isolating the risks of this idea.  Like, it's easy to run numbers and some simulations, but it's also important to step back and think through where those numbers are lying... or telling an optimistic story;  ala the idea that doing the battery conversion is probably mandatory for being 'in the window of performance' with the Mazda2's, Fits, and Rios... and it's a bit of an open question how/if a ~2900# Gen3 (or a ~2750# Gen2) is going to handle on 205's.

The necessity of 'Going Full Duebler' is not lost on me.

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