Me and the Hybrid
My car wouldn't start Weds. morning. I ended up working from home all day as I arranged a tow truck to haul my car off and found myself unable to get a hold of my wife who was helping in one of my children's class rooms. It worked out relatively well since I needed to review some articles (something that can sometimes be hard to do in the office). When I found out my car would be in the shop for at least 24 hours (can someone confirm for me that a fuel pump for a '98 Suburban actually costs $350+) I went to rent the cheapest thing available from the local Enterprise.
By the way....I love Enterprise for renting cars. I once went in to rent a car and realized my drivers license was expired. They drove me to the local DOL and waited outside while I renewed, brought me back and rented me a car. These guys don't just pick you up, they drive you around.
...enough advertising for Enterprise...well, maybe not...
So they said they have a Toyota Prius which I agreed to. This was my first experience driving a hybrid. It was really cool. Turning it on took some getting used to (it was more like flipping on a light than turning a key). You pull up to a stop light and the car is as silent as if it was parked. A little graphic sensor lets you see that when you hit the brake you are charging the battery. It had all of 30 miles on it when I got it. Probably the most amazing part of this thing was that the gas engine starts and stops constantly...fast enough that you can accelerate from a stop without a noticeable lag and quickly enough to allow battery charging on the quickest coast. For those of us in the mindset that starting a car takes a hefty crank of the key and a few seconds of spin this is a pretty amazing accomplishment. And of course the thing is supposed to get 50+ mpg. My experience happened to include a 2.5 hour parking lot ride down the main street toward my house due to the windstorm that shut down many local roads. Even then I got 30+ mpg. I'm impressed. There was plenty of power too.
I wonder if Toyota doesn't sell these things to rental car companies at a discount in order to expose them to potential buyers.