Why Does Edmunds Hate Hybrids?

mt2000mt2000 Member Posts: 5
edited October 2012 in Toyota
Seriously, virtually every hybrid review I read on this site includes some idiotic statement how the hybrid version of whatever model "does not make economic sense."

Forget the fact that gasoline is really about a third too cheap in the US compared to the rest of the world -- even in Russia gas is at world prices -- only places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela come close to the (effectively subsidized) prices in the US. Gas really ought to be closer to $6 here, if we went by a world market price.

But these hybrids also employ some great and innovative technology and more likely than not, are the future of automobiles. You'd expect real tech writers to be more excited about that, the same way they are excited about 0.5 seconds acceleration difference, which most of us will never notice.

Some of the reviews feel like they were typed on a typewriter by a middle-aged, fat guy, nursing a Bud in the backwoods somewhere. Complete with a checkered flannel shirt and a dead deer draped across the hood of the Chevy parked outside.... Am I close? Phew!

Comments

  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    I don't think Edmunds hates hybrids - many hybrid drivers and lovers post here. But...driving enthusiasts tend to hate hybrids, as many are the closest thing possible to a generic transportation pod, and have generally terrible handling. There's also sometimes a self-righteous image, but I won't get into that further. Hybrids have a place in the personal transport scheme of things, but not all vehicles are loved by all consumers. I drive a V8 car now, and my next car will likely be more efficient. I'd be more tempted by diesel than hybrid, though.

    I don't buy the "world market price" idea for gasoline. There is no world market price. Oil has a world market price, but automotive fuel is up to local inputs. Taxes make the difference. Americans pay less tax than other first world nations, because Americans settle for crumbling road infrastructure and in many places, invisible public transit options. Last time I checked, Russia was also virtually identical to the US in terms of fuel prices, and not nearly as expensive as western Europe.

    Because of American willingness to pay little and get little (same idea as personal tax rates, maybe), hybrids often have at least a short term economic disadvantage for many drivers. And that's ignoring the negative externalities of production issues, especially regarding batteries. You have to drive it several years to come out ahead. But do it, and you win. Many people who bought a Prius in 2006 and had the self discipline to keep it are probably happy now.

    If one wants to drive a hybrid, more power to them. Just accelerate onto highways at the speed of traffic, and employ lane discipline. Those are the only hybrid driver annoyances I encounter. Otherwise, more power to you - you can use less gas so more is left for me :shades:
  • mt2000mt2000 Member Posts: 5
    edited October 2012
    Well, "driving enthusiasts" (whatever that means) also prefer stick shifts, but those are pretty much absent from the US and I bet a large percentage of the readers here have never even driven a manual transmission car.

    As to comparing gasoline prices in the US (outside of California) and Russia, the Russians seem to pay roughly $1 per liter, which is about $0.2 per gallon more, even though their incomes are multiple times lower. The Germans, which I suppose can get as close to a nation of "car enthusiasts" as anyone (based on the cars they design and produce) pay just over double that (currently about $2.06 per liter).

    Cheap, subsidized US gasoline prices are the only reason Detroit can continue to churn out sub-$25k trucks and "enthusiast" cars like the Camaro, with huge displacement and decades old tech, which would be laughed at and be unable to compete anywhere else in the world.

    And why "car enthusiast" publications like Edmunds can continue to insert "doesn't make economic sense" into every hybrid review.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    Driving enthusiasts - people who like some feedback and handling ability from their cars. Most drivers do not fall into this category, which is why hybrids and other appliance cars sell at all. However, most who will bother to spend time on an automotive themed forum will be enthusiasts in some way, and I'd wager the majority of people who post here have at least tried a stick before.

    The latest info I found on Russian gas prices has an average of around .77 Euro/liter - which is less than I pay here in WA state. Their incomes are lower, but most lower income people there don't own cars - ownership rates are far less. Germany pays huge taxes which makes for huge prices (I will be there next week and feel the pain myself), but they get amazing roads and world class transit for it. We pay much less, and receive much less. They also have a fleet of more efficient cars. I once rented a 4cyl diesel E-class there that easily topped 40mpg in mixed driving. Not available here.

    Gas here isn't really subsidized, it's just taxed less. That does indeed help trucks sell, but instantly raise those prices to western European levels, and you'll have economic collapse and riots in the street. Housing and transportation infrastructure in most of NA simply isn't ready for expensive fuel yet. It has to be changed as or even before prices rise, not after.

    From my experience, many hybrid drivers aren't only about economics anyway - they like the statement and the good feeling gained by using less fuel, that's worth something too. I doubt cynical reviews have changed the minds of most hybrid shoppers.
  • fezofezo Member Posts: 10,384
    I think you can be an enthusiast of another sort with a hybrid. No, you won't get that feel of the road but trying to squeeze that extra mile out of the gas can be its own entertainment.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    Yes, there is such a thing as an economy enthusiast. Not the same as a driving/car enthusiast IMO, but it is an enthusiast no less.

    To the OP, I don't think Edmunds hates hybrids, but I do think many in the peanut gallery do look at hybrid drivers through jaded eyes. Piousness and slowpoke hypermiling never earns friends.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Then again, with friends like Exxon.... :)
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    I drive a 2nd gen Prius and it's not much different than driving any rental car I've ever driven, so to me it seems stupid not to buy a hybrid when you can buy a Prius that hold 4 adults comfortably with 21CuFt of trunck space for the same price as an Accord, Camry, Fusion, Malibu, Passat, etc... So you get nearly twice the MPG and more trunck space for the same price.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    I can agree with that, a boring hybrid is no less exciting than a normal blandbox. A plain old 4cyl Camcord or equivalent isn't exactly a machine full of fun and excitement.

    However, some of us like a more engaging experience than one can find in a rental sled :shades:
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    I agree with you on that, but based on car sales, most don't need anything more engaging.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    More like don't want. Most people are neither car nor driving enthusiasts.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Edmunds is based in California, southern California at that. Arguably the home to most car enthusiasts per mile in the US.

    Three guesses what the best selling car in California currently is (through the end of September).
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    Not a surprise, as CA is also by far the most populous state, and even there, car enthusiasts are a small minority. The gigantic population (over 35M, I believe) does it.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    What's not a surprise?

    Can't even say it? :D
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    Because car people are a small minority even there. Also, that particular "car" is about making a statement, and it has been popular there for some time.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited October 2012
    That's right sports fans, the Toyota Prius [is the] best selling car in California. (CNN)

    "California has a higher proportion of the older, highly educated car shoppers who tend to favor the Prius.

    California is also unfriendly territory for Toyota's domestic competitors. As a general rule, cars from General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Ford (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler do not sell well in that state compared to the rest of the country while Asian automakers fare particularly well.

    In part, that trend has its roots in the fact that when Asian automakers like Toyota and Honda first came to the U.S., they came through California, which was a natural port of entry with a large Asian population, said John O'Dell, an analyst with the automotive Web site Edmunds.com. Honda and Toyota still have their U.S. headquarters in southern California making them, essentially, hometown brands with strong local roots."

    John O'Dell - now who is that guy?

    Oh yeah, he was hired by Edmunds back in 2007 to focus on green car coverage. "Using the existing Edmunds' Green Car Guide as a foundation, he will build the popular channel to meet growing interest in topics such as hybrid cars, alternative fuels, technological developments and gas-saving tips." (link)

    Edmunds - hating hybrids since at least 2007. :D
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    Sometimes I read people saying that Prius owners are a bunch of environmental liberals out to preach to the world. I disagree that all Prius owners are trying to "make a statement."

    If any car-type owner is "trying to make a statement" then I'd say it's the sports car owners (I'm a powerful person with a powerful car), giant SUV owners (I'm such an outdoor/active person), and/or luxury car owners (look how rich I am).

    Like I said in my previous post, the Prius is a versatile, practical, high quality car that happens to have low emissions and get great MPG, with the emphasis on practicality. I drive one to save money, not "make a statement." If someone thinks I'm trying to "make a statement" by driving a Prius, that's their problem, not mine.

    And if someone is not buying a Prius even though they think it's a smart buy for them, but they're afraid of what other people will think of them, then they need to grow up and start thinking for themsleves because it's pretty sad to live for other's perceptions.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    What about those who drive sleeper performance cars, you know, those that don't look fast, but are? Like my car :shades:

    Nobody said "all" owners are trying to make a statement, but some are, and probably more in CA than some other places. I don't think the show off part is being afraid per se, but being proud or maybe even different for the sake of being different. Green has been trendy for some time. Does the Prius need the weird styling and the hybrid badge? Nope, but it wears both, to differentiate itself. If the Prius had just been a Corolla with identical trim, no badging - just the hybrid powertrain. I'd wager an awful lot it wouldn't be such a success
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    That's happening with the Ford hybrids.

    The Prius has the brand cachet.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    Actually the styling of the Prius is based on aerodynamics (shape) and practicality (i.e. the hatch-back style). On the inside, the shifter is just a knob on the dash, which also makes sense with today's electronically controlled transmissions, especially CVT transmissions. There's no need to have the transmission stick/lever between the front seats. It just wastes usable space. And for sporty cars, paddle shifters work better anyway and with those there could simply be the Prius-type knob on the dash since you don't need to touch it once it's in Drive..just use the paddle shifters.

    As far as people who buy "sleeper performance cars" I don't know...what do you consider a sleeper performance car?
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    There are cars with better Cd and conventional styling. And most hatchbacks don't have that shape.

    Usable space? Do you seat three abreast in that thing very often? I'd wager it doesn't have a bench seat - bucket seats are a waste of space too, then.

    Most cars don't have CVT. Many paddle cars have both a conventional shifter and paddles - nobody is going to be sitting in the middle anyway. A knob on the dash (and the dorky center gauges) is just more different for the sake of different in my eyes, and doesn't add anything practical. Also differentiates the thing from a car towards a transportation pod.

    You don't know what a sleeper is? A car with performance ability, but doesn't scream it. The US used to build such cars in the 60s, Germans got into it in the 90s, now in this new pity the rich gilded age, being subtle isn't as cool.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    Prius is indeed the big name - as it is the pioneer and is easily identifiable. I don't know if it will ever lose the hybrid race, I have my doubts.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Like the time I drove my Datsun wagon from Memphis to Cape Girardeau in the late 70s. Drove, ahem, a bit fast the whole way.

    Friend in a Bimmer trying to keep up got a speeding ticket. :shades:
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    My dad used to drive his Horizon with the needle pegged, too. Not really a sleeper though, just a slow car driven fast (er than an arbitrarily low limit). Never got a ticket.

    I mean cars like lowline trim old muscle cars, or cars like 90s M5 or E55, which were almost identical to sport trim quiet 6cyl cars, but at the time had virtual supercar performance.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited October 2012
    I know - just razzing you.

    Let's see, over the years I've had VW Bugs, wagons, minivans, and one peppy 5 speed sedan, but that was a Tercel.

    Haven't had a speeding ticket yet (touch wood).

    When I get my Prius V I'll probably get pulled over as often as Al Gore III.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    A Prius has a Cd of .25. What other cars that seat 5 and have 21CuFt of cargo space have a Cd of less than that? Yes, the Prius can hold 3 carseats in the rear bench. And with respect to the shifter, the question is why waste space with a large shifter in between the seats when you don't need it. I'd rather have more space for cup holders, technology (for both the driver and passenger) and anything else more useful than a big lever sticking out.

    And you just answered your own question "what does driving a powerful but understated car mean?" From your post, it sounds like you're trying to be cool :shades:

    I think today when people prioritize vehicle requirements, quality, safety, MPG, space, technology, convienience factors, cost, etc...all outweight extra performance capability. Maybe if you Google this, "young people less interested in cars" it will help you understand today's buyers.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    Nah, the revenue enforcement officer will just think his radar gun is broken :shades:
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    Hmm, well the boxy angular W212 E-class has a Cd of .25, seats 5, in first world form (4cyl diesel) easily makes 40+ mpg, and doesn't make a show of it. If I want space, I can get virtually similar economy in a wagon, and not make a show of it.

    You don't need cupholders. Just another distraction. Same for the "technology" - the ipad dock or whatever could go there is useless. Maybe riding the bus is the best option for many "Drivers".

    If I wanted to be "cool", I'd go into hock financing something flashy that I really couldn't afford.

    I understand the buyers of today and of many years past, every bit as well as you and maybe moreso. The vast majority of car buyers care nothing for driving nor cars - and I won't pretend that a hybrid buyer is any different (other than some pious greenie types). They just want an appliance. Enter the hybrid. Works wonderfully for most.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    edited October 2012
    You're right...driving a Benz makes no statement ;) BTW...what's teh w212 run...about $50K?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited October 2012
    You mean, like, look at me, I'm a taxi driver?

    Oh, wrong country. ;)

    Who cares what someone else thinks? Drive what you like.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    Can get em used in the 30s now, but sadly, the really high mpg models aren't sold here. Still, it's a very conventional looking car with high aerodynamics and the potential for high economy.

    Often, the statement is made more loudly by the observer than by the driver. Average non-car person can't tell a new highline car from a 5-10 year old model. They see the badge and stop thinking.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    The MB W212 not sold here...so that's why I had a hard time looking one up! There's the Jetta TDI that's practical, but then the back seat is pretty tight, but it's an option for someone needed high MPG and does mostly highway driving. But then there's the quality issue of both MB and VW. Neither of them ever ranks very high on quality ratings. In the news today, the Prius C has the best quality score with other Toyota brands (including other hybrids) generally coming out on top.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/toyota-tops-consumer-reports-reliability-survey- -article-1.1194707

    And quality/reliability means a lot more to me than performance. The last thing I want is a car that needs to be with a mechanic ever month for something. It's like people who say, "My car is with my mechanic." If I go to a car mechanic enough to know them on a first name basis, then it's time to get another car!

    I like a lot of European cars too, but I gave up wishing they would come to the USA. For example, the Honda Stream, Prius V and Ford C-Max both with a third row. I think the problem with those cars is that the super-sized Americans and their kids wouldn't fit in them comfortably.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    W212 is the nomenclature for the current E-class. I use this rather than model designations, as nobody who hasn't ventured to places with more developed vehicle selections will know what an E250 etc is. Some of these diesels can reach Prius levels of efficiency, but look and act like actual cars. We get the bigger engined less efficient w212, which will do in the mid-30s in 75mph highway cruising, not bad for 400lb/ft of torque and a roughly 700 mile range.

    I see it as a reliability issue more than quality. German complexity fetish, bleeding edge tech, cars that do not tolerate when one strays from maintenance schedules, etc. A friend of mine has a Prius C...if being stuck in that thing means having the best quality, I will take a reliability hiccup now and then, and smile. He's not even a performance fan, and his claim about the car is "it's powered by 4 gerbils - but one of them died on the trip out here" (he drove it cross country, and didn't like the hills). It reminds me of a microwave on wheels. For me, life is too short. Virtually all cars that top the reliability list score low when it comes to being pleasant to drive in any enthusiastic manner.

    Cars made for big Bavarians are usually compatible with all but the most southern fried Americans :shades:
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    edited October 2012
    Personally, I wouldn't get the Prius C either. The average MPG is identical to the regular Prius, so I'd rather get a used Prius and have the same MPG with the additional space for the price of a new Prius C. One thing with MPG is that it's the average, not highway MPG that should be used for comparison (unless you live and work on exit ramps).

    As far as a 700 mile range...I like to get out and stretch at least every 500 miles, but you're talking about a Mercedes, so it probably comes equiped with seat, leg and shoulder massagers, which aren't available on a lowly Prius!

    And I'm just wondering, what do you consider driving in an "enthusiastic manner" as you mentioned in your post? Just flooring the gas after a red light? Or taking an on ramp or exit ramp a little bit faster than what you could in a non-enthusiastic car? Driving 90mpg vs 75 mph on a straight highway? Or driving really fast on a curvy road?

    The last one I can see as being fun (at least for the driver), but then I've driven on the Pacific Coast highway in a Ford Escort, Ford Cougar, Mazda RX-7, and Prius and do you know what? Driving any of them near their individual capability was fun and I was often catching up with "enthusiastic cars" in the twisty parts with my Escort and Prius because i knew the road better, plus I was willing to drive the car closer to its limit.

    It may sound counter-intuitive, but driving an "enthusiastic car" can be more boring than driving a non-enthusiastic car in most driving situations. For example coming into on a curve in the road with moderate traffic, the driver of an enthusiastic car may be totally bored because the car is designed to go so fast that it's really boring to drive in the normal environment. However in my Prius, it feels funner going into the same curve at the same speed as compared to the enthusiastic car because the Prius is already at its lateral G limit.

    So I'd rather have a car that feels "fun to drive" in the 99% of the normal driving situations rather than having an enthusiastic car that feels so restrained and boring in the 99% of normal driving situation. That may be why muscle/sports & generally other enthusiastic car sales are on the decline...because 99% of the time drivers can't use their capability and not only does it become a waste of money to have that unnecessary capability, but more so it becomes a source of frustration to have that capability and not have the opportunity to use it.

    Maybe that's why those drivers get so irritated at other drivers and post practically ever day in the Inconsiderate Drivers forum about their frustrations :P
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    edited October 2012
    If I was to buy a Prius, I'd get the big one. Might as well maximize potential utility, as the consumption increase is nominal. It also looks less dorky to me - closer to an ordinary tall wagon.

    I know the diesel E isn't an apples to apples comparison with a Prius, but I used it to show that conventional cars can be efficient too. I would seriously consider a 4cyl diesel E if it was offered here...I might even spring for the manual if we got it (Europe does). E250 diesel wagon would be an ideal car,just pricey.

    Enthusiastic driving - being able to corner without tipping over, precise throttle and brake inputs, some kind of steering feel, stable non-floaty ride, engine that doesn't run out of breath at random rpm ranges, etc.

    I understand what you mean in the "fun to drive" idea - the idea of driving a fast car slow vs a slow car fast. My fintail is more fun to drive than the E55, even though the latter has near supercar performance, and does everything effortlessly. That's kind of the fun, operating the quirky old car and working hard to make it perform, being able to hit the limits without being a felon. I don't know if I would find the same fun in making a modern slow car perform, however. Like my mother's 4cyl Camry - driving it is a numb experience. It's a deluxe model toaster. Not all slow cars are equal. I can't imagine any Prius is more fun. I don't see much appeal in driving a car that is so dull that normal traffic makes it feel like it is working hard.

    I don't know if fun cars are in an all out decline on the way to being replaced by toastercars though - most sporty new model debuts have been met with much fanfare. Guzzler fun cars are waning, due to fuel costs, greenie image, and the expanding socio-economic chasm making running one an impossibility.

    I get irritated when I get behind a hybird driver hypermiling it and playing with the mpg readout when he should be merging with traffic or maintaining a certain speed. It's a disease around Seattle anyway.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    If you see me in a Prius, you will really know TSHTF! I'd also go for the Prius V as it would have the most utility for a nominal sacrifice in fuel economy.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    Really depends on what a person needs. If they were looking at buying a typical 4 door sedan with a trunk, then a regular Prius has more than enough utility; however, if they're looking at a wagon or small SUV, then a Prius V would be a better fit. Or if you were looking at a compact Corolla, Fit, Civic, Focus, etc., then a Prius C would be comparable.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    I think you'd be in a Volt before a Prius. Actually, in a weird way, the Volt has kind of grown on me. Not something I'd buy, but I am less jaded about it now.

    Prius C roller skate...no better than an Insight to me, and a CR-Z or Civic hybrid might be better. Normal Prius is a little nerdy in an in your face way. Prius V it is.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    "nerdy" is pretty subjective, although I admit that I wouldn't be caught driving in a Nissan Cube or Smart car!
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,018
    I could see a Smart Diesel for urban use, but a Cube - amusing to look at, but I wouldn't want to do so every day.

    Also, Brian the dog on "Family Guy" drives a regular Prius, which isn't a big selling point to me :shades:
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 19,138
    If your going to drive a Prius V on the highway, it helps to be hard of hearing.
    2023 Ford Explorer ST, 91 Mustang GT vert
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