On the Way Home From the Dealership I Averaged 38.5 Mpg

By: Ruth Mitchell

I gave up my five-cylinder Volvo SUV a couple of years ago. While it was relatively fuel-efficient, I no longer needed such a large car. I looked then at hybrid cars, but was dissatisfied with the trade off of fuel-efficiency for poor acceleration. I have to drive over a lot of two-lane mountainous roads with passing lanes the length of a small back yard.

The car I replaced it with was a much smaller Volvo with the same five-cylinder engine. I was led to believe it would get 30 mpg, but it only only averaged 23.5 mpg over the mountainous roads I drive. So, recently, with a little time on my hands I drove a couple of hybrids. The Honda Civic was disappointing and handicapped by the fact that the batteries needed for a hybrid obstruct cargo space. It was slow and sluggish, this from a previous Honda owner.

The Toyota Prius I found was actually quite surprising, and if I could get over the jelly bean look of the little car that could, I would have to go for that awesome 45-48 mpg promise. It was also very satisfying to watch the computer screen tell me if I was using electric or motor power. It validated my need to do something about this petroleum holocaust.

Then there is diesel. Volkswagen has an '08 Jetta, not yet available in my area, that promises to get as much as 50 mpg. From what I have read, they are utilizing new technology now used in Mercedes as well, that reburns the particulates. Performance is up and the clean/green factor is up. Very interesting, but they didn't have anything for me to test drive and I seemed to know more about the technology than the dealership did. Combined with the fact that diesel fuel is skyrocketing, I had an uneasy feel for going there.

This morning's news talked about sales being down for American car manufacturers. They reported a 4 percent increase for Toyata. Imagine that. The car dealership I first went to only had one Prius to test drive, no hyrbrid SUVs and no hybrid Camrys on the lot. They said they would sell most of them before you could test drive them. Now who would buy a car without test driving it? Desperate Americans that's who. You know in most areas of technology, it's there before we are ready for it, with cars, the environment has been, perhaps unalterably destroyed, due to some very powerful people holding back the technology.

Well I found finally found the perfect car for me after several weeks of shopping and research. It's stylish, roomy and you'd never know it was a hybrid to look at it or to open up when you need to pass a car. You don't feel like you are driving an experiment, rather a luxurious automobile. It's a 2009 Toyota Camry.

And boy am I having fun watching those biofeedback displays that are teaching me how to most efficiently drive this car. I have never owned a Toyota until now, and now, I'm very impressed with Toyota's hybrid edge. Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive? is the most advanced type. Full hybrids run on electric drive at low speeds, on gasoline and electric drive in traffic, and on gasoline alone at highway speeds. Computers automatically control the electric motor and gasoline engine for an optimal balance of responsive performance, fuel economy and lower emissions.

The electric motor adds extra power during peak demands, enabling the use of a smaller, lighter and less polluting engine. The gasoline engine provides most of the power. It recharges the hybrid battery for hundreds of miles of range. The batteries also get energy back from the drivetrain in a process called regenerative braking. The cumulative effect is a vehicle that recycles its own energy. I'm sold on Synergy!--Ruth Mitchell

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