Test Driving new 2012 Hybrid cars
In my last blog I mentioned that my car of 7 years bit the proverbial “dust”. Over the last two weeks I have been on a mission to find a new car and as you know, that process is daunting to say the least. Cars have changed so much over the last several years. Most brands now have hybrids and regular gasoline cars that get great mileage. The process of deciding to go with another hybrid or look into the high mileage gasoline engine was an interesting adventure. Certain brands like Kia and Hyundai have gone from being an ‘economical” choice to being a top choice in their segment. Buying a new car also gives you a great opportunity to try brands that you may even think are out of your range. So here is my adventure in car buying, broken down into the various cars that I test drove and my brief thoughts on each car.
I compiled facts, pricing, mileage, and professional reviews of cars that were hybrids or got at least 35 miles city driving. I used three different websites to help with my research:
My first search for a new hybrid vehicle brought up this little jewel: the Fisker Karma plug-in Hybrid.
Nice, huh?! Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my chin. So this little baby comes in at a whopping $95,900 dollars, which was just a little out of my price range. I mean, guess I could sell the house… who needs a bed, shower and place to hang their clothes? Yeah… guess that would be a little impractical. So narrowing my search to cars in the $30,000 or less range brought me a nice list of great cars.
I decided to start out with a brand that was known for its luxury and great customer experience – Lexus. The car that was interesting in this brand was the CT 200H hatchback.
This car had a very smooth ride and excellent features, which I expected, but the true question came in the form of sticker price. Was this car worth close to $30,000?
My next test drive was with the MINI Copper. A friend owns one of these cars so I have ridden in one, just have not driven one. I tried the standard model, the Countryman and for fun, a convertible model.
The ride was nice, especially with the Countryman and I remember have a big smile on my face the entire time I was in the convertible. So this car was really fun, and the $25,000 price tag was not bad either. Wait, what was this? The car requires PREMIUM gas… that’s a turn off. Nice car for weekend trips and such, but for stop and go traffic? Sorry, not a realistic choice.
Thought I would continue with new brands and checked out the local Kia dealership, which also had a Ford dealership next to it, so I am thinking two birds with one stone and all that. Interesting fact: the rock band Motley Cue is the new “spokes band” for Kia. The commercial for the Optima is straight out of an 80’s hair band video.
Nice commercial and nice car, but I just did not have the feeling that this was the car for me. Like I said, it was nice, but I certainly did not have the same excitement as the commercial implies and the MINI did give me that. While I was there, I even tried a Forte Coupe, but same thing, no excitement from the experience. Time to move on.
Hate to say it… same feeling as with the Kia. No excitement what so ever for me. Nice car if you want a sedan and an everyday experience. I spotted another car that was sporty looking called the Focus. Ended up not driving it as I had run out of time, and needed to get to the studio, but from sitting in the car, I liked it. In the last two weeks I have witnessed a solid number being driven on the road. Hate that I did not have a chance to get behind the wheel.
My next stop was at a familiar brand – Honda. I have been curious about the Insight and it was revamped for 2012.
After driving this car I can tell you that it was a great car. The inside was comfortable, the technology was modern, the gas mileage was great and the price was definitely in my range. I had also heard of the new CR-Z, which replaced the popular CR-X in the Honda lineup.
The CR-Z is based off of the Insight’s technology and they are practically the same car. The Insight is designed with four doors to carry up to 5 people, while the CR-Z is the sport version and designed to carry only two people. I realized that both cars had made my top three immediately, so it was time to think things over and see which would be best for me at this point in my life. After sleeping on it and doing several calculations on gas, insurance and other boring comparisons, I came to the conclusion that the CR-Z was going to be my next car.
Been driving it a couple of weeks now, and I have really enjoyed the ride. I will be interesting to see how car technology will improve and change in the next 5 to 7 years. When I bought the Prius back in 2005 it was the most advanced car on the road. That has certainly changed now.
See you around town and remember to keep dancing!