Looking for A New Car: A Hybrid

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This past week has been a beast.  The weekend before, my car would not start.  It just died, with no apparent reason for the problem.  It's a Volkswagen Jetta 2003 TDI.  I've had little problems with it before, but now that the warranty has gone out, I get the major one.  Of course, I'm of the school of thought that it's easier to fix your car than to take it in.  Boy was I wrong.  The last car I had to fix was my Geo Metro, which is more of a toy, and has mostly all mechanical parts.  I loved it, because I could troubleshoot and replace just about anything on that baby.  I was real cut up when the thing finally gave up the ghost, and I needed a new car.  I chose the Volkswagen because they had a good reputation for reliability, and they were filled with the features I was looking for.  Also, they had a Turbo Diesel Injection engine that gets up to 52 mpg with the Jetta (the New Beetle got 60).  That's why I really wanted it.  Sure, diesel was more expensive than regular gas, but I could burn biodiesel. Well, biodiesel hit a snag when I found out about a Salt Lake County law that prohibited the transportation of used cooking oil without a $million insurance policy.  My guess is a company business was being protected from biodiesel hobbyists, but none the less it put a dampener on my plans.  Still, it was cheaper to drive my car than my wife's Subaru, because I got just great mileage.  Well, now the thing will not start, and I have to take it into the shop.  It's not the starter as I originally thought, but something with the electrical equipment.  Add that with my botched attempt to tow the sucker (apparently there isn't a tow hook on the front of the thing), it's going to be rather expensive to get it fixed.  So now I'm looking for a new car.  With the option of biodiesel pretty much null, I need another vehicle with excellent fuel economy, and will be comfortable for me, my wife, my son, and the new baby on the way.  So, I started checking out Hybrids. Now, don't get me wrong, I would rather have another alternative, i.e. electric car, but currently there isn't an electric car option that will give me the range that I need.  The batteries are just not efficient enough (though they may be in the next 5 years).  Hydrogen isn't really an option, because there isn't an environmentally friendly way of creating it in a timely manner.  That, and fuel cells are just too expensive (can't imagine why, with all that platinum).  The Hybrids I checked out were listed on http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybrid_sbs_Cars.shtml, which is the government's fuel efficiency listing of vehicles.  I was looking for a cost-effective vehicle that would get roughly the same fuel efficiency that I get with my Jetta TDI.  The PriusThe first car I think of when I think Hybrid is the Prius.  At first I thought it was a joke, not getting the fuel efficiency that most other economy vehicles get.  But then I actually took a ride in one.  It's nice, very geeky, and has a great display.  The ride was smooth, and when running just on battery power, it's very silent.  You can also urk more bang for your buck if you let the wheels charge the battery for you.  For those on a hill (like the one here at the U), it's great!  And finally, the fuel efficiency is about 50 mpg on the Highway.  That I like. The CivicThe runner-up is the Honda Civic Hybrid.  It's a little more expensive, gets almost the same mpg, and has roughly the same options.  Why didn't I choose it?  because it's a little more expensive!  I'm a Scot, after all.  ^_^  Other options were looked at, but nothing else came even remotely close.  I looked at GM cars, Ford, and others, but none offered the same level of fuel efficiency as either the Prius or the Civic.  I never thought I would go back to a Japanese car after driving a German one, but it looks like I may.  After all, my Korean vehicle lasted longer than any other car I've had. There is still one thing missing before my wife and I actually get the car, and that is the ability to car-pool.  Once we get that worked out, we will be all set.  It means one of us relocating our work spaces, which could happen soon, and it will not be me.  ^_^