We finally got a new car. After Chris played bumper cars with another mom from Clem’s class (well, doesn’t that sound not how I meant it) and the 88 Accord exploded into a thousand tiny plastic bits in front of the school, we thought we would be really groovy and just be a one car family. But that ended up involving me driving Chris to work a lot and then driving back to work to pick him up, but it made me feel like a soccer mom with a kid who happened to be six feet tall, and it defeated whatever eco-purpose we thought we had going there. The situation did have the advantage of giving me an excuse to rent a Mini a couple of times a month when I needed an extra set of wheels (go, Zipcar!), which unfortunately has now given me a taste for “peppy” cars. It’s a little bit like drinking a really nice wine and realizing actually is a reason they cost more. And then going back to the Two Buck Chuck.
Anyway, after spending ridiculous amounts of time on craigslist and driving to the four corners of the bay area to look at cars that either didn’t start (no, seriously) or smelled like a homeless person on a really hot day, I realized there was a sale on Prii at Toyota of Berkeley and decided one Saturday morning to just buy one. Having never bought a new car before, I thought you could just walk into a dealership and write a check, but it took 4 hours, during which time I got hungry and grumpy, and I’m surprised I made it through the sale. I was going to get a black one but they didn’t have one and they said all sorts of horrible things about black cars and, as I said, I was really hungry and wanted to leave, so I bought a blue one instead. Its cute, a cheerful color. I got the one with all the bells and whistles: Bluetooth phone connection (awesome!), GPS navigation (pretty good but sometimes the thing appears to be on crack), back up camera (handy). There are a lot of features that people who drive cars less than 12 years old heard about a looong time ago (like controls for the stereo on the steering wheel) but which excite me to no end. I am, of course, completely addicted to watching my fuel economy change every second or so. It’s a miracle I haven’t driven it into a tree yet.
The biggest problem is figuring out which blue Prius is yours in the parking lot. I’m not kidding. We went to Maker Faire last weekend and 5 other blue Prii were parked within visual range. It’s almost like being at a conference and putting down the totebag they give you at registration, and you forgot to tag it somehow. Despite being a gigantic cliché, I do love the car. It got 50 miles a gallon on the highway this weekend driving back up from Los Altos, though I get a little less than 40 doing the soccer mom thing around town. There’s some hack you can do that lets it use the electric motor more and therefore supposedly improves your mileage, but I’m skeptical. It’s a big improvement over the 22 our remaining Honda gets, and I’m quite happy with it.