The Hybrid Family Grows
The debate rages on about whether or not hybrid cars are “better” for the environment than, say, a 1984 Honda Civic (of course, the answer is that they are not).
But the fact remains that some people would just rather have a new car- and can actually afford it.
When first introduced in the 1990′s hybrids like the original Honda Insight were laughed off as goofy and nerdy, an unfortunate stigma that tended to plague their drivers as well.
I mean, come on- gasoline was $0.99 a gallon and the new Suburban just came out.
Once environmentalism came into fashion, the “hybrid movement” had another shot and the cars manifested themselves in the shapes we’re more familiar with today:
So it’s a little more “practical”, but it’s still reserved for people confident enough to ride around in a jellybean/shuttlecraft/dorkmobile.
Before you start commenting that Toyota “couldn’t keep Priui on their lots” and they “sold out quickly” I will say yes that’s true, but you’ve got to consider that these cars were produced in quite limited numbers for the first few years of their lives. Something to do with the government not having enough cash to award all those “green” rebates.
In the last few years, a new hybrid market emerged: high-end luxury. Now that Green is the new Gucci, the sex appeal of a Range Rover is just a little dented thanks to its bigfoot-sized carbon footprint.
So Lexus introduces the 460h, and later its RX and GX series hybrid vehicles.
Not to be left behind their Japanese rivals… Mercedes Benz cooks up the S400 Hybrid:
This thing takes the “green” concept a step further with interior parts made of recycled fibers and all that crap.
Plus, it’s an F-ing S Class. This car is decidedly awesome.
Well now that rich people ride around in hybrids… the rest of us start wanting them too.
Ford provides the Fusion hybrid, Toyota releases a Camry hybrid.
Decidedly less exciting than a new S-Class… you can Google you own images for those if you’re that interested.
And no I didn’t forget about the SUV hybrid market. I just think it’s stupid.
Ford Escape: too small to carry a lot or tow anything and definitely not going off-road, so why deal with poor aerodynamics?
Chevy Tahoe/Escalade Hybrid: It’s sad when automakers can brag about 20 MPG. If you need a vehicle this big, get a diesel.
So let’s recap.
Ten years after the original Insight rolled out, we’ve got a pretty dynamic family of hybrid cars on the market for all four of the major car-buying demographics:
Nerds: Toyota Prius, Honda Insight
Rich People: Lexus LS460h, GX…h, RX…h
Normal People: Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid (and I think the Ford Escape hybrid snuck over here from the SUV category).
SUVs (also applicable to Rich People): Chevy Tahoe Hybrid/Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
But in the next year or two, the forerunners of hybrid cars are promising two new models to appeal to the most important demographic of all: Cool Kids.
You know, the people that marketing companies everywhere want you to be- the Facebook using, vintage sunglass-wearing, music-loving party people that are in catalogs.
These people need cars like the Lexus CT200h and Honda CR-Z.
The “hot hatch” category is finally getting back to its MPG-friendly roots with this pair of tiny-yet-heterosexual cars that I wouldn’t mind owning.
Once thought of as just a teaser concept, I’m now pretty sure the CR-Z is for real. The picture above is from Honda’s official website.
These cars are pretty cool, but don’t get your hopes up about neck-snapping performance.
Despite what the world’s ricers and eurotrash will have you believe, you’ve got to remember to take “hot hatch” performance with a grain of salt.
I’m afraid you will get crushed by creepy old guys in Mustangs at a stoplight in one of these.
But you’ve got to remember you’re getting 30+ MPG, you don’t have to rebuild your carburetor every Sunday, and your girlfriend won’t complain about the omnipresent smell of gasoline when you take her places.
And if you can’t afford one… try an 88 CRX.