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Beginning the search for a hybrid

Old 11-02-2006, 06:29 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Default Beginning the search for a hybrid

Hello Everyone,

I have all but decided that my next vehicle will be a hybrid, but which one to choose?

I live in Northern Illinois and my concern is that the mileage will drop substantially in the winter months.

I look forward to learning a lot from everyone in the group.

Old 11-02-2006, 06:48 PM
bwilson4web's Avatar
Engineering first
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 5,613
Default Re: Beginning the search for a hybrid

Originally Posted by moosekevin
Hello Everyone,

I have all but decided that my next vehicle will be a hybrid, but which one to choose?

I live in Northern Illinois and my concern is that the mileage will drop substantially in the winter months.

I look forward to learning a lot from everyone in the group.
Let me suggest you work up a list of requirements and accurately characterize your driving. If you tend to do more cross country driving, the Hondas are very nice. If you tend to do more urban driving, the Toyotas are nice. If you need to haul a bunch of stuff, the Ford Escort and Toyota Highlanders are nice.

As for cold weather, there are several things you can do to minimize the effects: (1) block heaters, and (2) route planning for warm-up.

The key point is matching the car to your driving profile and requirements. The winter will happen once per year and even then, you'll still get very nice mileage.

Bob Wilson
Old 11-02-2006, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Pewaukee, WI
Posts: 167
Default Re: Beginning the search for a hybrid

Hi Kevin,

We live in Southeast Wisconsin, and as you can see if you click the mileage sigs below what our mileage hit is like for the Prius and Insight. I get along well enough in below freezing weather (and even sub-zero weather) with a block heater on my Insight that gets parked outside. My mom drives a garaged Prius and has some Highway and some City driving everyday. No matter what hybrid you decide upon, winter will affect it about the same as any other hybrid. Just consider a block heater and know that you're still getting better mileage than the rest of the vehicles in it's class.

You're also fortunate to live relatively close to Oak Creek, WI where we hold Milwaukee Hybrid Group meetings every other month. Our next will be December 16th, and whether you have a hybrid or not by then, it would be a worthwhile trip to come up and join us to learn more about the hybrids available from actual owners in person who will show you everything they wished they knew when they were looking at new cars or when they first got their car. We have several owners who come up regularly from the Chicago area, many who hang out at, who know tons about Prius, HCH-I and the Insight.

Good luck in your search, hope we can help you.
Old 11-03-2006, 06:17 PM
Flash's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 456
Default Re: Beginning the search for a hybrid

Kevin - Take Justin's advice and go visit them near Milwaukee. I just returned from their monthly Gathering meeting and was fortunate enough to not only see a new Prius, previous version Prius, Insight, previous Civic Hybrid, new Civic Hybrid, AND a Ford Escape Hybrid ... I was even allowed to DRIVE an Insight, a Prius, and the earlier-version Civic. I own a Civic so this was a great opportunity to learn the differences or positives or negatives of each. I think they will have another meeting in about a month but check on the "Events and Gatherings" thread. I'm sure if you head up that way after contacting them they would be more than happy to show you the cars.
Old 11-14-2006, 11:52 AM
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Location: Chicago area
Posts: 955
Default Re: Beginning the search for a hybrid

Actually, you don't have to go all the way to Milwaukee. There's a hybrid meeting set up on Dec. 10th in Skokie.

As for your specific message, yes, Northern Illinois is cold in the winter. Around here, I'm just starting to see some dips in mileage because of the cold. But cold weather affects the mileage of all cars- living here is NO reason to pick a regular car over a hybrid. It's just that two factors make people think that hybrids aren't such a great idea in cold climates.

1- because hybrids are so phenomenally fuel efficient, more people scrutinize hybrid FE than other cars. If they didn't pay much attention to the winter drops for the regular cars, then it could come as something of a surprise to see FE go down in cold weather when you're paying real attention to it for the first time.

2- Most cars will get a fairly regular percentage drop in FE. A car that gets 20 mpg may drop 10%, say, and a car that gets 50 mpg would also drop 10%. For the 20 mpg car, that drop is 2 mpg- many people wouldn't even notice. But if you're getting 50 mpg to begin with and it drops 5 mpg, you'll notice it.

Conclusion: Buy the hybrid. Cold weather or no, 50 is better than 20 and 45 is better than 18. Lower FE cars actually take a much bigger hit in the total amount of extra gas they have to use in the winter, relative to hybrids, so if you're looking at it from an environmental perspective or from a cost-at-the-pump perspective, hybrids save a lot.
Old 11-14-2006, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Leominster, MA
Posts: 2,161
Default Re: Beginning the search for a hybrid

Depending how much much you want to fight you can try to limit the hit. Block heaters, and radiator blocks are helpful. Hybrids will take a slightly larger hit in winter because the batteries don't work quite as well, and many other parts are temperature related. But like Leah said, even with the hit you will be doing better than a non-hybrid as far as FE goes.

I do recomend making it out to Milwaukee for one of there meetings. They are very good. They do a meet and greet before the meeting and then they have a meeting with specific topics which is usually very informative. The Chicago meetings right now are more of the meet and greet type and I had loads of fun at the first one and will be going to the next one and encourage you to as well.

Being from northern IL the meetings are probably about the same distance from you. Probably about 30-40 minutes.
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