Living in This World


In the background on this Saturday morning I hear a cat using the couch in our upstairs den as a scratching post. I believe she would tell you this is one of her spiritual disciplines, the maintaining of her claws in as sharply useful condition as possible.

Yesterday, I went out with Pure Luck to look at hybrid cars, because I not only need a new car (the Solid Gold Volvo having reached a point of needing repairs worth more than a reasonable asking price), but I want this kind of major shopping choice to have its basis in a discipline rather than a desire or an impulse. The Solid Gold Volvo while not exactly an impulse purchase was definitely a response to the desire for a wagon with a sunroof, and the only other brand that had both was a Mercedes. That is one weird way to make a Volvo seem cheap, relatively, but it worked for me at the time.

So, we went to the Toyota dealership to find out what's going on in the land of the Prius. We discovered that a Camry can be purchased in a hybrid version, too, and thus began the sorting out of desires versus disciplines.

What do I really want in a car?

Well, in an isolated fashion, I want a car that is both kinder to the Earth and kinder to my weekly budget. I realize that to get this, or any car, I will have to pay a chunk of money, so I'm trying not to let that come too fiercely into the dialogue. I'm starting with the base-priced Prius as the ground of the discussion with myself, but before I had been on the car lot five minutes I could see it would not be so simple.

First, there are no available Prius models on the lot. Two have been 'awarded' to the dealership and may arrive by mid-June. Although websites would suggest you can choose the features you want, in actuality, not so much. In actuality, I couldn't test-drive a Prius, I could only sit in one purchased by someone else and not picked up yet. In actuality, there are two coming, and one is the basic, and the other has the "Touring Package," and the difference is 6 or so thousand dollars, and if you're looking at the more expensive, isn't there something appealing about the hybrid Camry that is about the same price but has the 8-way adjustable seats?

Hang on, need a breath here.

What do I really want in a car?

Pure Luck kindly pointed out that with my ongoing joint issues I might need to consider the ease of adjusting seats and mirrors and windows and steering wheel, although these are things he would never consider himself.

I suggested he could buy his own Prius, with no added frills and furbelows.

He made that noise like Lurch on The Addams Family.

I wasn't really irritated with him; I am irritated by my current limitations and the idea that they may not go away completely. It's certainly true that on a trip of ANY length in the Volvo, I do adjust the seat with some frequency. A seat that has limited adjustability might prove problematic.

Also, the Camry is pretty.

Okay, so you can see how quickly we get off the path, right? I want the car with the best mileage, but if I'm going to spend more to get the one with the back-up camera that helps compensate for the poor rear view, why not get the Camry?

Or do I really want the computerized display that tells me my exact miles per gallon? Wasn't that sort of the whole point?

And also, no pressure, but if I want either Prius, I really need to put down a deposit, like, yesterday.

All I wanted was an eco-friendly car–okay, a safe, eco-friendly car, though I realize I hadn't yet mentioned safety–and I don't care anymore about a sunroof–okay, I really like my sun roof, and my neighbor's new Hybrid Camry has one, so they are available, but if you get the dog-friendly leather interior, then you're jumping to a different price range–okay, how can I stop this merry-go-round?

We stopped it by saying "thank you" and driving away.

It's a day later, but we have the same questions, or I do. Sometimes I wish someone would just decide things for me, but I don't really mean that, and Pure Luck knows it. I wish the choices, or rather the right choice, could be more obvious.

If I start from the basis of my spiritual discipline of wanting to be kinder to the earth, then I should eliminate the Camry from consideration simply because it is nowhere close to as gas-friendly as the Prius.

If I start from the basis of only looking at the Prius, I then have to choose between back-up camera and no such thing. Also Bluetooth capability and leather-trim and a bunch of other fancy-sounding stuff that makes no difference to the gas mileage.

And so it goes.

Maybe it's not possible to buy a car using a spiritual discipline as the only guideline.

(But what do you think?)

15 thoughts on “Disciplines”

  1. My Prius is 10 months old. I get 51 mpg. (Yup, 51) The backup camera is essential, it really is hard to see without it. The seats are comfortable even with my own significant back and hip issues. The only thing I wish I had was a seat heater.
    I have leather because my son has a horse. I believe it was package 5 (possibly 4) that had the camera, leather, ABS, and traction control….all the things I found essential.
    The local dealership has several and it would be only a few hundred dollars for you to fly here and buy it and then PL could drive it home. 🙂 You could also “test drive” my car.
    I’ve also had a Camery (not hybrid). It was a wonderful car that I sold to a friend when it had 180,000 miles on it…..they are still driving it 4 years later. I do like the Prius better.

  2. Just to complicate things for you, Honda makes a Civic hybrid that is cheaper and rates better than the Prius…when towanda the car, who is 16, finally gives up the ghost (please God, let us both get out of seminary and have decent jobs), I’ll be making these same decisions.

  3. Um…. um…. I totally went with the sunroof. When i was shopping, I could not afford a hybrid, nor could I afford to wait until they came down in price/became more available. But, the sunroof has been my saving grace for many days. Days when the sun has finally come out after weeks of grey and I have to be on the road to far away places, days when I want to shake the winter blues. I may never own another car without one. Maybe the sunroof is a spiritual thing too?

  4. I never cared about the sunroof. Then my spouse bought the CRV with one, and now I am so envious it is pathetic. My next car will be a Prius with a sunroof, when the Hyundai that gets a fairly respectable 36 MPG dies.

  5. I was going to come tell you about the Civic Hybrid, but Towanda beat met to it. It’s a great car. I wish I could have afforded one when I was looking almost 2 years ago. I went with a non-hybrid civic and I still get 30-35 mpg, city driving. But my next car will totally be a hybrid, for sure! I love the civic…just saying… 😉

  6. I’m the worst, worst person to ask. I’ve had my little car that I love since 2000 and it now is approaching 140,000 and the mere thought of having to choose another car makes me nauseous. I know that day will come, but I prefer to live in denial (la, la, la, la) right now thank you. :c)
    (But, since it’s YOUR car, get the Camry.)

  7. I have a 2005 Prius. I bought it used from Carmax in the summer of 2006. It had about 15,000 miles on it. It has the navigation system, etc. I had already been around the whole stupid do-you-want-a-bribe-or-what scheme with a Toyota dealer trying to get a new one, which I never got. I will never be suckered into that ever again.
    While Carmax did terribly screw up getting my car registered in California (it came from out of state), I will say that the experience otherwise was good. I had never bought a used car before, but I would do it again. And if it is under 3 years or 36,000 miles, it is still under warranty.
    Carmax also gave me a really good price on the car I was trading in.
    I like the Prius. As a spoiled princess, I will say that the interior is not nearly as tricked out as I would like. And my model year doesn’t have the plug-in-your-iPod jack, which is maddening. But I get supergreat gas mileage. And it is a cool-looking car. And it performs well. Just my two bits.

  8. my #1 determining factor for wheels was “will it get me thru, around, or over the 20inch deep ruts left by the semis on our gravel road?” okay then…

  9. I’m not sure whether you can buy a car based just on spiritual discipline. There are so many factors that you have to consider.
    I’ve never had enough money to pick out a car with whatever I wanted (in fact I haven’t had a NEW new car in longer than I can remember). So I’m really hoping my next car will have a sunroof. And if I move someplace more snowy than where I am now, all-wheel drive. Beyond that, I don’t need too many bells and whistles.
    I don’t think it’s bad to think of comfort and safety in addition to mileage.

  10. LOL, hotcup! At least you know your parameters!
    I am convinced about the back-up camera, so I put the deposit on the “loaded” version of the Prius. I’m pretty pleased about the navigation system, too, since I have more than one story in the past year or so about being navigated around Maine my son or husband using Google Earth over the phone…
    Let’s pray my Volvo makes it to trade-in day.

  11. I want a hybrid, but I have four kids (plus dog and sundry other pets) to haul around. Toyota keeps SAYING that they’re coming out with a hybrid Sienna, but haven’t actually produced one yet.

  12. hey, sb, if you want to drive an 05 prius before your new fancy model arrives, please let me know! i luuuurve mine (even without the backup camera & fancy nav system) and would be happy to let you take it for a spin. someone did the same for me back when we were looking, and it did a lot to ease my concerns about putting down such a big hunk of money without actually, you know, driving the thing.

  13. Do any of these cars come with an optional removable pet protector thingy for the back seat? That might be another point to consider. My sister’s BMW has it, and with three dogs, that’s her favorite thing about her BMW. Keeps it clean and keeps the leather seats free of claw marks – and it prevents the dogs from slipping into the foot space. Not that Molly or Sam would have that problem!

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