Thursday, August 02, 2007

My New Car, or How I Became a Community-Based Corporate Shill

In the war of "my giant money-grubbing corporation is better than your giant money-grubbing corporation," many of my peers have taken sides. Some like Apple. Some like DC (comics for you noobs out there.) Some like WotC and the d20 system (RPGs, noobs.) Some like Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

This is what new marketing people dream about when we sleep, when we're not dreaming of Great Cthulhu that is. Community members so attached to a product they paid money for that they will go out, for free, and advertise that product. They'll tell their friends and write about it in their blogs. It's the online equivelant of wearing a brand on your t-shirt, or your favorite NASCAR racer's jacket with his corporate sponsors' logos all over it - you're paying to do a company's work for it.

I used to think I was better than that. Above it. I'm on the inside, right? I ought to know better?

Yeah, well, then I got a new car. My brand-spanking-new, a little more than 100 miles on it Toyota Prius. And boy howdy do I love it and you're going to hear about it.

We decided on the Prius at the culmination of a six-month car search. We had the following criteria for a new car:

  • Low road noise. Our old car was a real rattletrap, especially above 40 MPH or on rough roads.
  • Good gas mileage. Even if it meant paying more, I'd rather that money was going to a company that was trying to innovate gas-saving technology rather than an oil company. Also, fuck you Dick Cheney.
  • A comfortable ride. I'm a big, tall guy. My lower back starts hurting when I'm crammed into most car seats.
  • Red. This was actually Liz's preference; I could care less what color a car is.
So we test-drove five or six different cars that fit those criteria and also fit into our budget. I'd been impressed with Audis in the past, and we had a nice test-drive of an A4, but the mileage wasn't great and the frankly it wasn't as comfortable as the Prius. The Civic was far too small. The Jetta was also uncomfortable. And the Mini doesn't have a backseat to speak of.

But the Prius was an advanced winner almost from the beginning. The car is really roomy - surprisingly roomy, actually. The backseat is bigger than the Taurus I rode in when my parents were out last month. It feels like a midsized car, and it handles exceptionally well. Not quite as good as the Audi, but that's not really a surprise. For its price and size, it was more than enough.

And yeah, it's a hybrid and it gets great gas mileage. I test-drove a Prius back in 2001 for a magazine article, and at the time the car seemed more of a gimmick than an automobile - like a Go-Kart, Liz said. I agree. This feels like a real car. It's great to ride in, the gas mileage is superb, and I'll get a tax credit for it this year. Not too shabby.

So look out people: I'm now a Prius evangelist. If you're around me for any length of time, prepare for my spiel on how awesome this car is. You've been warned.

Also - pictures here.

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