No, Kermit the Frog didn’t sing at me at the dealership…

March 21st, 2006 by Jeff | 1 Core Dump


I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple weeks now. I wanted to hold off posting about this because I know my family (or at least certain members thereof) read this blog occasionally, and we wanted to surprise everyone back home with this in person before I started blabbing about it to the whole world. So think of it as old news, but new to you.

With the child process continuing to compile (we hope to get to the linking step soon), we realized that both of our current ground transportation vehicles were going to get very tiny very quickly. Our aging Plymouth Neon was getting up along in years, and our Honda Civic Hybrid isn’t exactly spacious either. Stuffing both of us, potential luggage, a squalling munchkin, and all the assorted infant accessories and peripherals into a compact sedan is a nightmarish thought; imagining the potential of doing all that plus books, shirts, dolls, and other goodies for cons is even more boggling. No, it was time to look for something bigger.

Mind you, that’s not a pleasant task for me. I don’t like large vehicles, be they trucks, vans, or–shudder–SUVs. They’re huge, gas-guzzling monstrosities that take up two or three parking spaces each at the grocery store because the soccer moms driving them think they drive just like their little sedans back home and they don’t realize they’re driving something twice as wide. They are said to be safer than smaller cars, but that’s largely because the sedan they collided with was torn to shreds by the behemoth’s bulk (not at all encouraging to the sedan’s occupants). And don’t get me started on the idiots who think four-wheel drive means they can zoom along at 90 MPH in a 65 zone in the pouring rain without the slightest chance of hydroplaning….

Okay, some of my biggest complaints have to do with bad SUV drivers and not the SUVs themselves, but that’s beside the point. 😉 I’ve never been a fan of SUVs, but I had pretty much resigned myself to start considering the remote, faint, infinitesimally small possibility that I’d have to eventually force myself to drive a mini-van or SUV. It was about the only way we’d be able to cram all that stuff into a single mobile platform and still be considered separate living organisms.

Now I’m not one of those guys who would feel immasculated by the thought of driving a mini-van. (I’m a geek, so it’s not what’s under the hood that counts, but how big the hard drive is. 😉 But I’m not really happy with the prospect of putting $50 a week into the bottomless pit of a gas tank of something the size of an Imperial Star Destroyer. With gas prices as they currently are, fuel efficiency is important to me, and I’ll pay a premium now if I have to if it will save me money in the long run.

We’re rather proud of our Civic which, while it hasn’t been getting nearly the media attention as , is pretty much even with it in the area of fuel efficiency. (Having a hybrid is also pretty darn geeky, if I say so myself, but I’ll admit my opinion may be biased.) My parents had a 1985 Accord that lasted all they way through my Junior year of college, so I knew Honda was a name I could trust. The problem is, Honda’s SUVs are just about as thirsty as everyone else’s, and they don’t currently have a hybrid in the pipeline.

However, we had both seen the commercials for Ford’s Escape Hybrid (the ones with Kermit the Frog singing “It’s not Easy being Green”; yes, that’s the sound of my eyes rolling you hear). The idea of a hybrid SUV seemed like an oxymoron to me. However, looking at the specs, it seemed to be pretty impressive. And if you hadn’t guessed from the picture above, we were impressed enough to go into debt for the next few years.

All the marketing aside (you can get all of that you want from the sites linked above), I’ve been pretty impressed with it so far. I haven’t expected it to get the gas mileage of the Honda, but compared to what I’ve seen on comparable sized vehicles it basically sips gas. So far it does about the same as the old Neon did, if not better. Plus it has a definite geek factor to it, although now I’m starting to wonder if I might have more computing power in the driveway than I do in the office. (A hybrid needs a lot more CPU muscle than the average vehicle these days to balance the need between the gasoline and electric engines.)

If I can think of more interesting things to post later about the Escape or hybrids in general, I will. I’m sure over time having a completely hybrid garage will be a unique perspective some folks out there might find interesting. Of course, I don’t have a garage, but hopefully the analogy won’t fall too flat because of that fact.

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