Can a Traditional Car Guy Choose To Buy a Visibly Economical Car Like The Toyota Prius or Tesla?
If you ask car enthusiasts online if they like the Prius, you will certainly get some negative responses about the car. But I think that an open minded car enthusiast would consider owning a Prius as a commuter car, but then also have a classic, non-PC car on the side.
Some people just don't like economy cars
Some Car Guys wouldn't be caught dead driving a Prius, mostly because of the vegan-eco-image and nerd stereotypes long associated with economy cars in general and specifically the Prius.
Tesla is different
In contrast, the Tesla is a different type of of economy car, and I think many car enthusiasts really like Teslas because its massive torque and super car acceleration are two traits that made them love cars in the first place. A few Car Guys still will complain that the Tesla is "cheating" when it leaves their favorite tuned hot rod in it's dust. And they will say that an EV isn't fun because doesn't make the traditional big motor ROAR, shake your back fillings out, burn up the back tires, or make you work hard for your speed.
Classic high performance gas cars are admittedly exciting for most car guys, because they are simply fun to drive and thrilling when pushed hard. But most of the things that make a classic performance car thrilling when driven for fun, can be a nightmare if you have the misfortune of having to regularly commute in your Hot Rod. The loud droning of an aftermarket exhaust grows tiring on the freeway, and that big old carburetor often has trouble idling, chokes you with unburned gas, and lurches, belches and stalls when it's too hot or too cold outside.
Prius is a smooth operator
In contrast, the Prius (or Tesla) is the welcome friend of the commuter, providing a stress-free cocoon that is nearly silent except for the car's radio (which you can actually hear over the engine). It is comfortable with supportive seats, a compliant suspension, and a heater and A/C that actually works well.
The Prius drives for miles and miles using the same amount of gas that the musclecar uses in one smokey burnout. The Tesla uses no gas at all. Importantly the Prius has predictable reliability so that you can do that daily commute for years and years without having to worry about breaking down, or really even worry about the car at all, as long as you follow regular maintenance guidelines. Teslas have low maintenance electric motors that never need tuning to run right. With a classic performance car the owner had better know mechanically what it takes to keep their beast running right, or else it will sit gathering dust.
I own a classic 50s car, a high performance gas car, and an electric car for my daily driver, so I can see the attraction to the old and to the new. Next to the Tesla Models 3, the Prius Prime is the best selling EV in the U.S. and you can see that a lot of traditional car enthusiasts are starting to buy up these new economical cars despite a few vocal critics. Ultimately, it comes down to what you NEED and what you WANT that separates what you drive from what drives you. Commuter or Hot Rod Toy, Servant or Thrill Ride. With an EV You decide.
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Dean McManis is an electric car specialist and can be reached on Facebook at DeanMcManis for tips and feedback. Please, also leave your comments below for discussion.