June, 2006: The New Star Car

When I decided to move up from my 14 mpg-in-the-city* Mother Ship to something more economical— and greener—I wanted make a radical change; from 14 mpg to 17 or 21 mpg or even 30 or 40 mpg would not suffice. (I think I needed to atone.) After investigating a number of economy cars, with emphasis on owner satisfaction, high reliability ratings, and the availability of a certain set of luxury features, it became clear that the Toyota Prius was the best car for my purposes by a wide margin. It is generally not possible to go into a dealership in the Baltimore-Washington area and find a new Prius that is not spoken for, but due to a fortuitous set of circumstances, I was able to walk into CarMax in Laurel, Maryland, find the model I wanted with the accessory package I wanted, and buy it on the spot. It was the only new Prius available within a wide area around my home at that time, and there were a number of other buyers right behind me. CarMax discounts the top-of-the-line Prius about $1,000 from list in spite of it being in short supply. The trade-in offer for the Mother Ship was as close to Kelly Blue Book private-party retail as didn’t matter, especially considering I was spared the ordeal of having a line of curiosity seekers come to my home to test drive the Mother Ship before announcing it was not what they were looking for. Also on this page: the Blue Whale and the ’92 Miata.

*Assuming one were foolish enough to use this very large vehicle for city driving. I was, sometimes.
The Gray Goose — Because it Looks to Me Like a Goose Egg on a Roller Skate—
and that’s because good fuel economy depends in part on good aerodynamics.
This Hybrid Badge is worth a $3150 Tax Credit for CY 2006!
Comparison of Selected Specifications
Engine 1.5 litre in-line 4, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing; 76 SAE Net HP 5.6 litre V8, DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 305 SAE Net HP
Secondary Power Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor. Combined SAE Net HP with electric and gasoline motors operating, 110.
Transmission Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic, 5-speed
Length 175 in. 224.2 in.
Width 67.9 in. 78.8 in.
Height 58.1 in. 76.6 in.
Wheelbase 106.3 in. 139.8 in.
Turning Circle 34.1 ft. 45.3 ft.
Curb Weight 2890 lbs. 5244 lbs.
Brakes Front disc, rear drum; Anti-lock; Vehicle Stability Control Four-wheel disc; Anti-lock; Vehicle Stability Control
0-60 mph 10 sec. 7.5 sec.
EPA Mileage 60 city, 51 highway 14 city, 18 highway
Actual Mileage Too new to tell; will report at 5,000 mi. 13 city, 16-19 highway, depending on load and tailgate up or down.
Tax Credit for Year of Purchase
Comparison of Selected Features
Audio JBL Premium w. 6-CD changer, auxiliary input. Rockford-Fosgate Premium w. 6-CD changer, auxiliary input.
Auxiliary Audio iPod, XM Satellite Radio iPod, XM Satellite Radio
Seating Perforated Leather; Manual Control; Leather Steering Wheel; Remote Mirror Control; Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror with HomeLink
Leather; Power Control; Heated; Leather Steering Wheel; Electrically adjustable brake pedal position; All adjustments stored in two-driver memory; Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror with HomeLink
Passenger Capacity Four or five adults Four or five adults
Climate Control Automatic Manual Control
Navigation: Toyota Voice Activated GPS system. Touch Screen integrates hybrid system performance monitor, audio and climate controls, bluetooth cellular phone connection, and miscellaneous functions.
Backup Camera Automatic, Color
Wheels 15" alloy, Equipped with Remote Pressure Monitoring 18" alloy, Equipped with Remote Pressure Monitoring
Entry Keyless Entry and Keyeless Ignition with Smart Key in pocket or purse. Standard Remote, Standard Ignition Key
Lighting: HID Headlamps, Integrated Fog Lamps Integrated Fog Lamps
Star-Party Load Capacity
Load Capacity, Locked and Weatherproof (Four-door hatchback) Two passengers with luggage for one week; one 8" SCT; one 3-1/2" Mak-Cas; one 76mm Refractor; one Losmandy G-11 German Equatorial Mount with Tripod and Gemini GoTo; one 12v HD deep-cycle marine battery with charger; one large Lowe-Pro suitcase with eyepieces and misc. accessories; two folding chairs; one laptop.
(Four-door pickup)
Carrying Capacity, Unlocked, Exposed
1,500 lbs.
Towing Capacity
None/Not Recommended
9,400 lbs.
The Former Star Car

The Mother Ship, a 2004 Nissan Titan LE, was a beautiful truck, supremely
comfortable, and the right vehicle for its time. But that time has passed.

The Great Blue Whale
2006 Toyota Avalon Limited: A lot of luxury for the money.
The Man Eating Tiger Page