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We’re headed up to Maine this weekend for my mom’s 70th birthday party (shh…it’s a surprise). We make it up there once every month or two usually. Fortunately, we’ve got a Prius, so we can make the 4-hour trip and back on one tank of gas, if we don’t do a lot of driving around while we’re up there. Our average mpg is around 45—less if we’re speeding, more if we’re in traffic.

The hills in Vermont were great for our mileage.

The hills in Vermont were great for our mileage.

When we used to take the Greyhound to Maine, it was $40 per person round trip—and then my sister still had to make the hour drive to Bangor to pick us up. Now it’s around $25 for the two of us, and much more convenient. In 2002, when we got the Prius, we figured the car would pay for its extra cost (over other compact cars) in less than 10 years. Gas was around $1.50 then, I think, so it’s probably already paid for itself.

I still wondered which was most efficient for making trips to places that have better train and bus service, like New York. Here’s a simple analysis of car vs. bus vs. train vs. plane. On average, from best to worst, it goes bus, train, car, plane. But the two of us riding in the Prius is about even with the bus, so I feel good about that. Did you know that average mpg is 22? Craziness!

Now if I could just stop drooling over those fancy new Priuses with the solar panels….

UPDATE: The Union of Concerned Scientists put out a report in December that addresses this in detail. It looks like while our Prius might be the best choice for trips to Maine (considering the closest bus station is an hour away from our families), we might want to think about taking a bus to New York or anywhere else. Good to know.

They even have a handy-dandy chart to break out the numbers.

They even have a handy-dandy chart to break out the numbers.


Comment from Brian
Time November 8, 2009 at 2:03 am

Estimate at 150,000 miles 45 mpg vs 22 mpg savings: has saved 3485 gallons of gas at an average of $2.5 a gallon would save $8712 dollars. If gas reaches 4-5 dollars within a few years this savings would double quickly. 3485 gallons of gas at 19.4pounds per gallon CO2 (US EPA) has saved 67 609 pounds of CO2 or 67.3 tons from entering the atmosphere, with close to 8 million cars sold per year the CO2 savings potential is astronomical So with that said when you retire your Prius, can I buy it?

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time November 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

We’re really enjoying not having car payments right now, so it will probably be a while. That said, hell yeah!

And thanks for doing the math. To add some variables: the Corolla we had before this got 26 mpg and we’ve already hit 140,000 miles after only 7 1/2 years. (That’s a lot of visits to Maine!)

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