Going Green, Saving Green?
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Over the next three nights, we are taking a special look at how you can go green to save some green.
Hybrid vehicles have a regular gas engine and a large battery. They work together to cut down on how much gas you use. We took the best-selling car and the first full-size SUV to the test to see just how well they would hold up in Gainesville traffic.
The first thing you'll notice is getting in the hybrid is the loudest part of driving away.
I'm started off with the Toyota Prius. Base price is about 22,000 dollars. But gas mileage is the real steal--45 miles per gallon estimated on highways, 48 in city traffic. That's almost 20 more miles per gallon than a similarly equipped Toyota Camry.
"It depends on where you drive," says Gatorland Toyota Sales Manager Branden Smith. "If you drive anywhere in the city, on University or Archer, it's going to make a huge difference. All that stop and go--especially with the 5 o-clock traffic."
The Chevy Tahoe hybrid is so new, the salesmen are getting a lesson in all the features from a corporate product trainer.
I was revved up to take a mostly quiet ride. The Tahoe gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 on city streets. That's 50% more than a regular gas engine at 14 miles per gallon.
"The hybrid product has the same abilities and capabilities as any gas powered Tahoe out there so certainly it will meet any customer demands," says Chevrolet Product Trainer Christie Berecz.
Both the Tahoe and the Prius can boast a smooth ride with the engine and battery working seamlessly together. The most impressive part is the onboard screen that shows you just how much green you're saving.
The screen on both vehicles constantly updates...showing whether the battery, or the engine or a hybrid mix is being used. Accelerating, especially in the Tahoe brings out the gas engine. But coasting even at speeds of 40 mph or more can bring out some use of the battery.
That means staying away from empty--both for your gas tank and your wallet.
"The majority of customers I see worry about what's it going to be this summer," says Smith. "How much is gas going to go up? Is it going to be 4 dollars? How far over 4 dollars is it going to be?"
Those gas worries could be well-founded with the average in Gainesville just 18-cents from the 4-dollar mark. But the hybrid technology does cost more than a comparably equipped gas powered vehicle.
So what's the right car or SUV for you and your driving habits? I'll help you decide Tuesday night.
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