The MPG Smackdown: The Clunker vs. the Hybrid

The Puzzler

This was sent in recently by a fellow named John Canoose.

My friend Joe lives a few blocks from me. He's a regular working stiff, just like me, though we work at different places. Now, Joe, he likes to do the right thing -- as he sees it -- so he recently bought himself a brand-new Prius.

Joe says, "Wow, it gets great gas mileage, almost 50 mpg around town and about 40 on the highway, even with 5 people in it -- you know, 4 passengers and the driver. That's pretty good."

Anyway, Joe's grandmother for years drove a beat up old Plymouth Voyager. He used to tease her about it getting maybe just a little more than 15 mpg around town. Of course, it did a lot better on the highway with that 5-speed manual transmission and 4-cylinder engine.

Grandma claims she would get something like 28 mpg, maybe a little more, on the highway. Pretty good. But Joe hated that thing; it was underpowered and it was ugly.

So when Grandma died, you guessed it, she willed the Voyager to him. It sat in Joe's driveway for a couple of weeks while he advertised it for sale in the paper. But as you would expect, no takers.

I went on a vacation at about this time. Returning from Sand-in-Your-Shorts-Beach in Florida, I drove by his house on the way home and there was the Voyager in his driveway, but it looked like it had been driven.

Joe was home, so I stopped in. "What's up?" I asked. "Decide to keep that nifty Voyager?"

Joe says, "Well, yeah. You know, I realized that I could get as good mileage as the Prius if I didn't drive it all the time."

So, is Joe flipped out or is there something going on here?

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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