Stories like this one are becoming more prevalent, thanks to Consumer Reports' hatchet-job on hybrids and their failure to fully correct their inconsistencies1 and misrepresentations2. It's now conventional wisdom that people won't save much, even on a Prius, because of CR's baloney - comparing the Prius to the Corolla as if anybody who was interested in the much larger Prius will instead cram their family into the Corolla rather than seriously considering the Camry.
Even more irritating is the new conventional wisdom among idiot pundits that the Prius comparatively high sales is due to nothing more than the "halo effect", when the data clearly show that the Prius is, frankly, a far better _car_ than the other hybrid cars. The Civic Hybrid still won't even let you fold the seat down, for instance, and is a much smaller vehicle; and the Accord Hybrid doesn't deliver much in the way of fuel economy. (I expect the Camry Hybrid, on the other hand, to do very well; Toyota's hybrid system, again, is clearly technologically superior to that of Honda).
The truth is that you'll save a ton of money compared to the Camry, and a decent amount even compared to the Corolla if you buy and drive a Prius.
You've set us back years, guys. Nice work.
(1: In their own data, they show the Prius' depreciation as "much better than average" and the Corolla as merely "average", yet their hybrid economic comparison shows greater depreciation for the Prius. Additionally, they claim greater spending on maintenance for the Prius, which is, again, contradicted by their own data. In fact, maintenance spending on the Prius is likely to lower, if anything, due to less brake wear).
(2: They compare the Prius only to the Corolla, a comparison only valid if you would fit your family into the Corolla absent the Prius. In fact, many, possibly even most, Prius drivers compare to midsize cars like the Camry, since the Prius is actually between the two cars in size - closer to the Camry especially in rear-seat legroom).
Sal Costello continues to post a shrill screed or three almost every single day to Austin Bloggers trying to get people to vote against incumbents who approved some or all of various toll road plans around these parts. Most irritating of all is that the Austin Libertarians (whose politics would logically tend to support tolls, even on existing roads, if they were being remotely consistent about user fees) have signed on with this pantload, which shows that they're just a bunch of suburban Republicans who don't want to be identified with the religious right.
If you have any interest in making sure that suburbanites pay their fair share, though, you need to vote the exact opposite way from Sal's recommendations. These toll roads finally start to reverse the decades-long subsidization of neighborhoods like Circle C by central Austinites who have to contribute property and sales tax money to TXDOT to build 'free'ways. At the same time, TXDOT spends most of their money in the suburbs and hardly anything remotely close to central Austin since most major roads there aren't part of the state highway system.
Tolls in any form are good. Tolls which changed by the time of day would be even better. Tolls which were frequently changed to ensure free-flowing traffic would be best. But any tolls are better than going back to the bad old days where Sal's driving is subsidized by people in Hyde Park who might not even own a car.
The truly amazing thing is that he's managed to sucker environmentalists into opposing these toll roads. Rather than imposing tolls on roads to stop subsidizing sprawl over the aquifer, groups like SOS actually think they have the power to prevent those roads from being built at all, and have made common cause with folks who would expand 290 to 100 lanes before caring one whit about Barton Springs.
Just say no to Sal. Tolls are a responsible way to make sure the people causing the demand actually pay the price.
An Austin branch of "Rock and Romp" is in startup planning. If you're like me - with child and still wanting to see shows sometimes, please sign up for the mailing list post-haste.