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Ditch Your Prius: 5 Totally Sensible (?) Cars You Should Buy Right Now

  • By Andrew Hoehn

Ditch Your Prius: 5 Totally Sensible (?) Cars You Should Buy Right Now

First, we don’t hate Priuses. Prii. Whatever the plural of Toyota’s popular hybrid is. The Prius is a great and practical automobile. 

But apart from saving at the gas station, the Prius just doesn’t do much to put a grin on your face. 

I mean, yes, it’s reliable, it gets great mileage and it’s unlikely to leave you stranded on the side of the road. But where’s the adventure in that? 

Where’s the feeling of pulling down g’s at a local track day? The thrill of knowing that your exhilarating, Italian-built engine could literally explode at any moment? Where’s the sublime pleasure of spending far, far too much money on new tires because you’ve been sliding around too many corners on the old one?

A well-equipped 2016 Prius comes in at $32,100. Here’s five cars you should buy instead of that Prius.

 

#5 –2004–2006 Volvo V70 R

Typical Price: $24,000 less than a well-equipped 2016 Prius

 A Beautiful V70R

Alright, alright. Don’t stop reading just because we’re recommending a Volvo for fun and excitement.

This isn’t just any Volvo. This is an R, back when R used to mean something. 

Volvo’s R program is what happened in the mid-80s when some genius in Göthenburg (little dots added for cultural accuracy) decided that parents stuck hauling their families around in sensible wagons deserved a bit of fun, too. 

So they started doing ridiculous things, like putting large turbochargers on Volvo’s already-strange 5-cylindar engines, upgrading the suspension and adding Brembos outside the brake pads. That’s right, you can drive a mom (or dad) wagon with the same brake package as a 911-Turbo.

True R’s ended in the mid-00s to be replaced by Volvo’s much sadder “R-Design” program, which basically stands for “cars that look slightly fast but aren’t.” 

A 2004–2006 V70R is really the ultimate sleeper. You get the aforementioned silly turbo, Brembos and a manual transmission hidden inside what looks like a very, very practical family hauler. 

Plus, with the $24,000 you’ll save not buying a Prius, you can take the family on a road trip they’ll never forget. With Brembos. That's right little Jimmy, daddy's got Brembos.

#4 – Suzuki Samurai

Typical Price: $22,000 less than a well-equipped 2016 Prius

Fun isn’t always about going fast. Sometimes it’s about driving where no vehicle has a right to be. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a better vehicle for that than the Suzuki Samurai.

Oh sure, some people might hate on the little import, but, as the video above shows, they’re incredibly capable off-road machines.

The only downside is that, while they were once stupid cheap, they’re becoming rarer and more desirable. So get one quick before they get even more expensive.

#3 – Polaris Slingshot

Typical Price: $11,000 less than a well-equipped 2016 Prius

The Polaris Slingshot won't hold too many groceries.  But you don't care.

Ok, so technically, according to the NHTSA, the Slingshot isn’t a car.  It’s a motorcycle.  But that’s a very minor technicality.  In our book, if it has a steering wheel and seats two people side by side, it’s more car than moto.  But that’s irrelevant. 

Irrelevant because the Slingshot is about the most fun you can have on three wheels.  First, you’ll be sitting approximately 3 micrometers off the ground.  Second, the entire vehicle ways about as much as a small stack of pretzels.  Third, well, third would have to be three wheels.

In case you’re not convinced, we have to ask one final question, could you do this in a Prius?

 

#2 – 1981–1985 Ferrari Mondial

Typical Price: $4,000 less than a well-equipped 2016 Prius

Technically, a Ferrari.  Whatever your friends say.

Ok, sure, the Mondial isn’t the Ferrari connoisseur’s vehicle of choice. You might not see too many highlighting the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach. It might have, technically, made Time Magazine’s list of the 50 worst cars ever built.

But you shouldn’t care. And here’s why:

  1. You can buy one for less than $30K.
  2. It’s red.
  3. It’s got a prancing horse on it.
  4. It’s an f’ing Ferrari.

Case closed. 

#1 – A Mazda MX-5 Miata

Typical Price: $22,000 less than a well-equipped 2016 Prius

 

Just watch the video above. Do you know what the driver of that Miata is thinking? I’ll tell you. He (or she) is thinking, “Wheeeee!”

Oh sure. Some people say that the Miata is a car for sissies. Those people are idiots.

The Miata is a car for drivers. It’s small, it’s powerful and you can do ridiculous things with it, like fit 900hp in it and display god-like driving prowess on the drag strip.

Spec Miata Racing is the most popular form of club racing in America. The saying goes, every racecar driver drives two cars: their track car and a Miata. Sometimes, that’s only one car. Find me another form of side-by-side auto racing where you can spend under $10,000 on a car this afternoon and be racing tomorrow. You can’t because it doesn’t exist.

The answer is always Miata.

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