I spent most of this afternoon working on the new-car thing. First stop was the closest dealer that actually had a 370Z coupe in stock. I really, really, like that car. Unfortunately, the salesman confirmed that it is really impractical in winter — most buyers are rich enough that they can garage theirs for the winter and drive something else — and that the 7AT version is built in very low quantities and almost impossible to find. I did get to sit in it, and found it quite comfortable inside, albeit a bit awkward getting in and out. /me sighs.
Next stop was the Ford dealer I visited last week, and still no Fusion hybrid, but the guy I talked to promised to find out when they were getting one and give me a call back on Monday. We’ll see on that front.
I spoke briefly to my favorite Honda salesman, Dennis Young at Boch Honda in Norwood, about the Accord Hybrid, which he has already driven; he said they’re positioning it for people who drive 20-25,000 miles per year, but it sounds much more interesting than the failed Accord hybrid of 2006. He gave me a photocopy of a Crain’s article about it which gives more detail than the Honda press release, and I expect to go back down there at the end of the month once they actually take delivery of one. (This is why I won’t allow myself to be talked into doing a deal early: too many new cars are being released around this time of year and keeping the handover as late in the year as possible is a regret-minimization heuristic. In any event, the Accord hybrid is a completely new powertrain for Honda, with an innovative, um, hybrid electromechanical transmission. At moderate speeds, the 2.0-liter I4 engine is coupled to a generator, and an all-electronic transmission runs the drive motor. At highway speeds, the motor and generator are clutched out, and the engine couples directly to a single-speed reduction gear transmission. The valve timing is adjusted to run a normal cycle for gas mode and Atkinson cycle when in hybrid mode. Honda claims 50 mi/gal city and 45 mi/gal highway on the EPA test.
From there I stopped by Natick Mall and stepped in to the Tesla not-really-a-dealership-honest! there, just out of curiosity more than anything. I couldn’t afford a Tesla even if I had a garage, but it’s a nice-looking car despite the goofy giant touch-screen on the center console. (While I was at the mall, I noted in the food court that there is now a specialty-french-fry franchise, something I would never have believed had I not seen it in person. Unfortunately, their “garlic” fries are in a thick, gloppy “parmesan” cheese sauce, not butter as would be proper — and of course they are much more expensive than normal fries at one of the mall’s fast-food franchises.)
Finally, I went to an Acura dealer to find out when they were getting an ILX hybrid. They have one on order, it turns out, but there’s no delivery date yet. The 2014 ILX carries over Honda’s old “IMA” hybrid system, with a 1.5-liter engine, and seems like a bit of a long shot at this point. The salesman began to lose me when I asked what upgrades the ILX had relative to its platform-mate Civic hybrid and he said “well, it’s a luxury brand”, as if that explained everything. Honda still hasn’t released the details on the 2014 Civic hybrid, so far as I can tell, which makes me wonder if they are going to give it a new powertrain this cycle as well.
One other note: it looks like gas prices have changed quite a bit since I did my chart a few weeks ago. Regular unleaded is down to $3.359 a gallon in many locations, but the prices of higher grades and of diesel have decreased rather less, with diesel still up around $3.80.