Car Wars

01.18.09 | 2 Comments

GMC Sierra vs. Honda Civic Hybrid

As many of you know, my personal mission is to “Be A Good Ancestor.” I use that as my lighthouse to help guide my decisions, large and small. As a consequence, we have compact fluorescent lamps in our sockets, we recycle stuff (more than the obvious paper, aluminum, and glass – clothing, toys, household items, electronics, etc.) and we now have a hybrid gas-electric vehicle that I use on my 82 mile (~132 km) round trip to work. Not that these things alone qualify in succeeding at that mission, but they do contribute.

And while I respect the efficiency of the 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid, I don’t particularly like it. As to the title of this entry, “Car Wars,” on the weekends I like to drive my 2006 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck. It’s 18 miles to the gallon in the truck vs. 42-49 mpg in the Honda. But, on every single dimension other than carpool lane stickers and fuel efficiency, my truck is a better vehicle and I simply like to drive it.

Why is this true? Well, for one thing, I like the visibility the truck affords, my vantage point in the driver’s seat is probably 2-3 feet (~0.60-0.90 meter) higher than the Honda. The vehicle is spacious, it’s comfortable, and it’s solid. Couple that with (gasp) better fit and finish than the Honda and better creature comforts (built in hands-free phone, satellite radio, automatic climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, etc.) and it’s no competition between them. Additionally, I like to be able to throw stuff in the bed of the truck as necessary and I do it more than I thought (since driving the sedan.)

The problem is, every time I slip behind the wheel of my truck, I don’t feel like I’m being consistent with my mission. I’m burning more fuel, spewing more CO2 NOx and SOx into the atmosphere, putting more wear and tear on the roads, and “optically” not sending the message I’d like to send with my practices. Now, I’m not driving it to work, it’s simply the around town stuff people do on the weekends, but it still makes me yearn for this vehicle (with access to the carpool lane) for my daily commute. Ugh.

I have been contemplating for some time whether to undertake the project of converting the truck to an all electric vehicle ala the electric Mini in the UK (640 hp!) or the same project with a 1 liter displacement motor for realtime charging of the battery system as required. Aside from the obvious cost, my beloved spouse would strangle me as I barely have time to spend with the family – imagine my behavior in the garage every night for six months performing such a conversion. Nope, can’t happen now.

For now, I’ll just have to have my weekend guilty pleasure with my truck and relegate it to driveway duty during the week. I can rationalize the weekend use, but it does still make me feel somehow hypocritical and inconsistent. Oh well, I’m a human, I guess that just makes me normal. Anyone have any bright ideas about how I can have my cake and eat it too?