it’s no secret that the jetta has been wearing out its welcome, so this past weekend we started doing some old fashioned car shopping.

part of our thinking in selling the jetta now, is to unload it while it might still have some value … so we trucked up to CarMax, where the jetta was appraised for whopping $1,200 more than any independent car-value-resource would give for the car if it was in *excellent* condition.

bear in mind why were were selling the car in the first place — transmission, bushings, air conditioner all failing — and that we’ve done ~$8,000 worth of work on the car in the last 24k miles.

so, armed with a ridiculously overvalued appraisal — and one that’s set to expire in 7 days — we went shopping as quickly as our little legs would carry us.

while we needed a car that wouldn’t die in the next week and a half, we wanted some more room in the back seat (even if it meant giving up some space in the trunk) and we liked the idea of a hatchback (for ease of access and maximum flexibility).

once we started looking around, we quickly tossed a ton of models due to fuel economy / street parking concerns (including the mazda5, any SUVs, and all minivans) and then ruled out dozens more with headroom issues (including the hyundai elantra touring which we otherwise loved).

and then there was the prius.

we test drove a brand-spaking new 2010 prius on sunday afternoon, but it was a little toooo space-age-y for us, and a *lot* too expensive for the features we wanted.

we liked the headroom, and all the space in the back seat, and the fact that it was a hatchback. and the fuel economy wasn’t bad either.

of course, we didn’t much like the seemingly incessant “unintended acceleration” recalls washing over the Toyota product line. or the fact that there is a de facto “prestige” tax, not unlike when you buy anything that everyone else seems to want (ie. something from Apple).

but, it turns out that prius batteries don’t degrade with age, so there is actually a market for used priuses (priusus? prii?) — who knew?!?

we found a couple from 2008 that looked more like a car (and less like a spaceship), that had all the right bells and whistles — bluetooth/hands-free phone interface and satellite navigation to eliminate any lingering need for my iphone while driving, and the lady sparkler wanted leather seats that are easy(er) to de-babyify.

there was still, however, the matter of the recall.

unfortunately, the dealer denied (at first) that the 2008 priusesus cars-we-were-looking-at were subject to the recall (for accelerator pedals getting stuck on improperly installed floor mats). when we pushed the issue, and pointed to their own website, they “discovered” we were right, and quickly replaced both the floor mats and the accelerator pedal.

and so, we now welcome our new prius overlord.

it’s hard not to feel like we’re joining some kind of cult (likely because i think that’s exactly what we’re doing).

i’ve already been honked at / passed angrily / verbally abused because i was “hypermiling” (maximizing gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s driving techniques) by pulling out of a stoplight without the level of lunacy Virginians deem proper for the streets of their Commonwealth.

it almost makes me proud.