Steve, I love this post and waste the better part of an evening reading every post every time this drops. That said; I am still skeptical of hybrids. I drive a 1996 V6 Toyota Camry (275K miles). About 3 years ago, I couldn't afford to replace a faulty O2 sensor and I have averaged 38 mpg since. My only complaint is that I can’t keep up with the new Nissan Maximums, BMWs, etc. going up Floyd Hill, but I still beat Saturns, Cavaliers, Intrepids and the like. Friends have told me all kinds of horror stories about burning holes in my cylinder heads and such while I have gotten GREAT gas mileage for three years only sacrificing the top 10% of my power.
Why aren't more cars made this way from the get go? Has anybody done a minimum-power-requirement study based on the expectations of the American consumer? You could then change the fuel mixture to match the result or since it is computer controlled anyway, give me the ability to change it on the fly depending on the type of driving I am doing.
I will drive this car until it explodes. When it does, wouldn't it be cheaper to buy another used Camry, maybe an '06, and break the same O2 sensor than spend the extra for a hybrid? I also agree that buying a used hybrid is a bad idea because of the hit for the new batteries. So I would want a new hybrid. Also I like to keep cars for a very long time so I would have to factor in the new batteries anyway. Also, thanks to the people who brought up the new diesels; I almost forgot about them.
(I in no way condone others damaging their car for any reason.)