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#1 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 04:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hi all,

I'll be soon looking for a new car and I am so drawn to the Toyota Prius as I love the idea of a hybrid car. We live pretty rurally and so we're in the car daily. I want to know that I'm having the least impact on the environment that I can. My hesitation with the Prius is that I worry its too small for a family - we have one LO right now and hope to have another soon. Everyone I know with one of these cars is middle aged and past the time in their lives where they are dealing with car seats, camping gear, etc.

Anyone out there finding that a Prius is working for their family, or isn't - how big are the back seats, and more inportantly, how's the trunk space? we also have a black lab dog, so there needs to be room for her somewhere too. I'd go test drive one but our local dealership doesn't tend to keep a Prius on the lot.

thanks!

Renee


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#2 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 05:29 AM
 
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we don't have a prius, we have a honda hybrid civic.  my friend has a prius with two older children, and i can tell you that the back seat is pretty roomy in it, and she has used booster seats, etc. and they fit fine. 

our civic hybrid feels small to me, but i am used to a bigger sedan- i had a volvo (sedan not wagon) before this one and i miss the heck out of it.  i don't see how with this one we're going to fit two huge carseats in there and transport much of anything at all-- we, too, live rurally so we have to get our errands all done in one trip.  for us that means animal feed and groceries in the back with dd, i have no idea what we're going to do with all that plus two seats. 

i don't think a prius has a real trunk, does it?  (i could be very wrong).  our civic hybrid has one but it's not enormous.  i think the two cars are about equal in terms of space, and with a toddler in a big rearfacing britex and one on the way, i'm not thrilled at the idea.  no way you'd get a doggie in there in my car, at least.

environmentally, though.  think about this:  those batteries that the cars use aren't really as environmentally friendly as you might think.  good gas mileage isn't the entire picture of impact.  and there are also labor issues, and the parts for most of these cars involve plastics which = petroleum.

but again, i'm coming at this as a person who isn't totally in love with her current hybrid car.  i think you might find something with more room that gets good mileage and drive it responsibly. 


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#3 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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I think all things considered, we love our Prius.  We purchased a new one in June 2007.  It was a pretty standard version, without built in GPS or anything fancy.  It is our everyday car & we are kind of a 1 car family right now.  (I have my 12 year old Jeep Wrangler but DH can't drive a stick, it's a gas guzzler & not easy at all with the kids.)  DD1 was born in September 2007.  With one child in a Britax Blvd, we never had any limitations on where we could go & what we could fit/bring along.  We did a week at the beach in 2008 & fit luggage, cooler, baby seat, exersaucer, beach chairs & everything else we needed.  

 

DD2 was born in Feb 2010.  With 2 Britax seats (or even when we switch seats & are 1 Britax & 1 CA), doing a trip that involves luggage, cooler & lots of gear is tough.  But we are also income challenged right now, so big trips aren't happening anyway.  I have read on the Prius chat forums that folks have used roof racks for trips & not impacted their overall mpg's too much.  So that is always an option. 

 

Once kids are in boosters, I would imagine the backseat opens back up a bunch.  And like I said, we are using bigger car seats.  Absolutely no one could fit in our backseat with the seats we have.  You can find lots of references online for fitting 3 across the backseat of a Prius.  It always involves at least 1 Radian carseat of course.  

 

The Prius has a HUGE hatch back which I ADORE much more than a standard trunk.  I have seen my friends trying to pull stuff out of a deep set trunk & it looks like it sucks.  With the Prius, I just slide things out.  It also makes an awesome on the go changing station since it's flat.  There are lots of storage places in the car-within the hatch back, multiple glove compartments, big front door open storage.  At times, I had a snap & go, a maclaren quest & a double baby jogger in the hatchback & could still pile my groceries in there.

 

It handles decent in the winter but of course nothing spectacular.  But we've never been stuck.  Last year when we finally had to do new tires we went with an all season tire I read about on the Prius Chat forum.  You want to make sure you are putting tires on it that will support your fuel efficiency pursuit.  We avg 43 mpg but we also do tons of highway driving right now.  That will change for good in a couple weeks when we move to a very rural area where I grew up.  (Hybrids are opposite of a reg vehicle and are more efficient at lower speeds)

 

When things were better financially a little over a year ago, we almost traded it in for a used Honda Odyssey.  We had the paperwork in front of us & were ready to go, but then they wanted to cut the trade in value for some scratches on the bumper...we looked at our Prius out in the lot & looked at eachother & had a total change of heart/mind.  It's a great vehicle & with creative packing, can hold a ton.

 

 

 


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#4 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 07:37 AM
 
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I forgot to address the dog fitting...with one car seat, you can fit your dog fine in the backseat.  Unless you do 2 Radians once you have another lo, I don't think there is a chance for a dog to fit comfortably.  I am not even 100% sure how a medium size dog would fit with 2 Radians but I think that would be your only chance.  

 

There is actually tons of space in the hatch back though-seriously, it's really nice.  I just checked the Prius Chat forums & found references to folks using it for their dogs.  Someone mentioned that they gave their dog more headroom by removing the floor of the hatch back too.  They just put down some heavy duty carpet on it so that she didn't slip around too much & it could be pulled out to clean in case of accidents or spills.  

 

I could see your dog fitting back there with all your bags from errands, grocery shopping etc.  And if you needed to have a stroller, you can easily slide any umbrella type stroller in the backseat across the floor.  We have done that the maclaren & both car seats in the car without a problem at all.  


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#5 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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wow! thanks for the information. From your presonal experience, Ellariesmom, I'd say we'd have no problem fitting what we need in a prius. The roof storage is definitely an option as well, which makes sense for when you need it. But for day to day use, sounds like a prius would fit our lives. what you list off as fitting in the trunk is impressive. The dog is usually at my feet in the front passenger seat these days (in a corolla or civic), but I like the idea of the trunk, which I figured wasn't an option since the trunks looked so small.

I'll start my hunt for a prius I think!


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#6 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 08:15 AM
 
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We love our Prius!! We purchased it from our very good friends last year as they were moving overseas and we are a solid 1 car family.  The back seat is very roomy to fit either 2 car seats (we have a Britax ff & a booster) or it can fit 2 full sized adults as often DH & I rode in the back of the car when it was our friends. 

 

We were worried if it would be able to handle our monthly Costco trips and it has been a dream to pack in the back.  The hatch & trunk space is wonderful and we haven't had any issues in packing the car with all our groceries.  We have a 2007 and the gas mileage is wonderful as we typically average 50+ in the summer and low to mid 40's in the winter which is quite typical in reading the Prius forums.

 


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#7 of 17 Old 09-02-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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I believe the 2011 Prius will have a wagon model available (IIRC it just has more trunk space).  DH and I are considering one of these.  But I'd definitely recommend test driving one - perhaps a nearby city has some available?

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#8 of 17 Old 09-04-2011, 10:28 AM
 
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We have a 2011 Prius!! We really love it. DH is constantly telling me how many mpg he is getting now. He seems to take pride in getting it as high as he can. We have a Britax Boulevard in it and I can't sit in the passenger seat comfortably at all. I sit in the back with her because she cries in her car seat anyway. This car will not work with two rear facing big car seats like that. I am hoping that by the time we have a second child, DD will be over age 2 and forward facing (though I know rear facing for a long time is safer.) 

 

I think two forward facing car seats would fit just fine in it, though.

 

The trunk is also pretty great and we could put our dog back there for a road trip to the in-laws (we were considering it.) But then we'd have no safe place to put our luggae because I wouldn't want it flying around the cabin. DH said we could put it on the roof...

 

My ideal two cars would be a Toyota Prius and a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We have a few years til we pay the Prius off, then we want an SUV for our second car. Right now we have an old 96 Toyota Camry that my parents bought! ;) We are a Toyota family.

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#9 of 17 Old 09-04-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I have a 2010.It is OK. I don't like the way the trunk is with glass on the bottom and top,and the metal in the middle.Feels like it blocks my view.I am always looking up over or under as I look in the review.

 

I also do not like the feeling I get when I hit a bump or something.Almost like the car jolts foward.I try to prepare for it now.

 

Miles on gas are good.In the winter less so. Never had any issues starting the car.Warms up quick enough. I can fit a bale or straw or 2 large packages of pine shavings and 2 50 pound bags of chicken feed.

 

I can put down the back seats and I was able to fit in 8 foot pressure treated timber and landscaping timber.

 

My friend bought a hybrid honda and she loves her car.Give them both a try and see which you like better.

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#10 of 17 Old 09-09-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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I test drove one when I was shopping for a new car a few years ago. I had 2 dogs then and an adult kid living at home. It was fun to drive other than the lack of easily seeing behind you when backing up. But it was too small for me, I'm very happy with my Volvo wagon I bought instead. 

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#11 of 17 Old 09-10-2011, 01:55 PM
 
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We love our 2006 Prius! We have one 10 year old child and she was in a five-point harness seat still when we got the car (forward-facing, though). We've had many different driving situations with carpooling and camping and visiting relatives, etc.

 

~ Five full-grown women - I was driving and a 300+ pound friend was in the front passenger seat while three ordinary size friends were across the backseat. Everyone was in a seat belt and we had a great time! (I forget where we were going, but at least a 30 minute drive each way...probably further.)

 

~ Two women + three kids to Girl Scout camp in the mountains - This was the tightest fit. Us adults were up front while the three kids were across the backseat. Two girls were in backless boosters (Monterey+Graco) on the outsides while the largest girl (heaviest, but not BIG) was in the middle. They fit fine, but there was a required order of entry/exit and seatbelt latching. We managed to pack all our belongings for three days and two nights into the hatch even though our friends brought two rather large wheeling suitcases! (This was their first time camping, so we cut them some slack and educated gently.) This type of camp did NOT require cooking equipment. My friend had her backpack purse and my daypack at her feet while the girls had a pillow on someone's lap and a bag of food at the littlest one's feet (her feet didn't touch the floor nor the bag, so it didn't impact her). On the way home, we stopped for pies and cider and those had to be fit in creatively.

 

~ DH, DD, me, and lots of home repair supplies - DD was in a full-back booster (Monterey) on the 40% side and we had the 60% side down flat. Every inch was filled and we couldn't even see DD from the front seat due to the sheets of something-or-other going across the car directly behind the front seats. DD had plenty of room, but these sheets were taller than she was at the time. We also had long pieces of baseboard molding running the length of the car that I had to duck under to get in and out of the car. It was a short five-mile drive and we were in the midst of major flood repairs and needed to get these items right then. We've actually fit a ton of home repair supplies into the Prius! One time I had to pick up the 16-foot baseboards for our entire house from a place 2 miles away by myself. The guy looked at me and then at my car and back again. We both started laughing and then set about making it work. The boards stuck out the hatch and went through the car (backseat UP) and came out the passenger window and ran alongside the front of the car until they were even with the front bumper. I had a hand towel we keep in the car for cleaning feet at the beach and we wrapped the side view mirror with that and taped the boards to it. I always keep bungee cords in the secret back compartment and we used those to secure the hatch. He tied a red flag to both ends of the baseboards and off I went. A neighbor helped me get them inside.

 

~ Me + friend + babies - I had three carseats across the backseat plus strollers and diaper bags, etc. It required a rear-facing infant seat in the middle and the widest FF seat on the passenger side (that side is a bit wider in our model due to the battery vent). Lots of configurations work, but creativity and persistence is required. It helps a LOT to have built-in lock-offs on the carseats!!! We had a Britax Roundabout at the time and that fit on the driver's side (opposite side from the vent).

 

~ DH, DD, me + very large grill - We thought we might have to leave me and DD and her fullback booster (Monterey) at the store while DH took the grill home and then came back to get us. However, the salesguy knew a couple tricks even we didn't know and this was earlier this year! It was very fascinating, but quite safe and everyone and everything fit.

 

~ Me + friend + food/clothes/linens/scrapbooking supplies for three days in the mountains - This sounds a lot easier than it is! LOL I leave DD's carseat at home and put the backseat down. I get my half of the car (driver's side all the way to the back) and she gets her side. Whatever doesn't fit, stays home! She has a huge SUV and the cost of gas always encourages us to take the Prius despite the space limitations. BTW, we're not just bringing supplies for ourselves, but the organizer assigns each person certain tools for sharing amongst us all. I always bring home all the recyclables from the entire weekend, too. Someone else brings home all the non-recyclable trash.

 

At no point have I had a large dog in the Prius. However, the space on the floor in the front passenger seat is good as is the floor behind the front seats. Depending on what you are hauling, the hatch could be used. We use our cover as much as possible, but there is a built-in slot for it when it is not in use. Also, with one child, we have mostly kept her carseat or booster on the driver's side, which is the 40% side of the backseat. That way, we could lower the 60% side whenever needed without reinstalling her seat. (They call it a 60/40 split backseat, but it seems like 65/35.) We also keep a tarp in the back and fold or unfold it to cover the space needed. (It covers many needs, too!) I fit DD's bicycle in the back around her and bungee it down. There are metal loops in various spots. There are secret compartments all over the car and we keep a set of bungees in one. My yoga mat is bungeed in a spot all the time to keep it from rolling around. We use the extra space under the top hatch floor to store beach supplies since we live so close to the beach and go spontaneously often. A large freezer bag also fits under there (rolled up) for frozen/cold groceries, but we move it when it is full. We bring our Christmas tree home in the back of the Prius with DD every year. Wrap the tree in the tarp and lower the 60% side of the backseat. Slide it in at an angle.

 

At one point (a year or two), we had DD in a Safety First Apex 65 carseat and it would only fit on the 60% side of the backseat for our needs (allowing the 40% side to be folded down). That worked for many of the things we normally do. It'd take some research and trial and error to figure out how to fit two carseats on that side together, so that you could use the 40% side to expand the hatch when needed. Also, the space behind the front seats is a surprisingly useful space for certain types of things that would also fit in the hatch, but is faster and easier with kids in carseats and "stuff" in the hatch.

 

We average 50-55 MPG in the warmer months and 45-50 MPG in the cooler months. Our lifetime of the car average is just over 50 MPG.


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#12 of 17 Old 10-28-2011, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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wow- great information! these are definitely roomy cars with lots of creative ways of using them.

 

Here's another question for you all - how's the repair bills? I suspect that any general repairs like brakes, struts or whatever would be the same as any other Toyota in terms of price and the job being done by any general mechanic. Have you had any problems with the engine/"hybrid" parts that I suspect my mechanic wouldn't be familiar with? I'm guessing these problems would have to be dealt with by the Toyota dealership...do these types of repairs happen often, and are they very costly? If we buy one, we'll be buying one that's 2-4 years old and we'll be keeping it 5-10 years if we can. So just thinking ahead.

thanks again!

Renee


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#13 of 17 Old 11-03-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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We live within 3 miles of a Toyota dealership that happens to have a large, efficient, very knowledgeable hybrid service staff. We did not purchase our Prius from them, but I generally take the car to them for service. Back in early 2006, when we bought it, not many places would even agree to service the Prius AT ALL. Didn't matter what service was requested. That prompted my decision to stick with the dealer. I was pleasantly surprised to find they didn't charge extra for the Prius and the prices for maintenance services were not as outrageous as dealers typically are. They are known to be the most experienced in Prius care in our county. I have found it to be very true.

 

For several years (through the general warranty), I used that dealer exclusively for all servicing. Except tires. I purchased tires from a place we prefer and use for other vehicles. After the general warranty period (early this year), I started using a family-owned mechanic in the same general geographical area whom several friends highly recommend. I've only had them do a minor routine maintenance so far on the Prius and some more serious repair work on our other car. Good work, so far. This most recent service was "intermediate" and I had a free LOF from the dealer, so I took it there. All recall service work has been done at the dealer and they offer a free rental car under those conditions.

 

For comparison, we also have a 2004 Camry and we only took it to the dealer for the first year. Different dealer, the one where we purchased it (and the Prius), because they included certain services free at the time of purchase for that car (not the Prius). Sales staff at that dealer is AWESOME!!! Service staff, eh, just okay. Sales staff at the dealer close to us, HORRENDOUS!!!!, whereas the service staff is EXCELLENT!!! Anyway, we have used a few mechanics for the Camry. It doesn't require any special knowledge and is SUPER easy to find parts, etc.

 

I just knocked on wood before disclosing the following (LOL): We've only had regular routine servicing needs on the Prius since we purchased it in early February 2006 (nearly six years ago now). Minor, intermediate, and major routine services have all been done close to schedule (every 5,000 miles; terms defined by Toyota). Recall work has been done 2-3 times and the only major thing was the gas pedal replacement. The minor recall I remember was something about the air cabin filter. There may have been something else, also. I have a spreadsheet I keep for all car servicing and fuel analysis, but it is on a different computer.

 

Tires have been purchased twice (in sets of 4). The first time, I either wasn't told or forgot to get an alignment after the new tires were installed, which necessitated the next set earlier than the warranty period (no reimbursement due to lack of alignment) despite diligent rotations. Timing was such that I happened to be at the tire place at the perfect time for a substantial rebate on new tires AND the sales guy did try to get the tires replaced under warranty. (I had the alignment done immediately after the second new set of tires!) I will say tires are the only thing that have been far higher maintenance on the Prius than any other car I've ever owned. Perhaps it is just because this car has a tire pressure warning light, so we know about every little disturbance??? Every time that light goes on, it costs money and/or time. The tires require air pressure checks fairly often (between servicing) and we've had various things happen with the tires, which is why we use a place that includes ALL tire servicing in the price of the tires from the beginning. No little surprise expenses for a fixed tire or wondering where to go. Discount Tire (aka America's Tire) has locations everywhere and will do the rotations and repairing and checks and fill-ups, etc any time we bring it in (at no charge). I am finding the location matters, though. Certain areas have more experience with the Prius, so I am careful to only take it to one of those places versus just anywhere, when possible. The Camry doesn't matter. It doesn't have a tire pressure warning light and it gets new tires less often than "average" (based on wear) and otherwise doesn't require anything beyond ordinary servicing regarding tires.

 

The Camry, though, has required a lot more servicing beyond routine maintenance than the Prius. Interesting to note since they are both Toyota cars. We did buy the Camry in late January 2004, so it is a full two years older. However, the repairs started sooner than how old the Prius is now. The Prius seems to be built better, at least mechanically. The Camry has a higher quality interior in some ways.

 

In any case, we have not had any "hybrid" parts need repair or replacement thus far (nearly six years). Just ordinary routine servicing plus the extensive tire care.


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#14 of 17 Old 11-06-2011, 09:39 PM
 
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We love our prius!  We have 18 month old twin girls.  They are still rear facing and I will admit that its a tight fit for my 6'3" husband with teh car seats.  We have taken it on many adventures and when we need to, put a rack on it and a big rocket box. Not as gas friendly, but it gets us and our stuff where we want to be. 


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#15 of 17 Old 11-07-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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I second Sunny's assessment so far.  We had ours almost for year and we just went through purchasing all new tires.  We researched between our costco tire location or the dealership and it came out a wash because of a sale they were having.

 

Personally I check out the online forums for Prius to see what folks are chatting about, looking at recommended brands (like for tires) and common issues that these cars might be having.  It's a treasure trove of information and certainly helps when trying to parce out if you need to get the repair/process done and how much it should cost.

 

 


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#16 of 17 Old 11-10-2011, 09:29 AM
 
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I own a Honda Civic Hybrid, purchased new in 2003. I regret the purchase. I used to put a lot of miles on the car, as DH and I lived in different states and visited on weekends, so I felt obligated to purchase a hybrid.

 

I won't even go into all the things that have gone wrong with it, as it will just piss me off. We put well over $2500 into repairs last spring, for things that shoudl have been fixed before. It was off the road more than it was on for over 6 months, and it STILL doesn't work properly (no AC in hot weather and no heat in cold weather).

 

Not to mention all the other things that have gone wrong, some related to the fact that it is a hybrid, and some not.

 

I think it boils down to untested technology. There were many bugs in the technology that weren't yet road-tested/worked out. And I would not buy another hybrid based on that experience. I do not think that even the intervening 8 years have been enough to work out all those bugs.

 

Yes, we get between 36-40 mpg. But we get that same MPG with DH's Mazda Protege and my old Saturn.

 

If I could afford it, I would get a Sonata. Larger car, decent gas mileage for the size. This is what we rent when we can afford it when we're going on road trips. If you're ok sacrificing space for MPG, then just get a smaller car.

 


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#17 of 17 Old 11-16-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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Our Prius is our "big family car" and we live in a very car-centric place without any realistic public transportation. It suits us very well. We can easily fit two car seats in the back (rear-facing Radian still makes front seat useable). We could also fit three Radians if we needed to. Trunk is pretty spacious and I love the higher level of it, awesome as a changing table and less lugging of grocercies in and out. Terrific gas mileage. Room enough for us to fit whatever we need, including semi-camping.

 

The only problem at all we have is the grey prius is so very common where we live. It really helps to have a bumper sticker or something. I know at least five other people who have them and love them. I cannot comment on other models but the Prius is solid.

 

DH would love to have the new, bigger version as well. I told him to put it on his wishlist. =)

 

We bought ours used and never replaced the tires. DH :::shudders::: hypermiles and I am a typical zoom and start hard city driver. Maybe we cancel each other out.

JudiAU is online now  
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