JULY 29 / Is this the best beach in all of Prince Edward Island? If you like jumping off bridges into wharfside waters, the shores at Basin Head Provincial Park ranks right up there.
Nicknamed "Singing Sands" because of its pure white sand that “sings” (more like squeaks) as you walk on it, the Park has been built up with a fisheries museum and an interpretive centre. The big attraction is a pedestrian bridge (above) that spans a man-made channel built in 1938 to harbour fishing boats. It splits the beach in two, and despite the warning signs (left) and lifeguards looking on, is a showcase for anyone who thinks they can dive.
With a 280 km roundtrip to the far eastern parts of the Island from our home-way-from home just east of Cavendish, the drive to Basin Head in our loaned 2011 Highlander Hybrid was like most of the driving on P.E.I. so far: 80 to 110 km speeds on rolling two-lane roads. I may not be on the hook for the monthly payments of the Highlander H. But I am paying the fuel costs out of my own pocket. So its stellar 8.0L/100 km average—frankly, not that much worse than what I’ve observed in real-world Prius consumption numbers—helps justify its premium purchase price.
Compared to base, AWD versions of rival three-row crossovers like the Chevy Traverse (1LS $38,845), Mazda CX-9 (GS AWD $38,395), Honda Pilot (EX $40,720) and Ford Explorer ($31,069) and Flex (SEL AWD $33,084), the $42,850 base Highlander Hybrid we’re driving is more expensive to buy. And (like the competition) you pay more if you want more. There’s an optional Comfort Package (smart key/push button start; power rear door; power moonroof; leather; heated front seats; 19-inch wheels; flip-up rear glass; etc.) that brings the price up to $48,305, while a top-line Limited version (that adds Bluetooth connectivity and voice-activated navigation) rings in at $51,650.
I’ll do a final tally at the end of our two-week holiday to see how long it would take to regain some of the Highlander Hybrid’s purchase price back in gains from burning less fuel. For the truly cost-conscious—and I suspect for the majority of Highlander customers, who more than likely, will use their vehicle as an it’s-not-a-minivan family shuttle—the front-wheel-drive base, four-cylinder Highlander may be the better choice. It only costs $31,500 to start. And although its 187 hp 2.7-litre four-cylinder gas engine doesn’t promise Big Daddy Garlits-type of motion off the line, its fuel economy ratings of 10.4 L/100 km city and 7.3L highway are darn close (identical on the highway) to the Hybrid’s numbers.
Something to think about…
Total kms: 1,055
Av. L/100 km: 8.0