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These Are the Strangest Taxis in the New York Taxi Fleet

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

I recently received an email from a reader named Andrew, who gave me the single coolest thing of all time: a complete listing of every current taxi in New York City. I then lost 45 minutes scrolling through it and running Carfax reports on the especially interesting ones.

Before I get into the strangest taxis, let's discuss for a second the current situation with New York City taxis. A few years ago, New York said it was going to mandate that all drivers must use the "Taxi of Tomorrow," which turned out to be a Nissan van. The mandate was challenged, and it got tangled in a long court battle, the result of which is that most drivers must use the Nissan, but some other hybrids will continue to be allowed.

But as of right now, the Taxi of Tomorrow isn't even close to fully phased in. So instead we have an enormous variation among New York City taxis, which is highly interesting to any car enthusiast who visits New York City, largely because a) New York City doesn't have too many interesting cars, unless you know where to look for them, and b) taxis are some of the most common cars you see on the roads there. And while a casual visitor to New York might think all the taxis are relatively similar, there's the occasional bit of surprisingly interesting variation.

We'll start with the numbers. According to the list, there are 13,619 different yellow taxis currently operating in New York City. Of that number, exactly 4,100 are Fords -- mostly Crown Victorias, Escape Hybrids and Transit Connects. There are 855 Nissans, primarily Altima Hybrids and NV200 vans (the "Taxi of Tomorrow"). And there are 8,641 Toyotas, split between the Prius v, the Highlander Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid, the Sienna and a few more. Those three brands account for 13,596 of the 13,619 taxis in New York City, for a total of 99.8 percent.

Which, if you're a car enthusiast, begs the question: What about the remaining 0.2 percent?

Well, there are just 23 taxis remaining, and they're quite odd.

Nine of the remaining 23 are Chevys -- and they're all 2014 Impalas. That's predictable. Less predictable is the fact that there are currently six Lexus RX Hybrid taxis running around Manhattan. There are three different 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagens -- though I wonder if they'll soon be off the road in the wake of VW's diesel emissions scandal. And there are also two Hyundai Sonata Hybrids roaming the streets of New York City, waiting to pick up passengers.

But that only accounts for 20 of the 23 unusual taxis. What are the final three?

Those would be the most unusual taxis in New York: three different one-offs, lone wolves with only one single example painted yellow and transporting passengers throughout the Big Apple. These are the strangest taxis in the New York City taxi fleet.

The first one-off is a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan, which has logged 222,000 miles as of its last state inspection in 2015 -- about 22,000 annually since it was first put into taxi service in January 2008. The second one-off taxi is, oddly enough, a Lincoln: While Lincolns are common for-hire vehicles in New York City, they're usually "black" cars that can't be hailed on the street. Only one is a yellow taxi, and it's a 2012 MKZ Hybrid that's been driven about 38,000 miles a year since first going into service in November 2012. As of its last state inspection, just last month, it had 163,000 miles.

And the final one-off taxi? Oddly enough, it's a Mercedes-Benz: a 2011 ML350 BlueTEC, which is a luxury crossover with a turbodiesel engine. It, too, has seen major miles, reaching 172,300 as of its last inspection in November 2016.

So there you have it: If you're picked up by a taxi in New York City, there's a 99.8 percent chance it'll be a Ford, a Nissan or a Toyota. But if you get really, really, really, really lucky, you might just find yourself in the back of a 2011 ML350.

Or a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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These Are the Strangest Taxis in the New York Taxi Fleet - Autotrader