Buying a new car?


#1

Fortunately we are not in the market for a new car. But, it seems there is either a total committment to economy or willingness to see your gas bill rivel your car payment. Without diesels on the market as in Europe, the choices are really slim if you want the a truck or SUV with any economy. Who is buying all those trucks and SUVs lined up on the car lots ?



Depressing to think there may be no end in sight for fuel price stability.



If you’re buying a new car, what are your thoughts ?


#2

The time has come for Americans to face facts; oil prices will keep on rising, and we should use European gas prices to determine what vehicle we’ll buy next.

GM and Ford make all sorts of frugal vehicles overseas; even Chrysler sells a minivan and Jeep models with a 5 speed manual and 4 cylinder diesel. They will soon offer these in North America.

Considering your next purchase, do you really need an SUV or a truck? If you need lots of interior space, choose a minivan with the smallest engine, or a Scion B or Honda Element. Both have small 4 cylinder engines.

I work with a person who owns a 4 wheel drive Ford full size truck, and a Jeep. Not because he needs either type of vehicle, but it was the thing to buy! both are horrible on gas.

The market is driven by what people think they need; it takes a massive rise in gas prices to change that.


#3

SUV’s and Trucks are inherently less efficient, and that’s a trade-off you have to make. The diesels are better, but even the diesel versions of most SUV’s don’t give what I would consider good mileage for a daily driver. The Jeep model Docnick mentions only gets into the higher-20’s, which is good for an SUV, but not that great overall and, in my opinion, not enough of an advantage over the gas version to make it anything to get too excited about. Ditto with the hybrid SUV’s.

And I would disagree that you either have to be totally committed to fuel economy or accept a gas-guzzler. To the contrary, there are a lot of large comfortable vehicles with lots of power on the market that are quite economical. The only car presently sold in the US that I would say is totally committed to fuel economy would be the Honda Insight. Even the Prius is a pretty cushy midsize car with a fair amount of power-- if they made the thing smaller and slower they could no doubt get quite a few more MPG’s out of it.


#4

Those small pickups aren’t bad on gas. You can make it on their mileage. A two wheel drive plain Jane Tacoma will get OK economy as long as you don’t have a V-6. If it is stripped down, you could get almost 30 MPG. Too bad you can only want to drive it all year on a hundred mile stretch of the central coast of California, and of course San-Francisco on up through Oregon and Washington. It’s too hot everywhere else. I had a 2003 Saturn Vue fake SUV that never got less than 21.5 local driving and maxed out at 29 MPG highway, from San Diego to Lompoc(144 miles up the coast from L.A.). Don’t forget to stop at COCO’s in Calabasas.


#5

Well, calculate the difference in annual cost between a 20 mpg and 30 mpg vehicle with $3.50 gallon fuel: Assuming you drive 15K miles per year, the 20 mpg vehicle uses 750 gallons ($2625) and the 30 mpg vehicle uses 500 gallons ($1750). That’s a annual difference of $875 ($73/month or $2.50/day). So, the difference between a 20 mpg vehicle and a 30 mpg vehicle is less than my morning coffee from starbucks.

The point is that fuel is not even close to the price that will affect most people’s behavior. Most folks will give up their $4.00 cafe mocha before they give up their $40,000 SUV. Most of the folks buying those new SUVs don’t really car about that $2.50 per day compared to their $700 car payment. I think fuel prices will have to double before we see any significant change in new car buying habits.

I do think higher fuel prices will have more impact on the used and low-end vehicle market, the folks who are most affected by fuel prices are the least able to run out and buy a new high-efficiency vehicle.


#6

I read somewhere that the first generation Accord had less horsepower and was smaller than the Honda Fit. In other words, there is no true economy car out there. The Insight is no longer being sold. And there is no end in sight for fuel prices going up. Even if we discovered a bunch more oil right now, and solved the global warming issue, refining capacity is about maxed out, and no one is building any more of it. Truth is, we’ve been way spoiled for way too long. Now we’re paying the piper.


#7

Craig58 I am one of those people who feel similar in that the $900/year in fuel cost is not the end of the world. My difference is actually half that (7500 miles/year annually). I drive a 22MPG on premium thirsty yet fun to drive Subaru WRX wagon.


#8

The Jeep model I was referring to has a 4 cyl diesel and 5 speed manual and at this time is assembled in Hungary by Magna International for Chrysler. It does get good mileage, and hopefully will be sold here soon. But it will require a change in driving style.


#9

Yup, even if you bought a new 40 mpg car it would take forever to pay for itself. Fuel prices have been too low in the U.S. for may years, it’s just time for a little adjustment.


#10

GM and Ford make all sorts of frugal vehicles overseas; even Chrysler sells a minivan and Jeep models with a 5 speed manual and 4 cylinder diesel. They will soon offer these in North America.

So does Nissan, Toyota.

Toyota and Nissan both sell turbo diesel versions of the SUV’s sold here in the US…Same HP…MORE torque and 50% BETTER gas mileage. Been sold there for over a decade.


#11

Agree; There are 3 world car markets; the US, the rest of the developed world, and the developing world. Frugal diesel cars have 50% of the new car market in Europe, while Japanese manufacturers sell small diesels in virtually every country. The US market is very isolated from all the interesting vehicles available elswhere.


#12

Exactly. You have to look at overall cost of ownership, not just fuel economy.

My daily driver is a 2wd Dodge Dakota pickup that I paid $500 for and gets 18 - 20mpg. My registration, excise tax and insurance are dirt cheap. Even when you factor in maintenance costs for a truck with 100k (which is low miles to me) the overall annual operating costs are less than a newer fuel efficient vehicle.

If you can find a used compact car with less than 100k miles for $500 which is in good condition then you have a real economy car! I haven?t found any yet, so I?ll stick with the not-so-popular, older pickups that can be bought and maintained for cheap:)


#13

What has given us our independence, helped us survive world wars and allowed us the freedom to live separate from our work is a bit of a curse. Vast distances protected by two oceans.

Unlike Europe we’er used to “commuting” if not greater distances, than greater time and consume vast quantitees of energy doing it. If no great tech. breakthrough, I see us buying more cars, not fewer, and specializing.


#14

I’m not in the market for a car now. When I am again, I plan to look at the Chevy Volt or something similar for my commuter car. I like the idea of an electric car with unlimited range. My look might be only as far as the bottom line, but it’s not due on the market until 2010. As the time nears, I’ll get more serious.