Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Car buying strategy

I have two 2005’s Honda’s; a Pilot with 107 K + & an Element with 26k. Neither gets particularly good mileage, although the Pilot’s is acceptable for its size. The Element actually gets worse mileage than the Pilot despite being a much smaller vehicle. I propose getting rid of the Element & replacing it was a Mini Countryman. My wife wants to get rid of the Pilot (the Element is her driver) and is, so far, happy with the idea of the Mini. My argument is that we ought to keep the Pilot for its load-carrying capacity; hers is to keep the Element because of its low mileage. We ned a concensus

Both the Pilot and Element are reliable vehicles. You can buy a lot of gasoline for what you would pay for a new vehicle and I would continue to drive what you have. I don’t know what kinds of loads you carry, but my inclination would be to keep the Element if you insist on buying a new vehicle.

The whole function of the exercise is to get something that gets good mileage. Friends in Texas in the oil business are projecting $5 a gallon for regular by 01/12. The Pilot gets about 19 around town / 21 on the highway. The Element, with real time 4 wheel drive, gets about 17 around town; it’s never been on a road trip of any kind so don’t know what it would get. The Mini is a candidate because its fun to drive, and surprisingly easy to get in and out of–a major consideration since wife & I both have back problems. Diesel Jetta is also a possibility however this year’s model has gotten really cheesy - drum brakes in rear, primitive suspension. Hybrid I have driven (early Prius) is just too doggy slow.

I Would Get Rid Of Both Of The Old Hondas. I Would Also Think Twice Before Buying A Mini. There Are Much Better Choices Out There. You Can Do Better. You Are Limiting Yourself.


OLDDAVE, you are approaching this the wrong way. Gasoline is typically only 30% of total operating cost of a vehicle. You need to minimize total ownwership costs over the next 15 years. Whatever a Mini saves in gas will be rapidly eaten up by higher insurance, MUCH HIGHER maintenance and repairs, especially as the car ages.

As mentioned you now have two reliable vehicles, and owning ANY Volkswagen or Mini will really hit you over the head with less reliability and higher upkeep costs.

If you need two vehicles and want to minimize overall costs and be able to handle $5 gas well into the future, I would own a Toyota Matrix with the base engine(lots of cargowith the seats down) and a Mazda 2, which is at least as much fun to drive as a Mini, has great gas mileage and will cost half as much in upkeep. Think of the Mini as a small, unreliable BMW, which is exactly what it is.

I would get rid of the Pilot, unless you have a very specific need for such a vehicle. If your job demands carrying very bulky items that don’t fit in a Matrix with the seats down, get a minivan with the smallest engine and 2 WD only. That will give you relatively good mileage.

With $5-$7 gas in the future there is a need to carefully analyze NEEDS first and then WANTS.

OLDAVE, if you were old ENOUGH you would just listen to your wife. With your strategy your might keep the gas expenditure in check, but overall you are asking for costly troubles.

19/21/20 vs 27/35/31, and assuming 15k miles per year(judging by the miles on the Pilot anyways).

750(going by average mileage) gallons vs 484 for the 15k miles per year

Multiply by $5/gallon(The MINI will most likely call for 91+ regardless of trim level, so add 20 cents per gallon there). $3,750 vs $2,517($5.20/gallon for high octane) per year for fuel. The result, the Mini would save $1,233 per year in fuel.

Base price for MINI Countryman is $21,650 minus taxes and fees and such. If you’re doing it just to save fuel, it’ll take you over 17 YEARS to break even in just fuel savings per year.

Just something to think about.

You need to factor in the financial loss you would take on the vehicle plus the depreciation hit that you would take on Mini.

I’m in agreement that using fuel mileage only as a basis for this is not a good move.
Maybe this is more of an infection caused by a new car bug rather than a legitimate need for another vehicle.

While I don’t put much faith in the published reliability studies like Consumer Reports. There are just too many unaddressed problems with the studies. That is not really the fault of the study, but rather there is just not a good source of data. I suggest checking the results of those studies, but don’t put full faith in them. If you find something you really like and it is only the study that holds you back, you might want to down rate the study for a gut feeling.