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Need to pick a new car

I own a now-non-starting 1998 Ford Windstar. My husband and I are the original owners. We live in Brooklyn, NY and keep our car on the street. We no longer need a big car (kids grown, dog dead…) but we do need a car to get to my mother’s about 100 miles out of the city. We occasionally like to haul around a lot of stuff - art supplies, kayak, building materials, a lot of people… but mostly it’s just us and my v. small mother who go in our car. We don’t do much city driving, max a couple times a week. We are looking at the Prius, the Honda Civic hybrid and the Jetta TDI sedan and wagon. What do you think? We’ll have to finance or lease - and have never before leased. Any prior car we bought new we kept a very long time, probably too long.

If you don’t drive a lot, a Prius will be a bad deal economically. If you don’t have a lot of cash to spend, a basic compact or subcompact will do jusdt fine. I would look at a Hyundai Accent, a Honda Fit (which holds a lot with the seats down), the new Mazda 2 (out soon) and the Ford Fiesta, also out soon.

A Jetta TDI will cost a lot more to keep running than non-turb Japanese or Korean cars.

Since you are parking outside, I would look also at which cars get stolen least. A Honda Civic is high on the theft list, I believe. Your insurance agent can fill you in further.

Large items you buy can be delivered. I switched from a large car to a compact and have incurred only $80 in delivery charges of items that used to fit in my older large car. A compact with folding seats such as the Honda Fit would be ideal for you.

If I lived in Brooklyn and could only park on the street I’d take taxis during the week and a rental car on weekends.


I think you need to reconsider your options. You’ve narrowed your choices to just a few cars, and there are so many other good choices. Too many to list here, actually.

Of the cars you list, only the Jetta wagon seems like a good fit. It’s a beautiful car, but it will, unfortunately, be costly to maintain.

Get a copy of Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue from a few months ago (library, perhaps) and read through the information on new cars. You may find something you hadn’t thought of that meets your requirements perfectly.

Do car dealers lease in NY? When I lived there years ago leasing was not an option due to state laws/banking regulations. I would doubt a dealer would lease to you knowing the car will be parked out on a brooklyn street. You will pay $$$ for every ding in the paint when you return it from lease. I have to agree with twotone–subway, rentals, taxis. Places that sell art supplies and building materials deliver for a small fee–small compared to a car lease.

It doesn’t sound like you drive enough to make a hybrid pay off, so I’d recommend avoiding those.

If you’re going to park on the street in Brooklyn, do you really want a new car? Since it’s going to be dinged up soon anyway, why not get something a few years old, which is the better choice from a value perspective anyway.

Unless you have a business to own this car, you’ll pay more overall for leasing than buying, just so you know.

Avoid leasing, it requires you to frequently buy new cars, which the absolute most expensive way to own a car. Buy a new or slightly used (2-3 years) car and keep it a long time. Having a 1998 car was not keeping it ‘too long’, it was a good financial decision.

Get An Estimate For Making The “Non-Starting Windstar” Into A “Starting Windstar”. Get Er’ Fixed !

[list] 1- After the van, You won’t be happy with one of those little s_ _ _ -shakers and you can’t “occasionally haul around a lot of stuff” anymore with one. [/list]

[list]2- A 1998 car is the perfect choice for a vehicle that lives on the streets of Brooklyn.[/list]

[list]3- I’m not sure why you would need to finance or lease (kids grown, dog dead), but that tells me you can’t afford a new car. All you have is the “idea” for one. Save some money until you can afford one.[/list]

[list]4- You need a new too small car to park on Brooklyn streets and the monthly payments that come with it like I need tap-dance lessons. That’s what I think.[/list]


look at used RAV4…reliable, reasonable cargo space and not too high for kayak. ( lived in Flatbush until '63.)

A diesel will get better mileage on the highway than a hybrid. Therefore, I would recommend the Jetta wagon TDI. If it is not big enough, then a Mazda5 should have most of the cargo volume of the Windstar but a lower price and better fuel economy.

I was thinking along with CSA.

What, exactly, is wrong with van? If the answer is DK - then find out.

NOT spending $$ to buy a new car that you use only once in a while is the smartest thing to do.

I would forget about all diesels and hybrids unless you want to make a statement. You drive so little that the extra up front cost will likely never be recovered in fuel savings. Even if you drive to Mom’s hoese every weekend, it will take 21 years to pay down the difference in initial cost between a Jetta SportWagen S and the SportWagen TDI. Buy whatever you like and enjoy it.

I would look at smaller hatchbacks that get good mileage. Look here for a list of hatchbacks and their fuel mileage. Just click on “hatchback” in the pulldown menu for Class. You can check out other classes, too.