PT Cruiser vs Toyota Avalon

Dear Tom & Ray,

I own a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser. It has 88,000 miles on it, it’s been a good car and it’s still in pretty good shape, I have an outstanding loan on it with a balance of $5800. Recently my elderly Mother has decided that she no longer feels comfortable driving and has given me her 2005 Toyota Avalon. It had 80,000 miles on it, it’s loaded, it’s in excellent condition and there is no outstanding loan on it but it’s really not the kind of car I would ever choose to buy. I really can’t afford to to insure both cars so my question is: Do I keep the Avalon and dump the PT? Or should I sell the Avalon, Pay off the PT and buy something that I really want? What in your wise opinions would be the pros and cons of this situation?

Sorry to disappoint, but Tom and Ray don’t answer these questions. Just us common folk!

If you don’t like the Avalon and the PT Cruiser has been good to you, I’d sell the Avalon and use it to pay off your Cruiser loan. Then start saving money to (a) repair the Cruiser when needed, and (b) build up a fund so that you can pay cash for your next car when the Cruiser bites the dust.

The PT is nearer the end of it’s useful life than the Avalon. If you don’t like the Avalon, then selling it and the PT is an option to buy a newer more reliable car than the PT. Otherwise, the Avalon is a wiser choice in the long run IMO. Sell the PT to pay off it’s loan and live payment free while saving for the next.

I don’t think I’d ever buy an Avalon, but if someone gave me one I’d seriously consider keeping it. My parents have one. It’s a very comfortable car, especially on the highway, and it gets better gas mileage than you’d think.

Of the two, I would expect the Avalon to be more reliable than the PT Cruiser as time goes on and the miles pile up.

You might want to check the trade-in value of your PT Cruiser. Depending on model and options, you may discover you’re upside down, meaning you owe more than it’s worth. This is not a good situation to be in.

It’s hard for me to advise on this, because you seem to like the PT Cruiser, which is a vehicle I’ve never had any interest in. If I had to choose between these two vehicles, I’d take the Avalon in a heartbeat.

But that’s just me. If you’re happy with the PT Cruiser, perhaps you should stick with it. The Avalon IS sort of an “old person’s” car (I’m old enough that I don’t care about that), and may not be appropriate for you.

Whatever you decide to do, being debt free as far a cars are concerned is something you want to try to achieve, and the sooner the better. It doesn’t pay to owe money on something that is depreciating.

You’ll have to sit down and do the math on this one. What works for me might not work for you.

Good luck.

The Avalon is an excellent car. The PT Cruiser isn’t really in the same league, but I’m glad you are happy with your Cruiser.

I don’t think you could sell your Cruiser for the amount you still owe on the loan. The Avalon will certainly fetch more than $5,800; in fact a lot more, like $12,500. Therefore the car to sell is the Avalon, and pay off your loan. The remainder of the money can be your deposit on a new car later on.

Since you are OK with the Cruiser I’d keep it and run with it for awhile. Putting a few more years and miles on the Cruiser won’t hurt its value much at this point. See if you can save some money and add to the new car fund so when you do buy another car you can minimize the financing on that purchase.

The Avalon is a great car, but I too would not really choose one. Have you considered selling mom’s Avalon and taking her on a nice trip with the proceeds, maybe even a cruise? If UncleTurbos is right about the value, and he probably is, you’d probably even have enough left over to buy her something she’s always wanted but never would get for herself.

Unless you have a GT or Dream Cruiser, you will have to pay several hundred to well over a thousand bucks to the loan company when you sell the PT Cruiser. Can you afford that? Tell us which model and what options and we’ll help you figure out how much it’s worth. If you have extra money to pay off the loan and don’t have it, you will likely have to take a loan on the Avalon. It won’t be a lot, but there are the extra fees involved.

I would never accuse the Malakowski brothers of having wise opinions. They may very well have them but I can’t be sure.

Since I drive a GMC Sierra with 4WD and live where it snows, I am an expert at PT Cruiser vs. Avalon.

It is a bit of a toss-up in some ways. To settle it, you may have to do something in a strange way. See how much it will cost to register and insure the Avalon. Keep the less expensive one.

That way, you don’t have to tell your friends that you just flipped a coin to decide.

Your mom seems to be wise “beyond her years” to make that decision. Best of luck in either decision. IMO, after hearing all the sides from the like wise “wise beyond their years” advice from this end, it sounds like you can be right either way.

First off, everyone here should know that people who like PT Cruisers are typically not interested in conservative family sedans.

My gf has owned hers since they were originally released in '01, and also has ~90k miles on hers. She still loves it as much as she did when it was delivered to her dealer with 12 miles on it.

Anyway, since you don’t care about the Avalon, sell it.
Nada says that an '05 Limited Avalon is worth about $12k for average trade in value.

I would recommend that you list it on for $12k, and see how many people are interested in coming to see it.

You can then pay off your PT Cruiser with half of the money, and either use the left over money to fix up any issues that your PT might have (you didn’t actually say that it had any, people are just assuming), and keep the remainder as a slush fund for repairs, or use the remainder of the money to buy the car you really want.

If you decide that you don’t really want the PT Cruiser, then that really changes the entire scope of things. What car would you really like to have? That’s the best question I can ask.


I still think you should sell the Avalon and spend the proceeds on your mom. Cars come and go, but the time you have with your mom will stay with you forever. And, after all, is was HER Avalon.