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Trade in car for more fuel efficient one?

Help! My spouse wants to trade in his 2006 Toyota Tacoma for an 08 Subaru Forester citing increasing gas prices. We owe 12000 on the Tacoma. My gut says the cheapest and best car to own is the one you already have. Any advice out there? I think we should just keep this one until it dies despite rising costs in gas. I need help with concrete facts as my spouse can relate to this more than my intuition. If I’m wrong please share that too.



Do the math. You will save maybe $300 per year in gasoline.

We can’t be more specific since we don’t know which engines are involved, 2WD or 4WD, transmission, turbo, etc. If you have this information go to the federal EPA site and get some hard numbers of your own. Even better, have your husband do his own calculations.

It is admirable of your husband to consider economizing in gasoline costs, but the Forester itself is hardly fuel-sipper. Your gut feeling is correct.

Well, don’t forget about the utility of the Taco. A pick-up is hard to replace when you actually have use for the bed. A hard-top SUV doesn’t have that same utility. Do you want to load a cubic yard of mulch or manure inside the Forrester? And, it is hard to make room for that bed mattress or dresser even by dropping the rear seats.

I am surprised by the average MPG of the Taco. I wonder what Toyota was thinking. I used to own a 1990 Hi-lux pickup with the 22R 2-bbl carb engine (2wd-4speed stick). That truck got 27 MPG, no matter how you drove it, hard or easy. The EFI version was getting 32 MPG. What ever changes happened over the years were a mistake, as far as I’m concerned.

From an economic perspective, it does not really pay. Now when it comes to replace your current ride, then is the time to make the choice. Same goes when you decide to move, pick a new home close to work and shopping. Consider the commute when you next change jobs, but for all be a few people you don’t change cars, move or change jobs because of fuel cost.

I have to agree with you. The difference in mileage between the two vehicles isn’t that much. I’m going to assume the Tacoma gets around 17 - 18 mpg and the Forester gets around 25 mpg. If you drive a thousand miles a month, for example

1000 miles / 17 mpg = 58.8 gallons at $3.50 = $206

1000 miles / 25 mpg = 40 gallons at $3.50 = $140

You would save $66 a month, but you would probably have a bigger loan payment and a few more years of payments to boot. Also the most depreciation occurs in the first 2 or 3 years of ownership. I think if you take pencil to paper and add up the numbers, it will come out in favor of keeping the present vehicle.

I did this exercise with my 2000 Blazer (17 - 18 mpg) and even if I went with a car that got 35 mpg like a Honda Fit I save ~$90 a month but I would have a $300 month car payment, higher insurance, etc. Hopefully when my wife’s 2006 Sienna is paid off I can replace it with something more economical.

When I recover from my first bike crash in 20 years, I plan on riding my bike to work 1 or 2 days a week which should save about $40 to $50 a month in gas.

Ed B.

I’m in the same boat. I have a 05 Xterra that is paid for and its very bad on gas. My other car is a 07 Mini which I owe money on and its great on fuel. My Xterra only has 30k and its starting to give me trouble. I really like both but one has to go.

I too did the math on the cost difference between my Civic(~25mpg city) and a Prius(~50mpg city). Even doubling my fuel economy, it’d take me 50 years for the difference in mileage to pay for the price of a Prius(~$25k) since I average about 6~7k miles per year

Depending which Tacoma it is and the options, you might owe more than you can get for it. That makes the new car loan cost even more, possibly more than you will get back in fuel savings. I’d keep the Tacoma and drive the speed limit. You can save 10% or so if you go 55 instead of 65, or 65 instead of 75. Proper tire inflation and maintenance ill also provide better fuel economy.

If your spouse is SERIOUS about saving gas, here are some suggestions:

  1. Don’t buy anything with 4 wheel drive. This eliminates the Forrester.

  2. Since he has gotton used to being able to carry big items in his truck, buy somthing that has a rear hatch, and has the passenger seat fold down as well as the backseat.

  3. An engine of 1.8 liters or less should give good gas mileage.

  4. The vehicle that has all these features is a Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe. It’s frugal on gas, at least as quiet as the truck, seats 4, and it can even carry 8 ft lengths of 2X4 LUMBER with the rear hatch closed!! Gas mileage is the best in class.

If he wants to have his cake and eat it too, this is the wrong forum.

If you look at the cost of depreciation of selling your 2006 it is significant. I seriously doubt you’ll ever pull ahead in this vehicle exchange.

People don’t realize the most expensive part of owning a brand new vehicle once purchased is not fuel but depreciation.

That’s why only a used 2-3 year old Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix makes economic sense. If poster wanted a new car, I would say keep what you’re driving and slow down.

You might also wish to compare insurance rates between the two vehicles. You may find that the gas savings are eaten up by higher premiums.