Volvo vs. Honda



I love my 1998 Volvo V70 T5 but she sucks down gas on my 60 mile daily commute and it seems like the bill is $600 every time I take her into the shop! She’s got about 76,000 miles now but soon needs her AC repaired, front brakes replaced, and a tune-up.

I’ve been looking at replacing her with a Honda Fit. It gets better gas mileage and is affordable since my budget is around $15,000.

Should I or shouldn’t I?


My first impulse was to say you should, but then I noticed you said “I love my Volvo”. In reality, if you love the ride, it’s still reliable, and you’re not having cash flow issues, it’ll really just be cheaper to do the maintenance than to trade…and you’ll still enjoy your 60 mile commute. If you’re tired of the Volvo and want a Honda Fit, then you should trade, but it’s not totally an economics question.


Is this about money or reliability? Do you have the Volvo paid off? Do you know if you’ve replaced all the likely-to-break parts on your car? Do you like the Volvo otherwise?

The Volvo should last well over 200k miles (like any modern car). These high maintenance bills should end soon. I like to tell people that they should figure an older car costs at least $1k a year in maintenance - might be a little more for a Volvo.

Doing some rough math with your situation, let’s say for the next 5 years, your Volvo will cost gas+ maintenance 3-4k year. And the Honda should cost gas+main 1-1.5k year.

In 5 years, only at the biggest spread will you break even by buying the Honda now.

So I’d say this: if you are tired of Volvo and want a change, and you’re risk-averse (going for a reliable new car), get the Honda now. But if in general you like the Volvo, keep it, maybe until it has some out-of-the-ordinary really expensive failure.


but soon needs her AC repaired, front brakes replaced, and a tune-up.

The brakes and tune-up are not repairs they are just part of owning a car, any car, just like fuel. The A/C is a repair, but then all cars need repairs from time to time. If you like this car, there really is no reason to change.

Vovlo's are not known for great mileage, but the cost of fuel is up for everyone and that tune up may improve the mileage.  The cost of the brakes, tune-up and A/C repair can vary a lot depending on where you have it done.  Dealers are generally the most expensive option and they are, on average, no better or worse than [b]independent[/b] shops.


Thank you for your input. Yes, it is somewhat an economical issue. It is also a conscience issue, a reliability issue, etc. The Volvo is paid off. We replaced the timing belt and water pump last year, and are otherwise very on top of general maintenance on this vehicle. I guess that I’m just concerned that the Volvo will have some catastrophic costly repair that will force us into a decision to replace it when the resale value is poopy. We were thinking that a Fit would ease the conscience and wallet with better gas mileage and be relatively maintenance free for a couple of years (And would be paid off at purchase) We’re also struggling with the issue of safety. We have the Volvo to safely transport our children but recently aquired a Ford Econoline conversion van. I know, I know not gas friendly, but it was the neighborhood granny-van and we use it only when it is loaded to the gills with kids. Anyhow, I wonder if that van is just as or somewhat better safety-wise which would ease our minds with a tiny Honda Fit purchase for commute purposes…


All good points. One more about reliability. While it’s easy to tout the economics of keeping and repairing a car instead of buying new, consider how confident you are that it doesn’t break down “during” one of those commutes. I too rid myself of SAAB’s I “loved” when each of the two I owned broke down and left me in very difficult situations. A Honda is no guarentee of reliability…but playing the odds may be worth the added expense. Both SAABs were well maintained and in the 60K to 80K range when they quit on me. Safety features in newer models is also a worthwhile “indulgent”


I own a 2000 S70. This is the first Volvo I have owned. I bought it with 25K on the vehicle and yes it was a certified car. I have had nothing but problems and since the warranty is up the car is not driven much any more. I have had nothing but problems with the car. I would think about a change put not sure it would be a VW!


I can’t imagine going from a V70 to a Fit. That is just about guaranteed to make you hate the Fit. Maybe a Civic or Accord, but a Fit? Unless you really just want something different. For a 60 mile commute you want comfort, not a little city car.

On the other hand, I’d probably just fix the Volvo, economically that’s the best bet.


FIT>Volvo will be a serious let go. Its not much of a car in comparison to a solid Volvo.

I would suggest either repairing your Volvo(likely most cost effective) with an independant mechanic (not dealer). Otherwise look at an Accord as anything less(eg Civic/Fit) will feel like a tin box as they really are mainly due to small size.


Is the Fit more economical? If you keep the Volvo, your repairs and extra gas must add up to $14,000 plus finance charges, if any. That’s a lot of repairs. And your gas mileage is of little consequence. You drive about 8400 miles per year. If the Fit averages 34 MPG and your V70 averages 24 MPG, the annual difference is about $300. I’d keep the Volvo.


You touched a nerve. How safe is a van loaded to the gills with kids? I personally have a problem with having a bunch of kids in any one vehicle. If there was a catastrophic accident, I’d rather see fewer people per vehicle. I’ve just heard of too many 14 passenger church, school, and private vans rolling, or burning, or in head ons. I never understood why pastors and other leaders like to put their (our) kids in such a risky position.