What's a gal to do?

I have a problem…

I have never purchased a car that was newer than 10 years old or cost more than $1500. But, I just retired a debt and got a good job. I am having problems finding the right car. Here are the parameters:

  1. I haul a couple of animals (pets) around and am a beginning beekeeper. I have to have room for a couple of boxes and a medium sized dog.
  2. I told my self that I would never own a car that did not have room for me get horizontal and sleep. I know, it is weird, but it is a post-Katrina thing due to sleeping several nights sitting upright in my car in a coffee shop parking lot in Baton Rouge. I just need to be able to sleep in my car if I have to. I know, I know. I need therapy. But I still need it. I have a twisted mind.
  3. 75% of my driving is under 30 miles. I drive less than 2 miles a day - bike or walk to work. So, an electric car was my thought.
  4. I have to be able to evacuate with a couple of boxes and some animals - so I need to get out of the Gulf Coast at least a couple of hundred miles. So, I thought a hybrid would be good.
  5. The VOLT is the ugliest car in the world. Why would they put such a good engine idea in a piece of stoopid like the Volt body? I am so miffed that I almost have an activist’s mentality about that mistake. Making us buy ugly for a good design inside. Besides I can’t sleep in it or haul parts of hives.
  6. Toyota does not sell the PHEV Prius along the Gulf. And none of the dealers are interested in the extra work to special order it. Should I just fly to one of the coasts?
  7. I have not seen a small pick up that would work and the SUVs with hybrid are usually gas hogs brought back down to reasonable. I loved the Ford Transit but it is either gas engine or EV, not a mixed PHEV. If it was a plug-in hybrid I would jump in one and drive away. I have to have the flexibility to evacuate a long way yet be electric.

Where can I get a small van/truck/car with a flat area in the back that is a PHEV without getting a prototype with no mechanical history? Anyone have a solution? Or am I just another gal with a dream…

You are in great need of a seasoned gear head, @Liz. Someone who is familiar with the weaknesses and strengths of the various makes and models can quickly eliminate the dregs while giving a nod to those with potential. There is no vehicle that can be named as perfect for your purpose but among the vehicles that are available to you an older man with a few calluses on his hands could steer you toward nirvana.

If you look around and post the details of what catches your eye someone here will likely be familiar with it. Some are even older and crustier than me.

BTW, shrimp and grits at Green Goddess is great.

Forget the PHEV, that’s a huge premium ($$$$) over a regular hybrid for the benefit you’ll get. I’d look at the Ford C-Max hybrid, or the Prius V.

Rod–While your suggestion is a good one, I don’t think that even a seasoned gearhead can find the vehicle that the OP wants–at this point. She specifically wants a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a large/high cargo area, and…as far as I know, there are no PHEV SUVs/vans/station wagons on the market in The US at this point.

Liz–If you can hold out for a year or so, I think that there will be something on the new car market that meets at least most of your wants/needs.

VDCDriver… I am hanging on my the tips of my fingers to the old car. I wish that Ford Transit was out with a plug-in feature. I wanted to give the old car to a family that does not have a car so they had some extra security during hurricane season. I was hoping to have it in their hands by July. It is not good to be here without a way out. Poleese, car companies, poleese get us some options!

I hope you don’t live in the rust belt. Like many Fords, the Transit does not seem to handle salt very well. A locally owned one, which couldn’t be too old unless it’s a European model, is rusting prematurely. My neighbor has a Ford truck. His and other utility vehicles Ford makes don’t even have drain holes in appropriate places. I for one, after seeing all the rust, would not recommend a Transit…

LizNola, I would forget the PHEV part and focus on small vans. I don’t know the US market any more but there are numerous new utility vehicles sold where I live such as the VW Caddy which look like a good match. You’ll just have to move.

“I hope you don’t live in the rust belt.”

The OP’s screen name includes, “NOLA”, which almost always stands for New Orleans, Louisiana.
That, coupled with the references to Hurricane Katrina, makes it fairly likely that the OP is not located in the traditional “rust belt”.

My guess is that giant flying roaches and/or alligators are more of a problem in her area than rust might be.


Better get something bigger than a Transit in that case

A gator will swallow it for breakfast

The “palmetto bugs” (a.k.a. big bad 3 inch cockroaches) are in a flying mood in May and June - they fly AT your face. oooough. Then in June the termites swarm. O, yeah. Don’t forget the Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger) which leaves welts when they chomp on you. The pools of rain water get them going. We will soon have Buck moths whose caterpillars have stingers in their little feets and burn your skin if they land on you. They fall from oak trees.

So, when ya’ll coming down for a visit?

Liz always has Desire to fall back on.

For the litte you drive you need a pickup with a excab and a topper. Load up and get out and a place to sleep.

The biggest hurdle is that you’re probably going to be hauling bee hives around, am I right? Do you REALLY want one of those nests sitting in the same interior space as yourself or other people/animals?

Another thing is that those electric cars have a limited range. Would you really want to be evacuating the area, only to find out that you’ve got 30% charge remaining with 10 miles til it’s dead? How many plug-in stations do you know of along major evacuation routes? The longer you sit waiting for it to charge, the closer the storm is going to get, and the chances of the area you’re in having electricity to charge your car get smaller.

I would forget about a plug-in Hybrid or any Hybrid for that matter. For what you need to do , a standard minivan works just fine. You can buy a new one for just over $20,000 or a good used one for $15000. With the seats down these vehicles are extremely room. And they make a fine bed, should you so desire.

Try one put with your pets and a few empty bee hives.

P.S. I’m a guy with grey hair and callusses, as well as an engineering degree.

Just because you need to be able to sleep in your car does NOT mean you need therapy. On the contrary, I think it’s a a good thing. I’ve got a lot of experience sleeping in vehicles, and can assure you that once you remodel the inside, they can be quite homey, as well as comfortable, unless you are physically large in any direction.

So, how about a 4 cylinder short wheelbase older Caravan to get you by for a year or so when, as VDCdriver suggested, you might have a better choice of something more technically advanced? There should be tons of them available for sale, just take your time waiting for a creampuff to appear amidst all the junk. If you buy right, you can probably resell for nearly what you paid a year later.

If you remove the easily removable rear bench seats, you can certainly sleep in it, carry bulky things like behives and dogs and bicycles in it, and still get reasonable fuel mileage. (I have a long wheelbase model with the V6 and get 25mpg highway). You don’t need the long version - (Grand Caravan, Grand Voyager, and Chrysler Town and Country are the long ones). Just search Craigslist for “caravan”, or “minivan”.

Since you have the good sense to consider an electric vehicle, you might reach outside the box and also get an electric bicycle (like a step through vespa style scooter) so that for some trips you don’t need to start the gas engine at all. I’ve had one of those and really liked it, but the particular one I had was just too cheaply made to be durable. It was great fun, and dirt cheap to run, about a penny per mile, and quieter than an electric toothbrush.

The last thing I would want in a disaster prone area is an all electric vehicle. The first thing to be disrupted is the electric grid. Maybe that’s why no one carries them locally?

Never been in a large scale evacuation but the images are always of gridlocked vehicles all trying to get out the few routes available. Running A/C, sitting long times, not good for all electric. Then where do you recharge?

Hybrid maybe but not plug in electric…

Sorry, @vdc, I missed that. But, Salt water flooding might be a problem. Still gun shy about Ford commercial vehicles. Even fresh water causes rust. But that’s just me trying to keep vehicles longer then they were “designed for”. I would learn toward a small Minvan like a Mazda5 and suggestions by @WestnRoadtripper. Maybe even a 4 cylinder Pick up truck with a cap.

Honda Element.

I agree that a pickup is not a good idea, for these reasons, which may match your reasons:

  1. To sleep in a pickup, you have to get out, walk around, and climb awkwardly over the the tailgate, then somehow close and lock the camper shell door from the inside, which they are not designed to do. Yes, you can improvise, but the security is minimal.
  2. If you are somehow threatened while sleeping, you can’t drive away without getting out.
  3. You are separated from whatever items you have in the driving compartment.

Instead, with a van, you can move freely from the driver seat to the rear area for sleep, to access items you need, to get food you have brought along, to attend to your pets, etc, all without getting out in cold or wet weather. The result is effectively that your interior space feels larger because it is not chopped into two separate compartments. When I travel, I use every possible space for my various essential items which I regularly access. That includes the passenger seat and floor on that side, and the space between the seats. Then, when I’m relaxing in back, if there’s some thing I need, I just scoot forward and grab it. And in cold weather, if I’ve been driving shortly before planning to sleep, my sleeping area is relatively warm. BTW, I’ve built a sort of platform/cabinet which provides a raised surface for sleeping with drawers underneath for my travel equipment, clothing, kitchen, food, etc.

Of course being inside the vehicle is more secure than in the back of a truck, and you can also slip into the driver seat without getting out if you need to get away quickly.

You might look at the Honda CRV or Toyota Rav 4, though those will be smaller with fuel mileage not quite as good as a minivan I would think.

For the present at least, I think your admirable desire to have some kind of EV may have to be postponed until that technology becomes common in a wider assortment of vehicles. However, if you are really set on that, educate yourself on the Rav4 EV, built in the late 90s I believe. Not sure if they were available anywhere but here in California. I knew a man who managed a fleet of city vehicles, which included two dozen of these pure electric vehicles. He could show the economic benefits of these, they were reliable and environmentally friendly. The range was about 80 miles, not enough for your storm escape needs, and there is probably no usable infrastructure for charging in your area, but just keep this for future reference. If it could be done in the 90s, it should be possible to do it better 20 years later. That said, the EV idea may present problems for your flood prone area.

Any minivan would work, but as I read your post, the Honda Element popped into my mind as the vehicle you need. I guess Uncle Turbo had the same thought.

The Ford Transit Connect would also be a good choice but somehow I think you would be in your element in an Element.