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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thoughts on Cars

I've been thinking about buying a new car.  Current car passed its 5th birthday in October 2007.  I don't NEED a new car right now, and the only reason to buy one is because I want one and I want something that is a little more me.  Even if I do buy one, it likely won't be until the fall and I'll move mighty slowly in purchasing one.  I've been going through a big thought process over the last 1-2 months, thinking about what to buy.  

So, here are my thoughts and options:

Option 1: Keep Current Car
Pros:
  • Current Car is paid off.  I recently put about $900 of work into current car (90,000 mile maintenance was expensive, and I also got new brakes, which was a hefty chunk of that cost). 
  • Even factoring in current or future work needed, seeing as how Current Car is a Honda, cost would not justify buying a new car.  Current work needed mostly includes purchasing one new tire, since one day I hit a curb in Hampstead and took a big chunk out of the wall of one tire, and Todd has been hassling me to get it fixed before it blows out.  I have not done so.
  • I can haul some things with current car.
  • Current Car has 4WD, which is great since current work does not allow me to work from home.
  • If I bought a new car, it would be worth more, meaning that insurance would go up.  Keeping current car means insurance costs remain the same.
  • While Sirius is not an option for Hondas, I have Sirius in the current car, it's just after-market.
Cons:
  • I really don't like Current Car that much anymore.
  • There is a new model of current car, making me feel like current car is old.
  • Current car gets mediocre gas mileage, although gets the 2nd best gas mileage of any car in its class from its year (2003).
  • I don't get the fuel economy stipend* with this car.

Option 2: Toyota Prius
Pros:
  • Gas mileage is good.
  • I would get my work's fuel economy stipend.*
  • Sirius Satellite radio is an option.
  • Lots of features and colors that I like.
  • I should still be able to haul things

Cons:
  • I really don't like the overall design of the Prius and the Prius just is NOT ME. 
  • Loss of 4WD
  • I am skeptical of the actual gas mileage that Prius owners get, and I would love to know what gas mileage I would actually get, based on my driving habits.
  • I would have a car payment, and even if I use gas mileage and the money my company will give me as a justification, it would not be enough to actually cover the monthly payment that I would likely be paying.  I do have enough $$ to get only a 36 or 48 month loan though.
  • I remain concerned about ongoing maintenance costs of owning a hybrid.

Option 3: Honda Civic Hybrid
Pros:
  • Gas mileage is good
  • I would get my fuel economy stipend.*
  • I prefer Hondas
  • I Like the way this car looks, compared to the Prius.  The interior, for example, is clean and sharp.

Cons:
  • Only available in a couple of colors that I hate (all I want is RED!!)
  • Loss of 4WD
  • Like with the Prius, I am skeptical of the actual gas mileage that people get.
  • I would have a car payment.
  • Only XM Radio is available, and I prefer Sirius.
  • Like with the Prius, I am concerned about maintenance of hybrids.

Option 4: Honda Element
Pros:
  • This is the car I really want.  I love this car.  I know many people think it's ugly, but it's very ME and it's what I like.  I can put a bike in the back (I don't own a bike, but that's beside the point).  The whole "surf wagon" thing really appeals to me and I think my 26.2 sticker will look awesome on it.  I get excited when I think about buying this car.
  • Has 4WD
  • Has the colors that I want
  • Really cool features, the ability to haul things, crazy-cool interior, just a FUN car.

Cons:
  • Gas mileage is ho-hum. 
  • I would not get the fuel economy stipend*, which increases the overall cost of the car, relative to the Civic or the Prius.
  • Only XM Radio is available, and I prefer Sirius.
  • I would have a car payment.

So, there you have it.  I don't know what to do.  Perhaps the best option is to keep the current car and hope that a more fuel-economical version of the Element comes out, and that Sirius and XM radio merge.

*Fuel economy stipend: My work will give me $500 towards a new car that gets 30MPG or better, and then $500 per year for gas once I own it.  That's pretty significant... I mean, if I keep the car for 5 years and continue working here, that's $3000...

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