29 April 2006

Auto Angst

Thanks for all the interesting comments to the last post. I so want an auto coop like Arwen's. That sounds way cool. Anyway, I highly recommend all the comments: very interesting notions there, and anyone who's feeling like s/he doesn't do enough will take comfort from all the balancing in the different comment posts.

I know your weekends won't be complete without an update on our auto angst. We are currently weighing the following issues:
  • we already own a fairly new, very comfy station wagon, which will be our car for long trips (such as the one we will take out East in July) for the forseeable future. But we need a second car, to be used mainly for work commutes (~10 miles/weekday) and the occasional jaunt around town
  • we are spending buckets and buckets (well, the bank is, as we refinanced the mortgage) on the very big home renovation project we're in the midst of, and we're waiting on updated financials from our contractor. At last check, we were $2500 over budget and 80% done with the project. But there are plenty of details left to be settled (like can we afford to replace a few more windows in the house, do we need to repave the driveway, surely we need window treatments). And we've just committed to a private school for Curious Girl to start next year. So there are lots of opportunities for spending money around here, and we need to plan carefully. I'm thrilled we can afford the expenditures we can, but we're in the midst of some budget transitions and it's a lot to keep track of.
  • I really want a hybrid car, but they are more expensive, and even with the tax credit, the small amount of driving we do isn't going to make up the costs
  • Hybrids cost more energy to produce than some non-hybrids, although hybrids use less gas and send out far fewer emissions.
  • the chronic-disease factor is hard to predict: Politica is often achy, and while yesterday she loved the Scion, today she loathed it. The scion gets mixed green ratings from two sites and we can't decide what to make of that, but if the car is too achy-inducing it probably doesn't matter.
  • we can't decide whether it is just a flat out bad idea to buy a subcompact car without side air bags (the new small toyota, which is really called the yaris but which I keep referring to as the yurt, can't get side airbags)
  • we can't decide whether it would be OK to have a car that Politica really doesn't like to drive. I'm not so fussy: any of the options would be fine with me. But the rough ride of smaller cars is not so good for her. But is a car the size of the civic or corolla too much car for a second, drive-to-work-and-back car? we can't decide.
  • we think it would be more prudent to minimize immediate expenses, which probably rules out a hybrid for now. I feel badly about that. But it's a lot more expensive. So then I feel badly and chintzy. Sigh. Then I thought, let's buy a used car, not a new one. That made us feel overwhelmed. Too many options.
  • we both thought the scion xb was very fun to drive
  • Curious Girl thinks we should buy a red car, and I agree.
  • At the end of our time at a dealer, CG wanted me to go in one of the cars out on the showroom floor. "Let's have a big ol' meeting!" she said. "I'll drive."

Here's wishing all of you a decisive weekend.


liz said...

My suggestion is to buy a used Toyota Corolla or similar car.

You can get them in pretty good condition for much less than a new car and they get great gas mileage. Also buying used is environmentally conscious.

Robin said...

I'm thinking about cars too and a friend recommended the website greencar.com. I haven't checked it out yet, but my friend said the site considers many more aspects of the car than simply miles per gallon.

This is only pertinent if you haven't already decided. And if you have decided, ENJOY! xo

Anonymous said...

just to add to the discussion...see this post:

its an article about the Prius. Independent of all of the altruistic reasons for purchasing a hybrid.... is the only hybrid that actually saves you money relative to its non-hybrid counterpart, if you keep it for five years.

We've had a prius for just about one year and love it. Don't expect to get 50 mpg just going short 10 mile jaunts. Realistically, though, you can expect about 43-45 mpg. It does best (55 mpg )on back country roads..going about 45-65 mph.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I agree with Liz -- I have a Corolla -- and it gets mileage similar to many hybrids for in-town driving. Look for a stick shift for the best mileage..

The used one won't break the bank and they are very dependable... heck, my new one was about $14,000 a couple of years ago. It isn't as small as the mini-Toyota and has a great trunk and fold-down seats so you can haul some stuff if necessary.

halloweenlover said...

We also test drove the Scion XB and really liked it! So spacious for such a good price.

I love the previous post too, it really got me thinking about what else we can do. I drive to work in the winter and try to take the subway in the summer, and we recycle, but some of those other ideas are great too. I'll have to keep these in mind!