Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sucking me dry....

gas prices are killing me.
The low end of the average cost for regular unleaded here in Sacramento is about $3.15 per gallon.
A little over three years ago I made a horrible decision when I got a new car and I went with an SUV.
My behemoth of a car gets about 14-15 mpg in the city and 17-18 mpg on the highway, and the great majority of my driving is city driving with a lot of stop and go.
Average cost to fill my gas tank? $65.
How long does that tank of gas last? Only 5 to 6 days, and thats just for my daily commute to work and back and possibly a run or two to the grocery store or Target in the evening. If I do any running around on the weekends that can easily cost me a half a tank in gas.
Once I get back from Ireland I'm going to start saving for a new method of transportation, I'm just not certain of what I want.
My initial reaction is to go with a Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic Hybrid. What makes me think twice about that is the sticker price. I've never purchased a new car before. My first car was a 1972 VW Beetle which only cost $1,000. My second car was a used Oldsmobile something or another that was less than $4,000. Next was a Geo Prizm. Again, only $4,000. Most recently was my Ford Explorer which was $8,000.
Obviously, I am very frugal when it comes to purchasing vehicles. The thought of spending $25,000 on a car sends pains shooting down my left arm.
My next thought is a Vespa Scooter. There happens to be a Vespa dealership down the street from my house. Its possible that I may have stopped by this past weekend to look at their models. The LX 150 is a beauty, only $4,500 and gets close to 70 mpg!
The drawback to the Vespa? Sacramento driving. Scorchingly hot in the summer, think 110 degrees, cold and rainy in the winter. Plus people drive like maniacs on a lot of the major surface streets, and I would have to take a lot of those surface streets on my daily commute. I ran this idea past my chiropractor that I've been seeing since my accident in February and he pointed out that in the past 4-1/2 years there have been three times in which I've been at a complete stop at a red light, just sitting there (not a sudden stop, not having cut anyone off) and have been rearended and how badly I would have been injured in any of those accidents had I been on a scooter.
So, ix-nay on the ooter-scay. However, that doesnt mean that if I were to come into a sudden surplus of cash ((such as the lottery... or an inheritance from a distant unknown relative that died in a horrific car accident while on safari in Nigeria) that doesnt mean I wouldn't get one to have as a weekend toy. Scooting downtown to knit at the pub on Sunday afternoons, or something like that.
So, I'm looking at cars again. I want something fuel economic, but not too expensive.
For new cars I've looked at the Toyota Yaris, but I'd be hesitant to buy the first year of a new model just in case all the kinks haven't been worked out. The price tag is a lot more appealing than that of the Prius or of the Honda Civicv Hybrid though, but the gas mileage isn't as good as either of the hybrids.
I don't live close enough to work to ride my bike, and again with the crazy drivers, and public transportation sucks in the part of town I live in.
Any suggestions on a more fuel economic vehicle that has been on the market long enough to be known to be reliable and fairly reasonable in price?
I'd like to get a new car within a year or so. For this, I know that I'll need a large down payment in order ro keep the monthly payments low. To save up that down payment I'll need to pay off my debts first so as soon as I return from Ireland I am going on a debt-diet. I am determined to have my debts paid off by the end of the year. Before I started saving up for the trip to Ireland I had intended to be debt free by my 30th birthday at the end of August, but I reprioritized for the trip.

Only 9 days until I leave for Ireland.


Maya said...

The Yaris and the Fit aren't new, they are just new to our market, if that helps. They've been in Europe and Japan for a while now.

But I've said this before and I will say it again, there are PLENTY of cars that can be had at a reasonable price, used or new, that get good gas mileage and don't cost as much as the hybrids. If you were able to trade your car in for something at a similar price but that got twice the gas mileage, you'd be saving no matter what. That hybrid premium takes a long time to pay for itself.

I'm just not convinced the economies of scale have come down enough on the hybrids. Unless you want to wait for the Fit hybrid, which is only supposed to be $15K.

There's also the option of a used Civic hybrid.

Valerie said...

Toyota Carolla's I hear are good on gas as well as For Focus. I think the Carolla's are cute.

Look into those.

And good luck.

The gas here is $3.40 and I have an 03' explorer too. So I pay about $75 every 6-7 days. So, I feel your pain sister. :(

Anonymous said...

I bought a Toyota Corolla in March 04 and I love it. Gets about 40 mpg on the highway I think. I paid $15K for a brand new one (that's w/out power windows, door locks, etc). Car payments suck, but I know Toyotas are good cars and I hope this one'll last me forever. I wouldn't mind buying a used one in good condition, since I know ppl who've driven their Corollas for 200K miles.


Tara said...

I'm personally a Chevy girl, but all of my Chevys were used gas guzzlers. My 1st new car was a Mazda Protege, and I was pretty impressed with it. We drove from Alberta to L.A on our honeymoon and we got quite a bit of good gas mileage out of it.

Shananigans said...

My car gets just under 20 miles to the gallon with the crazy commute driving I do (lots of acceleration and braking), and I bitch about that. Sorry I don’t have any really good solutions for you, I’ve only ever bought one car. I am a big fan of hybrids, is there no way you could get a used one? I feel like there must be at least a few of those on the market by now since they’ve been around a couple years. BTW, I love that you had a 1972 VW Beetle. To this day I dream of driving a classic beetle, there has never been a cuter car in my opinion. Not terribly practical, but adorable!

My dad drives a Focus and I am not fond of it. My boyfriend drives a Mazda Protégé, it gets great mileage. We’ve taken it on many road trips and moved across the country in it, very dependable and comfortable to drive.

Tanya Kristine said...

sounds like me. $55 to fill my tank. one week is all i get. that's a fricking roundtrip tic,ket from SOUTHWEST!

maybe i should fly to work.

Shauna said...

Um... I like my Saturn. And when you buy a new car, you get a better APR. So even though the price tag looks scary, you probably wouldn't be hurting on the payments. I remember when I bought a used Kia, my APR was something RIDICULOUS like 23%. My payments were something like $253.00. When I bought my new Saturn, I got a %0.9 APR and my payments are $272.00. Not bad, eh? It runs great and it's pretty good with the gas mileage. Not like a hybrid or anything, but around 30mpg highway.