Sunday, January 13, 2008

A new car on the (distant) horizon

A new car is on the distant horizon. The Outback has been with me since 10/2002 -- just over 62 months -- and has about 80,500 miles on it for an average of 1300 miles per month or roughly 16,000 per year. I'd like to get at least 100,000 miles on the Outback but there's an issue of spacing between DH's car and mine and he feels that if we don't replace mine soon, he'll have to wait too long to get his next car. Basically, I think that DH just wants a new car sooner!

I haven't test driven anything. The whole new car purchase deal is a ways off. I'm just starting to notice what models are out and think about what I might be interested in driving in the future.

What I want in a car
  • reliable
  • good mileage
  • ability to haul bikes, prefer to use rack attached to trailer hitch
  • ability to haul dogs
  • good for camping
  • ability to haul kayaks (there's some give and take here)
  • cute (or at least not ugly)
  • manual transmission?
What's in the running
Yesterday, I was at a group ride. Afterward, I noticed that one of the other riders had arrived in an Element. I asked him about it and he said that he loved it. I've talked to a few other Element owners and they all had good things to say about it. I feel that in my heart, that's what I really want.

The practical side of me forced me to break down some costs associated with car ownership.
  • Honda Element
    • EPA estimated combined mileage of 20 mpg
    • 4WD available
    • 1500 towing capacity
    • about $20,000
  • The Subarus
    • 19 city, 26 highway for Outback and similar for Forester
    • AWD
    • 2700 towing capacity (2400 for Forester)
    • The Outback and Forester both run about $22,000
  • Honda Fit for Fit Sport
    • EPA estimated combined mileage of 31 mpg
    • 2WD
    • towing not recommended, can you get a trailer hitch for bikes?
    • about $15,000
So, if I drove drove the Element for six years with my current driving habit of 16,000 miles per year and gas cost $4/gallon during those six years, it would cost me $19,200. Based on my current Outback and lacking the EPA estimated combined mileage from Subaru, I think that the Outback and Forester would be similar in their fuel usage
  • 16,000 miles * 6 years = 96,000 miles / 20 mpg = 4800 gallons of gas * $4 = $19,200
The Fit is less thirsty and I calculate a six year fuel cost of $6,800 less than the other models
  • 16,000 miles * 6 years = 96,000 miles / 31 mpg = 3100 gallons of gas * $4 = $12,400
Of course, if gas were $3.50/gallon, the difference in cost is smaller but with an additional 1700 gallons of gas being used, it's never going to be the same.

Today, I was on another group ride. We passed a Honda Fit Sport in Milano red. It was kind of cute...

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