10 May 2007

Downsizing my vehicle

I currently drive a Honda Pilot. It's a good value, as SUVs go, and I got a decent deal on it when I bought it new in the Fall of 2005. But the financial revolution I have been going through has revealed something to me . . . I don't need an SUV. I didn't then, though I made lots of arguments to myself that justified getting one. I bought the SUV out of desire, not need. In many ways I am ashamed of myself for this, as I always try to be sensible with my money. I thought I was being sensible . . . I couldn't find a used Pilot or Toyota Highlander for less than I was getting this one new. My mistake was thinking I needed one of the two.

Driving this car has hurt me financially. There are no two ways about it. I get about 17.5 MPG city, and maybe 20 highway. Depreciation has not been that terrible, since it is a Honda, but the extra cost of getting an SUV automatically increased the deprecation over other vehicles I could have purchased. Between this and fuel costs, I'd say it was a mistake of several thousand dollars.

That's a mistake I'm going to try to (partially) correct by ditching it for a more sensible vehicle. Gas just keeps getting more expensive, and I'm not far from paying $60 for a fillup. I'm sorry, but that's just not going to cut it for me. I can't stand that kind of expense. So I'm starting to look around at used compact cars . . . Civics, Corollas, Sentras, and any of a number of hatchbacks. If I buy used, I will come out ahead on the deal. My vehicle is worth about $19k and I don't plan to spend more than $15k on a compact car. I still owe some, but it's less than $4k. If I did the deal right now, the swap, after taxes and such, would be even or better, and from here on out I'd be getting some money back in better mileage and depreciation.

Anybody else going through these same deliberations? Fuel costs are just out of hand. It made little sense for me to buy big when I did, and it makes even less sense to keep paying for that mistake.

17 comments:

Hazzard said...

Ahhh. I've been down this rollercoaster before.

I don't disagree with you at all. I think you are using good analysis for your decision. The one thing I would caution you on is to look at potential depreciation between the Honda Civic's and other cars like the Sentra. Toyota or Honda will depreciate slower than a Nissan.

savvy saver said...

I have a six year old Civic (bought it new) and I love it. It has about 120,000 miles on it and I fully expect it to last another 4-6 years.

Rob said...

I have a 4-yr old Honda Element that I just love. The fuel efficiency still isn;t stellar, but pretty good at 22-24 m.p.g. on average. The versatility of the Element is great - although it is primarily a commuter vehicle for us, the amount of stuff you can haul is nothing short of incredible.

In a recent CNET Driving It article, "The auto industry's dirty little secret," editor Brian Cooley brings up the point that for more than 50 years, American car buyers have been suckered & steered into a fascination with useless & inapplicable automotive performance - most often, horsepower - and it's time for the deception to end.

So, yeah, I'm all for "rightsizing" vehicles to meet the required task. There's little or no reason for the average commuter to own a vehicle that's powered by a 6 or 8-cylinder engine. Now, sure, there are people who use their vehicles for tasks that require more oomph. But here in wild West Texas, you see an awful lot of rednecks driving $40k quad-cab Ford pickups, Chevy Tahoes, & other monstrously oversized vehicles for doing nothing more than commuting to work - alone.

I'd seriously consider a Honda Fit if I were in the market again. And actually, I'm itching to try a Smart ForTwo when they hit the states next year.

bugbear said...

(some) Cars can last a lot longer than most people think.

My 92 Honda accord DX 5 speed standard has 220K miles on it and is currently 16 years old and going strong. I bought it 10 years ago for $320O cash. (private party purchase). I just changed the timing belt and water pump on it and wouldn't be surprised if it surpassed 20 years of usage.

I wished I had a civic for the higher gas mileage but I still get 32 MPG overall (mostly highway driving).

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