Author Topic: Thoughts on car choices..  (Read 1951 times)

kiva822

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Thoughts on car choices..
« on: December 17, 2017, 11:17:22 PM »
Greetings

I posted a similar question a while back and things went toward the mazda 5.  My wife is not a fan, and, frankly, neither am I. ;-).   Her requirements is that it be safe (e.g. have traction control, modern safety features) and not likely to strand her. Here's the thread: 

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/cars-that-fit-2-carseats-1-adult-(another-dump-the-minivan-thread)/msg1649488/#msg1649488

an update from that thread:  we only owe $8k on the HELOC now.  That would leave 15k+ to spend on a vehicle, if needed.  We also got a dog (I know, not a big MMM thing, but, as I tell folks, I want to stay married...dog is pretty freaking cool, really, but I digress)

I went to reply to the old thread, but it advised me to start a new one since it was old.   Short summary of old thread: we bought a van thinking our family of 4 might grow, but that's not going to happen (the original purchase was ill-advised, but I digress).  It's now a 15mpg boat anchor and we want to get rid of it for something more economical.  Facts relevant to our situation:

other car is a 2003 VW TDI wagon. Small, but gets 40mpg+, is long since paid for.  High miles, but keeps going and going.  Has old car issues from time to time, but runs great.

We need 1 car that is able to take the family out of town on trips.  My wife isn't super comfortable with that being the old VW, but we've done it before.  Both of our daily commutes are very short (less than 3miles), but we each tend to bounce around town for work making just biking very difficult to impossible.  I know true Mustachians would scoff at that and bike anyway, but it's impractial given the nature of our work and need to bounce around town during times of the year where it's over 100 degrees. My wife will never, ever do it and I don't want to either. If I move to just private practice next year (possible), my bouncing around would drop significantly and I could easily bike to work most days.   Currently, total miles driven each day is typically less than 25, frequently less than 50.   Nearest big town is Sacramento which is 90 miles away.

Car needs to handle 2 booster seats in the back and sit a small adult in the middle + a dog in the back. That limits us to hatchbacks and wagons.

price range is in the teens. We own the van which is worth $25k-ish, so if we get something for in the mid teens, we can use the extra money to be debt free (except mortgages and my student loan, so I know, not quite ;)) and have some leftover. 

Cars we've considered:

Used Nissan Leaf.   2013's or so seem to have about 70 miles of range.  This is certainly 'pushing it' if both of us have to go out of town on a given day, but would work for 98% of what we do.  We're also getting solar soon since my neighbor is able to get the panels wholesale and we'll install it ourselves (e.g. 20 panels for about $11k installed).  The car is small, however, and my wife is nervous about the range issue. We've never owned an EV.

2012-2015 VW TDI wagon.   Higher potential for expensive repairs. TDI's are known to me and I understand how they work.  20% extra diesel cost in CA means a gas car needs to get about 38mpg highway to be equivalent.  Cost for a 2015 is on the higher side, more like $18k. Cargo space big plus and refined ride.   We'd own it a very long time, most likely.

2014 Prius V:  looked promising, but i've heard with all the short trips we do, the MPG's will suffer. 

Chevy Volt:  ideal in how it works as we'd use the EV almost all the time, but back seat sucks - no room- and the hatch area is very small.


Anyway, other ideas?  Am I overlooking a regular old gas car that would be cheaper, safe, reliable, and get in the 30's for MPG's?  Wait until next summer until I know exactly what my situation is? 

Kind of a free-form post, but we're twisting ourselves up here.  The Leaf would be a fun experiment, but makes me nervous...thoughts?  I've read through MMM's experiment blog...

matt

« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 12:29:15 PM by kiva822 »

TOgirl

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 08:41:07 AM »
Well, good thing for your wife I suppose, if she dislikes the Mazda 5...it can handle 2 booster/carseats, but it is captain chairs in the 2nd row, so no possibility of having a small adult in the middle. And really no possibility of a small adult in the 3rd row, unless they are a small adult without legs. That aside, I still drive a 2006 Mazda 5 everyday, with 2 booster seats in it. I enjoy it, despite my husband trying to get me to upgrade to a newer vehicle.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 09:35:34 AM »
I mean, we do this a couple times a month in a 2003 Toyota Corolla with rear facing car seats, so I think almost any car would meet the base requirements.  The key is having the right seats that can install side by side so you can put the adult behind the driver's seat.  If the 6 year olds are still in 5 pt harnessed boosters, I'd recommend any of the Diono Radians - they're a go to for side by side installs.  If they're in the boosters with the seat belt, you can probably get away with Graco Turboboosters.

So I'd buy the car that fits the other needs of your family best.  If the kids can buckle themselves, you can put the boosters in the third row of a Mazda 5 and the adult in the captain's chairs.  But the other cars you mentioned also work.  I honestly think a hybrid would work very well for your needs - no worries about range, but good fuel savings.

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 11:38:52 AM »
Hey folks

Thanks for the input.  MMM general opinions on dog ownership and related expenses is certainly rearing it's head here.  A standard sedan won't work since the Mrs. doesn't want the dog in the back seat with the kids, etc.  I'm starting to look at the Prius V which may be the sweet spot. I've read on some prius forums that short-tripping the hybrids can cause low MPG since the batteries don't charge up. I'll need to do more research.

If that damn chevy volt had a decent back seat we'd be in business..

Also, thanks for the tips on car seats.  We were just starting our research and decided we'd like to keep them in 5-point boosters. They're small kids, 6 years old and just over 40lbs..

thanks again, folks...

SimpleCycle

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 12:45:29 PM »
Hey folks

Thanks for the input.  MMM general opinions on dog ownership and related expenses is certainly rearing it's head here.  A standard sedan won't work since the Mrs. doesn't want the dog in the back seat with the kids, etc.  I'm starting to look at the Prius V which may be the sweet spot. I've read on some prius forums that short-tripping the hybrids can cause low MPG since the batteries don't charge up. I'll need to do more research.

If that damn chevy volt had a decent back seat we'd be in business..

Also, thanks for the tips on car seats.  We were just starting our research and decided we'd like to keep them in 5-point boosters. They're small kids, 6 years old and just over 40lbs..

thanks again, folks...

Oh yeah, sorry, I wasn't trying to say you shouldn't accommodate the dog, just that a lot of hatchback and wagon options should work with two car seats and a small adult.  Some hatchbacks have tons more cargo room than others.  I rented a Yaris hatchback and no way was a dog fitting back there, but I think the Fit might be an option, and the Matrix is bigger and might be in the sweet spot too.

I'd go to a CarMax and test drive several options if you have one near you.  It's a quick way to see the features of a lot of cars.  Also, I posted a similar thread recently, which might help you: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/car-suggestions-for-a-city-family-of-four/  We have slightly different requirements, but there's some good discussion in there.


snapperdude

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 08:23:42 PM »


2014 Prius V:  looked promising, but i've heard with all the short trips we do, the MPG's will suffer. 




It actually works the other way. The shorter, lower speed, around town trips are when you will be mostly on battery power. It is the longer, highway trips where your mileage will suffer due to being on gas power. We love our 2012 Prius V. It is amazing how much stuff you can fit in one.

Spruit

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 09:25:01 PM »
How big is the dog? Is it okay if it just sits in the back or must it be able to lie flat?
I ask because I just bought a bigger car solely for this purpose, so I've been measuring a LOT of trunks.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2017, 04:05:10 AM »
I wanted a Volt but couldn't handle the back seat, and got a Ford C-Max Energi. That might address your desires, and they're pretty inexpensive used -and incredibly inexpensive to operate.

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2017, 12:14:43 PM »
How big is the dog? Is it okay if it just sits in the back or must it be able to lie flat?
I ask because I just bought a bigger car solely for this purpose, so I've been measuring a LOT of trunks.

Hi

the dog is about 50 lbs. Not small. Not huge.   

We drove the prius v and, although ticks all the boxes in the practical department, was really just 'meh' to drive.  I'll check out the c-max too...

« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 10:13:58 PM by kiva822 »

MrsWolfeRN

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2017, 01:04:11 PM »
Following. I had a thread about this too a while back. I have an infant, toddler, dog, and very tall husband to accommodate.  We decided to just keep our Crown Vic for now, and just did our first road trip with baby. We kept our toddler rear facing in the middle, baby behind me, and dog behind my husband, mainly because the dog can't get past the toddler's car seat to get to the baby. Once the baby outgrows his infant seat, he will have to go in the middle and the toddler can front face behind me. I would like to get better gas mileage but the Crown is very reliable and easy to maintain, plus a small SUV would cost a lot more than we could sell it for.

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2017, 01:11:13 AM »
So, we were able to drive the c-max energi and, although it drives far better than the prius, it is pretty small for our family of 4. It really is too bad ford shoe-horned the battery pack into the cargo area.  We may end up giving it a whirl anyway, putting some $ into some preventative maintenance on the old TDI, and seeing what happens.  I'd love to talk to somebody with a family of 4 + dog w/ kids in booster seats who are able to to day-to-day kid moving and stuff around town in an energi.  The cost of ownership seems so, so, low and the 20 mile EV range would be perfect for us. 

The TDI wagon is the compromise of all the needs, but you add some cost of ownership and it isn't really cheap enough yet (looking at 2015's).  The prius v before 2015 didn't pass the IIHS overlap crash test, so an older one of those - which would be in our price wheelhouse - is out.

So, pondering a super downsize and maybe getting one of those trailer hitch buckets to make the energi work...

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2017, 12:48:26 PM »
I have three kids in my C-Max Energi, but no dog. The cargo area is weird, but it can handle a big grocery run fine. One stupid thing about how it's raised is that sometimes an orange or something will roll out when we open the trunk. Not a big deal but definitely a WTF from Ford.

It's our only car and it meets all our needs for moving stuff and people around. Using the MyFordMobile system to precondition it using house power before a trip is very nice too.

Edited to add car seat picture.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 12:51:59 PM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2017, 12:28:25 PM »
I have three kids in my C-Max Energi, but no dog. The cargo area is weird, but it can handle a big grocery run fine. One stupid thing about how it's raised is that sometimes an orange or something will roll out when we open the trunk. Not a big deal but definitely a WTF from Ford.

It's our only car and it meets all our needs for moving stuff and people around. Using the MyFordMobile system to precondition it using house power before a trip is very nice too.

Edited to add car seat picture.

Thanks for the info. What are the ages of your kids?  Any chance you could send me a shot of the backseat w/ your car seats / boosters?  Did you go with any sort of trailer hitch cargo box? 


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2017, 04:46:46 AM »
I have three kids in my C-Max Energi, but no dog. The cargo area is weird, but it can handle a big grocery run fine. One stupid thing about how it's raised is that sometimes an orange or something will roll out when we open the trunk. Not a big deal but definitely a WTF from Ford.

It's our only car and it meets all our needs for moving stuff and people around. Using the MyFordMobile system to precondition it using house power before a trip is very nice too.

Edited to add car seat picture.

Thanks for the info. What are the ages of your kids?  Any chance you could send me a shot of the backseat w/ your car seats / boosters?  Did you go with any sort of trailer hitch cargo box?

My kids are 4, 1, and 1. They're all rear-facing now so they'll take up less room as they hit 43 inches, which is our seats' RF limit. I've fit 5 adults in the car and it was fine.

Did the car seat picture I posted above come through on your platform? (Can anybody see it?) All three car seats are belted in currently. When my 4 year old turns around I may LATCH hers on the side; I'll have to experiment.

I haven't added any sort of extra cargo feature, though I know some people have. Biggest thing K had to fit was a lawnmower and with the handle folded it wasn't a problem. Tandem stroller for the twins goes in fine too -though they're getting good at walking so hopefully it doesn't show up much in the spring. If you go to the Cargo, Hauling, Roof Racks & Towing subforum of fordcmaxenergiforum.com there is an 87-reply thread near the top that addresses that.

Blackeagle

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2017, 07:10:08 AM »
Did the car seat picture I posted above come through on your platform? (Can anybody see it?) All three car seats are belted in currently.

I can see the pic, but I didn't notice the car seats at first since they match the upholstery.

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2017, 10:27:29 AM »
Did the car seat picture I posted above come through on your platform? (Can anybody see it?) All three car seats are belted in currently.

I can see the pic, but I didn't notice the car seats at first since they match the upholstery.

ha, same with me.  I see them now. 

Wife brought up the point that the dog needs to be able to stand up and move around in the back for longer trips. I'm going over to that thread you suggested to look at the cargo situation.

another point is that, if we end up not liking it / it doesn't work, are they hard to resell?  I see them stick around on CL for quite a while...

thanks for all the input..
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 10:31:32 AM by kiva822 »

lbmustache

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2017, 03:44:15 PM »
Honestly, it kind of sounds like a Subaru Outback or similar is going to meet your needs. I think a 2010 or so Outback will be in your price range. It can easily fit two car seats (photo below is a 2012 with 3 car seats) and plenty of room for a dog to move around. Also very easy to have roof cargo since it comes with roof racks already.

I think to meet your requirements you are going to either have to give up space or MPGs. Given your family, I'd give up the MPGs. I think an Outback does mid-to-high 20s, combined.






Buying a car and reselling it immediately means you're going to lose money in sales tax, registration etc. It's not really ideal... 

kiva822

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Re: Thoughts on car choices..
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2017, 07:03:08 PM »
Good point on the buy/sell cycle and tax costs. Not going to do that.

I think you bring a good point up with the outback. The fuel economy seems kind of painful, but with our van around 18mpg overall, it would be a pretty significant improvement.

My mom has a 2012 outback.  She claims 24 around town, 30hwy.  Fuelly has them at 24.5 combined.  I was shooting for prius MPG, but was cringing to sacrifice drivability.  Sounds like it's either outback-ish type of mpg or, commit to the cost savings and go prius V.

Again, I really appreciate all the feedback..

matt