Author Topic: Advice for vehicle selection  (Read 3436 times)

DividendGardener

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Advice for vehicle selection
« on: March 20, 2014, 12:20:35 PM »
Currently, my wife and I have an '09 Toyota Corolla and '07 Jeep Wrangler 4x4.  Living in the Midwest, we see varying winters ranging from low snowfall up to 60"/winter like this past winter.  The Corolla was very reluctant to perform well in the deep snow, even with snow tires.

We don't need new vehicles any time soon, but we were talking through our distant (still several years away, hopefully) vehicle options the other day.  I have always wanted to have a truck and my wife would like a slightly larger car or crossover/small SUV.  The truck would also come in handy for things around the house, as I was routinely "that guy" last summer borrowing her father's truck often. 

Currently, we spend 34-35% of our total income and feel like we do a good job at trying to keep expenses low (e.g. no cable, landline, gym membership, internet).  The hard part to swallow is that if we choose, for example, a truck and small SUV instead of two smaller fuel-efficient cars, the truck and SUV would likely push us up to spending roughly 37-38% of income and would delay an estimated FI date from age 38 to age 39.

On one hand, by buying two small fuel-efficient cars, it would be great to eventually have two vehicles getting in the 30-40MPG and low overall cost to maintain.  On the other hand, spending more to have a truck / suv would offer more utility and be a bit safer/more reliable in the deep snow due to higher ground clearance.  For what it's worth, we have no kids at this time, but may have one in the future (not sure if you can even have a baby seat in a regular cab truck or if it would need to be an extended cab?).

I am looking to see how everyone would go through this thought process.  Ultimately, I know it will be our own choice, but I appreciate everyone's perspective on this.

lackofstache

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 01:02:40 PM »
I'm not sure why you'd need to go to two larger vehicles. Would one fuel efficient car and one turck/SUV work? If you get the right SUV you may not need the truck or if you get the right larger car you may not miss too much on the fuel efficiancy.

the fixer

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 01:55:21 PM »
How often do you see winters this bad? You may be just letting recency bias affect your decisionmaking. Think about how many trips of ALL the trips your Corolla has done were made more difficult because it's not an SUV. 5% tops? Is it worth spending thousands more on the vehicle plus the extra gas and maintenance to make that handful of trips easier?

If you need a hauling vehicle, get a minivan like MMM has or an old beater cargo van. Compare this with the cost of renting vans/pickups at the frequency you need them.

ketchup

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2014, 03:26:45 PM »
How often do you see winters this bad? You may be just letting recency bias affect your decisionmaking. Think about how many trips of ALL the trips your Corolla has done were made more difficult because it's not an SUV. 5% tops? Is it worth spending thousands more on the vehicle plus the extra gas and maintenance to make that handful of trips easier?

If you need a hauling vehicle, get a minivan like MMM has or an old beater cargo van. Compare this with the cost of renting vans/pickups at the frequency you need them.
I would agree with this.  I've dealt with winter driving (northern IL here) in anything from my tin can of a tiny '88 Chevy Sprint to my current Swedish Tank of a Volvo 850 wagon to my mom's stupid Saturn SUV.  The only times I've ever lost control of the car in snow, it's been entirely my own fault.  I had a (non-collision, no-damage) scary incident with the SUV that I blamed on its design, but that was my fault too, for not compensating for its horrid visibility.

But definitely spring for a car with antilock brakes and traction control.  I can tell that helping in my '96 Volvo, and I'm pretty sure most modern cars have them, but I know my friend's '09 Kia doesn't, and it's awful in snow (way worse than my airbag-less 1600lb '88 Sprint that also had neither).

Many of the vehicles I see stuck in snow on the side of the road in the winter are overconfident SUV/giant pickup truck drivers.  Dealing with snow is more a function of the driver than the vehicle.  That said, there's no reason you can't have winter driving ability be something to think about when looking at a car, but don't use that as a reason to eliminate entire classes of automobiles.

Milspecstache

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2014, 04:40:32 PM »
What about snow-chains?  Snow tires are good but some areas allow you to 'upgrade' to full snow chains and that might make the difference in heavy snow.

daverobev

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2014, 05:27:03 PM »
Not sure about where you are, but there are plenty of Corollas round here - near Ottawa, ON.

I would suggest a truck might actually perform worse in the snow.

You're actually driving *in* deep snow? Like... where? How deep? How *far* in deep snow? That is usually what snowploughs, snow blowers and snow shovels are for! And, yeah, snow tires, snow chains.

DividendGardener

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 08:00:17 AM »
Thanks for the replies.  It sounds like FWD cars might actually beat RWD trucks/SUVs in the snow due to the engine weight being on the front axle?  This makes me feel better not spending more on a truck/SUV just for the ground clearance alone.

In regards to how far I am driving in deep snow, this is limited until I get out to a main plowed road, so maybe one mile of deep snow.  It can be problematic as I am routinely on-call over night, and sometimes have to go in to work in the middle of the night, when the roads may not be plowed.

At the same time, I just did a comparison on Edmunds true cost to own calculator over five years.  It looks like it would end up costing around $300-$350 / month more buying a 4x4 truck over a base model corolla or civic.  That is definitely a large differential in costs to own.

daverobev

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Re: Advice for vehicle selection
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2014, 09:15:48 AM »
Yup; having the weight over the driving wheels is a plus.

So, I guess snow chains... just on the front wheels. A mile of deep snow? Ouch.. if you *need* to get through that, regularly, then yeah it's either the hassle of snow chains or the expense of a higher clearance vehicle. Subarus are supposed to be good, but if the snow is up to the bumper you're likely to be just as stuck. Maybe a Forester would work.