Author Topic: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?  (Read 720 times)

Emergo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 189
What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« on: March 22, 2021, 12:09:08 PM »
Hello,

It's been years since I browsed this site. I believe I looked for advice before on what are the best vehicles and it was a Nissan Leaf or something.

Here's my situation:

Family of two - married couple
Plan to have a max of two kids in the future (maybe in a year)
Wife has a Toyota car - good shape, will last for years
I currently have a Toyota SUV, but it's breaking down

I never have had any experience with hybrid cars, or have much knowledge in it

Location: Houston, TX
Current commute to work - none, but potentially future work could be 15-18 miles away one way, five days a week
Budget would probably be $10k? No rush, we have time to save up if it should exceed that amount

Thank you for all your help

Paper Chaser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 795
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2021, 12:25:22 PM »
Prius V or Prius Prime for your situation. Either one would be cheap to own, reliable, and should accommodate your future family.
The Prius V is the standard Prius, but with more cargo space. If cargo space is a big deal for you, then it's a decent option.
The Prime is a plug in hybrid and capable of all electric driving up to 25 miles which could really save you time, money and maintenance. If reducing costs related to driving is the priority over cargo space, then I'd opt for a Prime over the V.

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4291
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2021, 12:27:56 PM »
Paper Chaser's recommendation is spot-on.

Normally, I'd say "MINIVAN!"  But you have no kids yet. 

It sounds like you're looking to replace your SUV.  If that's correct, then good for you!  I'd put my vote in for a Corolla or Camry or a Prius.  Do the maintenance on one of those, and it's likely your unborn children will learn to drive in them.  Maybe your grandkids, too.

Seriously.  DW and I bought my (then-)8-year-old Corolla eighteen years ago.  My oldest son is learning to drive in it, at 238,000 miles.

innkeeper77

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2021, 12:30:03 PM »
How long do you want to keep the vehicle? We have an electric (Honda clarity PHEV) for environmental reasons, but I would advise caution with the leaf. Although they can be very cheap to operate, they were badly designed. Most of the design issues are simple to fix when they break, but there is one massive issue. The leaf used passively AIR COOLED batteries. This means that their batteries age much quicker than they should, and you lose range year over year. I would be very worries about this in Texas due to summer heat, especially if buying a leaf that "lived" in texas. Many other EV's are water cooled or otherwise actively cooled, and can maintain their range much much longer, and in harsher conditions. This isn't cold batteries getting less range- that happens, but it's normal. This is actual battery degradation. A 100k mile tesla may have near to its original range, while a leaf battery acts more like a smartphone and would be significantly degraded by that point.

This does mean that you can get a great deal on an old leaf, but it may not last you all that long. I also hate how environmentally unfreindly killing batteries like this is, but if they are already used cars it isn't as much of an issue. Approach with caution.

Hybrids are also great! Look at how long priuses can last in taxi service- the low strain on the gas engine allows them to be very reliable. You may eventually have to replace the hybrid battery, but they are much smaller than an EV battery, and have become rather affordable. You can replace an older prius battery for less than a couple thousand if you do it cheaply. My car is an older toyota hybrid, and it had a new battery put in two years ago.

I'd advise a prius, but you might want to consider a PHEV if you want to use only electric on your commute. Our clarity could do your whole commute with no gas use at all, but it's expensive, and probably too much for a secondary car. (It is our main vehicle, road trip vehicle, etc- and we are happy to work with its compromises for the benefit of not burning fossil fuel directly most of the time). Sadly, cheaper or older plug in hybrids rarely would have enough electric only range to complete your commute- we would have purchased a prius except for its poor electric range.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 12:32:58 PM by innkeeper77 »

Emergo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 189
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2021, 12:38:03 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

So for the people suggesting a hybrid/ prius/ etc. what exactly does ownership of those types of cars entail? Do I need to buy a socket to plug in my garage? Is this all widely available in cities like Houston? Sorry, I'm a total newbie...

As for cargo space vs cost savings, obviously prefer both but I think since my wife has a small Toyota car, and the cargo space in my RAV 4 became handy many times, I think I'd prefer cargo space in this situation. Does the Prius V have similar cargo space to a RAV4?

innkeeper77

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2021, 01:11:07 PM »
Hybrid vehicles are JUST gas. They use regenerative braking to reclaim energy, and use that power to make the gas engine more efficient. The engine shuts off at stoplights and low speed, etc. You can entirely forget that they are electric. This benefit is mainly for city driving, but also hilly areas. Flat highway cruising not so much- so they are interesting in that city and highway MPG are very similar, or even inverted like the mid 2000's prius- those had 48 city 45 highway!

PHEV's are "plug in hybrid vehicles" - these have a MUCH larger battery, and you plug them into the wall. These have an electric only range, AND a gas range, You can use a PHEV like a normal hybrid, but it takes some more thought, and is LESS efficient due to the extra battery weight. That said, if most driving is electric only, they are far more efficient than normal hybrids due to just how efficient electric driving can be. My car, the Honda Clarity, has a 17 kWh battery pack. This could charge from empty to full in about 14 hours on a normal outlet, which worked for us for a year. We recently upgraded to "level 2 charging" which is just a 220v outlet in the garage. My cheap 16 amp charger charges the car fully in about 4 hours, but you can go up to 32 amps on my car, faster for others. (I chose 16 amps for lower cost, higher electric efficiency, and the slower charge being less stressful on the battery. Interestingly, 220v charging is MORE efficient than the slow 110v, simply due to the 220v charger design needing to not work as hard to step the voltage up all the way for the battery)
- Plug in hybids charge "quick" relative to full EV's due to the small batteries and low electric only range. On road trips, my car is exactly like driving a regular gas car except that I need to press the "hv" button every time I start the engine to maintain a nice large battery buffer. Otherwise it gets down to "empty" (some charge remaining) which is usually OK, but doesn't leave a huge buffer for mountain passes- admittedly a rare occurrence. (it's a 99 horsepower engine in a 4000 lb car... the battery and engine together give 212hp. The battery buffer allows the car to have full power, and the engine keeps running to bring your buffer back to where you started once you are no longer using it all, such as flat cruise) - this car is really designed as a commute only car, but with a bit of thought it is a great road trip car aside from a small gas tank. Plus, some restaurants have free charging when taking a break from the road! - a PHEV is rarely intended to charge at public stations like an EV, they are really designed around home overnight charging.

Full EV's of course will never use gas.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2021, 11:38:30 AM by innkeeper77 »

soily

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Arkansas
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2021, 01:19:57 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

So for the people suggesting a hybrid/ prius/ etc. what exactly does ownership of those types of cars entail? Do I need to buy a socket to plug in my garage? Is this all widely available in cities like Houston? Sorry, I'm a total newbie...

As for cargo space vs cost savings, obviously prefer both but I think since my wife has a small Toyota car, and the cargo space in my RAV 4 became handy many times, I think I'd prefer cargo space in this situation. Does the Prius V have similar cargo space to a RAV4?
I'm not terribly familiar with Rav4s but my Prius has an awesome amount of space. The back seats fold down flat which give you 6'+ of space. My prius is my favorite vehicle I've ever owned. Although mine has relatively low miles (~150k), it does drink oil (1 qt every 3k miles) so you need to watch out for that. Its a common problem and most reliability issues stem from folks running too low on oil. I think it has to do with to 0w20 oil.

innkeeper77

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2021, 01:30:16 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

So for the people suggesting a hybrid/ prius/ etc. what exactly does ownership of those types of cars entail? Do I need to buy a socket to plug in my garage? Is this all widely available in cities like Houston? Sorry, I'm a total newbie...

As for cargo space vs cost savings, obviously prefer both but I think since my wife has a small Toyota car, and the cargo space in my RAV 4 became handy many times, I think I'd prefer cargo space in this situation. Does the Prius V have similar cargo space to a RAV4?
I'm not terribly familiar with Rav4s but my Prius has an awesome amount of space. The back seats fold down flat which give you 6'+ of space. My prius is my favorite vehicle I've ever owned. Although mine has relatively low miles (~150k), it does drink oil (1 qt every 3k miles) so you need to watch out for that. Its a common problem and most reliability issues stem from folks running too low on oil. I think it has to do with to 0w20 oil.

Good point! I forgot about that issue, though I knew about it. Apparently it happens on the camry hybrid as well, but mine (145k ish) doesn't use any within my oil change interval (5k ish). I've seen this with subarus as well- my first subaru never used oil like that. I think it might have something to due with regular maintenance- the more frequent the oil changes, the less of a chance of wearing down the engine allowing for higher amounts of blowby.

Hatchbacks are awesome, and I wish I had a prius for cargo space alone!

reeshau

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1342
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Former locations: Detroit, Indianapolis, Dublin
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2021, 05:08:17 PM »

PHEV's are "plug in hybrid vehicles" - these have a MUCH larger battery, and you plug them into the wall. These have an electric only range, AND a gas range, You can use a PHEV like a normal hybrid, but it takes some more thought, and is LESS efficient due to the extra battery weight. That said, if most driving is electric only, they are far more efficient than normal hybrids due to just how efficient electric driving can be. My car, the Honda Clarity, has a 17 kWh battery pack. This could charge from empty to full in about 14 hours on a normal outlet, which worked for us for a year. We recently upgraded to "level 2 charging" which is just a 220v outlet in the garage. My cheap 16 amp charger charges the car fully in about 4 hours, but you can go up to 32 amps on my car, faster for others. - Plug in hybids charge "quick" relative to full EV's due to the small batteries and low electric only range. On road trips, my car is exactly like driving a regular gas car except that I need to press the "hv" button every time I start the engine to maintain a nice large battery buffer. Otherwise it gets down to "empty" (some charge remaining) which is usually OK, but doesn't leave a huge buffer for mountain passes- admittedly a rare occurrence. (it's a 99 horsepower engine in a 4000 lb car... the battery and engine together give 212hp. The battery buffer allows the car to have full power, and the engine keeps running to bring your buffer back to where you started once you are no longer using it all, such as flat cruise) - this car is really designed as a commute only car, but with a bit of thought it is a great road trip car aside from a small gas tank. Plus, some restaurants have free charging when taking a break from the road! - a PHEV is rarely intended to charge at public stations like an EV, they are really designed around home overnight charging.


Just because @zolotiyeruki mentioned them, I thought I would throw in that this is fairly descriptive of the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV.  Slightly smaller battery, 16 kWh, and a heavier vehicle.  But it should be just able to handle your commute round trip.  I don't think it would fit your budget though; even with 100k miles on them, they are in the $20k's.  Plenty of storage, of course!  We are actually considering a new purchase, because they have significant incentives on them now, and Chrysler has sold so few hybrids they have the full $7,500 tax credit, too.  We are considering a net $2-3k vs. 30-40k mile 2018's to get a full 10 year warranty on the electrical system.

Paper Chaser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 795
Re: What are the askamustachian consensus best vehicles?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2021, 03:36:57 AM »
Thanks for the replies.

So for the people suggesting a hybrid/ prius/ etc. what exactly does ownership of those types of cars entail? Do I need to buy a socket to plug in my garage? Is this all widely available in cities like Houston? Sorry, I'm a total newbie...

As for cargo space vs cost savings, obviously prefer both but I think since my wife has a small Toyota car, and the cargo space in my RAV 4 became handy many times, I think I'd prefer cargo space in this situation. Does the Prius V have similar cargo space to a RAV4?

You can usually get 3-4 miles of range for every hour that a car is plugged into a regular 120v outlet. So for any PHEV with under 40 miles of range, you can probably go from no charge to "full" charge overnight. The slower charging from the lower voltage outlet also keeps temperatures down and promotes battery health.

If you want to charge faster than that, then a regular 240v outlet (like what you might have for an electric dryer, or oven, or welder, etc) can usually be installed professionally for around $1000 (costs vary depending on the situation).

Google tells me that the Prius V has 34.3 cubic ft of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 67.3cu ft with the rear seats folded down. Not sure what year your Rav 4 is, but an 05 Rav 4 has 29.2cu ft behind the rear seats and 68.3 cu ft with the rear seats folded down. So they're very similar in overall utility. The Prius V might even be better for you if you've got kids in car seats and can't fold the rear seats down.