Author Topic: Newbie - rethinking our vehicles  (Read 1573 times)

mousebandit

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Newbie - rethinking our vehicles
« on: May 22, 2016, 10:24:56 PM »
Okay, so don't face punch me too hard!  Newbie here, and don't have the husband fully on board yet, but I'm trying to wrap my mind around some new mustacian ways.  Especially the cars. 

We're not quite like the typical stashe family.  We live 20 minutes from the nearest anything, a full 40-something miles from anything open past 9pm.  We have 4 little kids, all still in car seats and booster seats.  We have livestock, and utility trailers and haul 40 lb bags of feed and bales of hay regularly.  And my husband would shave his legs before he'd let me drive anything without 4wd, lol. And I've never disagreed with that, or even questioned it.  Loathed mini vans, made fun of them mercilessly. Until now. 

So I am trying to rethink our vehicles.  Up until now, we've been in high levels of debt, car loans on old suburbans, or lately paid off old suburbans, worth $2000-$3000.  Husband has an old Saturn commuter car for work.  We have to do a lot of little repairs here and there on these, which usually isn't the end of the world, because husband can do it, as long as he has time.

We recently moved, and now that we're this far out, trips to town are supposed to get few and far between,  like once a week or less.  It's more like twice or 3x a week so far, but getting better. 

Anyways, I'm looking at mpg for mini vans and vehicles that will seat 6 or more.  It seems like the Toyota Highlander hybrid is getting as good mileage as the minivans.  Is that for real, or am I just seeing what I want to see?

How do I figure out how much we should be spending on a vehicle purchase?  How do I determine how many miles a particular model and year vehicle can be expected to last?  When does the number of little repairs justify a newer rig? 

We've always just gotten the same year suburbans (96-99) because they're cheap and we know them inside and out and they've easily hauled all of us and all our stuff.  But now I do want to be more responsible.  I think husband would go for an affordable highlander, he might be willing to consider an AWD mini van, and if I can make the case for awesome mpg, that will help. 

Now that we're close to being out of the debt put, we can actually start thinking and talking about getting a different vehicle.  It would be at least 6-12 months out, and it would be a cash purchase, obviously. 

What our your thoughts? 

Thanks!
 MouseBandit

mousebandit

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Re: Newbie - rethinking our vehicles
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2016, 11:24:05 AM »
Bump - does anyone have any opinions or experience with Toyota Highland Hybrids? 

What is an acceptable MPG to expect from a rig that can seat 6 people?

THANKS!
MouseBandit

nereo

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Re: Newbie - rethinking our vehicles
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 12:18:47 PM »
Hello mousebandit

There's so much going on in your post that it's hard to know where to start.
First off, I've lived in some rural areas, and so I udnerstand what it's like to need to drive half an hour at highway speeds just to get to a decent grocery store.

It sounds like you have a few challenges to tackle, including
1) a spouse that's not necessarily on board, especially with vehicles
2) figuring out what your driving costs actually are
3) finding a new ride

Starting with #1...
There are lots of great threads on here about getting your spouse on board.  Realize that it might take years to get him to join you, and he might never be as gung-ho to be FI as you may be.  Regarding vehicles, the whole 4WD thing being safer is a stubborn myth if you are driving on paved roads.  Snow tires are much better in the winter than 4WD with AW tires, period.  I live in snowy Quebec and most people here drive 2wd cars all through the winter.

#2
It sounds like you've already realized that commuting takes a huge chunk out of your budget, but perhaps not quite how much.  There is a reason that the corporate and governmental reimbursement rates for private vehicles are currently 54/mi. That's because commuting can actually cost that much, particularly if you are purchasing new cars that have average (or worse) fuel economy.  Yours may be slightly better (or possibly even worse) but for every 100 miles you drive it's likely costing you $30-50.  Buying used will dramatically reduce this amount (less depreciation), as will finding a car that gets above average fuel economy.

#3
The fuel economy of a Toyota Highlander Hybrid is very good, but it's hardly the only fuel efficient car out there that will seat 6.  A big problem with the Highlander for your use is that it gets great MPGs in teh city but is only lackluster on rural roads, where you will be doing most of the driving.
Right off the top of my head I thought of the Mazda 5 (seats 6), which is cheap and reliable, and there's a lot of used inventory out there.  The Mitzu outlander also can seat 7