Author Topic: Unusual Car Situation  (Read 6160 times)

billc

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 30
Unusual Car Situation
« on: May 30, 2012, 02:31:25 AM »
New/Almost New Car Advice Requested

My father lives in Richmond, VA and works in New York City. He drives up to NYC on Sundays and drives back on Friday night. For the purposes of this post, no need to comment on how insane this is.

His company provides him with a vehicle which they pay for and he gets to keep. He did not have a choice in his current vehicle and was given a 2005 Honda Pilot (which is a complete monster by the way). They're ready to provide him a new vehicle with the purposes of it being more fuel efficient.

His gas and maintenance are covered by his employer.

With the exception of the 350 mile highway commute twice a week he does very little driving otherwise. Still this is around 40,000 miles per year.

So, we're looking for a new car/almost new car. Employer is willing to pay up to $30,000, but my father wants to keep it closer to 20k if possible.

Although a smaller vehicle (civic, focus, carolla, yaris, etc) would likely be the most optimal gas mileage he is more likely to end up with a little bit larger car (fusion, camry, accord, prius) as that is what his boss prefers.

I've read MMM's car posts, but they (rightly) don't address someone who drives 40,000 miles per year.

Questions:
- This is obviously an extreme amount of highway driving, will hybrids (fusion, prius, etc) do much better on highway versus non-hybrid but still reasonably efficient cars?

- Anyone know a good source for fuel economy "ratings" at 75 mph? (typical driving speed during his commute)

- What are your suggestions for new/almost new (20,000 miles or less) vehicle?

trammatic

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
  • Location: Gettysburg
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2012, 05:25:46 AM »
I would say, with such long trips and the fact that the company is footing the bill, that I'd have your father go out and sit in a bunch of cars to find one that is comfortable.  Hybrids are still worthwhile...I think a Prius would still get better than 40 MPG on the highway, although perhaps not at 75.

I don't know of any ratings for 75+.  You can either take one on a test drive on the highway and look at the economy as you're driving, or just base an estimate on the posted numbers.

I think you could find tons of cars new for less than 20k.  Find out what's comfortable and in your price range, and bingo!  I bet most 2012 cars that are well maintained will last past 150,000 miles with minimal repairs.

smedleyb

  • Guest
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 07:02:42 AM »
Unusual situation?  More like an amazing situation  for your dad -- the new car part with gas and maintenance thrown in, not the crappy commute part!

Does your dad have to focus on conservative, run of the mill sedans?  Or is it open bar at the auto dealership for him to pick and choose whatever he wants?

adam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
  • Age: 39
  • Location: SC
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 07:18:12 AM »
You want to look at a diesel, no question.  I still wish Honda brought that Accord Diesel over here, something like 70mpg :(

I drive probably 40k miles per year in a 4cyl Fusion, it averages about 29mpg.  Not bad, not good, but its already paid for so I'm not changing it.

VW is going to be the cheapest 'new' option.  If he wants a larger sedan he'll probably need to look at the TDI Passat.  BMW and Mercedes both have a few diesel models, but they are going to be significantly more money.

If I was buying a new(ish) car for my commute it would probably have been an old TDI Jetta for 60+ mpg.

tooqk4u22

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2196
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 11:10:25 AM »
Pocket the $30k and take amtrak.

Ipodius

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 12:55:10 PM »
For highway driving, there is little to no benefit to driving a hybrid. I agree with the other statements about getting something diesel powered - they perform very well on long trips. In Europe diesels are dominating the market, and in SA they are becoming more and more popular.

The one challenge a diesel is the risk of the turbo going - so look after it! 

skyrefuge

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1007
  • Location: Suburban Chicago, IL
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 01:00:54 PM »
Pocket the $30k and take amtrak.

Yeah, right?  Looks like it's $62 each way (compared to maybe $40 in gas @ 35 mpg) and takes the same amount of time as driving, except that you can spend those 6 hours doing something besides brain- and ass-killing driving!

Taking a long-distance train in the US hardly ever fits a situation as perfectly as it does this one, it almost makes me think the original post is a setup, or his New York employer is an auto manufacturer or in some other industry that sees Amtrak as a competitor, because otherwise, c'mon, they'd obviously say "dude, take the train!"

adam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
  • Age: 39
  • Location: SC
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 01:03:46 PM »
If you want to look at train options then find out how far south the Acela (I think its called) goes.  It is supposed to be the express train that hits like boston, nyc, baltimore, and maybe DC.

$_gone_amok

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 01:15:48 PM »
Go to the Toyota dealership and drive the Toyota Camry hybrid. It gets 35 MPG and is an extremely comfortable highway car. My father in law has one.  The Prius also gets 50 MPG and no diesel comes close to that.



AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 01:17:05 PM »
For highway driving, there is little to no benefit to driving a hybrid.

Cite your source? 2012 Prius gets 51 city, 48 hwy. It may not be as good as city, but 48 mpg is nothing to sneeze at. The weird thing about hybrids is that they get better mileage in city than on hwy (reverse of regular cars) but that doesn't mean they do poorly on hwy. We actually get better mileage in ours on long road trips on hwy than we do in regular city driving since we can maintain constant speed for long stretches and don't have to stop for lights.

fueleconomy.gov has a good comparison tool, you could just plug in the cars he is thinking of getting to compare. At 75 mph, none of them are going to give him the stated mpg, but I would think they would all scale down.

adam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
  • Age: 39
  • Location: SC
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 01:18:31 PM »
The Prius also gets 50 MPG and no diesel comes close to that.

You're right, if you get a good one and drive it right a diesel will blow that number away.

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 01:22:47 PM »
The Prius also gets 50 MPG and no diesel comes close to that.

You're right, if you get a good one and drive it right a diesel will blow that number away.

If you drive any car "right" you will get better mileage. That's why there are EPA estimates, so you have a standard basis for comparison. It is safe to assume that if your driving habits get you better than average mileage in one car, they will get you better than average in a different car.

billc

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 30
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 04:02:23 PM »

Does your dad have to focus on conservative, run of the mill sedans?  Or is it open bar at the auto dealership for him to pick and choose whatever he wants?

Only firm parameters are up to 30k total cost, must be significant fuel savings vs Honda Pilot, and be low mileage/new.

You want to look at a diesel, no question.

If I was buying a new(ish) car for my commute it would probably have been an old TDI Jetta for 60+ mpg.

Diesel because it will last longer or just because of fuel economy? At the current price spread in his area a 60mpg diesel is about $750 cheaper annually vs a 40mpg gasoline. Seems like the options (and resulting deals) on the gasoline cars will beat out these savings unless diesel vehicles will last significantly longer.

Pocket the $30k and take amtrak.

Yeah, right?  Looks like it's $62 each way (compared to maybe $40 in gas @ 35 mpg) and takes the same amount of time as driving, except that you can spend those 6 hours doing something besides brain- and ass-killing driving!

Taking a long-distance train in the US hardly ever fits a situation as perfectly as it does this one, it almost makes me think the original post is a setup, or his New York employer is an auto manufacturer or in some other industry that sees Amtrak as a competitor, because otherwise, c'mon, they'd obviously say "dude, take the train!"

I promise this is a real situation. The regional (the cheap fare) Amtrak is slower than driving. All Amtrak represents some challenges due to arrival times in NYC and getting to his apartment on Sunday Night/Early Monday because the Metro North trains shut down for the night. He's considered both train and bus, but for a variety of reasons the car is preferred.



Obviously anything he ends up picking will be a big improvement over the Pilot. The fuel savings alone will likely pay for the car from his employer's perspective. Pretty sure he's going to end up looking at Ford/Hyundai/etc over Toyota/Honda because he feels like it will be more bang for the buck on the purchase.

Although $30k is the limit, he would like to keep it closer to $20-25k. It's not a larger company and being somewhat cost conscious is important compared to going out and maxing out the $30k limit.

I'd like to hear more about why diesel is the way to go given the 35-40 cent difference in fuel costs per gallon.



adam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
  • Age: 39
  • Location: SC
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2012, 06:58:46 AM »
The diesel will also last longer/more miles, but if he's not going to keep it beyond say, 100k miles maybe its not worth the premium?

Personally, having to drive as many miles myself, if I was to have bought a new(ish) car for myself 2 years ago, it would have been a diesel.

reverend

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 176
    • RobDiesel
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2012, 07:45:35 AM »
It sounds like most of his driving is highway, so the VW TDi engined cars would be a good bet. The Prius (I have one) can't touch them when it comes to highway mileage. Something certified pre-owned (with a warranty?) might be good. A Golf or Jetta TDi?  The sedan gets better mileage than the wagon with a conservative foot on the pedal, you'll see mid 50s MPG on the highway.

If he spends time in stop-n-go and city traffic, the Prius would be a better bet with the start-stop and electric motor picking up huge mileage gains there.

The Diesel engines benefit from their very stout construction (due to the very high compression) so they last a long time, and there are more BTUs per gallon, which is what leads to the far superior mileage.


Of course, there's the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe which is rated at 37mpg hwy. I don't know how 'frisky' your pappy is behind the wheel though, which will also influence these things.   Having spent some time in a 2012 Camry, I wouldn't recommend that simply because of the horrible ergos. The window switches require a contortionist to reach and the dash controls (radio, HVAC) are too far away from the seat. I'm 6', so not abnormal.  It got 32mpg on the hwy so not too shabby there.

Otherwise he wouldn't really go wrong with a Toyota Yaris or Nissan Versa. Decent mileage, and a few years old car would be relatively cheap too and get decent mileage (in the 30s).


Quote from: billc
Although $30k is the limit, he would like to keep it closer to $20-25k. It's not a larger company and being somewhat cost conscious is important compared to going out and maxing out the $30k limit.

I'd like to hear more about why diesel is the way to go given the 35-40 cent difference in fuel costs per gallon.

menorman

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 178
  • Location: SoCal
    • Marven's Money Musings
Re: Unusual Car Situation
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2012, 10:24:59 AM »
For highway driving, there is little to no benefit to driving a hybrid. I agree with the other statements about getting something diesel powered - they perform very well on long trips. In Europe diesels are dominating the market, and in SA they are becoming more and more popular.

The one challenge a diesel is the risk of the turbo going - so look after it!
This actually is quite true. The Prius is great for cities, but really isn't suited as well for highway driving. That should be pretty obvious from the fact that the city mpg figure is higher than the highway. This is because above a certain speed (55 mph?), the car is running on only the gas motor and thus is in the same boat as every other non-hybrid car. At this point, a diesel will definitely shine over a hybrid since it has an engine powerful enough to actually move the car. Only thing better would be a diesel hybrid, but automakers probably wouldn't do that for at least a good decade. The only question will then be what are the differences between acquisition and other ongoing costs between a hybrid and a diesel. Both types of technology come in small and large packages, but the big examples of both are more efficient in name than in actuality. With a limit of $30k, the field is pretty open, especially if new is not a requirement. There are definitely a number of quality vehicles under that limit and even in the $20k range that are CPO and so would come with a warranty.
If you want to get real mileage numbers for 75 mph (vs. the comical 55 that EPA uses to compute highway mileage), go on Fuelly or fueleconomy.gov and check the mileage numbers on prospective vehicles looking for drivers specifying mostly highway and who live in the western states. As a CA resident, I can tell you that although the highest posted limits here are 70 rural/65 city, most drivers are going at least 75 unless traffic is bad.