Saturday, May 16, 2009

Car Consumption

Thought I'd better write a few words to explain the longest blogging break I've taken in the last couple of years!

As intended, I've been catching up on piles and papers and errands, but I've also been spending hours on the computer researching used cars. Now that Minnie, the 15-passenger van, has become my daily conveyance, her limitations are glaring. When we only drive her occasionally, the fuel she guzzles isn't such an issue, but when she's functioning as Mom's taxi, it disappears at alarming rates. Also, she's huge. She just can't be parked in some strip malls. Plus, there is the silliness factor. I feel so stupid and un-green emerging from this huge van, all by myself, when I'm out running errands alone!

To offset her guzzling tendencies, I'm looking for a fuel sipper, a little subcompact that seats 5. (I'm not looking at a new minivan because if I need a van, I've got a van!) This one will be for running errands alone--since I have built-in babysitters at home, I have that luxury most of the time--or for taking one child to an appointment or lesson. And with 5 seatbelts, it will seat me plus the 4 that are homeschooled.

Used hybrids cost more than I want to spend on a third vehicle, but it seemed like there were some other pretty fuel-efficient options in my price range. Then I found that those vehicles don't show up on the used market very often--if they're reliable and efficient, people tend to keep them!

Finally, I've narrowed it down to one car that is a great value and more fuel-efficient than anything else available on the used car market--a Toyota Yaris. Trouble is, they only started making them in '07, so there aren't a ton of them out there. I drove the Corolla too, and it was great, but I've always loved the feel of a little car. The Honda Fit looks fun too, but it's more expensive and not quite as fuel-efficient as the Yaris or Corolla. The Nissan Versa costs more than the Yaris, and I'd rather have a Toyota in that case. The Chevy Aveo and the Hyundai Accent were recommended as good options, but consumer reviews complain about them not getting the advertised mileage.

I've driven a manual and an automatic, and I definitely want an automatic for everyday mom-multi-tasking-driving. There have been several really good deals posted on the web, but they were sold by the time I called. A salesman made us a great offer on one yesterday, but it's black with an all-black interior, and somehow, I just can't do a black car. (Is this rational?)

So, I'm holding off, waiting for another one...trying not to be too consumed with this...wondering if I should just buy that low-mileage 2006 Corolla for almost the same price? (Irrationally, I just don't want the barely bigger car!)

I am about to be busy for the rest of the weekend, but while I'm gone--anybody have any thoughts?


TwoSquareMeals said...

If you are already downsizing from a minivan, you might find that the tiny car ends up being too tiny. Even if you like the feel of it, it might not work with the kids. The Corolla is reliable and would give you just enough extra room for kids AND groceries or the occasional larger item you might need to carry. It's not that much bigger. Also, when the kids get bigger, they may appreciate the extra leg room. Just my thoughts. Cars are a personal thing, so go with what seems right for your family.

Anonymous said...

Just yesterday we bought a Yaris! We usually buy new cars, and then keep them forever. Our 10 year old minivan (estimated value: $500) was nearly dead. I love the Yaris. I hope you find one you can get. They're really fun and practical at the same time.

I think its okay to want a particular car, just because you want it. For whatever reason, that's your heart's desire, and it's a very reasonable desire (it's not like you're yearning for a 2-seater conversatble.) I say: follow your heart and get what you really want.

Jen in Seattle

Heather said...

I loved my Toyota Corolla. Fabulous gas mileage! Corolla's are also one of the best crashers - not that you're planning on wrecking another car, but you never know!

Heather said...

Funny, we are kind of at the same place, except our one and only and very much too small for our 5 person family Gallant DIED and now we are borrowing my Dad's gas guzzling giant Buick (it it has a special feature called Dinaride of all things). We are looking at cars but REALLY need something bigger and are looking at a Toyota or Subaru. It look slike you have way more money to spend on it than we do (we are looking in the 1999, $4000 range--preferrably a Toyota Sienna). From the review guide I am looking at the Corolla has a MUCH better safety rating than the Yarus. And I feel the same way about the black car--thee is an all black sienna available that I am avoiding.

truevyne said...

My husband reported a whopping 42mpg highway on our 1990 Honda Civic with 258,000 miles on it. I'm telling ya, that's better than most hybrids.

Kate said...

They've been making the Yaris in the UK for a number of years now, and we've got a diesel one (diesels get incredible mileage, almost double a petrol car, but I'm not sure if you can get the diesel in the US). We adore it. I would agree with Square Meals, though. The trunk in it isn't huge, so don't plan on having kids in the back AND loads of shopping. However, I've had my dad - 6'4" - in the back, and he was quite comfortable for trips of an hour or two. The back seats fold flat, too, so you can carry larger items in the back. Ours is a little workhorse.

Saying all that - I drove a Corolla (which I also loved) when I lived in the States. And had a pretty nasty accident in it which I was able to walk away from unhurt. I'm not sure if the same thing had happended with the Yaris I would have been so lucky.

Sorry - long comment - but you're most definitely on the right track with the Toyotas!

stephseef said...

our next purchase after we move, moving us out of the 1-car-family stage, will be a Kia Rondo - hubby has done all kinds of research, and this will suit our family very well -- we can all fit if need be, but is zippier and has better fuel efficiency than the minivan..... blessings as you search!!

Islandsparrow said...

We love Toyotas here. I have one over 10 years old - it was the "learning how to drive" car for all five. And it's still going strong.