Which Car Should I Buy?

Repairs on the ’98 Neon are approaching it’s value and I can’t rely on it the way I was once able to. It’s been a great car, but I can see the day when it won’t serve us anymore. With that in mind, I’m starting the search for a new vehicle to replace it.

From exploring the car sites, their aren’t many cars that seem like a worthwhile replacement. So, I’m in no hurry and happy to wait until the right car comes along – even if that means another 75k on the Neon.

Things I Care About – in Order

  1. Distinctive exterior.
    Something that demands a love it or hate it reaction. A beige Toyota Camry – um no. I think you need to go to extreme sizes for this – super big or super small. I’m going super small.
  2. Gas mileage greater than 30mpg city.
  3. I can fit comfortably and can see out the windshield.
    In many cars – convertibles, those with sunroofs, anything from Jeep –
  4. Easy to get a car seat in and out of backseat.
    Yes, as of next year, we’ll be back to the bucket car seat.
  5. Reliability
    It’s not uncommon for my car to sit un-driven outside for a week or two in the depth of winter or height of summer. I don’t care. I expect it to start when I turn the key.
  6. Minijack & iPod connectivity
    I actually prefer to not having AM/FM/CD/Satellite capabilities.
  7. Bluetooth phone connectivity.
    Having the phone integrated into the car’s audio system sounds very convenient.
  8. Carbon neutrality.
    Not just the usage, but I’d like the carbon imprint of manufacturing and delivery offset as well.
  9. I could fit a bicycle inside.
    Outside of my laptop gear, and a car seat, a bike is the most likely other thing I’ll be hauling.
  10. In 15 years a new driver might want to drive it.
    Barring a dramatic change fuel infrastructure, the idea of keeping a car that long for the kid to practice driving with is pretty attractive to me.
  11. Built-in garage door opener
    Again, a nice convenience. Makes it far more likely I’ll put the car in the garage.
  12. The fuel it runs on.
    Today, alternative fuels are at the point where using less regular unleaded gas is still more effective.

Things I Don’t Care About – in Order

  1. Color
  2. Engine size
  3. Upholstry and floor mats
  4. Chrome and trim
  5. Wheel sizes and locks
  6. Transmission type

All the ‘build your car’ sites care more about the second list than the first.

Cars I’ve been looking at thus far – Ordered by interest

  1. Scion xD
    Looks like a direct response to the Fit, but with better AV options.
  2. VW Rabbit TDI
    In the comments, Nathan suggested I look into it, so far, I like what I see.
  3. Honda Fit
    I sat in a Fit earlier this week, it feels pretty comfortable. I can see out the windows and the put the seat almost exactly where I want it.
  4. Toyota Yaris Sedan
  5. Nissan Versa
  6. Honda Civic
    It’s a good reliable, reputable car. That doesn’t feel as comfortable as the Fit.
  7. Honda Civic Hybrid
    Trading mileage for trunk space.
  8. Mazda 3 5-Door
    It’s been a very long time since I’ve looked at Ford. Kinda surprised this one is here.
  9. Toyota Prius
    It’s got the distinctive look and the tech gear, but seems kinda boring otherwise.
  10. Cooper Mini
    Trading the inconvenience of a 2-door for still being really cool in 15 years.

Am I missing something from this list?

Note to Chrysler: Despite my long history of Chrysler vehicles and that I feel more comfortable buying a Chrysler than a Ford or GM, you don’t have anything interesting that I haven’t already purchased.

Andy Atkinson is also in the market for a new ride, and ran the insurance and mileage numbers for his candidates.

Update 1 Sept 2010
So, I bought a Dodge Grand Caravan

8 thoughts on “Which Car Should I Buy?

  1. The VW Golf/Rabbit TDI might be a good fit for you. Sadly, the Rabbit TDI is still not available in the US, but it’s supposed to be showing up some time in 2008 finally. Still, a used Golf TDI should meet many of your other requirements and can run on Biodiesel (VW only officially condones use of up to B5).

  2. wrt Scion xD and Honda Fit, the Scion has a better engine, more interior amenities and yes a better sound system; the Fit has more interior space and slightly better mileage.

  3. Note: for 2008 the EPA is putting out more accurate mileage numbers with a new formula. So if you really want 30 mpg, and not just something with a 2007 *rating* of 30, make sure to look at the predicted 2008 numbers.

  4. fwiw – I currently own a xB and after test driving the Fit and looking at the new Scions, plan to lease an xD when it’s available in August.

    Unless the test drive is a disaster.

  5. In the fall of 2005 I bought a 2002 Civic. That was replacing the 1990 Civic that we’d had since 1993. In the twelve years of the former, I think the only repair that was not routine maintenance was an ignition problem covered for free under a recall. It had a very good cost of ownership. It was kind of fugly, the new one is better looking but nondescript. The non-hybrid one I have is getting 36 city and has needed no repairs in the 18 months I’ve owned it.

  6. i’ll be disappointed if i don’t see you in a smartcar soon.
    i own a VW Golf TDI, and would advocate for it, but VW is only making a few Jetta TDIs now as they roll out the CleanDiesel (TM) generation. a Rabbit might be a replacement, but not so good on the mpg.
    also own a prius. it’s great as a unique item, but not such a high-kwality interior compared to a VW, Mini.

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