Things To Consider When Shopping For A New Car


When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, keep in mind what it is your trying to accomplish.

Ask yourself:

If you have kids do they typically like to bring a friend along on a family excursion, and could this new vehicle safely accommodate an extra person in the back. Are you looking for a new vehicle that’s better on gas, or perhaps a vehicle that has all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive to get you through the winter months when commuting to work.

When looking at a new car do you have a family of four or greater, is there room in the cargo area to fit groceries. I did find this to be an issue while looking at some of the crossovers and compact SUVs on the market.

Also what type of a warranty does the new vehicle come with, and what are the crash test ratings and customer reviews of that vehicle.

The Issue :

My wife and I both commute about 50 miles to work each day round trip, in opposite directions. We own two SUV’s and found ourselves spending so much money on gas and repairs each month, that it made sense to find a vehicle that was newer than ten years old and better on gas. Living in New England, the winter months can get downright treacherous while commuting during snow storms and blizzards.

The Hunt:

Armed with dealer invoice figures ( I used the TruCar app for your IPhone), along with some automotive review and crash test rating knowledge, it was time to hit the new car lots.  My first thought was to find an economical crossover or a compact SUV that had decent gas mileage, which would also satisfy our goals including the amount of money that I wanted to spend.

We had to have a vehicle that was low cost and four-wheel-drive because we had to sell one of the SUVs that we own… or so we thought….


After some major sticker shock it was time to hop back into old reliable, and to head back home to do a little more research. On my way home I couldn’t help but think, what is it that we’re trying to accomplish and what do we own. These are questions to ask yourself. After all, buying a new vehicle is a huge investment, but do it right and it may make a lot of sense.

We own a two SUVS, both very good in inclement weather (they just tend to gobble up parts once in a while, and use a ton of gas). However, it also never hurts to have an extra vehicle on-hand, in-case one of them breaks down you now have a backup vehicle to commute to work in while making repairs on the vehicle that’s down for the moment.

Owning one SUV that’s seventeen years old, and another that’s ten years old, at this point in the game it doesn’t cost much to register them every year and keep them on the road. I decided to  keep the two SUVs, cycle in a new economy car to commute in that is awesome on gas, it had to have a killer warranty and more importantly it has to be low cost!

Smart Shopping:

If you’re shopping for an economy car, that has great gas mileage you don’t have to spend a ton of money. While weighing the options I quickly noticed that you can find economy cars starting at around twelve thousand dollars that have fuel economy ratings at over 30 city and 40 miles per gallon highway.

Technology has come such a long way over the years, that some of the new fuel economy ratings are where the hybrid vehicles used to be at.  That’s enough to make anyone smile.

While shopping around and making decisions I ended up purchasing the new 2014 KIA RIO, which gets around 27 city and 37 highway for gas mileage and also comes with all kinds of fun gadgets that make the ride to work a little more enjoyable. This allowed me to cycle in a new vehicle, and to also keep costs low.




Tilt-Shift Drift Video: Awesome, But I Don’t Get It.

I don’t have a clue of how this is done, but this is apparently a real drift event filmed through a tilt shift camera.  I think it is absolutely awesome, but I don’t have any clue of how it works, which bothers me.  That being said, watch it, enjoy it, and then could somebody please explain to me what the heck tilt-shift photography is?  I read the wikipedia, and I can’t wrap my head around it.  Now all I can think of is the fast talking micro machines guy.

Hybrid Math & Volts: Where is the Positive?

hybrid math

I really do want to like electric and hybrid cars, but they still don’t make any sense to me.  Last year, I was discussing with some friends the pros and cons of buying a Toyota Camry Hybrid over a 2.4L gas Camry strictly based on fuel savings.  My hypothesis was that if you are buying a hybrid strictly for fuel saving purposes, you are buying it for the wrong reason because the additional $5955 purchase price of the vehicle was never going to be outweighed by the savings in gas.  I did some research and crunched some numbers at the time, and this is what I came up with.

Let’s assume you drive 15k miles per year.
Let’s also assume gas is $3.00 a gallon.
Let’s assume you want to buy a new Camry.
Avg = 50/50 mix of city and hwy driving.

2009 Camry 2.4L Automatic
mpg city – 21 (on Toyota website)
mpg hwy – 31 (on Toyota website)
mpg avg – 26 (my math)
price $20,195 (on Toyota website)
city – 714.29 gallons per year = $2142.87 (my math)
hwy – 483.87 gallons per year = $1451.61 (my math)
avg – 576.92 gallons per year = $1730.76 (my math)

2009 Camry 2.4L Hybrid
mpg city – 33 (on Toyota website)
mpg hwy – 34 (on Toyota website)
mpg avg – 33.5 (my math)
price $26,150 (on Toyota website)
city – 454 gallons per year = $1362 (my math)
hwy – 441 gallons per year = $1323 (my math)
avg – 447.76 gallons per year = $1343.28 (my math)

city driving savings = $780.87 per year
hwy driving saving = $128.61 per year
avg driving saving = $387.48 per year

Years of driving to offset gas savings.
city – 7.62 years
hwy – 46.30 years
avg – 15.36 years

In conclusion, for the gas to offset the price of the vehicle, with 50/50 city & hwy driving, you need to own it for 15.36 years to offset the price the savings in gas mileage. Interesting.

So now 2010 is wrapping up, and I find myself wondering what all the hype is over the Chevy Volt. (Full disclosure:  I have never seen one in person, let alone driven one because I am not a cool enough blogger yet to be given cars to test drive.)  I have been told by friends how great this car is, and how it’s “totally electric”, and “sooooo awesome!”  Naturally, I am a skeptical gearhead.

I started with wikipedia (I know. I know.), and learned the basics. The car apparently has two electric motors with a battery pack running down the center of the car that powers them.  People on the internet (obviously trustworthy ones) say that close to $10K of the total cost of the vehicle is the battery pack itself, ouch!  The Volt has the capability of driving up to 40 miles on that battery pack alone.  This would obviously be great for city driving and people with super short commutes.  From what I have gathered, charging this battery from your house will be the equivalent of paying $1.60 per gallon of gas, but without emissions. Well…..sorta.  Obviously there is emissions at some electrical energy plant offsetting your exhaust pipe, but we won’t get into that.  Moving forward……

Let’s say you want to take a nonchalant cruise up to the Kangamangus highway to check out the scenic foliage.  Uh oh, it’s more than 40 miles away! What are you going to do!?  Don’t sweat it, the Volt will just start up it’s very own 4 cylinder 1.4L gas engine that generates electricity for you when your batteries reach a 30% charge.  Ummm, wait a sec.  I thought this was an electric car? Well, it is, the wheels are driven by electric motors, thus, it’s electric! (Boogie woogie woogie). It just has a gas engine for when you want to drive more than 40 miles in 1 shot. Oh and that engine only takes high octane fuel, which is right about $3.00 a gallon here in Massachusetts.  Now, according to the NY Times article here they got 52 mpg average for their day of test driving and 44.5 mpg in E.V. mode.  I’m guessing that “E.V. mode” means that the 4 cylinder generator was running.

Uh oh, the devil’s advocate just entered the party….   If the 2000 Geo Metro (1.0L gas engine) could get between 41 and 47 mpg ten years ago without any electric motors, extra batteries, and without the $20K + more initial cost, is the Volt really doing anything that great?   The answer seems to be a complicated one.  The Volt obviously has a boat load more technology, comfort, options, and coolness factor than the metro ever did.  Unfortunately, it still has a 4 cylinder engine in it that produces emissions and is listed in the same emissions category as the Chevy Malibu, which has a normal gas engine.  So emissions wise, the Volt isn’t “officially” better than a normal gas engined car of similar size.  Fuel mileage is better than many family sedans out there but is still not cutting edge considering dozens of vehicles 15 years ago could do just as well.  The price, well, it is more than most comparable (size, shape) sedans out there. At least you get a rebate to make you feel good? If you are doing mostly city driving within 40 miles of your home, and have a little cash tucked away for a new toy, then this is probably a great car for you. If not, I’d wait a generation or two for them to sort out the whole system and improve upon it a bit further. I appreciate the technology and hard work going into it, but it still doesn’t make much sense to me.