My wife and I both commute about 50 miles each day round trip, in opposite directions. We own two SUVs, but found ourselves spending so much money on gas and repairs each month, it only made sense to find a vehicle that was better on gas and newer than ten years old.
I couldn’t help but think, “What is it that we’re trying to accomplish and what do we own?” These are the questions to ask yourself. After all, buying a new vehicle is a huge investment, but do it right and the process will be a lot easier.
When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, keep in mind what your needs are and what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Before the hunt, ask yourself:
What’s your current situation?
We own a two SUVS. They’re both very good in inclement weather. They just tend to gobble up parts once in a while, and use a ton of gas. 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 at least, so we thought.
How much space do you need?
Do 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? Do you have a family of four or greater, or is there room in the cargo area to fit groceries? I did find limited space to be an issue while looking at some of the crossovers or compact SUVs on the market.
What features are you looking for?
Are you looking for a new vehicle that’s better on gas? Or maybe a vehicle that has all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) to get you through your winter commutes? Here in New England, the winter months can get downright treacherous while commuting during snow storms and blizzards. Those were the features we were looking for, but your needs may be different. Keeping those needs in mind will help narrow down your search.
How are the reviews?
What type of a warranty does the new vehicle come with? What are the crash test ratings and customer reviews of that vehicle? Magazine reviews are great for going in depth, but customer reviews can tell you a lot about what a car is like to live with, day to day.
Does it make sense financially?
What is the typical cost to buy? If the model has been around for a couple years, you can look for cost of ownership and cost of repairs, too.
After some major sticker shock, I realized with 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. And with trade in values being what they are, I decided to keep the two SUVs. It 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.
So instead of a new SUV, we decided to look for a new economy car to commute in that is awesome on gas, but it had to have a killer warranty (since the SUVs already tended to ask for a their share of wrenching time) and, more importantly, it had to be low cost!
Armed with dealer invoice figures (I used the TruCar app on my iPhone), along with some automotive review and crash test rating knowledge, I was ready to hit the new car lots.
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 $12,000 dollars that have fuel economy ratings of over 30 city and 40 highway miles per gallon.
Technology has come such a long way over the years that some of the new fuel economy ratings on gas engines are where the hybrid vehicles used to be at. That’s enough to make anyone smile.
After shopping around and making some tough decisions I ended up purchasing a 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, while still keeping costs low.