In preparing for a number of transportation scenarios that may materialize as a result of the divorce (one in which I keep the Civic and one in which I’m driving a borrowed car for some time), I’ve been thinking about what kind of car I’d like to get in the somewhat distant future. It’s enormous fun specing out car options but I’m also trying to be realistic. In the event that I don’t have a car, here’s what I’m thinking of working towards buying but first, the CRITERIA.
- The car model has to be proven to last. I drive cars until they’re at death’s door. It’s usually at the point in which repairs begin to exceed a new car payment that I begin to experience anxiety about getting an old car junked. Cars are family. You treat a car well, it takes care of you. Car karma.
- The model has to have been out for some time–no first generation cars.
- Monthly payments need to be around $200. From there it’s just figuring out how long it takes to muster a down payment.
- The car has to be reliable, have a comparatively low carbon footprint, and get very good, if not exceptional gas mileage. 1400 mile road trips to see family do necessitate fuel efficiency.
- Other musts: four-door, plenty of room for luggage.
- Highly desired: a model available in a slick, dark shade of blue. Also a jack for iPod and/or Bluetooth capability (for forthcoming iPhone4!) and a locking gas cap.
- Preferable: heated seats, moonroof, and autostart.
My first thought was to buy another Honda Civic. I love these cars. They don’t let you down and they last forever. I like the look of them too–not flashy but not slouchy either. As an added perk, Civics retain their resale value better than most cars do. 2010 Civics get about 36 highway which will be nice when I drive home once a year or take road trips; however, 65% of the driving I do per year is city driving and I’ll only get about 28 city out of a Civic. In putting more weight on fuel efficiency criterion, I couldn’t help but consider hybrids. The only 2010 hybrid I’d consider is the Toyota Prius, a model that has been in production for almost a decade and is in its third generation (satisfying numbers 2 and 4). I wasn’t impressed with the Civic Hybrid at all. The fuel rating was disappointing and it seemed to this novice that Honda just isn’t developing the technology in a competitive way.
The problem with buying a Civic or a Prius, is that it’s harder to adhere to criteria #3. I’d have to save for at least a year and a half for a down payment on a Civic (or more, if I want to get a Civic EX with all of the fancies I want) and two years for a Prius (or more to be able to afford the package I really want). If at all possible, I think I need to wait until I can afford the car I want–if I plan to have this car for 10-15 years, I want nice, toasty heated seats!
Of course, by the time I can afford to buy said dream car, I will be tempted by a number of plugins that will be on the market. Of course, buying a brand new plugin breaks criteria #2. Maybe it’s just as well. I’d have to wait three or more years before I could afford plugins anyway.
There’s another reality I have to consider too: by the time I save up $11,000 for a down payment, I could have paid off a significant amount of debt or be halfway to a down payment on a house. Lots to consider! At the very least, I have a list or criteria to refer back to when I’m car hunting in the future.
- A calculator from my credit union that indicates how much car you can afford.
- fueleconomy.gov, an excellent source for learning about the environmental impact of specific year, make and model cars. It also includes a side-by-side comparison tool and information on which vehicles are eligible for tax incentives.