Saturday, November 11, 2006


So What's A Good Car Nowadays?

An on-target observation from Instapundit:
I notice more and more people have multiple cars, a trend that's likely to expand as Americans get richer. Perhaps the notion of a one-size-fits-all car will become passe as a result.

Hopefully 25% of an article is still considered fair use. But the things he writes are often so short, you almost can't help but use a lot, even if you're only using a little (if you take my meaning). Besides, using those two sentences, on this little blog? It's like a flea on Godzilla. Come'on.

What makes it so on target is that Miss Tori and I are pondering our automotive futures as we speak. We may also be a bit insular in that I can't think of a single person I know who has only one car, unless it's an individual living by himself. I might also add that I would not consider us to be rich. We are very fortunate, but I wouldn't say we're rich. The notion that only those who have more money than you are actually rich is a discussion for another day.

Here's the thing. I've wanted a Hummer for years. The H2 would always be beyond my means, unless I really saved my pennies. Then the H3 came along, and was more reasonable. Still, in just a daydreamy way, I figured something like a Toyota Sequoia would be more affordable and get better mileage to boot. When we finally made a trip to the local (if you consider an hour drive to be local) Hummer dealership, then stopped at a Toyota lot, I was surprised to learn that they were essentially equal in both areas. So now what?

Well, they're still expensive, and I've been rather spoiled to always have a car payment less than $300/month. When I look at the payment calculators and see how easily they suggest paying $400 or $500 or even $600 or more per month, I get a new appreciation for the term "sticker shock." I'm completely leaving aside the issue of whether or not we could actually afford that much. I'm saying I'm not sure if I'm psychologically capable of spending that much money on "my" new car. It just seems so huge! I wonder if this is why my family always talks about what a tightwad I am?

Then I get depressed, and tell myself I'll be just as happy with some little Kia putt-putt mobile. Nothing against Kia! A good friend has one and raves about it. As far as he's concerned, they just don't have the branding to charge any more than they do, so they're in the unusual position of having to sell higher quality cars at lower prices. He certainly knows more about cars than I do.

I suppose in a dream scenario, I would be getting an H3 and Miss Tori would be getting a Sequoia (let's toss in the Kia Putt-Putt for the fun of it):
H3: $33,540 / Sequoia: $33,160 / Kia Putt-Putt: $11,350
H3 mileage: 15/20 / Sequoia mileage: 15/18 / Kia: 29/38
H3 (20% down): $517/mo / Sequoia (20% down): $595/mo / Kia (0% down): $230/mo

Of course, you're asking yourself how the Toyota can cost less, but have a higher payment. I told the calculator that I had ultra Fico 730+, and the best rate they could give me was 7.6%. Yikes! The Hummer calculator default setting is 5.9%. I wonder what the deal is there?

The biggest problem with the dream scenario is the garage. Both cars, whatever they are, have to fit inside. I've got about 168" to play with there, and these two cars come to 163.5", which leaves about four and a half inches to open the door to get in and out. Not happening. We considered a Hummer/Putt-Putt combo, which comes in at 152.2"; still doesn't quite cut it. The Sequoia/Putt-Putt team measures 144.7", giving us about two feet of door opening space. Or we could go with an all Putt-Putt fleet, in which case we could practically get three of them in there. If you haven't noticed, garage size is likely to be the deciding factor here.

I suppose we're likely to end up with some sort of SUV type, plus a smaller car that's likely to see most of the commute time. Any ideas?
Have you taken a look at the new 4-door jeep?
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