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08 November 2009 @ 07:34 pm
More car research  
Been doing some more research, and still leaning towards a Toyota Matrix since it's got good reviews on multiple sites, i actually have a friend who owns one and likes it, and it looks cuter than a lot of the other options.

I did do some total cost of ownership type calculations, using the fuel economy figures from Consumer Reports and fueleconomy.gov and the "True Market Values" from edmunds.com.

I compared a 2000 Rav4, a couple variations on the 2005 Matrix, and 2003-2005 Priuss.

If i expect to have the new car 5 years or less the 2000 Rav4 actually comes out ahead, despite the worse gas mileage. From 6 years on both the Matrix and the 2003 Prius become cheaper than the Rav4, with the 2003 Prius a little cheaper than the Matrix. At 8 years the 2004 Prius becomes cheaper than the Matrix and at 10 years the 2005 Prius becomes cheaper than the Matrix.

The downside is that according to both Consumer Reports and JD Powers the Prius saw a big improvement in reliability between 2003 and 2005, which makes getting a 2003 or 2004 Prius a little risky. And i had my first car for 4 years and my second car for a little over 7 years, so counting on making up the cost of the 2005 Prius over 10 years would definitely be stretching things.
Kimchalgaryn on November 9th, 2009 04:36 am (UTC)
Note that the Prius' were redesigned for the '04 model year, so the '03 Prius looks (and is internally set up) differently from the '04/'05 Prius. The reliability improved between '04 and '05 because they had a year to work out any problems in the new model. Ours is an '05 because we wanted to wait for the second model of hybrid and the second year of that model to give them time to get the kinks worked out.

Not that I'm voting for you to get a car like mine, but I thought I'd add those year difference factoids in case you didn't know :-)
DonAithnendonaithnen on November 9th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that basically confirms the specifics of what the review sites were saying in aggregate. Seems like i probably ought to stick with a 2005 Prius or nothing, at least if keeping car trouble and repair costs down is a goal :)
Pavajmpava on November 9th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Totally just curious - are you using a fixed gas rate throughout the 10 years? That seems to me like it's a potentially quite large unknown variable (especially when comparing at which point the Prius becomes cheaper) and I'm curious how you are handling that.
Kirin: Servbot-3Dkirinn on November 9th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Huh, do some cars change significantly? The mileage on my VW Golf has been pretty consistent for 10 years now.
Pavajmpava on November 9th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
No, the price of gas.
DonAithnendonaithnen on November 9th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Ahhh! And i thought you were saying that i might suddenly end up driving more miles later on or something :)

I did 15k a year at $3 a gallon. It's certainly possible it could go up more, but it might keep on bouncing around the $3 range for years to come. I can't really think of any good way of predicting that (or i wouldn't be concerned about a few thousand dollars here and there because i'd be making millions on the stock market ;)
DonAithnendonaithnen on November 9th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Okay, did a little more spreadsheet math with the above options.

If gas averages $4 for the period i own the car, the 2003 Prius and the Matrix both pass the Rav4 at 5 years in, with the Prius slightly ahead of the Matrix. The 2005 Prius pulls ahead of the Matrix 8 years in.

At $5 average, the Rav4 is still the best buy through the 3rd year. 2003 Prius comes in first in the 4th year with Matrix second. The 2005 Prius beats the Matrix at 6 years.

For a $6 average, the 2003 Prius is already beating the Rav4 at year 3 (i didn't do math for just 1 or 2 years.) The Matrix pulls ahead of the Rav5 at year 4, and the 2005 Prius pulls ahead of the Matrix at year 5.

So if i could count on an average price of $6 for the next 5 years and actually keeping the car for that long, the 2005 Prius would be a good bet.

If gas costs average $4 or less for the next 8 years however i would have to keep the 2005 Prius for more years than i managed to hold on to either of my other cars in order to break even.
Beth Leonardbeth_leonard on November 9th, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
The carpool lane perk for the Prius's is also set to expire in (after?) 2010 I believe. It might be 2011, but "soon" and it is not expected to be renewed. Such cars command a premium now, but may not in the future. In our area after the stickers ran out, a 3 month old model with a sticker was selling used for $1K more than the sticker price of an equivalent new model. There were lots of articles in the paper about it.

DonAithnendonaithnen on November 9th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, i knew about the premium, but i hadn't thought about it in terms of the "TMV" that Edmunds.com was calculating. It's supposed to be based on your local zip code so i wonder if that takes the potential presence of the stickers into account. If so perhaps if i find a car that doesn't have the stickers i could get a discount (or if the stickers actually do expire in 2010.)
Iyindoiyindo on November 9th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
IMO, nothing beats a Prius for the day-to-day fuel economy. It's absolutely worth the extra pay to get better gas mileage and help save the Earth!
受け継がれる意志: 86-tokyo :{skuldchan}:doctorskuld on November 9th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
Sounds like we're going to be doing a lot of similar car shopping, but you've got a head start on me! :D

Out of curiosity, is there a reason you've thrown out the Honda Fit from your choices? (Because I am considering it, what with my love of hatchbacks.)
DonAithnendonaithnen on November 9th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Well part of it was this comment from an earlier post.

Part of it is the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris came out in 2007, which means they'd be a fair bit more expensive than the 2005 models i was looking at. (Although now that i'm doing a little more research it looks like the Toyota Yaris is just a re-brand of the Toyota Echo, so perhaps i ought to check it out a little more.) The Fit and the Yaris also didn't make it onto Consumer Reports "best used cars" list and seems to have gotten mediocre reviews from Edmunds and JD Powers. (The Toyota Echo _did_ make it onto Consumer Reports "best used cars" list, so i'll have to go check out Edmunds and JD Powers for that now.)