Monday, May 12, 2008

I Need Your Opinion

So I have mentioned a couple times how depressed I am at the price of gas these days. From everything I hear and read, it is only going to get worse.  Some are even predicting it may hit $8 per gallon within the next 3-5 years!

Here is the question that we have been mulling over in the Horvath household:  Should we sell our Toyota 4Runner and get a smaller car with better gas mileage?

I love my 4Runner, I do. It is safe, extremely reliable, we got a great deal on it. It is paid off, so no car payments to worry about. We can fit groceries and strollers and ice chests and our dogs in the back. When we go on road trips, I don't have to make any decisions about what to take and what to leave at home...it all fits!  Seth and Caleb have plenty of room in the back seat. Steve just bought me 4 new tires and I am smooth sailing.
The only con (and it is a big one!) is the gas mileage. It only gets 17 mpg city driving, and about 20 or 21 mpg highway driving. Almost all of the driving that I do on a daily basis is city driving. I am averaging about $50 to fill up my 15 gallon tank, and that lasts me MAYBE one week. Anytime we go anywhere as a family, we take my car because Steve drives a Honda Civic hatchback and we can barely fit two car seats in the back.  But he does get stellar gas mileage, about 36 mpg.

So our dilemma is this: do we keep the reliable roomy car that is guzzling the gas, or do we sell it and get something more like this:

A Toyota Matrix. Definitely not as roomy, but it does have a hatchback which gives it some additional room in the back. I don't think the kids and the dogs would fit in this car at the same time, so family trips to the park would be out. This is a picture of the Matrix with two large dogs in the back, and they have the back seat completely folded down.

Steve's Dad and step-mom Jacey used to have a Matrix which they really liked, but they eventually traded it in for something a little roomier for carting the grandsons around. The Matrix gets 25 mpg, 30 on the highway.

So what say you? 4Runner vs. Matrix? Is it worth it to give up the extra space and only gain 8 mpg? Does anyone have any other suggestions for a fuel efficient family vehicle that doesn't break the bank?

7 comments:

gabriel said...

Doing the math, you said that you drive about 255 miles/week (not counting vacations). Here's a little chart that shows how much you'll spend in gas annually (I hope it looks right in blogger):

MPG: 17 25 36
===== ===== =====
$3.25/gal $2535 $1724 $1197
$3.50/gal $2730 $1856 $1289
$3.75/gal $2925 $1989 $1381

If you buy a 36 MPG vehicle and gas prices don't change, you'll save about $1400/year. If gas prices go up, you'll save a little more. If they go down you'll save a little less.

Lets say you sell the 4Runner for $6,000 (I don't know what it's worth). If you spend more than about $6,700 on the new car, it's not really worth the effort. If the car is $18,000 and you finance it... you've really wasted the money. On the other hand, if you can get one of those cars for the same as the 4Runner, then it might be worth it... until the kids grow out of it.

(I love word problems! I hope this helps.)

Steve said...

Wow Gabe, that was ridiculously helpful! Steve

Courtney Horvath said...

Thanks for your input Gabe! I am glad some people love word problems cuz this girl is not one of them :-) I am sure it took you 5 minutes to work that out and it would have taken me 5 hours and caused me a headache! We definitely would not be buying an $18,000 car. We would only buy something that is comparable to what we have so that we would not have car payments. I think the Kelly Blue Book on my 4Runner is about $7500.

sarah p said...

My head DOES hurt after reading the above word problem. (I've always hated those)
My vote would be: carpool more/try to drive it less and hang on to the 4Runner. Being paid off is a huge thing, I think.

Amy said...

Whoa... your friend Gabriel lost me after the first sentence..

Matrix, Matrix, Matrix, Matrix!!!!!!

I think they are cute AND they are still a Toyota so you know it will last ya!

Love you!

Karah said...

Ugh, that's a real dilemma. And I'm not really one to ask since I have a Target 4 miles away in any direction. LOL.

But nothing beats good ol' logic - and Gabriel has laid it out there perfectly. LOL

Anonymous said...

I vote for the 4runner! I am a big fan of dogs and park days. Anyway, you really don't drive that much. You can use Steve's car to cart the kids back and forth to school and even drop Steve off if you are concerned about the price of gas. I think everyone is driving less! At least I am. According to what I have read and my pastor mentioned this too, their scheme is up to $10.00 a gallon. Keep the car that is paid off and one that you don't have to worry about what you can get in it. You can always change your mind later. Love, Mom