$20K gift for which new car?

Discussion in 'Start Your Journey Here' started by schuylkill, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. schuylkill

    schuylkill Well-Known Member

    I guess being a product of the 60's growing up in NJ has something to do with my tendency to be green. My first car was a 1969 VW bug and "VW Repair for the Complete Idiot" was my constant companion. Since then I have had a 1960 bus, a 1984 diesel Rabbit, a 1990 Corolla (auto and never much liked) and my current 1998 Civic CX which has 589,000 miles. It's on it's second engine which I got for $100 and it's 4th tranny. I put in an EX tranny at a friend's suggestion and it has held up much better than the DX version, for whatever reason, at the sacrifice of some fuel economy (but definitely more pulling zip.) I have an ultra-gauge which is very cool (I am cheap so skipped the scan-gauge for now) and get 39 mpg in winter and 43 mpg in summer. I commute 80 miles each way to work, about 45 miles on Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania. I know this commute is not environmentally friendly but it is necessary. I can at times work from home and hopefully
    will do more of it in the future.

    My parents have generously and lovingly offered to contribute $20k towards the purchase of a new car. Without their offer I would not be in the market, I am currently financing my wife's 2009 Elantra which we bought trading in her Nissan Quest taking advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program and the great incentives offered by Hyundai at the time.

    I am unable to add money to the pot so the Prius is out of the running. I also have concerns about hybrids maintenance costs in general, and putting 40k a year on my car. (I will keep my civic for winter driving as long as it seems worthy.) That is one of my questions and reasons for posting, how should I look at a hybrid for my commute? I live in a hilly region in Schuylkill County, PA and have the long commute as I stated. What is the opinion here on how the smallish gas engine on the Insight would hold up? Right now
    my 2 leading candidates are the Civic coupe LX and the Elantra GLS with the alloy package. The Civic is a great deal right now, I will be getting an automatic so others in my family can use it if needed, they are wimps, and Honda's reputation is compelling. The Elantra is awesome but I have concerns about it being the first year model and the NU engine having a cast aluminum block. So in summary I appreciate this site and others like it and would like some input on car suggestions for my commute. I am currently considering the Insight, the Civic coupe LX and the Hyundai Elantra. (I also like that the Elantra has a timing chain which will help with maintenance costs.) Any other suggestions and why would be appreciated.
  2. JusBringIt

    JusBringIt Be Inspired

    You certainly have a good list, however, I noticed you didnt list the chevrolet Cruze eco as an option, nor did you mention a reason for not including it. I think its a worthwhile consideration along with the 2012 focus. Good luck!
  3. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Welcome to CleanMPG!
    There is an all new 2012 Civic arriving this year, so Honda will surely have a fire sale on the current Civics to clear dealer inventories. The Elantra is a hot seller now and I'm reading buyer experiences stating that they are waiting a week or two for a new shipment to arrive. That wouldn't deter me, though, because IMHO the Elantra is worth the wait.

    Your commute of 45 miles on I-78 suggests a fuel efficient gas-only compact like the Civic or Elantra would work well. But the Insight holds the trump card of an extra 11-15mpg rating on the "city" cycle to minimize the effect of traffic jams on I-78. Seems like every time I'm on I-78 (at least in the Allentown area, anyway), it's down to one lane for construction work. I think they repave it at least once a month.

    In EPA Highway numbers, the Civic trails with 36mpg, the Elantra arrives mid-pack at 40mpg, and the Insight leads at 43mpg. Keep in mind that sticking around here at CleanMPG will cause you to see these numbers as 'worst case' and you will in fact be doing better.
  4. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Since you kept your Civic CX for 580k miles, you're looking at a couple of major battery pack replacements if you buy an Insight. One will more than eat up all the FE gains you can hope to achieve with the I2. Honda's hybrid battery record is poor, if not outright abysmal.

    As Chris notes, hybrids make their gains in city driving, and your commute is mostly highway, so a conventional gas engined commuter will do well for you. All three of your top candidates use timing chains now, a major reliability improvement. Aluminum blocks are standard engine technology. It's only news because the Beta and Beta-II engines were iron block designs. Hyundai has used aluminum blocks in the Sonata and Santa Fe for a couple of years already, notably in the Theta engine dating back to 2004.

    The Elantra looks better than the Civic, 4 mpg better both on city and highway EPA cycles.
  5. atlaw4u

    atlaw4u Well-Known Member

    I would drive a new Civic & Elantra to determine which best fits your needs and go from there. They are both great cars.
  6. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    Given your predominantly highway use, I would lean Elantra, but first watch for the conclusion of Wayne's Chevy Cruze Eco testing currently under way.

    4 mpg is huge over the Civic in my book. I own and like two Honda's, but Hyundai is eating them for lunch on fuel economy, not to mention price?

    Either of the Elantra or the Cruze Eco will more or less match the Prius on the highway with a little technique, and at a much lower price.

    The Insight II lacks the interior volume of either of these, and I have not been a huge fan of IMA to date, though the older HCH's with a stick are great on the highway.
  7. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The OP stated he would be buying a car with an automatic, which introduces two issues for Chevy/Ford...
    - The Cruze Eco, when you add automatic and the connectivity+cruise they require with the A/T, you're around $20450, or roughly the price of an Elantra Limited. The Cruze Eco with 6AT has an EPA of 26/37, which beats the Civic but trails the Elantra.
    - The next Ford Focus won't be available in volume for some time to come, and the SFE model (the only one that ties the Elantra for highway FE) is going to be a rare bird, and it is almost certain to blast through the $20k barrier as well.
  8. schuylkill

    schuylkill Well-Known Member

    This is really a great "problem" to have, deciding on which car to buy with found money. Thanks for all of the information, it is appreciated. I was talking with my Dad last night and he is interested in why I wouldn't consider financing the balance and getting a Prius. Does anyone know places to look for information on hyper-commuting and the Prius and maintenance costs/issues? I read a bit about their batteries and of a Taxi company which uses Priuses and probably has rung up the most known mileage on them. I want to look into that. When it is stated above that:

    "Either of the Elantra or the Cruze Eco will more or less match the Prius on the highway with a little technique, and at a much lower price."

    does this mean that the Prius can not be driven with the same techniques and get the same results? I respect my Dad and want to have the information to answer his questions. Thanks again.

  9. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    You can drive the Prius with technique and get WELL above the EPA. My wife only drives it like a normal car and gets around 45 in the winter and usually around 54 to 55 in the summer months. I drove it 60 miles one way this morning at an average speed of 60 mpg and averaged 60.2 mpg in 34 degree temps. It is easy to get great mileage from it.

    We have 38,000 miles on our 2010 and have only spent money on oil, oil filters, and air filters for the engine and cabin.

    Our 2008 has about the same miles and the cost has been the same. Both cars still have the original tires on them.

    I have had 2 different 2005 models and no extra costs on them.

    Then this a real testament: Gen II Prius Keeps Going and Going
  10. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    The Prius can definitely be hypermiled, the 3rd Gen is tougher than the 2nd gen, particularly on the highway.

    If you were going for an MT I'd question the financial worth of a Prius for somebody such as yourself who's driving a lot of highway. (Or do you have much congested driving?) Since you'd need an AT there's definitely a bigger advantage to the Prius. Inside for space it's like a Civic but with more flexible cargo space.

    We've got 52.x mpg with moderate hypermiling on my commute, E10 gas, plus more hypermiling on one additional trip per week, although that 52.x included a mild winter last year and a summer road trip. However, this year, even though it's been colder I think I'm doing better overall.

    The Prius' poor winter mileage has a lot to do with how long the warm-up takes. With your longer drives you'll do better than the average owner in winter.

    The Prius has a good reliability record. To add to that you can to enjoy quiet glides and if you do feel the need to relax in CC you'll still be getting good mileage. Throw in the hatchback and the Prius is a great utilitarian vehicle.
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Russ:

    The non-Hybrids offer you more techniques to pull out of the toolbox as the Prius either already incorporates them or is limited to using them by its very design. HSD, the Prius' hybrid drivetrain, shines like nothing else in the city. On the highway, it is somewhat of a detriment but still provides outstanding FE. In fact, it is still the most fuel efficient highway vehicle of any available in the US and you cannot go wrong if you receive a good price at your local Toyota dealership. The Prius may lack “presence” but makes up for it by passing the pump again and again and again.

    My choice today? The 11 Elantra w/ a Stick because it is so inexpensive. With an AT, a 12 Focus SFE or Prius.

    Good Luck

  12. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    Is there any reason something like a gently used 2008-9 Prius in the same price range isn't being considered? You should be able to get one in the 20-30k mile range. A "new" off the lot car is a lousy investment and you can usually then avoid the biggest depreciation hit after 18-24 months of ownership. You can pick up a 2008 with Nav, hands free calling, side air bags, leather this way too ;). But that's just me... I'll never purchase a "new" car again.
  13. schuylkill

    schuylkill Well-Known Member

    Is it agreed here that a 2011 Elantra stick will get better mpg over the automatic when driven with that goal in mind?
  14. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Without a doubt. The MT driver has P&G, EOC, & other tools he can use, and which aren't available to the AT driver.
  15. schuylkill

    schuylkill Well-Known Member

    Is there any reason to believe that the Elantra will not be as fuel efficient as its EPA ratings?
    About how long does it normally take to get real world numbers for new models? I have read of more people being disappointed with mpg than exuberant. I suppose there are many possible reasons to explain this. I have also read that cars like the Honda Fit and others normally beat the EPA numbers. I know you must drive with fuel economy in mind if you hope for good results so I guess I am wondering how scientific the EPA numbers are and how the results could be more real world accurate. I will reread Wayne's article explaining how the ratings are obtained. Maybe people buying Elantras think they can drive them like a sports car (or try to) and still get great mpg? I would just hate to not get a Honda and be disappointed because of mpg. The Civic and Fit have shortcomings in my mind that the Elantra does not but the bottom line for me is mpg. If the Prius was about $4000 less I would get it but it's not. Maybe I'll get a used one down the road when they are old technology.
  16. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    Any reason it has to be "new off the lot"? Because a used 20k Prius would be a heck of a lot more efficient. You should be able to find at least an 08 in that price range, and under 30k miles or so.
  17. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    Fundamentally I think the EPA problems are:
    - the city route doesn't reflect congestion or excessive acceleration, it's not the typical American's stop and go.
    - the highway test doesn't reflect sustained high-speed driving.

    So, you beat the EPA by:
    - DWB/light timing/smart braking, therefore avoiding the stop and go and avoiding the "congestion charge"
    - DWL, P&G, sub-PSL driving (on the Interstate) to avoid or overcome the speed penalty, avoid the rapid acceleration penalty and beat cruise control.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  18. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    On average, the figures at fuelly.com and fueleconomy.gov match the EPA combined estimates very well. The MT Elantra's 33 mpg combined EPA estimate & 40 mpg highway EPA estimate have it all over the MT Civic's 29 mpg combined and 34 mpg highway figures. I'd bet money that 1000 randomly selected drivers of each car would average 33 mpg combined for Elantras, and 29 mpg combined for Civics. No, there is no reason to expect the Elantra not to get its EPA estimates. My wife's '06 AT Elantra is rated 29 mpg on the highway. When I drive it on medium distance (15-18 mile) highway trips, I average 32-36 mpg. On long highway trips >100 miles, I average 40 mpg

    A heads-up hypermiler will beat the EPA easily - by about 30% for AT models, and >50% for MT models.
  19. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    Well, in our Civic I got 44mpg on two tanks in spring on undulating terrain with 25/75 city/highway(45-55) split. EPA for that split would be 33mpg.

    Hooray, I'm heads up!
  20. LinuxGold

    LinuxGold Hypermile to the finest

    Hey, if you are willing to wait, how about 2012 Honda Civic HF? Honda Civic HF is supposedly to have highway EPA of 41mpg. I'm not sure of its pricing, but worth checking out.

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