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Bloviating Zeppelin: Pump Shock

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pump Shock


So there I was. Pumping gas into my little Urabus Wagon yesterday and it hit me: though it's "paid-for," my compact car gets no more than perhaps 23 or 24 mpg. I can use AWD because I must negotiate snow and heavy rain in the winter and I find myself conflicted; I'm getting the "new car" bug. But, on the other hand, I don't want to take out a loan for gas.

The conflict goes something like this: I've historically purchased smaller cars, well, because I've never had the money or inclination for large cars. Once I purchased a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup, but it turned out to be a total turd. Everything, electrically, that could have gone wrong went wrong. From my friends' experience, I just happened to buy the Black Marble. That's the largest vehicle I've ever purchased.

The most luxuriant vehicle I ever purchased was a new 1987 Pontiac Grand Am, which was optioned out completely. Of course, I purchased the car about 35 seconds before my ex-wife decided she wanted that appellation. Goodbye Grand Am.

In this order, I've had the following cars:

- 1966 Ford Fairlane 4 door, white (the GrungeMobile -- remember your first car?)
- 1974 Subaru GL, 2-door, orange (Sammy the Subaru!)
- 1979 VW Rabbit, 2-door, cream (vinyl seats: slippery!)
- 1978 Ford Granada ESS, 4-door, my first leather seats, 289 CID wimpy V8
- 1980 Ford Courier pickup, white (total dog!)
- 1982 Toyota Tercel wagon, 4-door, white (really enjoyed this one)
- 1980 Yamaha XS-11 motorcycle, maroon (went really fast in a straight line)

Then, of course, the "ex-wife" traded my car in for:

- 1985 Toyota MR-2, 2-door, red (led to my divorce, amongst other things)

and then I purchased a:

- 1985 Chevy Sprint, 2-door, blue (I had to buy the optional right side mirror!)
- 1982 BMW R100RT motorcycle, silver-blue, full bags - what a great bike!
- 1987 Pontiac Grand Am (my favorite car to this point)


Then here's my 1988 divorce!


- 1985 Toyota SR5 long bed pickup, 4X4, blue, with matching shell
- 1989 Geo Metro, 2-door, blue
- 1984 Honda Magna motorcycle, black (monster engine, but overheated too easily)
- 1997 Ford F-150 pickup, green (total dog)
- 1998 Suzuki DR650 thumper (damn near killed myself; sold it)
- 1999 Chevy Metro, 2-door, green (oddly enough, one of my favorite cars)
- 1999 Chevy Tracker, 2-door, same color green
- 2003 Subaru Outback Sport, 4-door, AWD, white

And there you have it. My compendium of vehicles.

The sad thing is that now, at "over 50" shall we say, I am getting the "new car" itch -- but for something with automatic and nice seats and cushiony and more upscale. I don't want an SUV or a pickup truck. I want something I don't have to shift, sings to me nicely, has great heat and air, and handles potholes with aplomb. I don't want a dinky car.

But, of course, theres the rub.

Check out gas prices. Now that I can "afford" a nicer car, do I want to purchase something somewhat "opulent" that, comparitively speaking, sucks gas like there's no tomorrow?

Perhaps I should throw this into the equation: I live 75 miles from work. One way. At my previous assignment, I lived 89 miles from work. One way.

I'm now about 5 to 8 years from retirement. Depending on how bad Management pisses me off.

Whaddaya think? Should I go for the EconoBox (like a Civic, an xB, Cooper S, Corolla, etc), or should I check out larger automatic models with decent mileage like the Impala, Sonata, Lucerne -- or do you have any other suggestions?

I want an automatic. I want a slightly larger car. I want the best gas mileage I can get -- all it has to do is acquire over 24 mpg. I want it optioned-out. I don't want to shift nothin'.

Any thoughts?

BZ

________________________


P.S.

Sorry about the infrequent posts. I'm still wrestling with various personal and familial issues. I'm sure you've all Been There and Done That.

BZ

19 Comments:

Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Depends on what you really want the car for. I found the Honda Insight to have plenty of leg room, get 45-50 mpg short range commute (~20 miles) and know it gets in the 60 mpg range (at least that 2001 version did, no idea on the modern version). It is PURE COMMUTER. That said, for the two of us with only one driver, it handles the weekly grocery trip just fine and can pack two large cat carriers (we have 16 and 18 lb. Maine Coons that need large carriers). Seats 2. First year with CVT transmission (automagic) and works well. Has a nice little booster switch for hills and passing, but if you have a lot of flat open road, its *magic*. Our mailman had to get a new car and his old 1980something chevy was eating him out of house and home... he got a Insight for commuting and loves it. He comes in from the mountains of WV (although not as high as the Rockies, that section of WV has many a steep incline). He loves it. Quiet, shuts off at stops, AC and heating work well once the engine has been on for a few mins... the downside is that you will feel every dime on the road. And you become very aware of the 'instant mpg' indicator and realize that you could drive just a bit better to get better mileage... it is perfectly capable of handling open,flat road at 70mph and still get 50mpg. YMMV.

If you need a family vehicle, check the Honda Civic Hybrid or the Toyota Prius. Once you get into the SUV range, your options are more limited and mpg goes south of 40 but still above 30 for most models.

At 6'3" and 230 lbs at my worst, the Insight was plenty enough to meet our needs and we will be giving the old Honda Odyssey to my sister, who needs carry capacity and reliability. It only gets 20-25 mpg but is damn roomy and allowed me to pack an entire one-man apartment, with bed and two bookshelves into it, plus dresser.

I generally only switch cars every so often and still miss the old Honda Civic Wagon which got 35 mpg highway and I could literally *live* out of it as a geologist. That from personal experience, the best car for a one-man DIY vehicle. Served on many a camping trip as instant shelter and sleeping facilities. It was a 5 on the floor and perfect for cross-country trips, which I seemed to do regularly with it.

On maintenance: you stick to the Honda manual like it was the gospel. It IS for a Honda. Not a suggestion, but a mandatory schedule to follow. If you take care of *it*, then *it* will take care of you.

Had a Mazda GLC before that, and it was a POC. Awful.

A VW Rabbit before that, one of the first off the US production lines, inherited from my father. The number one most responsive vehicle I have ever driven. That car saved my life at least two times by reacting *instantly* with my driving to avoid impossible to foresee situations.

And before that a Volare POC, the family wreck relic that got passed on to my cousin when it was mostly rust.

I love the Insight, but it can be a bit of a struggle to get out of it. You do *feel* the damn road, and I do mean *feel*. Tightest turn radius of anything I have experienced, save my 10 speed bike, and its not much more than *that*. I have literally parked it in between other cars in garages where a large support post stood... hey, it has a white line on either side and my car *fits*, what IS the problem, Mr. Manager of the Garage? Perfectly valid spot to park in unless marked otherwise, which you have NOT done so. And yes it does get good mileage....

That is a PITA, everyone wanting to know your mpg... but, worth it. All sorts of afficianado web sites for it, to tell you exactly the most perfect way to drive so you can achieve that 70+mpg and still keep at road speed. One person got 128mpg traveling the entire length of CA, BOTH WAYS. I never went that far, just changed my driving a bit and got decent mileage.

Works great on snow and ice as the large battery pack is behind you and gives a *lot* of traction.

I was hooked the moment I sat in it. Had to have one... and now that I am not driving, I will have fond memories of doing so as I am driven in it...

Sat Apr 22, 01:39:00 PM PDT  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Support the DFW metroplex economy. Get a suburban. Damn the price of gas. Travel in style. Practicality smells a lot like quiet desperation.

I want my next car to be a lifted suburban with front and rear cattle guards. My second choice is a large old Cadillac with horns on the front. Moderation is for the small minded.

Sat Apr 22, 04:11:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Fish said...

I'm not the best person to ask. We have two cars. One is a 4-WD Blazer that gets about 23 mph on the road and 20.5-21 just running around. The other is a Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a whopper of a V-8 in it. Surprisingly though we took a 700 mile road trip a few weeks ago with 4 adults and our luggage and averaged 23.5 mph for the trip. Generally averages 21-21.5 just running around

Sat Apr 22, 06:44:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Fish said...

Uh, that should say we averaged 23 mpg, not mph. We ran a bit faster than that as about half the trip was on Interstate roads.

Sat Apr 22, 06:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger echotig said...

Pontiac G6.

Sun Apr 23, 01:20:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

AJ: I came close to buying an Insight a few years ago when they first appeared. It rode a bit rough, as you noted and, unfortunately, I do a lot of climbing into the mountains from the valley, when I go home. It would have about a 30-mile + run from the flats to a constant grade. I think I WILL look into the new Civics. I think the new Civics are wonderfully styled.

BWH: Hey, if not that particular Suburban, I might have a better suggestion. Union Pacific runs the brand new Electro Motive Division SD70ACe diesel-electric locomotive, 415,000 pounds, 200,000 + lb initial tractive effort, 6 AC electric motors, seats 3 comfortably, has its own bathroom, its own refrigerator, two walkways if you're into jogging while riding the rails, a 4,300 HP 16-cylinder engine and a 4,000 gallon diesel tank. Comes in armor yellow color with battleship gray trim, and two big American flags over the engine room.

Fish: my point precisely. Here you've got this thunderous Caddy and you're getting 23, I've got a winky little Subaru wagon and I'M getting 23 - 24.

Echo: Hey, I rented a Pontiac G6 in San Diego recently, bright red, and that thing ran like a scalded dog!

BZ

Sun Apr 23, 02:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Revka said...

Blo,
I think a Honda Civic would be your best bet!!

Sun Apr 23, 03:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger echotig said...

So it ran like a dog with its tail between its legs?

Sun Apr 23, 05:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Echo: actually no, it happened to have a nice V8. Maybe it was a GTO? I'm not sure. It was fast and red and a new Pontiac.

BZ

Mon Apr 24, 05:58:00 AM PDT  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Hey, does that train come in a convertable? I'll bet it turns like it is on rails.

And about Echo and the G6, every thing I have read says those little dudes run like a spotted ape.

Mon Apr 24, 06:07:00 AM PDT  
Blogger James Manning said...

Man I ride in style on the Los Angeles metro in the morning and car pool home in the evening. Cost: A whopping $60 per month.

We have an Altima that requires refilling once a week even with some long weekend trips to Long Beach.

Mon Apr 24, 06:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Gayle said...

Your first mistake when you bought the truck was in buying a Ford. Dodge Ram's are much better!

But you said you didn't want a truck, so I'm with Big White Hat: Get a suburban and travel in style and comfort. :)

Mon Apr 24, 04:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Live life and buy whatever car you want!! Gas prices will go back down eventually.

Mon Apr 24, 09:33:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Revka said...

LMC: I do agree! I agree with BWH too.. Shoot, get a big SUV.. A HUGE GAS SUCKER... I would do it just to DEFY the libs!! HA!! Don't get a hybrid!!!
James: You know what is funny about LA?? When I lived there, traveling like you do is the norm. Here in the midwest it is like a vacation to travel 45 minutes or more to get to work. Shoot, most Missourians never go over the river into Kansas. They won't take jobs if it takes 45 minutes to get there!
We drive 45 minutes to church and back and we had some people who think we are crazy.. Shoot I would drive 45 minutes to go to the best church around!
That is what I loved about California though.. People would drive an hour to work and back and it was no big deal, so you could live wherever you wanted.

Tue Apr 25, 06:22:00 AM PDT  
Blogger John The Patriot said...

You might want to check out the line of cars from GM and Ford that can run on "flex fuel". I'm considering doing this myself. Granted, ethanol may be a little pricey now, but give it a few years and it will likely be a bargain

Tue Apr 25, 08:40:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

We are all thinking Civics around here. I have a BMW...that uses only Premium...YIKES..will not drive it. My son has the Ford 150 Lariet...gas drinker...and my daughter is the one that we all envy...her little Civic...that keeps on ticking...and w/great gas mileage. My son and I both have the itch!!! (smiling)
Go with the Civic....my daughter's has been great. We are not interested though in the hybrids. They have some nice ones out....that are loaded with all the extras.

Tue Apr 25, 10:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bushwack said...

Wow such advice on vehicles.
Buy a harley. Ride in style and save gas.
Get an old POS for rainy days and hauling stuff like a f-150

The gas price is a big deal but screw it. I own a dually and 5 dirt bikes. I'm a gasaholic
2 trucks
2 cars
5 bikes
Poor house is in my future.

Tue Apr 25, 11:40:00 PM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

E85 ethanol is a stopgap at best. Ditto M85 and biodiesel.

I crunch the numbers and alternatives in respect to a National Energy Policy here. Big hat tip to Instapundit on that and Popular Mechanics for doing the work. Once the methodology is set out you can do the rest yourselves.

If you want to put every bit of land under production for fuel, then one might want to know what we will actually *eat*. And you are investing in yet another BigAg subsidy. Time to build a real and expansionistic infrastructure... not one that will look inwards and doom us forevermore.

Wed Apr 26, 11:45:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous YGTBSM said...

VW Jetta TDI, or a Passat if you need a little more room.

Wed Apr 26, 01:49:00 PM PDT  

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