Saturday, February 21, 2009

SEEKING ADVICE


John D. MacDonald reading (I hope it's him. Never saw him this young)


Okay, our fabulous Subaru Forrester with 110, 000 miles on it must suddenly be-something about gaskets. We just have one car so nursing it along is kind of chancy. I loved Subarus but they make no hybrids and there are foreign. Living in Detroit, we tend to notice this more than in most places and I have felt guilty having a foreign car--even though it was the best car we ever owned.

Our plans were to buy a Ford Fusion Hybrid in the fall. But the time is now. One Ford Dealer says he can get us one in 2-3 months. Another says we'd enter a lottery to get one and it could be late summer or fall. I tend to think Dealer #2 is the more honest.

I really wanted to buy 1) a US car 2) a hybrid 3) a reliable car 4) not an SUV. It seems that I can't achieve all of these things.

What would you do? Which priority should I scrap? Will your next car be US or is it only living in Detroit that makes that a priority?

27 comments:

Iren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clair Dickson said...

You know, Toyota has an HQ in Detroit and builds cars in Tennessee. The difference, to me, is that the guys at the top are either super-over-paid Detroit auto execs or moderately overpaid foreign execs.

What makes something "American" anyway-- where it's built or who owns the company?

GM left Flint as a vacant shell of a city when they sent their plants to Mexico. Does that make them better than Honda, who employs workers in the US?

(Me-- I have no brand loyalty, to be honest. I buy whatever used hunkajunk I can affrod. Usually from the Big Three because the values on those cars drops WAY WAY faster than comparable Toyotas and Hondas... =/)

Iren said...

let's try this again.

as a fellow SEMI resident I always remember that..... US cars are made over seas and asian cars are often made right here in the USA... I think it is honda that has a plant in flatrock, MI... maybe it's toyota.

my next car, it is going to be a long while before I get my next car (I hope) but when the time comes, I will buy what ever I think is best and most suits my needs. I have no love for the big three, I've seen them rip people off, keep other out of the market and fight every step of progress they could. Having a greener car is important to me, but I try to live so that I don't have to drive everyday, and for the past 5 years I have been able to do that... happy car hunting.

August West said...

I had many cars throughout the years, and the best one I ever owned (and had the least problems with) was our Toyota Camry. I own two now and both have high mileage and run like they did when they were new. Plus they were built in the USA.

Travis Erwin said...

Buy what you need. As I don't think there truly is an American car anymore.

Keith Rawson said...

I'll echo Clair's sediment's, Patti. Ford and GM more or less seemed to make it a priority to decimate the American working class through out the 80's and the 90's buy moving their production lines to Mexico because they simply couldn't "afford" to pay for American labor (And it's not just Detroit that was affected, my wife's Aunt in Oklahoma was laid off from her job of twenty years by GM. Plus They closed down their prove grounds here a few miles away from my home here in Gilbert, AZ.) Where as both Honda and Toyota have added have added thousands of jobs here in the US.
However, if you want the best of both worlds, I've been driving a Saturn for the past six years with no major issues other than standard maintenance, plus Saturn is a joint venture between Chevy and Toyota, and my particular model gets about 32 miles to the gallon on the Highway

pattinase (abbott) said...

With stacks of Consumer Reports and Car and Driver around me, I don't think that damned Fusion is affordable. It looks like it might cost over $30,000. the non-hybrid one seems to be about $5000 less. Yikes!
All of our driving is on freeways so a very small car seems chancy. But the Prius is looking better every minute. My husband would probably buy another Forrester. Maybe that's what we should do.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, that's JDM? Never seen him so young either.

I about a Toyota, and like Clair says, they do build cars in the US.

Dana King said...

I think Claire nailed it. I own a 2003 Honda Civic. The first thing I looked at on the sticker was how much of the car was American/Canadian; 85%. Close enough. I am much more concerned with keeping Americans workers building cars than I am with where the big shots get their mail.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Dana-Does that Civic feel like enough car around you at 75 miles per hour? If so the Honda Civic or Prius might be the way to go.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I had a list of my priorities and price range, and then I looked at the options. From there, I contacted dealerships, stated my interests, asked questions and asked them to contact me via e-mail.

Most didn't. Most were more interested in calling up and giving me schmoozy salesman talk. I eliminated all of those dealers from the consideration list, looked at what was left, did some test drives and made my choice.

There are plenty of ways of being energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and they include putting solar panels on the roof of your house. So much emphasis is put on cars alone. A lot depends on how much you drive, why you drive, and what you need the car for. I find it fascinating that pressure is brought to bear on the car industry when how many millions are sucking and exhaling toxins constantly (and overburdening the medical system from related diseases caused by smoking)? Why do we put pressure on people to choose hybrid cars when we don't put pressure on municipalities to synchronize lights so that traffic moves steadily? So many cities deliberately break up roads with intersections and stop signs to keep the speed down, but the result is keeping people on the road longer than they need to be and prompting more speeding in between because of prolonging trips that should take less time.

I like hybrid cars - don't get me wrong. But they're extremely expensive and not readily available. And that's a problem for those who would like to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle. I say don't beat yourself up over it, unless that's your top priority. In which case I say enter the lottery and hope your car doesn't give up the ghost before you get your replacement.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We drive a ton in Detroit. Probably 20,000 per year at least. Just the one car though. How small can we go and still feel safe with so much freeway driving? You're right about too much emphasis on one environmental hazard when so many other exist.

Joseph Travis Garnett said...

I'd stay way from hybrids if you expect to keep the new car for years and put high mileage on it. The technology is changing too rapidly and the leaders in hybrids (like Toyota) are already on their 3rd generation and have a 4th and 5th coming down the road. I question what is in store for these hybrids cars when they start reaching 100,000 miles on them. Plus there may be a shift into natural gas or electric/battery in the near future.

Nothing wrong with the old combustion engines that get good gas mileage. My hope is that Obama uses our tax money wisely on this issue and not throw the money into investments just to satisfy the left environmentalist loons.

John McFetridge said...

I was disappointed to hear Saturn was one of the divisions GM was looking to shut down. I'm on my second Saturn now, moving from the sedan to the Vue (not the Hybrid, too expensive for me)as my kids got bigger. They've both been very reliable vehicles and I hardly ever drive - weekends only most of the year and a few trips in the summer (I'm one of those idiots who chose a place to live partly based on public transit).

The other thing I liked best about Saturn was dealership - the price is the price, there's no haggling. I hate negotiating.

That's the other thing in this whole auto bailout that seems to get very little press - what's going to change in the dealership methods?

pattinase (abbott) said...

JTG. What would you buy for about $22, OOO?
John. My son has had three Saturns The VUE has been very good. How sad that what started out a such a great venture, gets the old heave-ho.

Joseph Travis Garnett said...

I'd go with the Toyota line for a standard combustion engine vehicle. Their dependability is "best in class."

Chuck said...

I own a fully loaded Chevy Malibu which cost me $24K and is one of the best cars I have ever owned (with my first new car being a 1965Mustang which I also loved, but for different reasons). It averages 27 MPG with 35 MPG on the highway and it has front and side air bags with a five star safety rating.

There are two features on the Malibu which are somewhat decadent but which I will never again do without - at least so long as I live in Michigan - remote start (standard) and heated seats.

The adjustable foot pedals are also very nice, especially if you are on the short side like me. It allows me to drive without my belly being up against the steering wheel.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Do you feel obliged to buy US or is it a preference?

Anonymous said...

Patti: wish i had more time to go into detail about various models. one of several i'd recommend to check out re; price,m.p.g. and "do i like how it looks?" is the pontiac vibe- basically a toyota [w/ toyota reliability]with a u.s. nameplate.

and a theory: if you drive an aveo/prius/corolla/civic/ you don't really need a hybrid.
john mcauley

debra said...

We have 3 Toyotas: a 1991 4Runner(my husband rebuilt it), a 2004 Corolla and a 1998 Camry (I inherited if from my Dad). No problems with any of them. Good mileage, low frequency of repair. Good value for the dollar.
I'd buy another Toyota in a heartbeat.
Good luck

ARCHAVIST said...

Buy American - or British if you can acually find a Brit Car.

George said...

I've owned seven Nissans and have had zero problems. You could buy a nice Altima for about $15,000. I get 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highways with my Altima. Test drive one and see. They are made in the U.S. by American workers. Many of my friends who have bought hybrids have been disappointed by their mileage and performance. Also, it is extremely expensive to fix a hybrid if something happens to the battery--it is not covered by the warranty!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well as long as there's a consensus here....

George said...

If you're thinking about buying a U.S. car, my sister just bought a 2009 Chevy Cobalt for $8000 cash. I highly recommend you test drive a number of vehicles before you make your decision. And the deals get better at the end of the month!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yep, that's what we got to do.

Chuck said...

My father was a member of the UAW and worked for Ford's for 30 years. This was back in the day when my father could support our family on one income, my mother stayed at home and they managed to help put me and my sister through 4years at Michigan. So in answer to your question and although I have owned a Toyota in the past, I am partial to union made American vehicles.

Thomas Miller said...

Two things:
At only 110,000 miles, your Forrester should be reliable for several more years with regular maintenance.

An economical alternative to the Forrester in a similar package (minus the all-wheel drive) is the Ford Focus Wagon. If you find a pre-owned model that's a couple of years old, you can get it for half the price of a new Forrester. Consumer Reports generally finds the Focus to have average reliability. I bought a 2004 model in 2006 and enjoy driving it every day.