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My Quest for a New Car: Journal Entry #1

Published Jul 10th 2007, 6:09pm by

Mechaniccartoon My husband needs a new car. Mine is fine, but his is getting to the point where we are swiping our credit card at Joel’s Automotive Repair more than is entirely necessary. It’s not a terrible car… just old, and starting to out-wear its welcome. We used to keep it around because it got really great gas mileage, but it’s not even doing that anymore.

So we went to a dealership. To shop. For cars. This is not how one typically wants to spend their Saturday, however, being that I work in the automotive industry and have dealerships as clients, I wasn’t as scared as my husband. Nah, he wasn’t that bad. Once I promised a McDonald’s sundae and pried his fingers loose from the carpet, he went along quite willingly.

Honda_civic_hybrid_1We went to a Honda dealership first. He recently decided he wanted a Civic Hybrid, which I wholeheartedly supported (I could totally work for Al Gore!), plus it was a vast improvement (environmentally and gas-wise) from his original idea: Jeep Wrangler. I like Jeep; I just wish they would get better gas mileage, and not make you pay for GLASS windows. That’s got to be the biggest joke up in the Jeep executive offices somewhere: “Hey Joe, we should totally make people pay for glass windows!” “Mike, what would they get instead?” “Joe, we’ll just give them plastic that zips up!” “Mike, that’s a fantastic idea!” Laughter ensues.

So when Jason (that’s the hubby) said he wanted a Civic Hybrid, I was so excited I almost kissed him. I had only had one (albeit memorable) experience with a Civic Hybrid and it was in 2003. My colleague and I tried to merge onto the freeway in that car – we never made it. It revolted. So I was pleasantly surprised when the new 2007 version didn’t suck any worse than our soon-to-be-ousted Saturn when we merged onto the 405 freeway during our test drive. And it has an MP3 player jack!!! That was by far the most exciting part, although the ride was quiet and comfy and the A/C worked well (this is an important thing to test for me).

Then we started doing the sticker check… and Jason had to scrape my chin off the dealer parking lot. Okay people, I love trees and squirrels as much as the next person, but the Civic Hybrid doesn’t seem to add up in my mind. Here is the breakdown:
MSRP without nav (in our zip code): roughly $23,495.
Dealership mark up (apparently because of the demand <scoffs>): $2,000
Annual fuel cost: $1064 (that’s roughly 24 tanks a year)
Federal Tax Refund: $2,100
So a quick recap – that’s a total of $26,559 (minus the refund it comes to $24,459)
With five years of gas it comes to $28,715, assuming gas prices don’t change (I’m laughing on the inside).

It’s true, according to fueleconomy.gov (and not the factory estimates, which are much higher), you get 40/45 mpg on the hybrid, but on the regular manual transmission Civic you get 25/36 with an annual fuel cost of $1542. Now stay with me a bit here (I was an English major so this was difficult for me to wrap my noggin around at first too)… the base MSRP of the Honda Civic EX (oh we’ll go top level trim even) is $18,710.

So the total is $20,252 (with five years of gas it comes to $26,420). So wait a gosh-darned minute Popeye. Hybrid = more $ than the regular car? But I’m getting better gas mileage therefore saving moolah on gas! Right? Well, maybe so, but after the premium we’d pay on the sticker price (not to mention the “mark ups”) we would be out more money if we went green in this instance. And let’s get rid of the mark up fee anyway (maybe the dealer we went to was shady – who knows?)… the Hybrid still costs almost $300 more. Dude.

So back to scraping up my chin. The dealer didn’t seem to get why I was in such shock: “but miss, it has an MP3 player jack.” My conclusion after this was that we should buy ourselves a hybrid because the emissions are better than other vehicles and we won’t be lining the pockets of the oil execs quite as thickly. As long as that is enough, then a hybrid we will buy.

But we haven’t decided yet. Next stop is a Toyota dealer to compare the numbers on the Prius, and don’t worry, I will be here giving you the dirt on that visit as well!

Breanne_new By Breanne Boyle
eMarketing Manager
AskPatty.com

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