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So it's time to buy a car.

SpaceshipSpaceship 289 replies54 threads Member
This is a hard one for me. Honestly, I'm a pretty crappy driver, and I've spend a lot of my life trying to make sure I can get by without a car. I mean, I'm getting a Masters in public transportation planning. I should be able to get by not owning a car. And, I can't. It's abundantly clear that I can't even become a public transportation planner in a big city without being able to drive, and newbies don't just get hired to the big leagues right out of grad school. Whether I should be on the road or not, I'm technically medically qualified to be on the road, and it is an expectation of my chosen career.

So, I'm buying a new car. Fact of the matter is, I shouldn't depend on modern technological safety features, but they exist, and I already know I'm not a great driver, so I'd rather go with a safer car. Plus, I can afford to buy a new car outright, without financing, if I don't buy some luxury six figure thing. Most important thing is, it has to be a hybrid or an electric. I won't buy a car that isn't. Furthermore, I'm a National Park junkie who feels excluded somewhat because I can't drive to parks, and I live in California where we have a metric ton of National and State Parks. Once I own a car, I'm going to want to roadtrip with it, take it on dirt roads, take it in the mountains, and stuff. My uncle had a Prius, and he got rid of it specifically because he's like me, and the Prius wasn't hacking it. Low floor and not very powerful. That suggests that the Prius wouldn't work for me. I'd also likely want to drive the car to Texas at some point in the Fall to visit family. This could kill fully electric for me, due to range and charging time alone. Long road trips would be hard.

What my dad owns is a 2019 plug in hybrid Subaru Crosstrek. This has a pretty high floor and optional all wheel drive, so it's suited just fine for dirt and mountain roads and snow. Since it's a plug in hybrid, it can function as an electric car for urban driving, while having the ability to run off of gas on a long road trip to Texas if it has to (though, as a hybrid, it'll at least still use less fuel). It's also usually a 2 wheel drive vehicle, only being all wheel when it has to, which is great. Essentially, from where I'm sitting, it's a solid compromise point where the car does everything I want for recreational purposes at the time I need to do it, and doesn't do any of those things when they'd be wasteful and unnecessary. The car is also utterly decked out in safety features. So many safety features. That's actually why my dad bought it, because he's getting older and less sure of himself. He hasn't been shy about wanting me to be driving around with those safety features, either. Looking at the price tag for a 2020 Crosstrek plug in hybrid, plus taxes, that's around the upper edge of what I'd be wanting to spend, so it's affordable.

So, like, that's a solid pitch and all. But what are my options here? I don't want to just haul off and buy my dad's car because he has a nice car. What other cars can compete with this, and fulfill all these same wants of mine? Can they do it with interior styling that isn't gray and blue, since that is the only option Subaru offers for the interior and I wouldn't pick that, given a choice? Can they sell me a green car? I mean, I'd buy a black Crosstrek, but if you offer me a good shade of green, I'm going get the green car. I know that's pretty vain, but, like, we're talking about spending tens of thousands of dollars. I should at least have a color I really like, and the very limited color options are the one thing I'm just not loving about the Crosstrek. I also just want to compare the Crosstrek to similar vehicles before I decide to go with it.
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Replies to: So it's time to buy a car.

  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 39805 replies472 threads Senior Member
    Crosstrek is a solid choice. Have you looked at RAV4 Hybrid? Big kid drives one and loves it. Little kid has a regular Crosstrek and loves it, too. She would have gone hybrid but none were available at the time. I don't think Rav comes in green, though, but Toyota's blues are great.
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  • abasketabasket 20241 replies893 threads Senior Member
    If you're admittedly a crappy driver (your words, not mine) are you sure you want to invest in a brand new car???

    Other Subaru models have a good green exterior.
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  • mathmommathmom 32791 replies160 threads Senior Member
    We just got a RAV4 and so far are happy with it. We got it in boring white because of friend of ours in a dark car got run into by kids turning right on red at night who didn't see her.
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  • mountainsoulmountainsoul 134 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited February 12
    Well, you can't go wrong with a Subaru. The Nissan Leaf is a popular little car in my neck of the woods too. It has a bit more ground clearance than the Prius. I see them cruising mountain roads and in the nearby national park.
    edited February 12
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  • anomanderanomander 1750 replies4 threads Senior Member
    Check out this list of SUVs and crossovers for 2020. Despite the title there’s some notable absences, but it’s a good starting point: https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g26134577/hybrid-crossovers-suvs/

    Here’s another list: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/hybrid-suvs

    Basically you want to search on “hybrid suv” and/or “hybrid crossover”. Or maybe “hybrid compact suv”.

    Looks like plenty of nice choices for under 40k.
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  • wis75wis75 14281 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited February 13
    It looks like you have done some research. Definitely a hybrid car/suv with the recent safety features so you can go out of town without needing to plug in your car. Go through the list of reliable hybrid vehicles. You do want the acceleration for mountain driving. Also check out the costs of insurance for various car models- even sitting in the parking spot you pay. Edmunds is another source to look at for comparing across brands. You want a reliable brand that will last you ten years. Car and Driver is a good source but be aware that their comments are based on a different bias than you may have for attractiveness but the basics are excellent. That is a good link to look at.
    edited February 13
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  • doschicosdoschicos 23022 replies240 threads Senior Member
    Where will you be living? Do you anticipate having easy access to charge the vehicle with a plug-in over the next 5 to 10 years? We have a plug-in but live in a house. My young adult children live in situations (3rd floor walkup for one) where having a plug-in would be difficult or impossible.
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  • SpaceshipSpaceship 289 replies54 threads Member
    edited February 13
    I rent a room in a house. I do have the ability to charge the car, I just have to pay the landlord for the extra power if it drives up the electric bill (our landlord pays the utilities) I can also charge it at school, or use my dad's place while he's at work (my dad and I don't live together, but his apartment is within walking distance of my house and has electric car charging).

    This is also to a degree I reason I prefer a plug in hybrid over a fully electric car. If plugging it in becomes a problem when I get my Masters and move, I still have a perfectly good hybrid to drive, even if the situation is less than ideal. Naturally, though, I'd look for a new place with car charging in mind.
    edited February 13
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  • SpaceshipSpaceship 289 replies54 threads Member
    My dad pointed out an issue with the Subaru today. I can afford to buy it up front, but insurance is going to be steep on a car that price and at my driving experience level. It could become a financial black box that just swallows up money.

    I'm going to go see my uncle near the end of the month. He had a Prius, and got rid of it because he was having issues. We'll talk about why he got rid of it when I see him, because my dad thinks maybe my uncle's issues wouldn't be a problem for me, and that a used Prius might be a lot cheaper to insure.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 23022 replies240 threads Senior Member
    Call your car insurance company and get some quotes on different models that interest you.
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  • SpaceshipSpaceship 289 replies54 threads Member
    edited February 14
    I don't have a car insurance company to call. I don't have a car right now. I'm going to have to decide what insurance company I want to go with.
    edited February 14
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  • doschicosdoschicos 23022 replies240 threads Senior Member
    Call your parents', just to get some reference point. You might be surprised as a lot factors in besides the value.
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  • kjofkwkjofkw 809 replies95 threads Member
    Speaking of car insurance inquiries: Anyone know of a website that gives you relative differences between insurance costs for different model cars? If I google comparative rates, most of the hits are insurance companies wanting to get your business.
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  • anomanderanomander 1750 replies4 threads Senior Member
    You can get insurance quotes online. Just create a fake email if you don't want followup spam offers.
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  • 1214mom1214mom 4780 replies189 threads Senior Member
    I do know that 2 door cars are generally more expensive to insure than 4 door cars. We learned this the hard way. We paid $2800 a year for my son who was 18 to drive a used Scion (less than $20K) and he had a perfect driving record. This was back in 2013, so I’m sure it would be more now.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8871 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Looking around on cars.com, there are plenty of green Suburu Crosstrek Hybrids from 2014. There are 19 green ones across the country.

    When I was younger I was afraid of buying a used car, but I've come to realize it's a much better bargain. Cars last much longer than they used to and even getting one with low mileage saves you a lot comparing to driving a new one off the lot.
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  • kjofkwkjofkw 809 replies95 threads Member
    We didn't find used cars were much of a bargain over new cars during our last search. I too had always heard better to buy used, than to lose value driving a new one off the lot. But the used ones we were considering (about 3 years old, with low mileage, and ideally "certified"), were only about 10-15% less than a new one. Plus they were 3 years older, so would always be worth less than the newer model. If we drove the used one off the lot, we'd still lose. So I'm not quite sure how that works, unless you buy from an individual and save the mark-up.
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  • CIEE83CIEE83 809 replies11 threads Member
    When I have shopped for new cars, I have found US News and World reports to be useful. They rank fuel efficiency, safety, reliability, among other things, and you can look at specs for both new and used models. I think they used to include cost to own, which includes insurance, but I couldn’t find it just now. Edmunds does have that information, though. Obviously it won’t tell you the actual cost for you, an inexperienced driver, to insure it in a specific location, but it gives you a basis for comparison. I usually put together a spreadsheet listing the traits that are most important to me (in my case price, gas mileage, reliability, safety) and then pick a few models to look at. You can find rankings for hybrid SUVs, for example, although I don’t know if they have a category for plug-in hybrids.

    Honda has a safety package available on all trims for about $1000 (at least that’s what it cost a few years ago when I last went car shopping) and more recently Toyota has copied them. Maybe other manufacturers by now as well.

    When I was helping a friend research used cars recently, US News had a feature where they would tell you whether it was worth it to buy used vs new.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80236 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 16
    kjofkw wrote: »
    We didn't find used cars were much of a bargain over new cars during our last search. I too had always heard better to buy used, than to lose value driving a new one off the lot. But the used ones we were considering (about 3 years old, with low mileage, and ideally "certified"), were only about 10-15% less than a new one. Plus they were 3 years older, so would always be worth less than the newer model. If we drove the used one off the lot, we'd still lose. So I'm not quite sure how that works, unless you buy from an individual and save the mark-up.

    If you trade stocks, you may be familiar with the term "bid ask spread". A retail customer buys at the ask and sells at the bid.

    For stocks, the bid ask spread may be a tiny percentage of the price (but higher for less traded stocks). For cars, the bid ask spread may be 10-20% of the price.

    The loss you get when buying a new car at ask and then selling it shortly thereafter at bid is mostly bid ask spread. But when you buy a used car at ask, you do not save as much compared to buying new at ask.

    Private party sales split the bid ask spread.
    edited February 16
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  • doschicosdoschicos 23022 replies240 threads Senior Member
    However, that isn't always the case in buying a used car from a dealer. When car sales aren't robust, and they haven't been very robust, dealers will often take used cars in to facilitate a sale on a new car to move inventory. They don't always make a lot on the used cars they sell. The margin can be thin at times.
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