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Old 08-13-2015, 07:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Advice on what car

I've been posting for a bit here, mostly relating to two wheelers. Though I think I've finally crossed that point where I want a car again for most of my travel. I drove a 97 auto civic for 8 years, then sold it last year because I have been building and riding my own ebikes and e-motorcycle. I can get by without a car, but there is just too many reasons against it for some of my circumstances.

An important goal is traveling cross country on these least fuel. Though that may be a rare trip. The higher my mpg, the more likely I will actually do such a trip.

I think an older hybrid is what I am focusing on. I have lots of lithium batteries from my projects that I can't sell, but could use on a car to extend it's efficiency. About 6kwh total. 4kwh is my battery I use on the motorcycle I converted, made from Nissan Leaf modules.

Price: I live a frugal life and don't want to spend more than $3500 or so. I sold my civic for $2500 and believe I was lucky to get that. (183k miles)

My biggest fear is having to spend sizeable money on serious mechanical issues with a car. I am fairly mechanically inclined (worked as an ebike tech and converted a motorcycle to electric power). But I'm not very confident about doing big repair jobs on a car.

Manual or auto: I have no problem shifting a standard motorcycle, but in the past was not good with a manual truck. A lot of my driving could be urban and in heavy traffic. So I lean towards an auto. I know my civic would lock the torque converter once I reached a steady speed, so as far as efficiency, that's just as good as a manual on the highway.

I'm an efficiency nerd. That's why I'm here. I hate the idea of my engine burning fuel at a stoplight. I am willing to do moderate aero mods.

Air conditioning is a must have option. I have techniques to minimized it's use if it's just me in the car. But the car must have AC or it's useless to drive my wife or dogs. It's over 100 degrees most of the summer here in Austin. on top of that, one of the big reasons I want a car is so I can keep the cabin closed and the air pollution out. I hate breathing it in on the bikes. So I can't get by with just leaving the windows down in traffic most of the year here.

Size - enough for two adults, two medium dogs and a disassembled bicycle/luggage. This is what kills the first gen Insight idea.

So I'm looking for advice on what car I should be looking for. I'm not in a rush, so I have time to be picky.

If I get a full gasoline Civic or Corolla, I know I'll be racking my brain trying to find a way to add one of my electric motors/wheels and hating being stopped in traffic.

It's looking like a 2nd gen Prius with higher mileage is my best option. Thoughts?

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Old 08-13-2015, 07:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Used Expeditions can be found cheaply these days.
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Old 08-13-2015, 08:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I see.a lot of gen 1 prius for $3500

2001 Toyota Prius
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Old 08-13-2015, 08:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
Used Expeditions can be found cheaply these days.
By the lb they are the best buy on the market.
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
Used Expeditions can be found cheaply these days.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My answer to everything- G1 Honda Insight.

Not sure how big your dogs are, though. My 100 lb Great Pyrenees loves to ride in the hatch, but my Moscow Watchdog doesn't quite fit well- he gets shotgun. Hard to travel across the country with them, and in that case would have to limit my passengers (from 1 to 0), and gear- with the boys, the AR would have to be broken down and gear would have to be compacted to fit in the secret compartments and foot well.
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Old 08-14-2015, 03:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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3500 should get you a 2nd gen Prius, it has A/C, is a hybride, automatic, and room for cross country trips
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Here are a bunch of cars from the Austin CL 3500 bucks or less

98 Chevy Metro Hatchback 43 MPG
92 Geo Metro
1995 Geo Metro
1998 Saturn SC2 pw pl cold air runs great
FS/FT: 1979 Volkswagen VW Rabbit 2-Door Manual DIESEL
1999.5 jetta tdi
2005 Suzuki Forenza
'84 Volkswagen VW Rabbit Diesel Hatchback - 42+ MPG - new engine!
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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No to the Forenza.

No no no no no no no.

No.
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
don't want to spend more than $3500 [...] My biggest fear is having to spend sizeable money on serious mechanical issues
If you're going to hang around the bottom of the food chain, you gotta be prepared to get bitten!

Quote:
Manual or auto: I have no problem shifting a standard motorcycle, but in the past was not good with a manual truck. A lot of my driving could be urban and in heavy traffic. So I lean towards an auto.
I'd strongly suggest trying a manual car again. It'll be easier to operate than a truck. You take a massive efficiency hit in sub/urban driving by going with a conventional automatic and giving up several extremely effective ecodriving techniques. You're mechanically minded... you'll figure it out.

Quote:
If I get a full gasoline Civic or Corolla, I know I'll be racking my brain trying to find a way to add one of my electric motors/wheels
An OEM hybrid would be the easiest route, but that would be FAR more interesting! And it would let you choose a manual transmission. It would actually work best with a manual if you're talking about a electric assist/push arrangement, like this:


From: http://99mpg.com/ProjectCars/TheBestHybridmix/

Quote:
It's looking like a 2nd gen Prius with higher mileage is my best option. Thoughts?
It's possible to find a decent 2nd gen for ~3500, but I wouldn't say it's easy. I spent many months searching for one around my neck of the woods and recently got a "cheap" 2004 Prius with above average km on the clock. However it needed repairs (mostly expected) to pass the mandatory mechanical inspection here.

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