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Old 07-28-2022, 12:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Help deciding on best commuter

Hey guys, I just recently found this site and wanted to tap into your expertise in trying to pick the best car for my situation. I work for a large defense contractor and my round trip commute is 120 miles 100% highway. At first I was looking at 1998 to 2001 saturn SL1 manuals because theyre reliable efficient and can be found cheap with low miles. But then I stumbled upon the toyota echo. Ive seen the results some people are getting from their echos but it all seems to be around town with little highway. My trip is very hilly and I have always decelerated up the hills and slowly accelerated down them. Doing this i was able to get over 40 mpg tank averages with a 2003 corolla auto my girlfriend just totaled and can get 40 mpg trips in her 2018 mazda 3 2.5 auto. So if it were you and it was between a 2005 echo manual 205000 miles, 2000 saturn SL1 manual 130000 miles or another corolla what would you choose? Sorry if this is in the wrong section and thanks for your input

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Old 07-28-2022, 12:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi there! Maybe it's the wrong spot, but I don't think you need to be flogged for posting here.

Questions:
  • Would a motorcycle or scooter be out of the question?
  • Are you looking for lowest total costs or just mainly fuel costs?
  • How long do you think you'll have this commute realisticly?

Small hills can sometimes get you better fuel mileage because it's forced pulse and gliding.
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Old 07-28-2022, 01:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
So if it were you and it was between a 2005 echo manual 205000 miles, 2000 saturn SL1 manual 130000 miles or another corolla what would you choose?
That's tough. Two specific but unknown examples and a category. How many times do you commute in a week?

At 120 miles I'd be picking the one with the best driver's seat. 50MPG minimum.
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Old 07-28-2022, 01:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Monday through friday. The Corolla would either be a 2000-2006 manual ideally but there tuff to find so probly auto. I'm leaning towards echo but one user said with a/c his mpg drops 5 to 7 and that's a necessity
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Old 07-28-2022, 01:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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And probly for at least another year or two. No motorcycle I get off at midnight so 60 miles at night in the rain doesn't sound fun. Looking for lowest fuel cost, the echo is $2400 the Saturn $1900.

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Old 07-28-2022, 03:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Would a Saturn give you more cred in the parking lot?
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Old 07-28-2022, 03:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meatastic View Post
Monday through friday. The Corolla would either be a 2000-2006 manual ideally but there tuff to find so probly auto. I'm leaning towards echo but one user said with a/c his mpg drops 5 to 7 and that's a necessity
Some people do not know how to use A/C correctly. It must be on recirc and not on full cold. You want it to cycle on and off at the maximum temperature you can handle. Usually the compressor is only drawing engine power less than 50% of the time then. When it turns on it should only run for 30 seconds or so.

If you just drive around with it on full cold setting with fresh air vent, then the compressor is running and sucking engine power 100% of the time and it will significantly reduce your mpg.
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Old 07-28-2022, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Don't think of AC in terms of MPG lost, because that is entirely dependent on the efficiency of the vehicle. A semi truck loses no MPG running the AC, while a Prius might lose 5, for example.

AC consumes the amount of power it requires to cool the cabin. That's how to look at it.

Regarding vehicle choice, I'd pick the more comfortable one with the better radio to listen to podcasts and books.

If that commute were likely to stay the same for a long time, I'd be looking at a used Chevy Bolt, when prices drop back down to reasonable. Electricity is about 3 cents per mile compared to 9 cents in the vehicles you're suggesting. Hardly any maintenance.
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Old 07-28-2022, 05:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Since these are both beaters and it is a work vehicle only. I would look at other aspects besides just $fuel per mile driven.

Reliability and cost of parts. Which car has better parts availability and prices? I remember the last time I owned a Toyota I was stuck with buying a lot of dealer only available replacement parts and was not happy with the wait times and costs. Having your beater a week or two off the road while you wait for simple repair parts is going to cost you.

I also look at the local junkyards and see what they have in stock. If they have 4 saturns there of that vintage and zero Echos, then my decision is easy. It is also getting hard to find a selection of 14" tires, and even harder to find 13" tires. I would try to find a vehicle with 15" tires.
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Old 07-28-2022, 05:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The most efficient "AC" (or heater) is one that directly cools (heats) your body. I've been wanting to put small plastic tubing loops in my seats and run cooled (or heated) water through them.

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