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Old 07-31-2009, 10:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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New, cheap, high mpg cars?

Hello everyone!
I’m a college student (1 year left), with a really junky dodge minivan that hardly runs (free vehicle from my parents…) that qualifies for the cash-for–clunkers thing… so I’m looking for a new car (only because it has to be new…) that has really good gas mileage (over 30mpg stock for sure!), is reliable, and cheap to do repairs on (I do all my own car repairs). I really wanted a used Honda or Toyota… But even with the $4500 from the cash-for-clunkers deal, they still aren’t in my price range. Oh- my price range <after the $4500 is taken off> is preferably under $10K- I was shooting for $6-8K actually, but I could be swayed…

I’d really appreciate recommendations from this forum- I am a hypermiler myself, I’ve improved my fuel economy by 23% from when I first started driving my current vehicle- all from tips I received here!

Thanks!

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Old 07-31-2009, 10:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I just put this up on the blog: 5 Cash for Clunkers Values on which to Spend your $4,500 | Hypermiling, Fuel Economy, and EcoModding News - EcoModder.com

However, you should note there's a rumour from the government that cash for clunkers will be suspended tonight at midnight because they've run out of money.
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yaris or Fit.
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, there just aren't any new cars that get really good gas mileage. (Except for the Tesla, of course, but that's a bit out of the price range you're looking at.) For something in your price range, a used Honda Insight or CRX would get acceptable mpg, and be fairly easy to do repairs on - not that they're often needed.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Forget the govt program. Why not spend $2-5k and get a good used car? I bought my Corolla for ~$3k.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I agree on not fixing up your Caravan. They're not bad vans, but they're still not really worth fixing once they've gone south, unless the body is pristine.

What I don't agree with is buying a new car. I've grown rather accustomed to spending less than $500 on any vehicle I buy, running it for awhile, then selling it for more than I paid for it.

CARS isn't going to be around long enough for you to "mull over" the inventory, so to speak, so it's going to have to be a rash decision for you that you'll probably end up regretting, so it's not worth it. Drive the Caravan for awhile and save whatever money you'd be making as a car payment with the CARS program, and get youself a decent used car with low mileage. Hell, you can find CRX's for near $1000 usually, and often, you can find used Prii (Pree-eye, plural for Prius) and other decent mileage cars for under $5000. Since you're a college student, you may even be able to get a bank loan to help you out with financing, and you'll still be further ahead than if you traded in the van. Meanwhile you can either sell or junk the van, get a few hundred bucks to pay the first car payment, tank of gas, and a scan gauge, and teach yourself how to get 50+ MPG in your "new to you" ride.
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Old 07-31-2009, 03:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I third the used car option. If you're handy and have a space to work, you can get great deals for ~$1,000.

If you're not handy or don't have a space to work, you can get excellent, reliable cars for <$5,000.

Besides, insurance and registration are also WAAAAAYYYYY less with a vehicle that is about 8 years old :-)
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Old 07-31-2009, 05:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ecomodder needs a chart (SVO is now thinking "great more work for me") that breaks down $/1mpg for new cars. I'm thinking something like a certain new car costs $20k and gets 20 mpg EPA combined. On the chart this car would be plotted at $1000/1mpg. Granted this does not take into account amenities but who needs those? This chart might help us take a look at the best mpg for your buck...again not taking into account amenities.

Maybe we could select a range of cars from different manufacturers that are their newest models and go from there. If I get some time on Monday I'll take a crack at it...shouldn't be too hard.
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Old 07-31-2009, 05:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So we do it from the base models of each car, so that accessories aren't an issue. Just use the cheapest/most fuel efficient model from each line, and compare cost to MPG's.

We should compare this to older (but comparable) models as well.
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Old 07-31-2009, 06:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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That's what I was thinking Christ. The older cars would be tough to guage what the actual value is but it should be very easy for new cars since websites like vehix.com give you base value prices for cars and epa mpg can be easily found on many sites. We might get some good info from a chart like this detailing cost per 1 mpg. Anyone want to research approx. 50 new cars to put this chart together before I jump on it on Monday?

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