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Car Buying Choice
Old 08-02-2007, 12:10 PM   #1
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Car Buying Choice

It seems like we all like talking about spending other peopleís money, especially when vehicles are involved.
SoÖ

Iíd like some help making a decision on a new vehicle purchase.

I donít need to replace my car now but Iím starting to feel like I want something new. I think that if I take my time and shop carefully before Iím desperate to get a replacement Iíll be able to get the best deal. There arenít many new vehicles that interest me but I have narrowed my choice so that there are two that Iím considering. So far this seems like a fairly easy choice to analyze, but there are some interesting complications because it really isnít an apples to apples comparison.

Let me provide some basic information and my own analysis.

My current vehicle is a 2002 model year Nissan Xterra with 121,000 miles on the odometer.
This vehicle has been very satisfying to own and I have arrived at the conclusion that for my needs this type of vehicle combined with the utility trailer I have is an ideal solution for my transportation and hauling needs. I really am satisfied with this combination but considering the mileage on the Xterra Iím beginning to have some concerns about its reliability or the need to have it out of service for repairs.

Iím deciding between a Mini Cooper and a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

If I buy the Toyota Iíll be trading in the Nissan.

If I buy the Mini Iíll be keeping the Nissan for use only when the weather is severe or when the trailer is being used. This will be only a few thousand miles per year and will provide a great deal of convenience as well as prolong its life.

Coincidentally, with either of these purchase scenarios my initial cash outlay will be almost identical.

Combined annual insurance, registration, inspection and financial opportunity costs will be about $500 more for the Mini and Nissan than for the Toyota alone.
With the Mini & Nissan combo the annual fuel expense will probably be about $1,000 less than driving the Toyota exclusively.

These are rough numbers but Iím pretty confident that the overall cost of ownership for each of these choices is about the same.

Iím not sure which of these choices will make me happier and I guess Iím not asking for advice on that.

Iíd like to know if anyone sees factors that Iím failing to consider or has any insight that might help make this choice a more obvious one.

Sorry about the length of the post but Iím anticipating some interesting responses.
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:40 PM   #2
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Do you want simplicity or flexibility?

I have never been a car fanatic. As a single person, I had practical 2 door hatchbacks. Add kids and a husband: one small and one large car. About 2 years ago I had the opportunity to buy a miata from a neighbor at a great price. Couldn't figure out what to get rid of, so now we have 3 cars for 2 drivers. The cars meet different needs. The daily commute vehicles are the least expensive to operate - mileage, insurance, etc (Civic and Miata), but the van (odessey) is needed for family activities. Distributing the mileage across three also increases each car's longevity. The net incremental cost of having 3 rather than 2 is not substantial and I like the flexibility to pick the car that best meets the needs for the activity. More complicated: yes (I go home and change cars before getting the kids). a bit more costly: yes. more pleasure: yes.
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Old 08-02-2007, 02:13 PM   #3
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The FJ has had BAD luck so far, LOTS of problems.

The Mini has consistently been rated as one of the lowest reliability cars out there, but I hear things are getting better.

Those 2 vehicles are like polar opposites..........
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Old 08-02-2007, 04:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantlogin View Post
It seems like we all like talking about spending other peopleís money, especially when vehicles are involved.
SoÖ
Iíd like some help making a decision on a new vehicle purchase.
Iíd like to know if anyone sees factors that Iím failing to consider or has any insight that might help make this choice a more obvious one.
If you're in no hurry and can buy with a cashier's check, what about stalking Craigslist & eBay Motors for a distressed seller? You might find a recent model whose lessor is going bankrupt or a borrower who's upside down and just looking for a cash infusion.

If either website is active in your area then you'll probably strike gold in under three months. You'll also get a chance to test-drive a number of different models & configurations, which would help you refine your choices and drive a better bargain if you decide to buy new.

We're going to buy a Prius in about 10 months, and every month on our local Craigslist we see at least one model we'd be happy to buy. As the summer buying frenzy dies down and as homeowner's ARMs reset to a higher rate, I'd say your used-car shopping is likely to be getting pretty good...
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
Do you want simplicity or flexibility?
You hit the nail on the head Sandy. I'm seeking simplicity AND flexibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
Those 2 vehicles are like polar opposites..........
Actually they are identical because they both have white roofs!........

Nords,
Thanks for not beating me up about deciding to replace the Xterra before the odometer reads 500,000. Your suggestion about hunting for good used examples is an excellent one and I have done some exploration there. It seems as though both of these vehicles are commanding stupidly high resale prices on completed ebay auctions.
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:25 PM   #6
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You hit the nail on the head Sandy. I'm seeking simplicity AND flexibility.
I had both of these vehicles on my short list, but in the end decided on a Honda Element which turned out to be the most flexible, functional rig of all that I checked out (and there was a long list). Many people hate the look, and I never expected to seriously consider the Element until I drove one (while checking out the Pilot).
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:20 PM   #7
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This thread reminds me... I got a chance to rent (and wreck) a brand new Saturn Vue last week. Had only 350 miles on it when I picked it up.

Nice little vehicle except for one amazingly stupid engineering flaw - the 4 with auto transmission isn't geared right and/or isn't strong enough to maintain 70 MPH on a level highway without constantly downshifting. What an irritating pain to drive.
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:42 PM   #8
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I've read several reports mentioning the poor rear-quarter visibility in the FJ (due to the opaque panel where a rear window could be), so you might want to drive one and see if it drives you crazy. I think it would bother me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cantlogin View Post
Iím deciding between a Mini Cooper and a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

If I buy the Toyota Iíll be trading in the Nissan.

If I buy the Mini Iíll be keeping the Nissan . . .
Coincidentally, with either of these purchase scenarios my initial cash outlay will be almost identical.

Combined annual insurance, registration, inspection and financial opportunity costs will be about $500 more for the Mini and Nissan than for the Toyota alone.
With the Mini & Nissan combo the annual fuel expense will probably be about $1,000 less than driving the Toyota exclusively.
For most folks, depreciation is the major vehicle costs. And, since you are getting the itch with a vehicle that is just 5 years old, it sounds like depreciation costs are something you should consider in your number crunching. I'm not sure which choice would produce the higher depreciation, but I'd guess it would be the FJ.

Have you got another vehicle in the household (spouse's, child's, etc)? If not, having a second car to use while one is in the shop is a significant plus.
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:00 AM   #9
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We just went through the same process. Basic family consists of wife and me. People hauling need is minimum of 4, though to accomodate guests.

What we HAD was a '93 Nissan pickup (mine), an '04 Acura TSX (hers) and a Triumph TT600 sportbike (mine). We are looking at a 12/28/07 ER date and have been wanting to get this sorted out for long term satisfaction.

Last Thanksgiving, I took the sportbike to our local Honda dealer and traded it for an '01 Honda S2000 (sportscar, like a Miata on steroids). Then I gave the pickup to our youngest (21) son. That left us with the TSX (wannabe sport sedan) as the #2 car, and no utility capacity.

We took a couple of week long trips in the S2000 to demonstrate its touring capability and that eliminated the need for distance capacity in car #2.

So we started looking and my wife got hot on the Honda Element. This would allow roof storage of light long things like tent poles, bikes and such, and a light trailer for bulky and dirty stuff (yard work, plywood, etc). Problem was that finding one with a manual shift proved near impossible and that's all either of us drive.

Then we started looking at the Toyota Matrix. It fit everything and we got one, new, at nearly strait-across deal trading in the TSX. Roomy, flexible economical. Camping, biking, toting, showing guests around.

And if you are looking at the Mini Cooper as a "driver's car". Take a look at the Honda S2000. 2500lbs, 250hp, probably tops in at about 135+. It is the most delicious and fun car I've ever owned. Handling is absolutely razor sharp. Zero body roll. Totally planted. Response is almost sportbike-like if you are up in the V-Tec rpm's. Strikingly pretty if that appeals. And it's a Honda as far as workmanship and reliability go. 3-4 year old ones are in the low $20's.
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:12 AM   #10
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We just went through the same process. Basic family consists of wife and me. People hauling need is minimum of 4, though to accomodate guests.

What we HAD was a '93 Nissan pickup (mine), an '04 Acura TSX (hers) and a Triumph TT600 sportbike (mine). We are looking at a 12/28/07 ER date and have been wanting to get this sorted out for long term satisfaction.

Last Thanksgiving, I took the sportbike to our local Honda dealer and traded it for an '01 Honda S2000 (sportscar, like a Miata on steroids). Then I gave the pickup to our youngest (21) son. That left us with the TSX (wannabe sport sedan) as the #2 car, and no utility capacity.

We took a couple of week long trips in the S2000 to demonstrate its touring capability and that eliminated the need for distance capacity in car #2.

So we started looking and my wife got hot on the Honda Element. This would allow roof storage of light long things like tent poles, bikes and such, and a light trailer for bulky and dirty stuff (yard work, plywood, etc). Problem was that finding one with a manual shift proved near impossible and that's all either of us drive.

Then we started looking at the Toyota Matrix. It fit everything and we got one, new, at nearly strait-across deal trading in the TSX. Roomy, flexible economical. Camping, biking, toting, showing guests around.

And if you are looking at the Mini Cooper as a "driver's car". Take a look at the Honda S2000. 2500lbs, 250hp, probably tops in at about 135+. It is the most delicious and fun car I've ever owned. Handling is absolutely razor sharp. Zero body roll. Totally planted. Response is almost sportbike-like if you are up in the V-Tec rpm's. Strikingly pretty if that appeals. And it's a Honda as far as workmanship and reliability go. 3-4 year old ones are in the low $20's.
I'm looking to buy a TSX in a few years........
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:36 AM   #11
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There are a lot of trade offs with different 'fleet' configurations. We have 4 vehicles for 3 drivers. Younger son (& last at home, off to college in Sept) is designated the 98 Jeep Cherokee. This one has all terain tires and we (the parents) claim it for occasional off road trips to Death Valley and the like. Great air conditioning. Then we have my wife's 97 Miata, cheap fun, my replacement for a mororcycle experience. Our most efficient car is a 05 Ford Focus 5 speed manual, we get 25 mpg around town and 32/33 on the road. It starts & runs and has been flawless functioning and has the quality & feel of a Honda, a drivers car. Then we have out 1985 VW camper (with Subaru engine) it hauls kayaks and stuff and we will be off to Burning Man with it in Sept. Younger son likes it but no AC. Sometimes I want to reduce the fleet but what would we git rid of? The total additional cost of keeping a vehicle is maybe $500 for added insurance mostly. The old ones are depreciated and the fleet maintenance and fuel is based on miles driven so reducing a car without reducing miles driven would not save much.
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Old 08-03-2007, 11:20 AM   #12
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I'm looking to buy a TSX in a few years........

Go for the TL, I like it has more room and the V6 is great..
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Old 08-03-2007, 11:45 AM   #13
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Go for the TL, I like it has more room and the V6 is great..
Everybody has a TL around here, I like the TSX, harder to find.............
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Old 08-03-2007, 12:57 PM   #14
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Everybody has a TL around here, I like the TSX, harder to find.............
Thats because they only sell about 1800 a month...
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