My New Ride

Thursday, July 06 2006

I’ve been performing ninja moves on my personal finances lately, chopping costs down. The first big change might come as a shock.

I traded my Subaru Impreza WRX in for a Honda Civic Hybrid. Yeah, crazy eh? I used to talk about my WRX like it was a third child or something, but it was chugging the gas. I began tracking what kind of real gas mileage I was getting as I drove into downtown Portland every other day, and it was shocking. My averages were between 12 and 15 miles per gallon. Seriously. And that wasn’t cheap gas either – the WRX requires gas with an octane of 92 or more, which means I was going premium on every fill up.

The monthly cost to simply fuel the WRX was about $200 bucks, and that was if I restricted my driving just to my normal commute. Factor in insurance for a nearly 300hp compact car with turbo, and the payment, and you have yourself a pricey ride to work.

Despite 4 month waiting lists and people spending several thousand over MSRP, I managed to walk into a Honda dealer this last Saturday and pick up the model with voice activated GPS navigation (worth every penny, and then some) and my monthly costs are looking to be significantly cheaper. First, there’s the gas. Compare 12 miles per gallon to the 52 miles per gallon I’ve been getting. That’s insane. Completely stunning. In fact, I’m getting better mileage than the EPA estimates, which is completely opposite of what you can normally expect.

So, where I was once paying nearly $800 a month with gas and insurance for the WRX, I’m now paying around $350 for gas, car payment, and insurance. That also doesn’t take into account tax breaks totaling nearly $3000 for the purchase of a hybrid. With the tax break, that’s roughly $8000 that stays in my bank account over the course of a year.

But that’s not all – the car is great. It doesn’t go from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds like the WRX, but you’d never know it was a hybrid with a 110HP engine. It’s fast, nimble, doesn’t feel heavy and chunky like the Toyota Prius, and with all the crazy electronics on the inside it feels like a full on luxury car. I simply utter “Temperature 72” and the climate control system automatically adjusts to 72 degrees.

I’ll miss the WRX rocket, but I figure if I just bank my savings over the course of five years, I’ll have a down payment on a house. Not a bad trade.