Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

... And the Rest!

Rather weary with car research.  I think because I really need to start sitting in some of these cars to see if they're even worth learning more about.  Below are the basics on the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta, and the Nissan Versa, all still in the running.  After this I'll analyze some data in spreadsheet form ('cause I'm a dork) and start setting up test driving sessions.

Mazda 2:
Sport (basic) $14,180
Touring (Cruise Control, Trip Computer) $15,635
EPA Mileage: 29/35

Need the Touring to have the Cruise Control.  Both versions have the electronic stability control.  I had originally looked at the Mazda 3, but like the Matrix the 3 is in the $20K range.  It's pretty small, but great gas mileage.  Consumer Reports (and Edmunds, and states it's great to drive, and the interior is surprisingly roomy for a small car.  The back seats don't lie flat, though, and cargo space is pretty limited... I just don't think this is going to end up being big enough.

Moving on...

Ford Fiesta:
SE (basic) $15,120
SES (sport) $17,120 (too much for this little car)
EPA Mileage: 28/37, Manual, or 29/40, Automatic w/Super Fuel Eco Pkg

LOTS of packages and add-ons.  After building the car I want, (heated seats & side mirrors; bumper guard & molded mud flaps; molded all-weather floor mats) we're looking at $16,365 for manual or $17,830 for the automatic with fuel economy.

Let's look at the "savings" of fuel economy.  The "combined" EPA mileage is 32mpg on the manual or 33mpg on the auto SFE.  Let's assume a 10 gallon tank for easy math (the tank capacity isn't listed on the specs), I'd get about 320 miles per tank on the AT and 330 miles per tank on the SFE.  If gas is $3/gallon, how many miles do I have to driver to make the SFE model, at $1,465 more, worth it?

So, divide $30 by.... no... wait.... $3 times 330 miles... no... erm... x = y?  Can I use a life line?

Smartie whipped up the math for me on her phone.  Her explanation below:
Assuming that there is really only 1mpg difference, the better deal by far is the cheaper one. The trick is to find the break even point.
First, you find the cost equation for each car, which is the initial cost added to the cost per mile times miles driven. To find cost per mile, you divide the price of gas by the miles per gallon (assuming $3/gal). The equations look like this:
A: C = 16365 + .09375x
B: C = 17830 + .09091x
To find the break even point, you set them equal to each other and solve for x. So...
16365 + .09375x = 17830 + .09091x
.00284x = 1465
X = 515,845 miles
So, if the only difference you're interested in is the cost, then you'd have to drive over half a million miles to make up the cost.
Hope that helps. :)
Aaaand this is why she's Smartie.  Half a million miles?  C'mon, people, it's a Ford....

Fuel economics aside, the back seat is quite small and visibility out the back stinks.  Reviews noted that there's a big trade-off in engine performance for the fuel economy.  Front seats and "cockpit" are comfortable even for a long ride, and road noise is pretty good for it's size.  All the reviews I read were of the suped-up SES hatchback, so I have no idea what else I'd "loose" by going with the more economic option.

Last but not least....

The Nissan Versa
18S Hatchback: $13,910
EPA Rating: 26/31 mpg

The more expensive SL option does not come with a manual transmission, but the automatic Continuously Variable Transmission does have an EPA rating of  28/34.  The Plus Package includes keyless entry and cruise control.  There are a few things that are strangely not even options on the base model, like overhead sunglasses storage or a vanity mirror on the driver's visor, armrest in the front AND back...  Really?  These seem like basic comfort options and relatively inexpensive- why leave them out?  Or give me the option to have them installed.  I also have to upgrade to get Electronic Stability Control on the VDC package.  With the two packages and the minor extras I applied to all the other cars, the total comes to $15,381.  Reviews come up with few negatives, and actually state the interior is well constructed for this level of car.  Sounds like a contender.


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