Car Bleg for Advice

So, my wife alas, had little fender bender with my dearly beloved high mileage Honda Insight (2000) and I’m in the market for a new car. I’d made the promise to myself to continue to upgrade mileage … but that isn’t going to be possible ’cause nobody makes a higher mileage US car than the manual transmission 2000-2006 Honda Insight (with or without MIMA). I’m thinking of going for a slightly elderly used gas sipper as a stop gap in the hopes that in 4-5 years I’ll be able to get the car I really want, i.e., that can get better than 150mpg (or 2/3 gallons per 100 miles if you prefer) on dry summer roads. Oh, don’t worry, no real damage was done, my wife is uninjured (and nobody else was involved).

Looking around this morning, it seems a 5 speed manual Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, VW TDI, or Ford Focus look like the best bet. What do y’all think? Any other suggestions? It’s replacing a two seater so it doesn’t have to be large and likely when I turn it over it will be handed down to one of my girls, who are fast (gasp) approaching collegiate age.

9 responses to “Car Bleg for Advice

  1. Not going to entertain a motorcycle?

  2. Boonton,
    Chicago winters make that sort of a not great idea. An autoblog cite discussing the “new GM” and the market failure which is the Fiat 500, suggested that to me as a possibility. I’m not sure if they’ve trickled into the used market yet. It’s something to consider.

  3. Chicago winters make that sort of a not great idea.

    No guts no glory man. You can do it, I have complete faith in you!

  4. Boonton,
    Actually, we had a guy working for us who used to ride a motorcycle to work (not in the winter). His mileage was worse, not better, than my former Insight’s. Motorcycles are very not-aerodynamic.

  5. a more serious suggestion: Perhaps you’re focusing too much on the engineering rather than the behavior. For example, let’s say you give your wife your car and you buy one that is a bit less good with mileage. Create a baseline for your gas consumption by gallon for the last year when you had your beloved Insight.

    Give yourself a 5% added cushion. Then ration your gallons by keeping careful track of the number of gallons of gas you buy. Each month you come in over you will give $0.10 per gallon to the Obama 2012 campaign, coming in under you’ll give $0.20 to whatever you want including the Mark Beer Foundation. Each month reduce your ration by 1% of the original total until you achieve 5% less gallon use than you had with your Insight.

    Remember telecommuting just one day per week is an automatic 20% boost in mileage. If you can’t do that do the occassional car pool, even if you drive a co-worker in try to credit yourself for the gas consumption he would save by not taking whatever he is driving. You may be surprised just how much actual gas consumption is behavior controlled rather than a function of the actual machine and engineering.

  6. Boonton,
    Well, I don’t get a 20% boost in mileage per day of telecommuting. I specifically moved within 4 or so miles of work so that my commute would be inexpensive (on gas) and time. My weekly mileage is not dominated by my commute (especially in the non-winter months when I bike). The point is, I do a lot of the behavior things too. You can get another 15-20% boost in mileage keeping tires inflated and driving at the speed limit or slightly below instead of 10 or so above.

    You may be surprised just how much actual gas consumption is behavior controlled rather than a function of the actual machine and engineering.

    Yep. But I’ve already done most of that.

  7. Are you sure? Why not experiment by combining a system of rigerous measurement with incentives/disincentives.

  8. Boonton,
    I’m still not sure how to setup a system that makes sense. I didn’t track annual or monthly gas consumption, but even if I had, a lower mileage car has different dynamics. For example a domestic plane gets, if I remember correctly about 50mpg. So it made sense to drive the Insight instead of flying for midlength trips, i.e., 300-500 miles where flying was an alternative because in the MIMA enhanced Insight I could get significantly better. And driving like that constituted a big chunk of my miles. As I noted, the easy incentives/behavior things I do. It’s like the 20-25 vs 40-45 mpg thing. You can’t make big inroads when you’re already most of the way.

    And for your disincentive, I’d actually prefer a disincentive that I felt didn’t actively harm the country. :D

  9. And for your disincentive, I’d actually prefer a disincentive that I felt didn’t actively harm the country.

    Then let the disincentive be fewer post on politics. :)

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