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The New Car

2012 July 25

By Amy Miller

I have a headache. I just bought a new car and I tell you, it’s confusing. We have a van and an AWD wagon. We like them both, but as you know the gas is killing us.

Let’s go for one of those 40 mpg and greater cars, I told my husband. After all, we drive 30,000 miles a year. If our old cars got 20 miles to the gallon and these cars get 40, you do the math. I did, and I realized I could save $3,000 a year at $4 a gallon. That is nothing to sneeze at. I’d spend $3,000 instead of $6,000 a year on gas.

Wait a minute. $6,000 a year? Yup. 1,500 gallons of gas. So I bought the shiny little silver subcompact, the one with a good engine and enough room for my kids to be comfortable in back.

OK, so it only gets 33 mpg, but still.

And I no sooner had it home than I started putting things in the trunk and realized I better stop. There wasn’t any more room.

Uh oh.

Can we all four go to NY and still bring clothes? Well, maybe in summer and spring, but never when we need snow pants and boots. Can I pick up my daughter when she has skis? Well yes, as long as there were no other kids but her and her brother.

Maybe I should have read the “what should I consider when buying a new car” hint in EPA’s Tips to Save Gas and Improve Mileage webpage. It says “Buy a fuel efficient model in the size category that meets your needs. (emphasis mine).

So then I redo the math. What if we have to drive the van more often so we can fit luggage or a friend? Suddenly the equation changes. Maybe a mid-size car that gets 28 miles to the gallon would be the perfect in between. But maybe my daughter will not be in the car much, now that she is in high school. Or maybe we will buy a cargo box. Oh, my headache is getting worse.

Maybe next time I’ll just go back to the army tank thing my 10-year-old son wants. He doesn’t see any conflict between loving wildlife and getting 12 miles to the gallon. Oh for the innocence of youth.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    July 25, 2012

    Life is draining.-

    Whatever. But it’s natural rights….., although it’s natural resources. I’m sure that’s not your natural talent. Just our natural selection….. God bless you !

  2. ANDY APPAN permalink
    July 25, 2012




  3. July 25, 2012

    Well done, I love the practical story.
    Imagine if 1% of Americans would not only get an efficient car, but stop driving the old ones, we can save so much, and have a less carbon print on the planet.
    There should be more insensitive to have better cars, and also to push people to use more public transportation!

  4. July 27, 2012

    Well “The philosopher tries to define it [life], but no definition will cover its infinite and self-contradictory variety.”
    Cheers !

  5. Felipe Cervantes permalink
    July 27, 2012

    Have you thought to get a job closer to your home and ride a bike

  6. July 30, 2012

    My bro decided to buy a new car a month ago, and he is still researching which one he actually needs. He settles on one car, and next day changes his mind; then he fixes all his attention to one car and is on the verge of buying it when he finds another option. And the story goes on, he is still wondering which one to get.

  7. Joe permalink
    July 30, 2012

    Rather than buy the Army tank, I bought a 2012 Mazda 5 with a manual transmission. I like shifting by myself and it is the only vehicle with sliding doors and 3-row seating that has a 6-speed manual available. It’s rated at 24 mpg combined and I can usually do quite a bit better than that by short shifting (larger throttle opening, lower rpm shifts). The three rows only seats 6 instead of 7 but it still has plenty of room for long trips for 4 people, even camping trips with lots of gear and my leggy 18 year-old son can still fit in the center seat for a long haul. It’s basically a narrow, more efficient mini-van. I don’t like the styling very much but the utility, efficiency and performance sold me.

    The smaller Mazda CX-5 crossover probably has better space utilization than a traditional sedan but it is smaller than the Mazda 5. The powertrain is more advanced than on the 5 and it is rated at 29 mpg combined. It uses Mazda’s new “Skyactiv” engines and transmissions consisting of a direct-fuel-injection engine with a higher compression ratio and more efficient manual and automatic transmissions. The fuel economy rating of the automatic matches that of the manual. Mazda is applying Skyactiv across their product line and I would guess it will arrive in the Mazda 5 in a year or two.

    There should be a whole host of more fuel efficient product offerings from all of the manufacturers over the next couple of years as the new GHG regulations phase in, so don’t give up hope.

  8. pioneer avh-p3300bt review permalink
    September 12, 2012

    I feel you. Gas is ridiculous at the moment. Driving a car costs a fortune now.

  9. Kredyty samochodowe permalink
    October 16, 2012

    Cars are very expensive I started to ride my bike to work

  10. Auto Pozyczka permalink
    December 21, 2012

    The driverless revolution rolls on :)

  11. Steve Sebborn permalink
    March 9, 2014

    Honestly, if you want to take out all of the hassle of searching for a new car
    It will work out exaclty how much everything will cost to run so you dont have to find it out after you have bought the car. Its a cool tool!

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