The New Car

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.