I “Need” Another Car

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I’m packing to head to Dallas and realize that I need another car. Not a different car, but another one. And I’m saying this as I have a choice of at least 3 or maybe more different cars to drive. Man, we American’s are never satisfied.

Right now, what Trudi and I drive are my diesel Ford van and a Honda Insight. Pretty opposite ends of the spectrum. I bought the van close to 4 years ago specially for cyclocross. If I just took two other riders with me, that is 6 bikes. All six fit inside no problem and it gets pretty descent mileage, close to 20 mpg, driving on the highway. I have nearly 340,000 miles on it now.

The Insight is super, super small. It is mainly for driving around town. It gets somewhere in the 50+ mpg range in town. But, trying to travel in it, with just one bike is a hassle. Especially a bike my size. There is no room for luggage, Bromont, anything.

I also own two old VW pickup trucks. Both 1964, one a single cab and one a double cab. Plus a couple Saab Sonnets. The Sonnets and double cab haven’t ran for a while and are in garages. The single cab was the first car I ever bought, back in 1977. I plan on restoring them all eventually, but eventually always seems to be further away than it was the day before.

I only buy used cars. Usually, pretty cheap used cars. I paid $4000 for the diesel van and have driven it nearly 200,000 miles now. I like that about diesels. It is extremely difficult to work on, but that was known when I bought it.

I need a medium size car that I can take two people, plus Bromont, two bikes, plus luggage. I rented a small minivan in England a few years back. It was a Kia something and driving at super fast highway speeds, 90+, it got nearly 40 mpg. I don’t understand why there isn’t something available like that here in the US. It is nearly impossible getting another that carry anything that gets in the high 30’s for mileage.

When Dodge came out with the Caravan, back in the 80’s, they had a 4 cyclinder, manual transmission model that got over 35 mpg and that was over 30 years ago. Since then, our worrying about fuel economy has went out the window. Sometimes I wish that gasoline prices would just go up to $5 a gallon and stay there. That way, automobile manufactures would be “forced” to make something that the public would demand, a bigger vehicle with great mileage. But, the way I buy cars, it would still be a few years down the road before I ended up with one.

By the time I pack a couple sets of wheels in, there isn't much room left for anything else.

By the time I pack a couple sets of wheels in, there isn’t much room left for anything else.

21 thoughts on “I “Need” Another Car

  1. Wildcat

    Yep, hit that Insight with a trunk rack or hitch rack. You could also do a roof-top cargo carrier for wheels/luggage/etc. This would be a fraction of the cost of another car. And the best part would be that you wouldn’t need to be paying insurance and annual tag fees for an additional car.

  2. jed schneider

    TDI Jetta wagon. (almost) no milage impact with a roof rack and 50+ mpg if you get a standard (40ish automatic). I bought a yakima sky box second hand that fits a bike (without wheels) and two extra wheel sets. its out of the rain, hidden, lockable, fits in a parking garage and impacts the mileage by about 2 mpg at 80 and leaves the whole interior open. I just leave my bike in the box overnight if I’m at a hotel. If i need to carry more than one bike, or for short trips i just have a couple of rocky mounts that fit on the factory rack. Its a sweet setup for one or maybe two racers or one racer and the rest of the family. 😀

  3. jed schneider

    also FWIW, i get 35mpg in town and about 60 on rural highways. so, not awesome like an insight or prius, but not disappointing either.

  4. peter k

    I have a 2005 Chevy 2500HD crew cab SRW 4×4 Duramax diesel that has a 4″ exhaust, no cat converter, big air cleaner, chipped for an extra 65 hp, removed all the smog crap, 265/75/16 tires and a 40 gal fuel tank. I put a cap on it. 6 bikes and all your crap in the locked bed and 26 mpg at 2000 rpm (72 mph). These are great durable comfortable trucks to drive all over the country Whats not to like?

  5. Nancy

    I don’t have one but the Honda Fit is quite good for the space with the rear seat down. it is cheap new.

  6. Nick

    With the Inisght, it is a simple decision – either put the bike on the roof or put Bromont on the roof.

  7. sfb

    I’m in a stock 2009 2500 Ram with a Cummins…21 mpg on the highway…put a cap on it for long trips with multiple bikes in the bed. Its a great way to roll…plus it’ll pull my 37 foot boat and still get 14 mpg.

  8. Doug

    I have a newer Subaru Outbacks that has huge comfortable seats and lots of luggage room. With four people and three bikes (two on top, one in back), it gets about 32 mpg on the highway with a six speed stick. Plus it is great in rain and snow. I’ve seen them with hitch mounts. The car is certainly stout enough to put two bikes on a hitch mount and two more on a roof rack.

    The Mazda 5 is a mini-minivan along the lines of the one you rented in europe.

  9. Tweek

    They are all wrong. Find and drive any Honda element 2005 or newer EX and remove the rear seats (takes 3 minutes if that). The vehicle was made for you. If it was diesel it would be perfect

  10. Dropped

    The KIA that you drove was a not for USA Carens. I was in Mexico and saw some Nissan passenger vans with diesels that had to get smoking MPG. But not here.

    Those Elements are great vehicles for cyclists with the exception of fuel economy. I have one and love it but it is also as aero as a brick and I am lucky to get 20-21 mpg.

  11. old and slow

    In the category of “why don’t they sell this vehicle here,” is the Toyota Forerunner TurboDiesel that we rented in Costa Rica more than ten years ago. It got well into the 30 MPG range running on four wheel drive at sea level.

    No matter what your political persuasion, the sad fact is that if Americans couldn’t be seduced into buying large inefficient vehicles, we wouldn’t have had an auto industry in this country after the 1980s, period. (When they were briefly exempt from EPA regulations and later on targeted with a significant tax exemption over 5800 Lbs as I recall?)

    By the mid-1990s there was $5000 gross profit in a Jeep Cherokee and they were selling all the US-built sedans at cost. Honda sold a Civic VX back then that got 50 MPG from gasoline and it died from lack of interest. (Good luck finding one of these puppies used, their light weight made them quite popular with the VTEC rat-racer demographic.)

    Dealers of US brands have had to live off the SUVs, 4×4 Pickups and the service department ever since. Along comes the Ford Expedition and Excursion, long forgotten imitators like the Bravada, ultimately the BMWs and Cayennes.

    So when you see all these TV ads for loaded 4X4 trucks on the football games this afternoon you really are looking at the lynchpin of our domestic economy. It actually IS patriotic to pay $500 a month plus insurance and the incremental cost of fuel to drive 3x the vehicle that you could get by with. Ironically this same product category also supports more union jobs than any other vertical market that I can think of in the process too.

  12. dropped

    Old and Slow you are spot on. I work at a multi point dealership where we actually see $700-800 monthly payments on $60K + 4×4’s.

  13. rob parniak

    Here in Canada KIA sells a mini-mini-van-type vehicle called the Rondo. Sounds something like what you rented. I borrowed one for a week last summer and it was a fine bike trip vehicle for sure. Fairly affordable too.


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