By on September 14, 2011



William writes:

My wife is currently in the market for a new car. Our current garage consists of her 2008 Ford Explorer XLT Ironman Edition V8 that gets a dismal 16 MPG in mixed driving, and my beloved 2010 G37S 6MT that I love in every way, and gets a decent 22 MPG in mixed driving when I’m not laying into the throttle. The Explorer is paid for, and while I mentioned selling it to buy whatever she wants, she’s having none of it, as we do tow with it every now and then and she has an attachment to Explorers. This is her second Ex, RIP 2002 Explorer @ 210k miles. Currently we’re looking at a few cars. She needs room, so a hatch is preferred.

Mini Cooper S Countryman
Lexus CT200h
Toyota Prius

Any suggestions? Price isn’t an issue and we plan to keep it for a while. Many Thanks. Bryant S

P.S. No, we don’t want a Panther :)

Sajeev Answers:

Correction: you don’t think you want a Panther.

That said, I would get something that adds a little more depth to your collection. The G’s got the sporty side covered. The Explorer is obviously a decent truck. The Countryman is a nice fashion statement of modest utility and long-term value, so go ahead and peep the FIAT 500 too. The CT and Prius are great ideas for an efficient runabout, but also consider cheaper and somewhat less efficient modes of transport: Mazda 3, Ford Focus SEL (or Titanium, if you don’t care about resale) or even the cute Honda Fit. It’s time to plant your butts in a whole lotta bucket seats to get your short list!

And seriously, also plant ’em in a bench seat too. (childish giggling)

Steve answers:

Are you kiddin’ Sajeev? (Maybe. – SM) She seems to be one of those sensible people. What would she ever see in a Panther?

Truth be told I have no idea what she wants. If I knew what women wanted I would be running Lifetime television…into the ground.

So go drive an Audi A3. Drive the 1-Series. Drive a 3. Drive the Fiat. Drive a Fiesta. Drive Priuses/Prii and Lexus vehicles that are only identifiable by their serial numbers. I wouldn’t discount coupes, sedans, or even wagons from the list just yet either. Hatches tend to carry stiff price premiums compared to most other vehicles because in part, they attract a younger (at heart) clientele. What you need to do is find that one vehicle that truly offers the best bang for the buck.

Once you find it, don’t tell her. Surprise her. Really.

Let her first find something she loves. Then, just when she’s about to pull the trigger, give her a book called ‘The Tightwad Gazette’. It’s known as the modern-day Bible of frugality. Tell her to read it from page 1 to the index, with special attention given to how to make puppets out of socks, pantyhose, and old dog chew toys.

Let her take all this new information in, she’ll need a moment. Then explain to her kindly, but firmly, that a 2000 Plymouth Grand Voyager with roll-up windows would truly be her ideal ride. Minivans are still unpopular, thanks to (insert politician’s name here), and the name Plymouth has been out of circulation for over 10 years, wish I could say the same thing for (insert another politician’s name here)! The glow of red around her face will be one of pure adoration for a husband that realizes the value of the dollar.

Trust me. I know that glow from personal experience.

Enjoy it. Wear a cup.

Sajeev retorts:

Wait…exactly how is getting kneed in the crotch from a Plymouth minivan any better than an honest shot at Panther Love?

Off to you, Best and Brightest.


Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected] , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.
Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

44 Comments on “New or Used: Wear a Cup Edition...”

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Buy a new Explorer. Make your wife happy. What the hell is wrong with you? Your car is all fancy and exactly what you wanted and now you want her to drive some tiny hatchback that she hates.

    • 0 avatar

      Keeping the other half happy is far more important than counting pennies. If you’re averaging 20-25k per year (as per your last Explorer), your 2008 one is still low mileage and has a long life ahead of it. I’d say suck up the cost of the extra gas and stick with what you’ve got. You’ve already paid through the nose for 3 years depreciation. You know the vehicle and more importantly your wife likes it. Why go and spend even more money?

    • 0 avatar

      “Buy a new Explorer.”

      That will piss her off royally. They are terrible.

  • avatar

    Price always should be a consideration. We don’t know if she’s transporting kids, you live in an area with snow etc. So it’s tough to suggest anything specific. The Focus is good looking and far more frugal than what you’ve got. The Sonata/Optima, with our without turbo, is also more frugal, but is bigger. Countryman could fit if you need AWD and a small runabout. Might look at one for my wife in fact. Fiat 500 for style points. But there are loads of others, a TSX, TSX wagon, I think she picks a handful and tries them all.

  • avatar

    I wasn’t…I’m not…I don’t want to…Arghhh…I can’t help it!

    Buy her an Impala!

    Wow. That hurt, but I sure feel better!

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I echo the “go drive everything” sentiment. You have all of your requirements met, so just get what she likes!

    I’d also throw a Volvo C30 into the mix. Or perhaps a heavily discounted Saab 9-3 (wagon :))!

    Jetta Sportwagon?
    Scion xB?
    edit: agree w/ Slance66 on the TSX wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      I absolutely enjoy the Scion xB and with a TRD Turbo the thing has pep. Even stock it has pep but with the turbo it rivals some of the more serious hot hatches though it isn’t as nimble. Where the Civic Si hunkers down in the corners the xB sort of magically rides on rails until you come off the rails and then you’re squirrly has hell.

      That being said, if they’re looking for a small daily driver that gets decent mileage why not opt for the xB, new Focus, or take a turbo Sonata/Kia variant? The turbos aren’t exactly sports car fast but I understand they give you the kind of zip you want.

  • avatar

    If I surprised the boss with something other than a truck or SUV, even the cup wouldn’t save me! She’s feisty.

  • avatar

    Since this is all about your wife rather then you, I think the most important thing is to get a lot of test driving in. Fortunately there’s a wide range of small urban runabouts out there, for a start. If she absolutely must have something with a truckish driving position, there’s also good *car* based SUVs, like the Edge and the CR-V.

  • avatar

    Have you explained to your wild feline that the current Explorer doesn’t quite tow like her own? Careful, careful. Have you investigated the costs of renting a truck for the times when (she thinks) she needs to tow? Careful, careful. Has she laid eyes on the Lexus 200h? Not very photogenic, but in the flesh,…Yummy Mummy.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife and I test drove the CT yesterday. If it had the right interior color, there is a good chance we’d have another car in the driveway right now. It really is quite nice looking, the interior is great (assuming you’re not downsizing from a GS), and the fuel economy is excellent even when driven in anger. I worry about back seat space, though. Not sure how well a rear facing child’s seat will fit.

  • avatar

    She needs room for what? My mom currently owns an Excursion for towing, and an X-Type (shhh, I paid next to nothing for a clean one and she likes it) for daily driving. Grocery getting, kid (other people’s children…) hauling and towing the boat and trailers happens in the box on 4-wheels. You were a little vague, and her daily driver requirements will help narrow the selection.

    Also – I’m a bit confused, the “keep it for a while” and 2008 Explorer with no major issues but shopping for a new car with no price issue don’t jive. The former suggests just drive the 3-4 year old car as even a 25-30 MPG new car won’t justify the cost in gas savings, while the latter suggests you should just wander down to the local BMW/Merc/Audi/Porsche shop every 36 months and get her something shiny she can show off to friends.

    Having said that, what does SHE want? Schedule some time with her to go and let HER drive cars. Don’t let your love of your 37 get in the way of her getting a car she wants to drive.

  • avatar

    Are they looking to own two cars or three? I assume the 2010 G37 is not on the table, and the missus was agin’ selling the Explorer, so are you talking about buying a hot hatch and keeping the existing line up b/c the Explorer gets bad mileage? If so I would have to say that SL (aka Mr. Tightwad) is slipping.

  • avatar

    A3 TDI?

  • avatar

    I believe the intent is to KEEP the Exploder, and buy a third car that is fuel efficient to run around in.

    I second the Fiat 500 idea, cute as a bug’s butt, efficient enough, and really quite cheap. Or what the hell, if money is no object and it will be doing urban duty, the Lexus version of the Prius.

  • avatar

    I definitely find this a strange query since she loves the Explorer.

    Keep the Explorer, and use the money you would have made in payments for the other car to pay for the excess fuel. You’ll be way ahead both financially and in terms of her enjoyment of the vehicle.


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    You have a lot of test driving to do, since there are now finally a decent selection of hatchbacks to choose from. Since price is no barrier I’ll rule out the economy cars like the Kia Rio, Kia Soul, Honda Fit, Scion xB, and Ford Fiesta. Here’s my list of appealing hatchbacks to try out:

    VW Golf
    VW Jetta Sportwagen
    Acura TSX Sport Wagon
    Ford Focus hatch
    Mazda3 hatch
    Audi A3
    Audi A4 Avant
    Volvo V50

    None of these feel like economy cars, though some are as cheap as $21K.

    Try out the Prius only if your wife doesn’t care about driving dynamics. Try the CT200h only if you want your Prius to cost $30K but handle well and have nice interior appointments. Try the Audis only if price REALLY is no issue.

    If she wants something more truckish, well there’s about a billion crossover SUVs that get decent mileage. You might be at this for awhile…

  • avatar

    What a strange post. Why does she want another car? Fuel economy advantage over the Explorer? If so, the cost of buying and owning an entire additional car (and not selling the Explorer) is obviously multiples of any conceivable cost of gas, over any number of years, and the environmental benefit of saving gas by driving a fuel sipper would be more than offset by manufacturing another car. Better handling/more “fun” to drive? Well, maybe, but doubtful if she so loves explorers. Room? How would moving from an Explorer to a small hatchback help?

    It sounds like this is her saying “I want something shiny and new, and I won’t sacrifice anything to get it.” In which case, of course, the answer is: whatever car that’s out there is shiny, new and “cute” enough to catch her eye. Fiat 500? Sure! Toyota FJ40? Why not! All of your practical car needs are already met. She wants a new bauble, and it sounds like you’re willing and able to give her one to placate her, so buy her whatever bauble she wants.

    One piece of unsolicited advice, though: a giant freaking diamond is probably at least as practical, no worse for the environment, and subject to much less depreciation.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget the soon to be released 2012 Kia Soul (upgraded engines and transmission).

  • avatar

    I also agree with some of the questioning here. If it’s fuel economy (and hence, I assume saving money) that is driving this…then how is blowing $20k (or whatever) saving money over the price of fuel for said paid-for Explorer? How many years would you have to drive the new car in order to reclaim the savings? Wow…now then, if it’s simply a matter of wanting a new, shiny object in the garage, then so be it. If the buyers can afford all three cars, go for it. If it is to be a play toy, there are numerous options (many already mentioned…go test drive and have fun). But if saving because of fuel costs is the force behind this, I guess I don’t get it…

  • avatar

    It’s me, Bryant S, or Spartan. At any rate, we bought a 2012 Ford Focus Titanium Hatch.

    The Mini Interior sucked
    The Lexus wasn’t worth the $
    The A3 wasn’t worth the $
    The Prius just didn’t do it for her, and we couldn’t find one with all the options she wanted.

    Overall, we’re very happy with the Focus Hatch

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’m gonna say “YES” to the guys who suggest you drive “everything.” Figure out your budget and go test drive everything that fits into it. She picks, she’s happy, you’re happy.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    OK. Decoding the request, I read it that our inquirer is looking for suggestions for a 3rd vehicle, because his wife — sensibly, I might add — finds the Exploder’s utility to be occasionally useful.

    I guess the idea is to get something a little less ponderous and thirsty than the Exploder (I HATE driving my wife’s ’08 Pilot, for that reason.)

    Count me among the Pious-haters. To me, the car feels and drives like a relatively expensive penalty box; and, as a third car, the fuel savings generated will never compensate. I think she might find the MINI’s ride to be punishing over time (I’m assuming she’s not a boy racer) and there seems to be universal agreement that the non-turbo Countryman, especially with AWD, is significantly underpowered. Add the turbo motor and you’re into $30,000 territory — where there are lots of choices.

    The Lexus I know nothing about, except that it’s a Lexus.

    I’d go for the Focus and, in “SE” trim it’s plenty nice inside unless you just have to have leather seats. The hatchback offers a bit more utility, but I’m not sure I’d pay the price premium for it. The Focus is world’s apart, IMHO from the Honda Fit and other cheapo-cars like the Nissan Versa.

    • 0 avatar

      “there seems to be universal agreement that the non-turbo Countryman, especially with AWD, is significantly underpowered.”

      As far as I know, they don’t make a base MINI Countryman with AWD. The only way to get AWD is to opt for the 181hp turbo S model… At least that was the story at introduction – has it changed?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I stand corrected. The AWD comes only with the 181 hp turbo motor. I was recalling various reviews reaching that conclusion and forgot that they were testing the FWD, non-turbo model.

  • avatar

    Don’t buy anything. She loves the Explorer enough that she won’t get rid of it, and its new enough to be a dependable family car. And it’s paid for. Any fuel savings from buying a more-efficient third vehicle will be dramatically outweighed by the costs of paying for that third vehicle.

    Any other suggestion is just irresponsible.

  • avatar

    I agree about keeping the Explorer, it is pretty new. Otherwise if you HAVE to replace it, a few suggestions:

    Subaru Outback, fantastic car. AWD is a must and Subaru has it standard.

    Toyota Highlander 4×4 V6- Same SUV size as Explorer, but better MPG.

    Toyota 4Runner 4×4- MPG a little better, but a true SUV.

    Other people- Fiat 500? Really? That is so tiny, it is like a clown car. It has all of 6 inches of cargo space and is so light it will get blown off the road by 40-60 mph winds.

  • avatar

    +I’m gonna say “YES” to the guys who suggest you drive “everything.” Figure out your budget and go test drive everything that fits into it. She picks, she’s happy, you’re happy.”

    Some wimmens are never truly happy……

  • avatar

    Hey now, I have the pleasure of driving a blue 2000 Plymouth Voyager. His name’s Blue Shamu.

    The Grand Voyager came with power windows standard. The regular Voyager (what I have) has window cranks (I feel so ashamed over nitpicking over this).

    My van is the base 2.4l with the 4 speed automatic, and it gets an abysmal 15mpg in mixed driving. But it’s extremely comfy, which more than makes up for that. AC compressor let go at 60k too, so hot days are rather uncomfortable thanks to only 2.5 windows opening.

    As for a sporty car with a hatch? A Honda Fit. My mom has one, she averages 37MPG, and the car is a lot of fun to drive. And it’s practical. She used to have a CR-V, and couldn’t fit as much as she can in the Fit in that.

  • avatar

    It would make no sense to replace the Explorer with something similar. Therefore, you are looking at a third car. Are the three candidates you proposed her choices or yours? If they are hers, you can suggest checking out similar models from other manufacturers. If they are your choices, you would be wise to find out what she really wants and start from there. Either way, it’s good advice to study and test drive many, many alternatives. For zipping around town, my own wife would like the Fiat 500 unless it broke all the time. Since yours likes her Explorer, she might fall in love with an M56. If you buy something from Germany, get the best and longest extended warranty you can find and dump the car before it expires.

  • avatar

    You don’t say how many miles per year your wife drives. I agree with he majority here, unless she drives more than the average 15k/year it doesn’t make much sense from a financial point of view to replace, or even supplement in most cases the Explorer. IF she drives more than 15k miles /year, it’s hard to go wrong recommending the Hyundai Sonata. There’s a flavor for every taste. The base 2.4 liter comes with a manual even. The 2.0T is powerful yet economical, and with good room. The hybrid has more guts and more room than the typical hybrid, and you’ll still get 35 MPG.

  • avatar

    Some of you guys are being ‘WAY too practical here. She just wants something new and shiny (maybe even a special edition)to drive when she doesn’t feel like driving the Ironman.

  • avatar

    I can’t think of a worse vehicle than an Explorer. Not only does it get shitty mileage, it’s also surprisingly small inside. Lose-lose. I pity the losers who drive those things.

  • avatar

    Well, since the Prius is on the list, what about the upcoming Prius V (not to be confused with the trim level) wagon? Larger, roomier, most of the gas mileage of the Prius (EPA 42 combined), doesn’t look like a minivan.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    My word! Everyone is going for low end. Might I suggest the Audi A7, and point out that the Porsche Panemera has a hybrid model available.

  • avatar

    Cry HAVOC and let loose the dogs of war!!!

    As others have shown, if buying a Prii is about ROI from the gasoline you don’t buy — the math no longer adds up now that almost every regular C-Segment offering from just about every car maker has a 40+ MPG offering. The CT200h? Well, I guess you could be one of six people to own one…

    I’m under the impression that this is a commuter car and a grocery getter, hence the gravitation to a fuel sipper.

    But here is where you’re messing up. Your wife has said nothing doing on departing with the Explorer. Do you like being married? Do you like not having to give up half of your stuff (which in modern divorce court means shes gets the stuff you get the bills)? Are you happy seeing your kids every day?

    DUDE – LET IT GO. That’s the best answer. Happy wife. Happy life. Who gives a rat you know what if the Explorer got only 2 MPG. If if is paid for, and she is HAPPY you should have a big, goofy smile on your face going, “yes my love.”

    Let it go – make no change.

  • avatar

    “Once you find it, don’t tell her. Surprise her. Really.”

    Are you kidding? Are you single? This guy will be if he does this.

    You might try giving her exactly what she wants, your life
    will improve tremendously.

    Don’t ask me how many ex’s it took me to figure this out.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Surprise your wife with a new car for her, selected by you from brand and model to options and colour, as a fait accompli? You gotta be nuts unless your wife doesn’t care what she drives or how much money you spend.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    DO NOT get a Cooper S Countryman. The 1.6 liter BMW/Peugeot engine in turbocharged form is an unreliable disaster. HPFP problems cause plenty of cars to randomly die while driving, and the timing chain “death rattle” has caused some engines to grenade. If you want more information, check out the forums at North American Motoring.

    My wife recently picked up a new Cooper hatch but avoided the S due to the reliability issues. The non-turbo 1.6 liter engine may only have 121 horsepower, but it doesn’t have the HPFP or timing chain issues that the turbo 1.6 found in the S models does. If you need a small hatch that’s reasonably quick, look at a Mazda 3.

  • avatar

    After my wife quietly suffered from too many years of Camry beige, I put her behind the wheel of a Honda S2000. It’s possible that we’ll have changes in our life, but she’s informed me in no uncertain terms that the S2000 will NOT leave the household; it’s up to me to pilot the more practical car. Just saying… it’s no Panther, isn’t particularly fuel efficient, but it is a great car!

  • avatar

    Well, if we’re talking Plymouth, let’s review some other dead brand peaches:

    Pontiac G8 GT – woo hoo!
    Saab 9-5 – new sedan will be had for a song, old wagon can be had for the same song, but louder

    I’d go for the G8 GT, as you’ll get 9 mpg more on the highway than with the Explorer, it’s got a big trunk and back seat and it’s still fun to drive, as long as 3 pedals aren’t required. If you need a stick, the Saabs come with ’em.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Inside Looking Out: Is there any use of CIA or it should be disbanded? There are too many secret organizations in USA...
  • Inside Looking Out: I don’t want to die! paisley1/index.htm
  • mcs: “In Mexico there is no educated population to do these jobs” That’s not true. All you need is...
  • 28-Cars-Later: HOMER: Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • EBFlex: “Escalades are the only thing my local Cadillac dealer seems to have in stock.” The margins would...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber