By on March 31, 2012


TTAC Commentator bigev007 writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

Been going back and forth on my buying decision for about 8 months now and I’m hoping to glean from the wisdom of yourself and the collective.

My situation:

New job last December, 100km from home. Mostly highway (very hilly) only one stop light where I have to wait (but it is about 2 minutes at the bottom of a long hill so it is great on my rotors.) Currently driving a 2000 Impala, averaging 26-28mpg so I am spending about $520 a month on fuel.

The Impala just turned 250k kms yesterday and is running well. I am all about keeping the old car running, and was about to take it to have strut mounts and brakes done. I decided to make a rust check underneath, and found that the rockers have moved beyond swiss cheese to something like rusty mud. Love those plastic covers they put over the rockers so you can’t see it. I really hate to have to get rid of a car (driving 14 years and owned 2 cars) but this made up my mind for me.

So, time for a replacement vehicle. Safety is up in November so I might be able to stretch until then, but I’m on borrowed time at this point.

Here are my needs. A combination of fuel and payment that keeps me under about $650 a month.

  • I’m 6’3” and fairly big, so a Rio or similar is out. Haven’t tried the new accent yet though.
  • Stick is ok, auto preferable. Want a hatch or wagon, but will get an accessory hitch either way so not a huge deal.
  • Looking at: Cruze ECO. Right around 21k puts me in the right spot for payment and gas. Wish the auto got the same mileage. I will drive 275k in the next 5 years, will this hold up?
  • 2010 Prius. A few around locally for 21k with about 50k on the odo. I know these will live until the rust kills them.
  • 2009 Civic hybrid. 15k. Cheaper, mostly reliable, but worried about all the battery problems I have heard about.
  • 2011 Elantra Seem to be getting closer to 28mpg on True Delta. Not much of an improvement for me.
  • 2011 Focus hatch. With sync, well over 23k. Too much
  • 2010 Versa about 12k. Again, seem to barely be getting 28 on true delta.

I’m sure there are lots I haven’t thought of, so help me out here guys.

Also, moving is not an option as she does not drive, and would not be able to get a comparable job in my new area. I could move about 20k closer, but would spend $300 more on rent a month.

Steve Answers:

You are getting the average highway MPG’s on the Impala. Plus I do have to mention that rocker panels are notoriously weak in terms of rust resistance during this time period. The rest of your car should be perfectly fine although I would expect the wheel bearings to be the next to go. Not much rust protection for those things back in the day.

I wouldn’t encourage you to be too focused on fuel economy. given that your depreciation costs may become greater than gas costs. A brand new Cruze ECO bought at 21k may only be worth about 5k after 5 years and 170k miles. That’s about $16,000 in total, or $3,200 a year. If we throw in a 3% lost opportunity cost, higher insurance, and higher taxes and fees you may be looking at an extra $4,000 a year in higher costs before the gas is factored in.

Gas savings between the Cruze and your current ride? Roughly $2000 a year. I’m assuming $5 gas since you’re in Canada. A Prius at 48 mpg may save you an extra $750 and the lower maintenance costs of it’s components may add another $250 over the Cruze, and likely about $500 more a year vs.the Impala.

On paper it would make more sense to keep what you have so long as the powertrain is structurally sound. But you may be truly wanting to move on. So I would just try them all and see which one you like the best. Then as a long-time used car guy I would wake up from my fear induced haze. Get the Impala inspected. Replace the rocker panels. Give the undercarriage a bit more rust protection and detail the rest of it.

Sajeev Answers:

Steve is right, once again. As I am currently writing checks for a restoration that includes moderate rust repair, I wouldn’t be surprised if replacing the rockers and grinding away any other significant amounts of rust elsewhere (followed up with ample rustproofing) would be much, much less than $2000. This is assuming replacement panels are easier to find than my Fox Body Lincoln using Fox Body Mustang patch panels.

But maybe it is time for a new car. It sounds like you probably drive more highway than city: so stick with vehicles with taller gearing. Obviously the Honda Fit is out. And since you are a larger guy putting a lot of hours in your ride, you should get a bigger car just to treat yourself.

Get another Impala, or maybe its plush Buick cousin on the same W-body. The 2008 Ford Taurus-Sable gets 28mpg highway according to the US EPA cycle, but maybe you do want a little better. Or maybe you’d never want a smaller car.

That said, the Prius is quite roomy for front seat passengers, and it might be the best combo of size and efficiency on the planet. Question is, will you actually enjoy driving it? Not that the Impala is an S-class Benz, but let’s face it, those W-body products are a smooooth, effortless ride.

Spend a lot of time in a Prius before you pull the trigger. You might not like what you experience.

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80 Comments on “New or Used: Replacement for Rusty Rocker’d Ride?...”

  • avatar

    Check the Kia Soul. I’m also 6′-3″ and fit with room to spare. Haven’t had it long enough to get a good feel for mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      True, it has the room. I’m 6’4″ and perfectly comfortable in it, but completely disappointed in the mileage. I’ve been getting 26 in mostly highway commuting. Maybe the newer ones are better (Mine’s a 2010 with the 2.0) but it’s not exactly an aerodynamic wonder either.

      It’s a cool car, and pretty versatile, but I don’t think I’d get it for a commute if I had to do it over again.

  • avatar

    All I can say is that I’m glad I live in a state (Oregon) that doesn’t salt its roads.

    • 0 avatar

      Thought it’d be nice if they’d but asphalt down once in a while. I drive NW Or frequently…bone jarring.

    • 0 avatar

      They most certainly do. ODOT does not use sodium chloride, but they do use magnesium chloride (and lots of it) on the interstates and the state highways over the cascades. The towns just use sand, but the mag chloride will rust out stuff, just not as fast as sodium chloride. Once the weather clears after a winter trip the first stop I make is to the car wash.

  • avatar

    While I enjoy these New or Used letters, it always seems its just a guy trying to persuade others to agree with the decision of a new ride….not that there is anything wrong with that…

  • avatar

    As someone who resembles bigev007 in height and weight, maybe the best solution is a used but newer Impala. I’ve sat in most all of these cars and none of them would be comfortable for a man his size for the long haul. If the Impala he rides in works now, maybe a newer one works just as well, with the benefits of fewer miles?

    Steve, also let me ask you a question: How do you determine that a new ride might cost him 4K more per year than he is thinking? If he buys new, doesn’t it make sense to drive it until it dies, therefore making the depreciation costs of no significance? How do you define a “3% opportunity cost?” that leaves me totally confused. If you add up all this stuff on top of the cost of a new car, then he might as well find the best car he can on Craigslist and go from there(?)

    Good luck 007.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Good questions. I’ll answer them one at a time.

      Steve, also let me ask you a question: How do you determine that a new ride might cost him 4K more per year than he is thinking?

      My conclusion was approximately half that for the Cruze and close to only $1k a year for the Prius given his five year time horizon.

      “If he buys new, doesn’t it make sense to drive it until it dies, therefore making the depreciation costs of no significance?”

      It would. But he has already stated that he has no intention of doing this with the Impala or his potential new ride.

      “How do you define a “3% opportunity cost?” that leaves me totally confused.”

      The money he spends on a new vehicle can instead be invested in a long-term asset. Stocks, bonds, CD’s etc. A high yield muni bond fund has yielded a bit over 5%. He can easily invest in a top rated muni bond in his home state and get 3% on it.

      “If you add up all this stuff on top of the cost of a new car, then he might as well find the best car he can on Craigslist and go from there(?)”

      No. On a purely financial basis he is better off getting the vehicle professionally inspected and if it’s roadworthy, getting it fixed.

      Hope this helps…

  • avatar

    “It sounds like you probably drive more highway than city: so stick with vehicles with taller gearing. Obviously the Honda Fit is out.”

    To bad about that, but Honda has created its own misery. I was by the Honda dealer the other day to get fleeced for some work on my ’91 Accord (best car I ever owned, at any price — and no rust yet), so I wandered into the showroom and sat in all the vehicles. Of all the models, I liked the Fit best. No high, bulging dash cutting down forward visibility (Civic), big dials instead of a messy mass of buttons (Accord), no V-6 + grenading transmission (Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline), no cheesy, over-priced interior (CR-V), a tall, tall roof+doors 6′-3″ nobigev007 would like, optional sunroof I can de-option (I hate the things), and all that flexible storage in the back.

    But I couldn’t get past the 5-speed manual, and the high RPMs at highway speed. No variable-speed windshield wipers, just the same three notches my ’91 has. Other deficiencies too. That’s why I’m glad there’s now so much competition in the sector… nothing else will give Honda the good swift kick in the butt it needs to get competitive.

    As far as advice goes, I don’t have much to add to what Steeve and Sajeev said. If the Impala can’t be fixed, try looking for another big US sedan a few years old. These will be better deals than the Japanese alternatives, and there’s a lot to be said for all that room and trunk capacity. You might also look at a Mazda 5 to see how it suits you. IMO the key is to keep the up-front cost down; I don’t advise trying to recover a price premium by means of anticipated fuel savings.

  • avatar


    You suggest treating himself to a bigger, more comfortable cruiser, and NOT mention a Panther?!

    I’m sure with some clever Hypermiling, he’d do decent!

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    VW Golf TDI for mileage, Golf GTI for fun.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      As the owner of a 2012 Golf TDI DSG, I’d say you get a combination of high mileage AND fun. Handling is excellent, lots of torque for effortless acceleration, completely relaxed low rpm cruising, and I’m getting mid-40 mpgs at a steady 70 mph (in warm weather especially). Also, there’s lots of room in the front with no intrusive center hump pressing agaist your leg. Finally, the seats are extremely comfortable for long periods of time. Certainly worth a test drive.

    • 0 avatar

      Another vote for a (used) VW Golf or Jetta TDI, for the reasons others have cited.

      Having driven both a Malibu and a Jetta on long trips, I prefer the Jetta, even if it’s a smaller car. It’s more comfortable, with better road manners. The Malibu about knocked me out (in the bad sense).

    • 0 avatar

      Wanted to, but a timing belt every 2 years is really expensive. Sadly I have an apartment with a super who is very vigilant about car repairs on site.

  • avatar

    Diesel something? CNG? Can you get nat. gas where you live, that would give lot more choice and bigger cars could be on the list, too. All the small cars above would be penalty boxes if you spend that many hours every day in the car.

  • avatar

    Keep the Impala and move closer to your job.

  • avatar

    Would you fit in baby Prius?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Currently driving a 2000 Impala, averaging 26-28mpg so I am spending about $520 a month on fuel.”

    Don’t the Canadians use the British Imperial Gallon? If so it is 20% larger than the US gallon, and his mpg would be 20-22.

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      Doubt it, 26mpg US is the same I have gotten in an Impala

    • 0 avatar

      Not since the 1970s. Gasoline is sold in liters in Canada.

      Even then, the kind of liquid measure that is used doesn’t affect overall fuel consumption.

      • 0 avatar

        Given the same overall fuel consumption, the bigger your gallon, the more miles you’ll go on one of them.

        The British haven’t used gallons to sell gas in ages either, but they still (colloquially) measure fuel economy in miles per imperial gallon. Hence, 30MPG in Britain is the equivalent of 25MPG in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      From fuelly, I got 9.2L/100km or 25.7 miles per US Gallon. It got worse in the last month.

    • 0 avatar

      At least around here(southern ontario), we’ll use the US gallons when talking about gallons.. The manufacturers and car stealerships will use the British gallons of course, since they sound so much better, “up to 61 mpg!”, etc.

  • avatar

    Are the bodies of new cars fully galvanized? Is rust still a major problem with modern cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Some are fully galvanized, but most only have select critical parts of the underbody galvanized and all the non-structural stuff is not.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t matter if it’s galvanized. Road debris and rock salt will eventually eat their way through. It’s much better than it was 20 or 30 years ago, but ALL cars will eventually rust when exposed to road salt conditions.

    • 0 avatar

      A combination of ocean air and highly aggressive salt application, combined with daily freeze-thaw cycles and 2-3 days of precipitation a week mean that there aren’t many cars older than 10 years around, and nothing more than 15 without serious body repairs.

  • avatar

    If you play your cards right, you can get a new Subaru Forester for around 22-23k. It has manual shift mode for the hill and is very reliable.

  • avatar

    The rust in your rockers is an indication of all the salt spray your undercarriage has been subjected to. I doubt that it is limited to your rockers. Future mechanical work could be a nightmare. Brake lines, fuel lines, broken bolts, etc. Rust repairs make sense if you are restoring a car or if the car is driven in a good environment. But to fix rust and keep driving it in road salt is an effort in futility.
    I agree that it is time to sell.

    I drive 110 miles a day (177km) and also subject my vehicle to salted winter roads. The maintenance and repair costs accelerate when rust takes hold even if the drivetrain is in good condition.

    I would buy a new car -OR- buy a low mileage used car from a location far away from the road salt belt. Have the car Ziebarted immediately. Drive it until you start to get the same rust condition and start the cycle over again.

    You may consider a new car since used cars are so expensive now. Also the new cars are so much more efficient. I vote for the Cruze ECO stickshift. You can do less braking on down-grades with a stickshift.

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    I am 6’2 and by no means shaped like super model and our 2008 Prius fits me just fine.

    The only caveat is that head room in the back seat which is a little limited due to the raked roof line, but then again how much time do you plan on spending on the backseat anyway?

    Just rented Impala for a couple of weeks around Christmas and based on driving experience I would take the Prius any day.

  • avatar

    Have you considered moving closer to work? It’s costing you more than $650/month. It’s costing you 60 hours/month in time. That’s another work-week plus. If you work an extra 40 hours/month and take an additional 20 hours off, you can pay for an apartment where you work and still have more time off.

    On to the cars: Because of your size, I would recommend a new Hyundai Sonata. They are priced in the US like the Cruz, and they have a lot more room. You’d give up a couple miles per gallon, about 5% but you’d have more power and a better warranty. (Chevy has excellent rebates on 2012 Impalas (300+ hp!) now that put them in Cruz purchase money territory, but they get about 25% fewer highway mpg than the Cruz.)

    • 0 avatar

      If you read carefully, he has considered moving closer but it is not practical because of the Significant Other.

      However, it’s still a good thing to take this option out and reexamine it from time to time. As you point out, this is not just costing money but it also costs *time*. And I know of no way anyone can buy more *time*.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    New 2012 Impalas with no options and a 300hp V6 and 6speed auto are going for about $20,000. EPA estimated 30mpg. Insurance premiums should be cheap given the demographic that usually buys these suckers new.

    Used (2005-2009) Buick LaCrosses are going pretty stinking cheap and you’d likely be able to pick one up with heated leather pretty easy. 3800V6 will be hard to kill.

    • 0 avatar

      Lacrosse would be a nice buy but it depends on what you think is stinking cheap, last I checked mid mileage 07-08 examples were still doing 12-14 at the auction.

      The 2012 Impala would also be interesting proposition but the payments may creep beyond where what this gentleman can afford.

  • avatar

    The body shops have access to rear kits in the event of an accident. They lower repair costs as you cut out the old and put in the new. Most repair shops have a 5-year warranty on their work.

    Besides who wants to buy a rusted car when you hace to go through inspection, at least your not paying $20K in taxes on anothr car.

  • avatar

    Did I read that right ? Five hundred and twenty dollars a month on fuel to drive to work and back ? I’d get a Hyundai Accent (has great legroom advantage over the competition for us tall folk) hatchback with a six speed manual and hybrids don’t offer anything better than a higher price that you could buy much more gas with anyway . Get it rust proofed and under coated of course . LMAO at the 28 mpg cars recommended in this day and age as my 04 Civic EX gets 33-36 average mpg no matter how I drive it !

  • avatar

    My bet would be a panther, with a CNG conversion. Or another Impala with a CNG tank. I bet he can get tax breaks on a home filling station.

    • 0 avatar

      Only in a TTAC forum would a guy with serious fuel economy needs be advised to buy a Panther. Yes, CNG is currently dirt-cheap relative to gasoline. But everyone is noticing, which means the price advantage will probably last for about ten minutes after the ink dries on the OP’s cheque for the conversion work.

      This isn’t complicated. Get a new Elantra, Focus, Cruze… whatever fits your frame best. Although their real-world MPG can be disappointing in heavy-footed mixed driving, for highway cruising their efficiency:comfort ratio is truly outstanding. And with a little rustproofing and basic maintenance they should go the long haul too.

  • avatar

    At $520/month for fuel, you have the necessary financial incentive to get a very-high-mpg car, even if it costs a little extra.

    The Prius, the Prius C or the Honda Insight are likely pretty good choices for you. The Priuses seem to hold their value well, so depreciation would be somewhat less.

  • avatar

    As the owner of two Prius vehicles (2005 and 2010) I would say that “steep hills” can be an issue. If the drive up those steep hills is long enough that you run out of battery assist and have to rely solely on the 1.8L engine (1.5L for 2009 and prior) then things can be slow. I learned this driving in Colorado. If the hills are just rolling and not too long or steep (most Interstates, even in mountain areas) then just crank it up to 70 and go for it. The good news is that downhill is battery payback time and the battery recharges full. If the battery is full and there is more downhill ahead you will get to use the friction brakes because there is nowhere for the regen energy to go – the friction brakes are adequate but not impressive. Sajeev gives good advice re spending time driving the new Prius. The 2010 and forward has a default ECO mode which numbs down the driving dynamics – my wife likes her 2010 but I think its way inferior to my 2005 as a driver. Of course, you can switch to PWR mode and it is much better but that doesn’t seem to make sense when a lot of the reason you bought it was great gas mileage. The interior seating space is great and as a hatchback it can carry amazing amounts of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Prius, and in almost all cases it is a good efficient solution, but there are some specific exceptions.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a 12 Camry Hybrid with the ECO mode switch. It also has an EV switch next to the ECO switch. So far, I have only driven with the ECO switch on. I tried the EV switch, but the dash always says “unavailable”. Do you know how or what EV does?

      • 0 avatar

        EV Mode is supposed to let you creep around the neighborhood silently like an eco-friendly gang banger using just the electric motor.

        EV Mode only works at speeds under 25 mph for a range of 1.6 miles. If it says unavailable, then you might be going too quickly or the battery pack does not have enough charge to shut off the gasoline motor and use the electric motor exclusively. That’s what the MotorWeek review says.

      • 0 avatar

        What kind of fuel economy are you getting with your ’12 Camry hybrid? The more reasonable price has put it on my list of vehicles to consider but I still want excellent fuel economy.

  • avatar

    62 miles to work each day and 62 miles back? Holy cow, I thought I had it bad at 100 miles R/T!

    My fuel bill is right now around $300/month and that includes wifey’s CR-V, my 2004 Impala and our 2007 MX5. Her commute is 9 miles R/T.

    If you want something comfortable and proven, a new Impala is it if you must have a new car, but plenty of other choices, too. I bought mine new and it has 96K miles and needs some maintenance too, like shocks and struts, but it’s cheaper than buying new.

  • avatar

    I drive a little less than you a year say 50,000 miles year and i bought a Jetta TDI wagon in sept,( a golf wagon up in canada) and am getting 42 miles a gallon, with a dsg auto, i needed the extra room so i went for the wagon, a golf tdi may or may not fit you but i would look at one, they hold their value very well with many miles on them, get a stick and save some cash, my gas bills went down 50% I was driving a volvo awd turbo wagon. And so far in 28,000 miles I have not had one problem with the VW but it was a leap of faith to buy one I will admit.

  • avatar

    I’m 6’0″, 260 lbs., so I understand about room in the car. My wife’s car is a Pontiac G6 with the Ecotec and 6 speed autobox, which fits me fine and is a pretty decent runner for freeway drives. We routinely drive back to Cleveland (about 6 hrs.) in this car, and I have no complaints about it.

    Depending upon your exact situation, I’d recommend any of the Epsilon bodies as a substitute for the W-body, especially if you want to move onto something new. New or used, take your choice. With the current model going out soon, there should be some good deals on them.

    My $0.02

  • avatar

    I’m a big fan of keeping cars a long time but given hos location and description of rust (Canadian version of rust and Georgia version of rust are very different) my guess is the his floor pans won’t be far behind which means the province wont renew the safety sticker even with repairs unless the whole section is cut out an replaced (read $4000 bill) so He most likely is in need of another ride. Myself I’m 6’3″ and 300 lbs so I have an idea about driver comfort. While I do like sitting in a fullsize car I have made numerous long trips in small cars and as long as they have good seats and seat travel have been no worse the wear. To tell you the truth my current Outback is less comfortable then the golf it replaced (the subaru does have much better highway manners)I would not just go buy the size of the car it really is something you need to try for yourself. Of the cars listed I would go with a prius or cruze eco depending on what i could wrangle a better deal on and how important manual vs auto is worth ( I deal with a lot of traffic on my 65 mile RT commute so I prefer an auto but when I had 120 mile RT commute I had little traffic and preferred a manual. funny thing I used to drive a stripped eagle summit on the 120 mile commute and only wished the seat went back another inch other then that I never had a n issue with it being a small car. I have been looking at the fit as a replacement car and testing them out I decided I need the 2009 and up version as the larger seat and telescoping wheel make it really comfortable (way more room then the outback maybe even a little more then the golf.)One of the knocks with the fit is the highway RPM. I;m considering going with the auto as I need a traffic commuter and highway cruiser the auto turns much lower rpms on the highway then the 5 speed and is much quieter as well. Depending on the hills he has to run it may be a bit underpowered thou.

  • avatar

    there really needs to be a yearly thread about rustproofing and prevention.
    Krown and rustcheck for starters, this could preserve millions of cars.

  • avatar

    While I enjoy these New or Used letters, it always seems its just a guy trying to persuade others to agree with the decision of a new ride….not that there is anything wrong with that…

  • avatar

    I think the Prius is a fine idea, but with one caveat: be wary of them in the snow. My experience with my mother’s 2005 is that the traction control is very aggressive. The combination of snow and a hill will bring the car to a standstill. Snow tires help, but not very much. Other than that, the Prius is astonishingly bulletproof. If your commute is on well-plowed roads, go for it.

  • avatar

    Interesting, but isn’t an Impala with only 250Km (156Kmi) Still a little young to be retired?

    Rusty rockers can be repaired by any competent TIG/MIG welder with a knowledge of forming sheet metal for a whole lot less money than replacing the car.

    I had to replace the rocker panels of my Olds stationwagon while I was in Europe and that took less than a day, using an oxi-acetylene torch. It took longer to measure, cut and bend the metal than it did to seam-weld the new panels.

    This may all be about keeping old cars running but it would seem to me that with current incentives it would be better to buy a brand new Impala, or as an alternative, buying a late-model rental-fleet Impala.

    • 0 avatar

      If it’s anything like my ’97 Camaro, he’ll have to be wary of brake and fuel line corrosion as well – the cost to replace that stuff will make the Imp a no-go.

      As a tall guy, you ought to look into a lightly-optioned Kia Optima – good HWY mileage, plenty of leg room for 6-4 tall.

      Whatever you buy, get mudflaps installed. :-)

    • 0 avatar

      It was more than just the rockers. The front fenders were gone, and a couple holes opened up between the door and the rear wheel well.

  • avatar

    I saw a base truck with no rockers once and cut the rusty rockers off my S-10. It looks just fine.

  • avatar

    Sorry OP, but moving IS an option. So is changing jobs.

    For years I fabricated excuses to sit in a car for two hours a day, because I liked my house and my job and was averse to change. I even justified it on a cash flow basis. But cash spent on a car is ultimately wasted, whereas cash spent on a bigger mortgage ultimately grows your balance sheet. Even taking a pay cut makes more sense than driving a car in many cases, not only due to the high cost of driving but also the graduated income taxes you avoid.

    • 0 avatar

      Cutting your commute time is one of the best personal and financial decisions most people can make. If you have a standard 8-5 job with a 30 minute commute, you get home at 5:30 and have about 5 hours for fun, family, food, and frisky.

      If you have a 90 minute commute you have to go to sleep an hour earlier (so you can get up earlier for the am drive) and get home an hour later, effectively reducing your free time to 3 hours a day. That is 40% less free time to do the things you want and need to do outside of working. Is your job paying you 40% higher wages to compensate for that lost time?

      That wasted commute time is time not spent with your kids, wife, dog, playing WoW, or being naked. It is just spent sitting in a seat in a car, maybe getting a little smarter listening to NPR, maybe getting a little dumber listening to the Morning Zoo or sports talk. But it is generally time, money, and fuel wasted.

      That does not take into account the automotive cost of the longer commute itself: fuel, the higher auto repair costs, and faster depreciation schedule.

      bigev007 asked about cars, not lifestyle changes. But the car may not be the problem. If you shorten your commute to 10 or 20 minutes you could drive anything from a Honda Fit to a used LS430 and your costs would be low, and stay low, while you would gain a lot more personal time…which is what going to work is supposed to be paying for.

      Good luck.

    • 0 avatar

      Nice for an observer to say it doesn’t pay. I am in a somewhat similar situation, and walking away from a traditional pension 4 years from retirement vs. driving 80 miles a day is a no-brainer.

      In the current economy, the mortgage probably won’t grow your balance sheet any more than the commuter car. Especially in Canada where the housing bubble hasn’t burst yet.

  • avatar

    Hey, lets not knock the Impala. It is still GM’s best selling car. The one pictured above is used in LAW and ORDER SUV. It is a predator catching mobile. It is a noble but dated car.

    The current Impala is actually quite good looking. It is hard to believe its chassis goes back to the 1987 GM-10 body. The new interior is passable and at the level of a decade old Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s best selling because 90% go to fleets.

    • 0 avatar
      James Blaney

      The Impala is staggeringly cheap to purchase, insure and operate. The biggest question mark is the transmission and you have a 160,000km warranty on that. Refinement isn’t up there with the Camcord crowd, but insurance is cheaper and mileage is awfully close (9L/100km in 80/20 highway/city).

  • avatar

    I have a similar commute and recently got a used Fusion hybrid. It’s a comfortable, roomy highway car and gets mid-30s mileage when temps are below 40 F and moves into the upper 30s on warmer days. Below 45 mph it goes into EV mode on level to downhill grades. I liked the Cruze Eco, too, and couldn’t warm up to the Prius. For the same to less money, I picked the comfort and the killer stereo.

  • avatar

    Buy a used Altima hybrid. I fit just fine (6-2) plenty of power, 34 MPG and way way way more engaging to drive than a Prius.

  • avatar
    James Blaney

    If you like the Impala, pick up a slightly newer one. I just bought a 2010 Impala LT with 48000km for $13,900 out the door ($12,300 before taxes). It was a daily rental but I went over the thing top to bottom and couldn’t find any red flags. It was purchased from a dealer and I had them replace the brakes (rotors and pads), tires and do an oil change as a condition of sale. 160000km powertrain warranty as well. I average 9L/100km (26mpg US gallons) in an 80/20 mix of highway/city driving. They are also the cheapest car to insure on the road.

    If you want something smaller, check out the 2012 Civic. Reviewers have been hating on them (fluffy styling concerns mostly) but mechanically they are solid. $21000 out the door in Ontario for a 2012 EX manual trans. The deals will get even better when the 2013 model is uncovered.

    • 0 avatar

      This is exactly what I would do if I were doing a long drive. Used Impalas are cheap as dirt and quite reliable. Another good option is a used Camry with a four cylinder. All the propaganda and nonsense about Toyotas has brought prices down nicely. I personally have seen 30 mpg (US) on a Camry in the mountains at 80 mph and the car should last years.

  • avatar

    Diesel is cheaper than gasoline here in Ontario. You can get one of the nicest 2005 Passat TDIs in the country from 16 grand out the door. That should be big enough for you.

    • 0 avatar

      And then spend a grand or two every year keeping it going! As the owner of a 1997 TDI (which has a much more reliable engine than the 2005), this is about the worst advice that I have seen!

      The 2005 model of TDI has a serious engine defect that can ruin the engine (the poor man’s version of the Porsche IMS failure):

      I would take any Impala or Camry as mentioned above over a B5 TDI. Your lower maintenance costs will offset the additional fuel costs and you’ll have better reliability as well.

  • avatar

    Hi. Thanks for all the responses. As you may have guessed by my mentioning November, I sent this in in about last July.
    I put another 20k kms on the Impala, but made a decision in September. To fix everything wrong with the car would have been about 2-2.5k, and might have gotten me another 6mos-1yr… Maybe.
    First, I saw a few wondering about which gallon I used for MPG, I use US, as it is easier. Also yes, I should get a job closer, and will in a few years, but just out of college, in my area, pickings are slim. An hour drive is long, but to take the bus pretty much anywhere (if I worked locally) is also an hour. Would rather drive to the country than spend an hour on the bus.
    So after all the goings through I found an ’09 Civic Hybrid with 30k miles for $13.5 at the end of September I paid what the dealer paid plus their $500 admin fee. I know it was what they paid, because I have a friend who could see the transaction price when they bought it. This is enough less than a gas Civic to pay for 2 batteries (if needed). I have put about another 30k miles on it already. I am averaging 43mpg so far, but have seen over 60 if I stay under 90km/h. It is decently roomy, comfortable, and slow. Really slow. Like a gas Civic that has normally 50hp less, and randomly 70 less. Getting used to IMA has been…interesting.
    Am I happy with my decision. Financially yes, emotionally no. I showed my GF your replies and she was not amused, she wanted me to get a new car. I wanted to justify keeping the old one, but ultimately the cost was too much.

  • avatar
    George B

    Probably a dumb question, but can a used Impala from outside of the salt belt be imported into Canada? Here in North Texas Impalas seem to be mostly fleet vehicles. Mostly rental cars, taxis, and police cars. They’ve never been exposed to road salt, but despite being in reasonably good condition, their retail demand is fairly low.

  • avatar

    I have a 80 mile round trip. I am looking to a replace a 01 focus with 160k later this year. I have been looking at Mitusbishi Lancer ES and the Nissan Cube. Both get over 30 on the highway. And plenty of room inside. Used of course.

  • avatar

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Okay, but “bigev007” has a broken Impala.

    As others have pointed out,if the rockers are rotten,the brake and fuel lines arn’t far behind. Dump it, and buy a newer Impala. If the car has been exposed to, salt and no rust proofing, buy nothing older than three years.

    Rust spray,rust spray, and more rust spray, [personally, I like Krown]

    I live in Southern Ontario and I saw the first W car down the line in 87. Yes, and they are still churning them out,about 5 miles away from where I sit.

    I retired from GM in late 2008, and as part of my package, got a $24,500 after tax, car voucher. I could have put it toward any car, or truck I wanted.

    I love my Impala.

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