Ask Bark: Cold Fusion or New Hotness?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
ask bark cold fusion or new hotness

MrKiwi writes:

I’m currently driving a 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles. It’s good, reliable, and utterly boring. I’ll have it completely paid off in a couple of months. Here’s where I’m going to get myself into trouble.

The responsible thing to do would be to keep the Fusion and enjoy a paid-off car. But …

While driving a rental car recently, I remembered how much I enjoy a manual transmission. There are also a couple of times a year when I could use the extra capacity of a hatch. I’m starting to look at the listings for lightly used Ford Focuses and Mazda3s with manual transmissions, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun?”

Most of my driving is my daily work commute of 55 miles round-trip. No exciting twisty roads; just straight streets through suburbia, about an hour each way.

What would you do? I know the responsible thing is to wait until the Fusion is too expensive/unreliable, which will be at least another five years with a boring automatic transmission, but it would be in a car with no payments.

For this installment, let’s play a fun game called “Good Bark, Bad Bark” where I give you financially prudent advice as “GB” and automotive enthusiast advice as “BB.”

Alrighty, Good Bark, let’s start with you.

GB: Thanks, Bark. Listen, a car is nothing more than (say it with me) a depreciating hunk of metal. You’re right about one thing: that Ford Fusion should run reliably for another five years of your boring, mundane, and dreary commute. Take the money that you would spend on a car payment and invest it in a low-risk mutual fund. In fact —

BB: Whoa, whoa. Sorry, Good Bark. I have to jump in here. A car is nothing more than a depreciating hunk? When did we start talking about Fabio? *rimshot* Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Tip your servers. But seriously — if that’s how you view cars, then how did you even end up on this site? You know, The Truth About Cars? This ain’t the truth about finances, brah! This is a website for people who love cars. Why would we tell somebody they should keep driving some blah, ho-hum, Camcordion?

GB: Weren’t you looking at leasing a Fusion Sport as recently as, oh, I don’t know, this morning?

BB: Yeah, but that’s, like, totally different, man.

GB: The “truth” about cars involves talking about the financial risk that’s inherent in buying them. Aren’t you the man who as recently as eighteen months ago had four cars in his driveway? Who are you to be giving financial advice?

BB: Yes, but to be fair, that was also you.

GB: Perhaps, but I’m the smart one who sold the Boss 302 when it turned out that we never drove it. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this man that he should take on another bill at this time.

BB: I can! It’s not like he can’t afford it. (You can afford it, right?) It’s the difference between being “responsible” and having some real fun in his life. As the great Fiona Apple once said, he should make a mistake, and he should do it on purpose.

GB: Sigh. We’re not getting anywhere here, Bad Bark.

BB: You’re right. Is there some sort of compromise that we could come to?

GB: Stop ending sentences in prepositions.

BB: Sorry.

GB: However, you might be onto something. Is there a way that he could get a cool little hatchback for the one or two days a year … I’m sorry I can’t go any further down this path. Rent a car you id—

BB: Hey! Relax. Even I can see that justifying a hatchback by saying you need one once or twice a year is totes ridic (and MrKiwi knows that, too). But I think the fun factor is what you’re overlooking. Come on, GB. I know that even you like to drink too much Pinot Noir and get crazy now and then. Let’s look for the purple banana together here, okay?

GB. Fine. What do you suggest?

BB: I suggest that we start by finding out how much that 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles on it is worth. Ah, here we go. KBB says that a 2011 Ford Fusion SE with standard equipment in “Good” condition is worth about $7,500 in a private sale.

GB: KBB? Ha. Everybody knows their values are inflated.

BB: They’re actually getting much more in line with the market, thanks to their Instant Cash Offer program. And we can’t discuss how we know that, remember?

GB: Oh, yeah. That document we signed. Keep going.

BB: So, why not sell the Fusion, then go take a look at this pretty badass Mazda3 Grand Touring hatch? There’s only a delta of $2,000 between the two, and I bet that he could negotiate it down a bit.

GB: Hmmm. Two grand. I suppose that’s not the worst thing in the world.

BB: Nope. It’s even got fewer miles than his Fusion does, and it’s only one model year older.

GB: I need to call Dave Ramsey really quick and … nah, I’m just kidding. Even I know that’s a bunch of bullshit.

BB: Right on, Good Bark!

GB: Okay, I can support this idea — but only if he saves up the extra two grand first. NO financing.

BB: Fine, fine. MrKiwi, I think we’ve got your problem solved here. Save up a couple grand, sell your Fusion, and then go get that hatchback you want.

GB: Agreed. Now, let’s talk about why we are spending all this money on road racing.

BB: Oh, would you look at that! A thousand words. Sorry, we’re out of time.

Want your car buying question to be answered by a man suffering from obvious schizophrenia? Bark is your guy! Send your queries to, or tweet him (me, since I’m the one writing this) at @barkm302.

Join the conversation
2 of 65 comments
  • Theonlydt Theonlydt on Aug 02, 2016

    I didn't make it through the whole article. I utterly despise the whole "one person pretending to chat as two people", and even "two people chatting as a post". Sorry if others enjoy the format. I can't stand it. Keep the Fusion. Crush your soul for the next 5 years. Then hit middle age, dump the wife, by an MX-5 and aim for a 23 year old blonde.

  • Paragon Paragon on Aug 03, 2016

    Based on the daily commute, go ahead and keep the dependable, boring Fusion. Spending money on any other car isn't going to make the commute any better. You already know that. Sure, we all daydream about all kinds of things. As Dave Ramsey would tell you, stick with the plan to save as much as you can so one day you will be completely DEBT-FREE! Don't make the mistake of spending money when you don't need to. Because if you do, you know you will come to regret it. Be thankful your late model sedan is almost paid off. Be a responsible parent/spouse, and don't let temptation ruin your life financially.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.