High Gas Prices and Higher MPG in Los Angeles

I drive a 2006 Honda Element: hands-down one of the worst choices I’ve ever made – oh, and it’s 4WD for the many times Sam and I head into the mountains to go snowboarding. I think it’s been once.

The 2006 Element showed 22/26 on the sticker. Hey, it was 2006, it felt very “designy” and I was rehabbing a house. They offered me a new Honda Insight, which I passed up because it was too small to carry a dog and a passenger, or anything from Home Depot, other than paint. It was $15K. (Idiot.)

So I jumped prematurely out of a shorter lease on a silver 2005 Honda S2000 and into a three and a half year lease on the Element. I plead temporary insanity. The dealership had the S2000 sold before I even handed them over the keys. BTW, even with the abysmal 22/25 mileage, that car was more fun than a pack of A&F models on Ecstasy. Well, almost.

The Element actually gets around 15 city and 22 highway, and it’s about as sexy as Eczema, but it does haul dogs and furniture, and building materials, so sometimes it redeems itself.

Gas has risen steadily over the last two years. Last summer we marveled when it broke $3.00 a gallon. This summer has just begun and it’s broken $4.00. At the 76 station on the corner, it has literally gone up 4 cents per day, every day. It’s now $4.19, and there are no signs of stopping. I swear, it will be at $5.00 before the summer is over. Hell, by July.

I called around for Priuses yesterday, and there aren’t any in Southern California. The new ones have been reallocated to the midwest where, as the salesman put it, “The red states seem to have woken up.” As if I needed another reason to dislike Republicans. The two they expect in two weeks are going to a waiting list, that at this point is about 35 people long. Used Priuses are just as scarce, and they’re selling for $26K, which is about what the new one is.

So researching cars, I’ve found a great list at the EPA’s site to help, and these figures can be trusted, because the government wouldn’t lie to us, right?

Cars.com went further with another list that shows the total cost to own the most economical vehicles, over an eight-year period, sticker-price purchase, plus gas, 15,000 miles per year, 55 percent city driving and 45 percent on the highway, and assuming gas is fixed at $3.40. They had to fix it somewhere, and besides, since it would rise for all of them evenly, it’s all relative. Here’s the list:

Gas-Only Vehicles (All have manual transmission)

    • Smart ForTwo (with premium fuel): 33/41; $22,868
    • Toyota Yaris: 29/36 ; $24,188
    • Hyundai Accent: 27/32; $24,824
    • Kia Rio: 27/32; $24,939
    • Chevrolet Aveo5: 24/34; $24,985
    • Nissan Versa: 26/31; $27,433
    • Chevrolet Aveo: 24/34; $26,920
    • Honda Fit: 28/34; $27,364
    • Toyota Corolla: 28/37; $27,381
    • Scion xD: 24/32; $28,425

      Okay, I wouldn’t drive a Yaris with 29/36 when there’s a Mini Cooper getting 28/37 either. The hybrids, well, they’re just too expensive.

      Hybrid Vehicles

        • Toyota Prius: 48/45; $29,855
        • Honda Civic Hybrid: 40/45; $32,290
        • Toyota Camry Hybrid: 33/34; $37,400
        • Nissan Altima Hybrid: 35/33; $37,455
        • Saturn Aura Green Line: 24/32; $38,728

          Then I watched this video, where two drivers drove a Prius and a DIESEL 5-series BMW, through an entire tank of gas to see which went farther. It’s crucial to remember that the BMW is diesel. It’s very interesting.

          A year ago, I reserved a Smart. It’s due sometime between September and November. It gets about 44mpg, on average. The diesel version, only offered overseas, gets 71mpg. The diesel is not available here. Neither are just about any diesels whatsoever.

          What’s also not available is that Honda Insight I passed up. None. Anywhere. They’ve been confiscated by aliens.

          So it’s a toss-up between the Smart, the Mini Cooper, and the Yaris. Okay, those two.

          I lean toward the Mini, because it’s less likely to change dramatically in styling, obsolescing the thing before I can get it paid for. Something’s got to give soon. I found myself lusting after a twenty-year old Honda Civic CRX. Sigh.

          The weird thing is that it takes me half the time to get to work now, because there are fewer cars on the road.

          5 Responses to “High Gas Prices and Higher MPG in Los Angeles”

          1. Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm

            Funny, I’ve noticed the traffic reducing too. I guess that’s what “gives” — the more expensive gas becomes, the more people who use public transit and alternative modalities of transportation, such as swimming, cycling, walking, and skipping.

          2. 2 Pants
            Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 2:02 pm

            What’s the matter Bronson, the Toyota Matrix gets no love?

            I am up to 70,000 miles on that car. We are going to retire Mike’s car, make my car the “old” one and we have been chatting about our next investment and we have been leaning towards a Mini Cooper … which are all over the place in Naples now. But surprisingly there are no mini dealerships here.

            There is a Hummer dealership – shocking, I know. I am waiting for the Hummer Dealership to go under. Should be fun to watch! Good times!

          3. Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

            Here’s my prediction… Between now and when some future catastrophic cultural shift caused by a diminished petroleum supply occurs, we will be forced to consume less petroleum products. Go to LifeAftertheOilCrash.net. Sift through some of the alarmist-hype and I think there are geniune concerns about our oil supply that no government or corporation is willing to speak about less they cause a panic.

            Cars? What about the petroleum-based fertilizers for our food supply that allow us to grow higher yields? Are you reading this on a computer monitor with a plastic shell? Plastic comes from petroleum. Are you reading this with contacts or glasses? Also, petroleum-based. Just as there was a Bronze Age, historians will look upon the current period as the Oil Age.

            We’ll survive. Maybe not in the style to which we’re accustomed, but we’ll all be ok. I foresee the day when filling up our gas tank may be done with the same frequency as we get an oil change. That’s how fuel-efficient our cars will be.

            GM or Ford will go bankrupt trying to buck the fuel-efficient trend.

          4. 4 Conny
            Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 3:28 pm

            Do you and Sam physically fit into a Mini or a Smart? Room for Max…let alone Churchill?!
            Mothers-in-Law carried in side-cars?

          5. Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 5:46 pm

            OK, I’m back to supporting openly the idea of a Mini/SmartCar family. I think it makes more sense to have a Mini in the family, to make trips running guests to/from the airport less awkward.

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