Balancing Act

Car shopping

I’ve been car shopping for the past couple of weeks. While I enjoyed driving the Acura RSX and satisfied with its reliability and performance through the course of 7 years of ownership, I think it’s time for me to move on and get into something a little more practical, 4-door and fuel efficient. A couple of cars have landed on my prospect list but I’m gravitating more and more towards the new Toyota Prius C. A couple of other cars I’ve entertained includes the Acura TL SH-AWD w/Advanced package, Acura TSX w/Technology Package, Acura ILX 2.0, Honda Insight EX, and Toyota Prius Four.

For its value and fuel efficiency, I think the Prius C makes the most sense. Performance is not my preference nor priority at this stage, so the less than stellar performance of hybrid vehicles is perfectly fine by me. The primary criteria I’m looking at are practicality, fuel efficiency and four door. The Prius C offers the best value and cost efficiency in terms of monthly maintenance (i.e. insurance, gas, car payment), which is actually well below that of the 7-year old Acura RSX when all calculations are done! Gas saving alone would be approximately $150 a month (taking the C’s 9.5 gallon gas tank into consideration and using 87 octane gasoline). Complete insurance coverage (comprehensive + collision) for the Prius C is significantly less than the Acura RSX; and we’re talking about insurance coverage on a brand new 2012 car versus a 7-year old car from 2005!

Considering the C is equipped with upgraded safety features, like 9 air bags, and is technologically up to date by modern standards, such as touch navigation with Toyota’s Entune system, Smart Key (that unlocks the door/hatch with 2.3 ft) w/push button start feature (where you don’t need to stick the key in and turn it to the II position to work, ala JDM push button start feature for the RSX), etc. All features considered, it’s pretty much a sealed deal. I considered the model Three instead of the Four because I live in Southern California and could save the $1,600.00 Toyota is asking for front heated SofTex trimmed seats, heated side mirrors and integrated fog lights (which can always be added later).

I’ve always been brand loyal to Honda, but with the fuel-efficiency, price point and features combination (speaking of the Honda Insight), it makes financial sense to go with the Prius C; which at comparable price point is better equipped than the top of the line Insight w/Navigation. It’s hard to justify choosing the under-equipped, lower fuel efficiency, higher priced Honda Insight over the Toyota Prius C.

The Prius C will be a intermittent commuter car for now, that’s if I decide to purchase it. I’ll probably be driving it for 3-4 years while budgeting for my next car and until my girlfriend pays off her 350Z. Once she’s done, the Prius C will probably be her daily driver while I car shop for something a little larger and family oriented. I have the Acura RLX Sports Hybrid SH-AWD and the Acura TL SH-AWD (or by then, the Acura TLX SH SH-AWD)  in mind, but that’s 5 years down the line, and when it’s time to car shop, I’ll have enough funds in my car budget to purchase a really, really nice car.

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