• Love the Aussie Holdens.

    Operating cost considerations might militate toward a Jetta TDi, but this is definitely a nicer car overall, and the back seat's big enough for…well, Anthony didn't say whether his kids play basketball, or whether any of them are old enough to borrow the car for dates…

  • An E39 M5 in okay shape, or a good M-Sport 5er, or the best TSX you can find in your area. The high RPM of the Acura's K24 engine may wear on you for 95 miles a day, but you'll appreciate the mileage.

  • 2002 WRX Wagon with 88k miles and not stupidly modified. The price might be a little high, but hey, it's Craigslist. You should be able to get the year's service and 25k miles out of it you are planning to do until you move closer to work.

    • $10k for a nice bugeye WRX wagon with 88k miles sounds like a good deal to me. About 4 years ago I sold mine with 100k for about $9500. 4 years of inflation, $500 more, but 12k miles less – I almost couldn't afford not to buy that if I wanted another one.

  • If you look a little bit, you can find a decent 1997 M3 Sedan, with a 5sp, for about $10k. It will likely have new suspension and cooling system at that price, or you can factor it in. This will be much more fun than that Pontiac without the V8…then just sell it for the same or more a year later.

    I have one, and it is an amazing car.

  • Is resale value important after the year is up? A couple of options…

    2003 Infiniti G35 for $8,335 with 82K miles

    2013 Kia Rio LX for $10K with 29K miles

    2007 Volvo S40 2.4i for $8,593 with 79,993 miles

    2010 Mazda Mazda3 i SV for $9,959 with 64,664 miles

    Hey, why not? Considering what you already have…

  • You mention you're in the SF area, so I would suggest you look at a natural gas vehicle (CNG) for your commute.
    I live in LA, and I have a CNG Civic which is awesome. The biggest benefit of CNG vehicles in CA is the use of the carpool lane as a single driver! An added plus is the cost of CNG, around $2.25 gal in California. I also think you get half price tolls on the any bridge crossings there as well. I can tell you that my commute time is cut down by HALF, and the the carpool lane tol roads are free. I'll pay for the car in fuel savings alone in 2.5 years.
    Just something to consider…

    • …and with a little work, you can convert your trunk into a handy grill!

      Seriously, I was not aware of special incentives for NG vehicles down there. They were briefly popular up here in Ontario back in the 1980s, but I never see them now. Maybe some incentive program disappeared…

    • …and with that in mind, how about a CrownVic P71 w/ Appearance Package. Being CA you may find a CNG-copy out there. Muni-repairs swap out parts even if not needed (rumoured) simply cause it's their job; to maintain 'em. The 4.6 will handle the miles +. Under $10K and readily available. Seats 5/6. Five-Star=Family viable. Highway stealth, blaa..blaa….need I say more?
      An army marches on it's stomach; a police department, on it's fleet. (sorry, caffeine)

  • Honda Element:

    Good for hauling brats, or the motorcycle you bring home to reward yourself for the new job. AWD, 4 Wheel disks, 5 speed manual, ABS – I brought mine down from Julian CA in an ice storm that had dozens of cars off the side of the road and hundreds too afraid to move.

    Right around the $10k price point and will hold their value so if you don't destroy it you can still get $9k out of it in a year.

    • The one thing about the Element that sucks with small kids are the stupid suicide doors that don't open unless the front door is open. If it's just you and all 3 in the back, they all have to pile out the drivers side, since the right side kid won't be able get out on their own without *a lot* of trouble. Other than that the rubber mats with kids is ideal, just hose it out! 🙂

  • Thanks for the suggestions, Vince et al!

    @mrkwong, the kids are 9 and under, and no future NBA stars among them. The Jetta TDI wagon is a great call… from a TCO perspective.

    @ Phil & KBZ – I'm very tempted by E39s, such a great car. I've ridden in a friend's TSX, and it felt nice and tight (in the handling dept).

    @Gianni – I have a soft spot for Subarus, having owned two in my time.

    @Sean Scott – may not fit the bill exactly, but is damn nice, and a big upgrade from my W126!

    @Achman – very interesting suggestion, I'm going to investigate further.

  • Oops, forgot to hit refresh before publishing…

    @K2 – yes, resale is a key piece of the puzzle… solid suggestions, but I especially love the Saab! Wagon, manual, out of production… mmmhmmmm… I may have been spending too much time on Jalopnik though (my W126 is brown, natch).

    @Anon – that is a great point, I had totally overlooked the CNG Civic. That might be a winner…

    @AbnMike – I like the Element a lot, and looked at buying one a few years back, but it was short a spot for one of the three brats. Although, the back was pretty roomy…

    • Anthony, you might consider calculating the yearly TCO. The Kia Rio is an easy example because you can find it online and not have to figure it out yourself. Here you go:

      Depreciation = $763
      Fuel = $1,508
      Insurance = $3,128
      Maintenance = $1,119
      Repairs = $520

      It seems to me that depreciation could be a big factor in your case, especially the desire for possible resale in one year. You probably don't want to buy a $10K car and then turn around and sell it for a couple grand less. Just a thought!

    • K2 – yup, totally agree on resale/depreciation in TCO, which is what makes it an interesting challenge (IMO) to optimize when considering vehicles a few years further out. The one thing that looks off in your #s for the Kia is the insurance… my wife's fully insured late-model Sienna is only $600 per year for us. And of course, if I'm being a rational actor, there's no way I consider anything Saab or German… must… resist… irrationality… I did notice that the cars you listed are near by me — thanks!!!

    • Are those numbers for a year? The insurance seems high and would a Rio really need 1,600 in repairs over a year? If so, confirms my snooty bias against Korean cars 🙂

    • Ya I wondered about those repair/maintenance #s as well… it's a 2013 with 29K miles, what could need to be done? Brakes + tires + fluids + belts? Even then, it seems like you'd have to take it to a BMW dealership to pay that much (ok that's an exaggeration, those would be like $3k at a BMW dealership)…

    • Anthony – given your problem statement, you really need to heed DT Editor-in-Chief Vince's advice on this one. He is the king of short term car ownership. All of my friends are car enthusiasts, but he's the only one I've ever met who can consistently make money on every short term experience. Not flipping mind you; he usually drives a car for a year or two and then moves on to the next manifestation of his automotive ADD. I have the same affliction but am nowhere near as good at buying and selling!

    • Holy Mother of Pearl, I screwed that WHOLE thing up! Sorry about that, doing a million things at once. Stop trying to multi-task K2, you suck at it!

      Let's start again with the whole TCO angle. I put in a SF zip that I remembered off the top of my head and you don't really care about the 3rd year, you want to know about the difference between that and the 4th year. So, here you go. Remember, it's a calculator and it doesn't know you personally, so things like the insurance are guesstimates based on whatever they're using as parameters. This is the copy for the insurance parameter.

      "This is the estimated average annual insurance premium in your state. The premium has been determined based on annual premium data for defined driver profiles and coverages (liability, comprehensive and collision) from a major national insurer. While this information is specific to vehicle make, model, model year and body type, your personal information is not taken into consideration and could greatly alter the actual premium quoted by an insurer. Factors that will affect your rate include your age, marital status, credit history, driving record, and the garaging address of your vehicle."

      [img] i.imgur.com/jipBxgd.png?1[/img]

      Just as a comparison, here's the same thing for the 2010 Mazda3 that I found.

      [img] i.imgur.com/f74BUdO.png?1[/img]

      So these are a little bit of an apples to oranges comparison, but just to try to get a feel for the depreciation you'd experience after buying either of these cars and then turning around and selling them in a year, they're pretty darn close. The Kia would lose about $90 and the Mazda somewhere around $50ish? Go here for the TCO calculator and an explanation how they come up with the numbers.

      Unfortunately, the TCO calculator doesn't go back to the 2008 G8 base automatic. But here's the tally for the same model, but a 2009.

      [img] i.imgur.com/t8XOV3g.png?2[/img]

    • I shall proceed to shoot myself in the foot and potentially insult one of the coolest people on the planet, my pal Gianni. Here's a TCO on a 2013 MINI Cooper base model.

      [img] i.imgur.com/6K9JOGL.png?1[/img]

      I…well, I will say this about the MINI…other than depreciation, ALL of the other numbers seem quite reasonable to me. It's really that Year 1 depreciation number that's the jaw dropper. So the lesson here is to just buy a used one!

    • Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants, what about your beloved Volvo? Surely those drop like a rock. After all, that's why you bought a V70, right? Well, here's the TCO on a 2009 V50 2.4i. Aw, nuts.

      [img] i.imgur.com/L4Z6iuB.png?1[/img]

    • The CNG Civic is a real time and money saver, plus the resale value is excellent. I had never heard of CNG before, and when I found out that I get the carpool lane as a single driver…whoop!
      The infrastructure in NoCal and SoCal is excellent, and your can even fill-up right at home, if you're so inclined.
      I have a Phill unit in my garage, and fill-up both the wife's CNG Civic, and my 2004 Ford CNG Crown Victoria.
      I have a 94 Mercedes E500E that's my weekend car…I'll never sell the MBZ. I bought the CNG Crown Vic 2 years ago for $3K, with 35,000 miles. Smooth, like driving your couch on the freeway! The car has paid for itself in the time I've owned it. I have no doubt I could sell the Crown Victoria for $6K now with the carpool stickers. Best of luck on whatever your choose 🙂

    • Just for fun…the TCO on a 2015 BMW 760Li. Yep, those first three years of free maintenance…yep! But to be completely fair, if you're buying a brand new 760Li, you're not that concerned about money.

      [img] i.imgur.com/tJM87Ip.png?1[/img]

    • It takes a lot more than that to insult me k-squared! That being said, I'd never buy a new MINI now. When I bought mine 10 years ago, I bought it from a dealer in Ohio and I probably could have sold it for what I bought it for out here on the west coast. MINI had a strange allocation scheme, and back then there was only 1 dealer in WA, 50 miles south of Seattle. They had no cars and weren't taking any orders. Call back in 6 months was their answer. The Portland OR dealer was taking orders with a 9 month wait and $500 over sticker. SLC was 6 months and $300 over. CA was 3 digits over sticker and 6 – 9 month wait. The Ohio dealer was we will take your build to order today and it will go into the queue as soon as you sign. I did my order the week before Thanksgiving in 2004 and my car was finished the first week of December and shipped over and landed on the east coast around New Years. Now days there are 2 dealers in WA and the one near me has loads of them sitting on the lot.

    • I've said before and I'm sure I'll say it again…you are a wise man, G. I enjoyed reading the story of your MINI purchase on your excellent blog. I'd imagine that there have been several cars like that, historically. The Miata, Hellcat, wasn't the New Beetle crazy with dealer markup, too? It's escaping my tired brain right now, but there were many, I know.

    • Can anybody come up with a car that was released in the past 3-4 years that experienced high dealer markup due to a problem with the supplier keeping up with demand that we can feed through the TCO calculator? I'm drawing a blank, the cars I keep coming up with are too new.

    • BTW, if a wealthy dude bought an ActiveHybrid 7 instead of that 760 that I listed above, he'd only experience a little over $17K in depreciation in Year 1. You can send the money that I just saved you to DT and I'll accept my customary 10%. You're welcome.

      Are there wealthy dudettes out there buying 7s? Or do they just buy an X instead? I can't remember the last time I saw a woman driving a 7. Is that sexist and does it have anything to do with Bruce Jenner?

      [img] i.imgur.com/5rXr1Dw.jpg?1[/img]

  • Couple of thoughts..
    RE: CNG: I've sold many CNG vehicles (all heavy duty trucks and buses) and if you don't mind a little less trunk space either the Civic or the Ford are a great way to go as long as there is time left on the tanks (like milk, they have expiration dates).
    RE: CFlo's comment about Vince:
    The key levers in short term ownership are maintenance/depreciation if you're not doing a lot of repair work on your own. Vince has done well buying cars that are at a lower end of their depreciation scale. He and I are quite opposite in our approach but I must admit he's found a method that works for him. He buys ultra High mileage cars that I eschew. By buying high mileage cars, it doesn't matter how many miles he puts on in a year, he's not affecting the car's desirability. Or, you buy a car that's old enough that 1 more year is unnoticeable in terms of depreciation. The G8 is a great buy because its at the low end of desirability but at the high end of the features. Its the GM equivalent of buying a low mile 2010 Linoln MKT with Ecoboost. Or, as Anthony points out.. somewhat Saabish in its enduring appeal. But low numbers make them harder to find and the more oddball they are, the harder it is to find a willing buyer when you're ready to sell.
    Using those parameters, I kinda like the Saab 9-5 Wagon w/ manual . Its not going to depreciate, but you may have to wait for the right buyer when you go to sell it. Its roomy, its manual, its turbo and you're not going to see 10 of them between now and when you sell it.

  • The CNG is interesting. I did a search on cars.com for CNG vehicles under $10K within a 500 mile radius of SF. The resulting list of 10 cars consisted mostly of Civics, none of which were manuals. Did they make a stick-shift CNG Civic? If so, is there a secret stock of them somewhere/better place to look online? It seems to me that while this is certainly an interesting option, it might not be very easy to find one. When I narrowed the search to within 100 miles, I got 2 Civics from the same dealer (EKE or something). Is there really a benefit if Anthony sells the car in a year? Curious minds would like to know.

    • I'm not sure if the CNG Civic is available with a manual…ours is an automatic. With gas in Cali around the $4 mark, CNG is priced at $2.25 – 2.50. There is definitely a big savings on fuel cost for a year. The biggest savings is in "time" with the family. My commute is now half the time based on the carpool lane access.
      Once you pay half for fuel and half the time commuting, it's hard to go back. If you're selling in a year, then your cost of ownership is less, resale is awesome, and the insurance costs are excellent. I pay approx. $1.25 per GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) filling at home – that includes the cost of my home compressor, natural gas, and electricity. The $2.25 mentioned above is filling at a public station, which are all over the place.
      A really good resource for more info on CNG vehicles is CNGchat.com
      Hope this helps.

    • That's a significant benefit, as you pointed out, for sure. Sounds like Anthony would be forced to live with an automatic, despite his second requirement if he chooses CNG. Only he knows if that's acceptable. Maybe it is, given the benefits of lower fuel costs and the ability to occupy the commuter lane.

      I took a look at that site. Very informative. Who was saying the other day here on DT that there isn't information and a online community to support some cars? Well, here you go – a site devoted to a sub-set of a select few cars, predominantly American and Japanese. It's the equal of any BMW site I've ever been on, in terms of detailed maintenance and repair information.

      Though saving money is fun in its' own way, Anthony will also have to give up all pretense of performance with a 0-60 around 12 seconds for the CNG Civic.


      Just to compare it to the 29 city/37 hwy mpg Kia Rio I found, which does 0-60 in 7.6 seconds…that's a pretty significant difference and noticeable to most folks.

      Let's analyze the fuel savings. Assuming a average of $3.83 for a gallon of SF gas and $2.25 for the CNG, the savings for the Civic GX for a year compared to the Rio would be $600. That's also a significant number, no matter how you look at it, with the clear winner the GX.

      [img] i.imgur.com/4uAoW4y.png?1[/img]

      Anthony should also identify exactly where the CNG filling stations are. If he has to drive a significant distance, it not only will cause him an inconvenience but also change his fuel savings.

    • Some of the biggest advantages of CNG are being ignored. Price stability is a big one. Here in CA we pay more gasoline tax and are the most frequently subjected to price fluctuations for refinery maintenance. CNG prices have been essentially flat since the US discovered horizontal drilling. Unfortunately, due to the owners of the 'current' CNG stations in CA there is almost no competition in CNG. That disadvantage is turned on its ear when one fills at home with pipeline gas. The cost of the home fueling appliance is a one time sunk cost for the house that one has to amortize over a longer period than the ownership of a single car. I'm guessing that someone in the bay area is probably paying the equivalent of about $0.90/gge for home fill CNG.
      The more CNG/LNG we use, the less refinery demand there is. They aren't building refineries, so if you use CNG in your commuter car, you could effectively be protecting the gasoline you'll still want for your toy car in the years to come.
      Having worked in both alternative fuels and oil and gas exploration, I'm kinda biased, but then there's the national security aspect of it. National Security via Natural Gas = Natural Security. We grow it here at home.
      Don't get me started!

    • Great points, H & K2. I fill both my CNG vehicles at home with house gas, and it's around $1.00 -$1.25 gallon.
      My wife and I Put approx. 30K miles on our CNG cars every year, so the cost of the home fill REALLY pays off.
      If Anthony is only keeping it for a year or so, home refueling wouldn't make economic sense at all.
      We have driven our CNG Crown Victoria all over the western states, to Medford OR, Tuscon, AZ, Las Vegas,
      Utah, etc. As H pointed out, CA taxes the **** out of fuel here, so when I fill up my 500E, its $65 all day long. I fill up my Civic, it's $7 max, and my Ford is $19 bucks. Oil changes are a breeze – you can go 10K easy, and the oil looks perfect when you change it since there is no blow-by at all. it's really weird to see oil that clean at 10K. I bought the Crown Victoria from Public Surplus.com, for 3K in Medford, OR, flew up, drove it home without issue. There are certainly more sexy cars to drive, but for commuting purposes, nothing beats a CNG vehicle in CA, at least.

  • >