Buying My Wife’s Next Car

Despite my disdain for the costs of owning a car, I find myself in a familiar situation…looking for a new car.  This time, it isn’t a replacement for my dented Toyota Camry.  Instead, my wife is looking for a new car.  With the prospect of having a family being in the not so distant future, we are looking to upgrade my wife’s Honda Civic to an SUV.   This article will summarize some of the discussions my wife and I had about car ownership along with discussing our final options that we are looking to purchase.

Our Differing Views

So here is where my wife and I split on our car buying philosophy.  My car frustrations have been well documented on this website and in the future, I have decided that I am going to take a different approach to purchasing a vehicle in the future.  This approach will include the cheapest option that I can ride into the ground and will almost certainly not be a new vehicle.  I’ll be scouring the used car market in the search for the best value out there for an asset that I hate spending money on.

My wife on the other hand, prefers new cars.  Historically, she has leased vehicles and loves receiving a new car every three or so years with all of the updated features.  Currently, her lease is set to expire on a 2014 Honda Civic.  I love the car and we had a $0 down, sign and drive lease that was $269 per month.  It came with all the features you would expect, Bluetooth, sunroof, backup camera, and so on.  I thought the lease agreement was pretty reasonable at the time give the fact she left the dealership only having to pay her first monthly payment.  I’m sure it could have been lower, but we were both excited about the car, the features, the great gas mileage, and the deal.

Compromising

Judging by the previous section, I’m sure you can see that my wife and I are on opposite ends of the car buying spectrum.  We first discussed the lease versus buying option and how I prefer buying over leasing.  My preference has always leaned towards purchasing a vehicle and I am less than 12 months away from owning my car outright.  I cannot wait for the period where I can own the car outright with no more payments and can ride that sucker into the ground. My Toyota Campy should get me to 200,000 miles with the proper care and I envision a long future with this car considering I just hit 60,000 miles at the end of my fourth year of ownership.  You never realize this payment free period with a lease and are in a constant cycle of monthly payments.  Sure they are lower, but there is no break.

We discussed my point of view and she gets where I am coming from.  She is willing to purchase a car outright and accept the fact that the car will be ours for hopefully the next 10+ years.  However, where she isn’t willing to sacrifice, is just selecting the lowest cost car option available and calling it a day.  If she is going to dive the same car for a long period of time, she would like the newest technology so the car does not become outdated quickly and miserable to dive in the second half of our ownership cycle.   Me personally, I will be willing to accept this for my car.  However, I am willing to listen to her on this point because this is going to be her primary car.  I completely understand where she is coming from.

A newer car is going to be more expensive, but if she is willing to hold on to the car till 200,000 miles an d 10+ years, it is reasonable for me to compromise on the front end.  We’ve decided that we are willing to consider new or certified used cars for the models we will eventually select, meaning that if we do buy a used car, it is run through the vigorous check by the dealership and the car is relatively new.  My wife would have her updated features in either of these two situations.

The Features and The Final contenders

We’ve been kicking around for a few months now what features we are going to want in our car.  Since the winters in Cleveland can be pretty bad and the car will eventually drive our family around, we are only considering all wheel drive options.  Not surprising, we are looking for cars that are reliable and the cost of maintenance will not be that great.  Lastly, as suggested, we are looking for cars that have the updated features…at a minimum what she has in her current Honda Civic.  Other than that, we are pretty open to ideas for our next car.

After performing our test drives this weekend, we have determine our final three contenders for our next car purchase.  We drank a lot of free, bad, car dealership coffee and had a lot of awkward conversations while on test drives with the salesperson.  But we are pretty happy with the listing and look forward to driving one of these bad boys soon.   One of the tools I have been considering in my research is the Edmunds True Cost to Own Feature, which takes into account the cars depreciation, taxes, financing, insurance, fuel, and maintenance over the first five years of ownership.  The numbers mention below were all for 2016 versions of the cars we considered and are subject to change, especially if we decide to purchase a used car versus a new car.  But I am using this tool to gauge whether or now one of the SUVs is significantly more expensive to own.  One other item to mention is that I excluded MPG discussion because I found all three to be comparable and the difference would not be significant or significantly impact my decision

2016 or 2017 Subaru Forester – 5 year cost to own – $37,328-  What gets us the most excited about the Forester is the all-wheel drive.  Heck, that’s what Subaru is known for after all.  Plus, this was our favorite of the cars to test drive and we thought that it had the best visibility, was a quiet ride, and was very smooth.

2014 through 2016 Toyota Rav 4 XLE –  5 year cost to own –  $38,421 –  We enjoyed our test drive experience with this model, but noticed it was noisier than the Subaru.  But it had all the technology features that my wife is looking for.  Luckily, the Rav 4 had its major redesign/refresh in 2014, so there really isn’t that large of a difference between the 2014 model and the 2017 model.  The 2017 model is pretty darn expensive, so for this SUV, we are only checking out certified used options.  We drove a 2014 with 40k miles that was about $10k cheaper than the new model, so there may be some great deals to be had on a used Rav4.  Another thing I found interesting when comparing the Rav4 to the Forester is that the dealer suggests changing the oil every 10k miles on a Rav4 versus every 6,000 on a Forester.  If we can make it to 200,000 like I am hoping, the Rav4 would require 13 less oil changes over the life of the car.  That does add up over time, especially considering how expensive synthetic oil is.

2015 through 2017 Honda CRV –  5 year cost to own – $36,644 –  We did not test drive the Honda CRV yet; however, I suspect that we may be able to get a better deal here for the CV considering we have a relationship with Honda already and they may be the most willing to work with us on our lease trade in.  The ratings for the CRV are very good and it is the cheapest to own of the three.  The one thing I have been reading is that it is not as cheap as the Forester, but if the cost to own over the long run is less money and the car is just as reliable (if not more reliable) over the long haul, paying a little more upfront may be worth it.

Summary

I am pretty happy to make this compromise with my wife.  While I will not enjoy the monthly payments for the first five years, I am looking forward to purchasing a car that I know is reliable and has a great chance of making it to 200,000.  Incurring the payment will not be as painful for whatever option we select because my car will be fully paid off in April 2018. The payments on her new car will definitely be less than the sum of our two current payments, $629 ($360 for me and $269 for my wife), so within 12 months the cash outflow for total car payments will reduced.  This will be VERY nice once we purchase a house and begin our monthly mortgage payments.  Who knows, maybe I will consider what Lanny is doing and also pay off my car loan early to help manage out monthly cash flow.   For now though, I am happy that we were able to find a compromise and know that we are going to purchase a quality product that will be with our family for many years to come.  We have taken our time and our now going to find the best possible deal out there to push out monthly payments down as low as possible.  It sucks that we are going to have to take out a car loan and debt, which is why the goal is to keep these payments as low as possible!

What are your thoughts on our thought process?  Do you like the three cars mentioned above?  Or are there other options that you think I should consider?  Have you had a good or bad experience in the past with any of the cars purchased?

Bert

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39 thoughts on “Buying My Wife’s Next Car

  1. You should also look into the Mazda CX-5
    My fiancé had a 2012 crv, now drives a 2014 rav and her good friend just bought a 2016 cx5. The Mazda is very nice and the price is very comparable.
    You are lucky she doesn’t want a luxury SUV! Haha

    • Hey Ken,

      We actually test drove the CX-5 and it was high on my hit list for the reasons you mentioned. One problem…she didn’t like it! So we had to strike that one off the list haha I was a big fan of the CX-5’s price and the new reviews of the ride, but the boss did not like it! Very true about the luxury SUV – I’m on the lucky side here.

      Bert

  2. My wife and I were in a similar situation, and looked at all of the cars you mentioned above. We ultimately ended up with a 2017 Kia Sorrento. Check it out, fabulous car, extremely highly rated, and more affordable than all of the options you listed above. We got a new Sorrento, with leather, back up camera, 7 inch touchscreen, power and heated seats, for about 26k. Heck of a deal imo. We could have gotten a cheaper used car, but like you said, we’re planning to keep this car for 10-15 years so its worth it to get a new car when the price is reasonable. For the same options we got on the Sorrento, the other cars were all 4-6k more…was a no brainer for us.
    Good luck!

    • Forgot to add to the above…we put 3k down, and our payments are about $380 a month for 60 months, and then we’ll own it outright. The rate we got was 1.9% which I think is pretty good. They initially offered a rate of 2.9% but I hemmed and hawed and got them down a whole percentage point.

      • That is a lot of featrues for a nice SUV for only $26k. Excellent negotiating skills right there haha I appreciate your input on the sorrento and I am going to run it by my wife. Have you enjoyed the driving experience so far? Our concern would be the harsh winters up here. I love how you negotiated down the rate – Thats amazing

        Bert

  3. While I agree on Mazda CX-5 (very sexy looking car), the problem with Mazda, especially newer models after company restructuring is we don’t know how reliable they are. Looks like they are buying it and hoping to drive 200k miles. That’s one of the reasons why Nissan is not on the list 🙂
    I would totally vouch for Mitsubishi here. Outlander has 3 rows (even if you don’t use it, it come handy, trust me), very good price, new/used Outlanders are much cheaper than competition, not the sexiest but definitely reliable… And you just get more car for the money.

    • Izzard,

      The new car looks awesome, I love the way it looks. But you’re right, the reliability is still TBD. Sure it holds up in factory simulations, but what about the rigors of a cold, icy, salt-covered-road winter up here in Cleveland? I’ll check out the Outlander. I haven’t even considered driving a Mitsubishi before haha What do you like most about it? Does it have all wheel drive?

      Bert

  4. I made the mistake of purchasing a new car twice and I wont be going down that road for awhile. Chasing after the new features in a car is very silly and your wife needs to realize that it’s silly to want to get a brand new car just because it has a few new features like illuminated lighting kits or even outside courtesy lighting. Yes these things can be fun but In no way are worth the extra money. Just purchase a nice used 2014 or 2015 vehicle and call it a day.

    • I agree with what you are saying Diligent. But I don’t think her request is too outlandish. She isn’t asking for those types of items, rather, the technology inside the car that she will be interacting with everyday. For example, Subaru’s new feature is a $2,000 safety camera up front that will assist with stopping your car if you are too close to the car in front of you and it senses an accident. A great new expensive bell and whistle, as if we haven’t been driving cars for all of these freaking years. She could care less about that and has no problem leaving that off of the car. I understand her viewpoint here and where she is coming from, especially if I am asking her to own this car for the next 10-15 years or so. So we are leaning towards 2014 or 2015 with the bells and whistles to meet in the middle.

      Bert

  5. You’ve mentioned that when of the primary reasons for upgrading to an SUV is you’re upcoming family. Why not negotiate further with your wife to only purchase one of these big family cars when you actually have a family? Depending on circumstances and time could save a good few bob.

  6. Ahh had car leasing back in y2009 for new car. expensive stuff 🙂 you chose very rational purchase – used 2-3y car from dealer. Price should be ~1\3 lower then new and car it self is comparably new. As i know cars lose most of their value in first years. Of course later it cost to repair like my 14y renault 🙂 either way cheapest car is no car if you can aford you self for such a way of life.

  7. It’s easy to just buy a cheap car to “save money.” My one friend buys a different car like once a year. Each time is the same story. Car has an issue and he ends up selling it to get money for a different one. Each time loses money and he still hasn’t caught on yet.

    But part of being frugal is to see the big picture. Looking long term, it’s more cost efficient to spend a little more up front for a quality product that you can use for a longer period of time. That isn’t to say go out and necessarily buy a brand new car. Even models one or two years older still have similar features but the price is drastically lower as long as you can find one with the right amount of miles on it. But I like adding in reliability into the cost basis and adjust accordingly. Good luck in your decision and enjoy the new ride.

  8. I fully get both sides of the argument. I personally am like your wife, except not the every few years thing. I like buying a new car, one that is reliable, and running with it for a long time. It isn’t necessarily about the “new” part. It is more about the fact that it is mine, I know when it has gotten oil changes, I know when it has been serviced, I know how it has been driven…you get the picture.

    Maybe this is my controlling side? But I like knowing everything about the hunk of metal I’m driving around in. I’ve had my Tacoma for 4+ years now and I wouldn’t change a thing, it was expensive at the beginning, but it has been a great vehicle, and not a single repair has been needed, just 4 oil changes. Don’t forget what a pain it is when your car breaks down too! (If you only have one) Time is money!

    Lastly, pay attention to resale values when looking, this is a big part of why I chose the Tacoma, according to KBB, I’ve had this truck for 4 years, it has ~35k miles on it, and it says I could sell it today for a mere $4,000 less than I paid for it. $1,000 a year in depreciated value ain’t too shabby.

    • Good call looking at the resale value. Just checked it out now and four of the top ten cars on the overall were Toyotas and they were awarded the best brand. I’m leaning towards a Rav4 at this point. Luckily, I’ve gotten my wife into buying now instead of leasing. I agree, I like that we will control everything about the car. IF it gets a slight ding on it, you don’t have to worry about getting smacked when you trade in the lease. I appreciate your comment and the reminder to also review the resale value in the event we would like to resell one day down the road.

      Bert

  9. Sounds like you are already leaning towards one car. They seem like all very nice cars. All the best for the choice making, it is a hard one. I bought my car about 18 months ago, while they do cost a lot of money I really do enjoy driving the 1.8L Turbo Holden (Chevy) Cruze.

  10. We just did the same thing. We ended up with a CX5. I was wishy washy at first but now really like it. The wife loves it!! Of course she drives everyday for work, so she’s the one to keep happy.

    As for purchasing, we actually went through beepi.com. it was cheaper than anywhere else we found and they delivered it right to our door. Even let us put the large down-payment on credit cards (hello points!) It was a great experience. Don’t know if it’s available local to you, but worth the look.

    • I just went to Beepi’s website and it says “we are in the shop for some tuneups,” so I’m not exactly sure what that means or when they are planning on being active again! But man, everyone is giving me some great resources to use during the process. Glad you like the CX5, I enjoyed the ride, but my wife…not so much. As you said, shes the one to keep happy haha

      Bert

  11. Make sure you use TrueCar, you will save thousands off the MSRP and won’t have to negotiate prices.

    I got a new $27,900 Golf GTI for $24,400 this way

    • just checked it out. Great negotiating tool right there David – I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. Now I am determined to beat that figure haha I’ll let you know how it goes.

      Bert

      • When you’re ready, actually submit your information. You’ll immediately get several phone calls from dealers, as well as email. Talk to them through email, and you can quickly negotiate the price down further. You can say: “Hi X, Y offered me a price lower than yours. Can you beat them?” You then take that back to Y, etc until you get the best price possible.

        Good luck!

  12. I am frugal but I agree with your wife. I had a sedan and now a Rogue AWD (SUV) and I would never ever go back to a sedan. Especially in Ohio where it snows. So… AWD absolutely. I leased it but I will buy it out .

    Also, since you are buying for the next 10 years, buy the car new. Your wife will like it and the extra $ is not worth her complaining about the used car. Also, certified or not, you don’t know how a used car was driven or maintained, whether the odometer was rolled back, etc. You can afford it, so splurge a little bit. I spend 2 hours a day in my car – it’s nice to be comfortable.

    Things to consider:
    If you buy a Honda, you will not have the end of lease termination fee because you are being loyal to the brand
    You need a third row of seating
    Check Edmunds forums for car pricing deals
    Call car brokers which have physical offices you can visit. These guys are very popular on the coasts and they are able to get better prices from dealers than you on your own because they broker in bulk and know which dealers are desperate.
    $269 is waaay too high for a Civic lease. Either your money factor is too high, the pay-off value too low or your capitalized cost is too high.

    • Appreciate your advice BigAl. There is definitely a cost to not having to deal with her complains and rubbing it in my face everytime we need a repair. If I spread the costs over 10 years, new or used, the difference isn’t that large and you are getting a car with barely any miles on it. She should have something she will enjoy for a long period of time and if you spend a lot of time in the car, the last thing you want is an automobile that you hate. For the lease payment. It was a sign and drive with $0, so there were definitely fees added in. But I was happy that to leave with no money down. In hindsight, could have been lower, but you have to learn this at some point, right?

      Thanks again!

      Bert

  13. Nice work. This is a good article for the average person to read. Most don’t consider all of the little added costs that come with a purchase, and i appreciate this level of analysis. Since I didn’t see a place to contact you and Lanny directly, I wanted to ask here. What do you think of an ETF like NOBL that contains the best of the best (div aristos) but costs you 35 basis points vs. something like a VOO (S&P 500 index) or even a VYM (high div index) with lower expenses (4 to 8 basis points) but not pure aristos. NOBL also carries much fewer positions so some argue it’s easier to replicate. I use ETFs in my retirement accounts and individual (mostly dividend) stocks with my non-retirement accounts. I really like DGI and enjoy your site.

    • My issue with it is that I would like to control which companies I buy and the yields. The 12-month Yield is 2%, while my portfolio is 3.5%.

      • The yield on NOBL is about 2% and it’s about 3% on VYM. And Big Al I’m the same way on my non-retirement money. I just prefer retirement money be mostly in index ETFs.

  14. I can’t believe how much cars cost these days. With all of the extra unneeded features they add to vehicles the costs are absurd. What’s worse is because cars are so expensive it only makes insurance rates increase in order to cover the damages. I know people think they have to have the nicest car on the block to impress the neighbors but it’s just a car. I’d rather slash my wrists than pay $30,000+ for a car. I just don’t get it I guess.
    /rant

    • I don’t get the need to buy a luxury car. The race to the top with features has definitely driven costs up. I wonder how a no frills, low cost car company would perform if the price was that much lower than others in the industry? Would be a fun experiment, right?

      Bert

  15. They all seem like good choices Bert. I would have suggested trying the Mazda CX-5 but noticed someone else did already and it doesn’t appeal to your wife. Japanese cars are all pretty reliable and generally cheaper to service/maintain than European cars, so that’s a plus. I like the idea of buying slightly used, whether it’s an ex-demo model or had 10-20,000 km put on it, that’s the best way to save money on what’s essentially a *new* car. Since you’re going to own it for 5-10 years, I’d definitely spend slightly more initially if it means being more satisfied over the long run.

    Good luck with the final decision.

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