Car Talk

My wife and I have 2003 Toyota Avalons with 90,000 miles on them. The cars have given us dependable transportation for 10 years. They still run nicely and show few signs of self-destructing. They get lousy gas mileage (12-15 mpg) and are a little too big for empty nesters. We drive mostly around the neighborhood or to downtown Chicago. Seldom do we drive more than 120 miles in a day.

2003 Toyota Avalon

We are both a bit tired of our old comfortable Avalons, but the idea of spending a lot of money on a new car irritates us. We regard cars as useful modes of transportation. They do not have to be “the ultimate driving machine” as BMW touts, but these cars are really boring to us after 10 years.

A couple of cars do actually intrigue me. I love the Tesla “S” car, which is all-electric and drives magnificently, according to the car mags. But the car is a lot of money to spend, and I can hardly justify the cost on gas savings. I also like the Toyota Prius plug-in. With my driving, I probably would fill up once a quarter. I know that driving 5-7000 miles a year does not argue for an electric, but I like the idea of an electric car and I’ve loved driving a quiet Prius every time I’ve had the chance.

I pose the question to you folks who know so much more about cars than I do: Should we keep our two old grandma cars and drive them until they drop? Or should we keep one or none and splurge on something sexier? Is there a real safe car out there like a Volvo or Subaru that we should consider? I want a car, not a truck or SUV, I think. And I want a new car if I buy one. I do not want to spend a fortune, but I’ll listen to any idea.

Please steer me in the right direction.

Question: Is buying “American” irrelevant in today’s auto world?

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57 thoughts on “Car Talk

  1. James Thompson

    Do not forget that a car assembled here by a foreign car company takes the profits home to their country. Buy what you want it is a free country. But remember our balance of trade costs your children and grandchildren jobs

  2. Ray Frattone

    There is something wrong with your cars if they only get 12-15 MPG. They should easily last another 90,000 reliable miles if they have been moderately maintained.This route could be your most economical.

  3. Chris Wilson

    I seen one person comment on the VW Jetta TDI, I bought one and love it. I made the trip from St. Louis to Chicago for IMTS this year and filled up at home, made it to Chicago on 8 gallons, drove around Chicago for 5 days before I had to refill for the ride one, and went one more week before another refill. Drives wonderfully and looks great, lots of room and with the leather package it feels like a high end German automobile. I driven everything under the sun from Mercedes to foreign junkers I get in South America with a name that I can not pronounce and I love this car.
    As far as buying American, I believe recent article I seen showed that Toyota had more American made car parts on their fleet then Chrysler did.
    I shopped around before buying my car and the biggest reason I went VW was service. The other dealers wouldn’t give me the time of day or treated me so poorly I was forced to leave. VW has an online program for service too, you go on and can schedule any work like tune ups and oil changes. With the diesel you only change the oil every 10,000 miles anyway.

  4. Car and driver

    Save the Toyota’s and buy yourself a 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster. You will get 30 MPG and the smile will never leave your face.
    If not then the VW TDI is the best car I have driven, it just goes.

  5. Auroragreen

    I can see how you get 12-15 mpg as you drive in Chicago. Unless you go hybrid, you’re not going to improve on that enough to make a hill of beans difference.

    I have driven a 2001 Aurora (ULEV in its day) for the last 8 years and hope to get at least another 8-10 years out of it. Automatic everything, leather, Bose. Your car is just barely broken in, so there is really no financial reason to trade, but if business gets hopping and the money is burning a hole in your pocket, Ford really has a strong lineup and for go-fast in luxury, the Caddy line is pretty nice. I would run screaming away from VW – their reliability is among the worst in the business.

  6. John Wally

    Throw your leg over a Harley Davidson Ultra-Classic. You get around 50 mpg and you’ll never look back. Plus they are made in America.

  7. VM

    With all due rspect, your theory is flawed…it’s hard to find ANY TOYOTA in that mpg range after 90K miles, let alone Avalon. What you need to fix is either your car or your driving habit or correct your typo. Keep your car and be happy!!!


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