For the past few weeks I've been debating whether to buy a new car. My current car is about six years old and has about 140,000 miles on it. I like the car - it's a Toyota Highlander - and it's in pretty good condition cosmetically. Also it has never had any problems, however it is starting to show it's age. Lately it has started to burn oil at a fairly rapid rate and the gas mileage has dropped to about 18 mpg (from a high of about 23 that I used to get when it was new). Those two things combined make me feel a bit guilty about the amount of driving I do and its effect on the environment. Plus, as time goes on, I will eventually have to buy another car (nothing lasts forever - not even Toyotas), so I'm thinking it might be better to trade this in while it still has some decent value left in it.
So, I'm now trying to figure out what is best to do - spring for a new car and do the environment a favor - or save the money and continue to drive my polluting aging car. And if I do buy a new car, what kind should it be? I really like the new model RAV4 from Toyota - it gets a lot better MPG (up to 29 on the highway) and is a 4WD. It has a bit of storage space for the stuff I tend to tote around for outdoor adventuring. Plus, it gets great ratings from Consumer Reports. But, 30 MPG still isn't that great. I could get one of those hybrid cars that get gas mileage in the 50's. The main drawback for me with something like that is I am looking for something with 4WD and a bit of storage space. There are 4WD hybrids, but all the ones I've seen are ridiculously expensive and the gas mileage isn't really significantly better than what I would get with the RAV4 (and in some cases it's worse!).
What I'm finding at the root of all this is this is really a drawback of being single. I really need it to be married. Then I could justify having two cars - one small super fuel efficient one for day-to-day commutes and another slightly larger 4WD one that doesn't get as much day-to-day use with lots of mileage, but can be primarily used for the weekend outdoor adventure stuff. Hmmm... now that I think about it, I guess I don't really have to be married to have two cars. For the cost of a wedding I could easily buy that second fuel efficient car.
Addendum Friday 3-2-07: I just found a really good deal on a new RAV4 and bought it. I'll post more details about it later.