Time for a New Car

Pretending to drive Karl Muth's Lamborghini, Chicago, Sept. 2004No, I didn’t get in a wreck. I leased a car for the first time in August ’07 and that lease ends next month.

Yes, after owning a couple black 2-dr Civics in my life I grew up and went for the “adult Civic” — the Acura TSX.

Now that my lease is coming to an end I’ve begun looking around and I see 3 potential scenarios panning out:

  1. Lease a new Acura TSX
  2. Buy or lease a sportier, fun 2-door
  3. Buy a clean diesel or hybrid
      a. Hold out for a 2011-model green car

Interestingly enough, I faced an almost identical three-pronged dilemma three years ago but this time — as with everything new — is different. Let’s play out the pros and cons:

Option 1: I lease a new Acura TSX. Not a very adventurous decision but a logical one.
36 mo. Lease (Estimated): $2,000 down + $325 – $350 / mo.

  1. I enjoyed my TSX and never (reeeaally) wished I had a different ride
  2. The latest model is nicer and is also available as a V6
  3. BUT… it’s a bigger car. More like the old TL. A little too big.
  4. I test-drove the v6 and it had pretty obnoxious (read: noisy, wasteful) pickup
  5. The 4-cylinder TSX has the same drivetrain and “power” as my current car but is (and feels) bigger and therefore slower

Conclusion: I’d feel like a slightly older man in a bigger car but would enjoy and trust it though i’d probably end up opting for the v6 for more zip.

Option 2: I’m 35, single, and may as well have a fun, sporty, and relatively pimpin’ ride
36 mo. Lease or used financed (Estimated): $2,000 down + $400 – $550 / mo.

  1. I can lease something new or buy something used / dealer-certified
  2. I rarely took advantage of having a 4-door, other than to throw crap in the back seat, sometimes my bicycle
  3. I may actually settle down and have a family some day – a baby that doesn’t have 4 wheels, who knows – the time is now
  4. BUT… This is exactly what I said when I was 32, single and paying rent just the same
  5. I can always wait until I’m 65 and wrinkled driving a Tesla convertible but then again… nah
  6. I’m too practical and would probably end up with a 2-dr Honda Accord coupe or something similarly quasi-sporty but lame.

Conclusion: Go test drive a Ferrari.

2010 Jetta vs 2011 Jetta TDI different body
The 2011 VW Jetta (left) is wayyy better looking than the 2010 body. It’s a Volkswagen, sure, but it’s a TDI.

Option 3: Hybrid / clean diesel. Socially Responsible. Ownership.
2010 Jetta TDI 66 mo. 4.9% financing (Quoted): $3,000 down + $400 / mo. $1,950 tax credit (if purchased by 12/31/10)

  1. In 2007 I said I would have gotten this car had it been available (but 2009 was the first model year)
  2. It’s got some hops with the turbo-diesel injection yet is as practical as can be with great resale potential
  3. I tried to talk myself into a Hybrid in 2007, but every ride was too boring and slow with spartan interior
  4. I get physically ill every time I fill up at the pump. Ideally I’d live in New York City sans car but at least this will get me double the mileage
  5. BUT… I’ve been a Honda lifer. German engineering might just bite me in the ass
  6. I can afford to be a bit irresponsible with my choice in cars. I spend my days trying to save the world
  7. C’mon, Jettas are for trixies!

Conclusion: It’s complicated (see 3a).

Option 3a: Wait for next year’s model (and for a “green” car, I’d be waiting)
Would need to find a way to get around from August -> December or January

  1. The 2011 Jetta body is that much sleeker than the 2010
  2. I’d have a 2011 sted of 2010
  3. I’ve seen rumors of a 2011 Acura TSX hybrid
  4. Maybe I’ll figure out how to import an Audi A3 coupe or get a pre-release Lexus CT 200h (hey, I’m a lucky guy)!
  5. BUT… I lose out on the extra $650 hybrid / alternative vehicle tax credit by year-end
  6. while the 2011 Jetta is scheduled to be out in October, the TDI may be delayed until January
  7. I can wait ’til next year forever and ever
  8. What will I do to get to work and back after August 21? Extend my lease? rent a car? Take the bus?

Conclusion: I can see myself buying a 2011 Jetta TDI but perhaps there are better options that I have yet to consider… bring ’em on!

PostScript: I’m always open to the mysterious Option number D, in which I’m offered a sweet gig in NYC (or SF for that matter) and give up driving all-together, win a new car on The Price is Right or in the, uh, KCRW subscriber sweeps, or develop a partnership with some car company and drive around in a mobile advertisement (hey, I’m not above it)!

What do you think?

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