We bought a new car. Not a “new to us” car, not a “nearly new” car, an actual factual brand new 2022 Subaru Outback. But Liz–you’re now fretting– don’t you know that:

Our brand new Outback

Buying a brand new car has to be one of the worst financial decisions a person can make.

Buying a new car is like shooting yourself in the foot not once, not twice, but three times. Here’s why:

  1. The mark-up on new cars is astronomical.
  2. The opportunity cost of buying a new car–even if you pay cash–is profound.
  3. Most car loans have interest rates, which means you’re spending even more money.

Unlike a home–which sometimes, hopefully increases in value–a car is almost guaranteed to decrease in value. A car is not an appreciating asset.

Who wrote that?! ME. I wrote all of that back in the halcyon pre-pandemic years of 2014-2019. Back in the times before our current period of inflation and bananas car prices. So why ON THIS EARTH would I buy a new car?

Inflation of the Car Varietal

As you may have noticed, we have some inflationary action happening these days. And as I noted in this article, inflation does not impact all prices equally. Lucky for me, some of the most egregiously inflationary items are cars. How awesome for me!!!!

According to this Fortune Magazine article from June 2022:

Used car and truck prices have risen 16% over the past year, and 50% more than before the pandemic.

Thrilled beyond belief with their used power wheels

My research on the ground corroborated this as my husband and I found used cars that cost as much or almost as much as new cars. In some cases, we found used cars priced HIGHER than new cars for the simple reason of availability. If you need a car immediately, you might have to overpay for a used car because you can’t get your hands on a new car fast enough (although there are exceptions. See my notes on the Mazda CX5 below).

In normal economic times–or rather, in past economic times–used cars were remarkably cheaper than new cars, which made the depreciation on new cars astronomical. In other words, new cars would lose a tremendous amount of their value as soon as they were no longer new. Used cars, on the other hand, had a much more gradual depreciation curve, which meant you could buy a used car for a reasonable price and then, if needed, re-sell that used car at a reasonable loss. Currently, thanks to supply chain issues, a shortage of computer chips and inflation, used cars are no longer a deal.

We were faced with the reality of buying a several-years-old car for only around $2,000 less than a new car. In light of that, we saw no point in buying used. When you’re looking at a ~$30k purchase, we felt that a savings of $2k isn’t enough to justify buying a car with mileage and without a warranty.

Why Didn’t You Just Wait To Buy a Car?

We did. We’ve needed to replace our 2010 Toyota Prius since the start of the pandemic. But… we waited. We began searching for cars in earnest during the spring of 2021 and were flabbergasted by the prices. At that point, used car prices were up 42%!!! So, we decided to wait a year. We were optimistic that used car prices would normalize and we’d be able to follow our previous roadmap of buying a several-years-old car for a great price. HAH. Little did we know, inflation was just getting started.

Why Didn’t You Wait Another Year?

We considered this. Strongly. But, we lack the ability to predict the future and were concerned car prices might be even higher next year. Plus, we didn’t want to go through another winter with the Prius.

Why Did You Need To Replace the Prius?

The Prius. Stuck in the snow. On our driveway. And this wasn’t even deep snow!

Our 2010 Toyota Prius was a champ. She did her very best to survive Vermont’s winters and she made it (kinda) through six of them without (completely) falling apart. The Prius was ideal from a gas mileage perspective but abysmal from the perspectives of:

  1. Driving on rutted dirt roads
  2. Driving during spring mud season
  3. Driving on ice
  4. Driving through snowstorms
  5. Getting out of our driveway
  6. Driving on not-very-well-maintained rural roads

The Prius is made for city and interstate driving. The Prius is not made for rural backroads. I am honestly impressed we lasted as long as we did. When we lived in the city, the Prius was an ideal car. Here in the woods? The Prius was becoming a joke of a car.

Her major shortcomings were:

  1. Lack of all-wheel drive
  2. Lack of ground clearance
  3. Lack of modern safety features

Ground clearance is not something I considered before living rurally. But after getting every single stick, rock and piece of bark imaginable stuck to the underside of the Prius, ground clearance is something I think about often. Additionally, we frequently need to drive through several inches of snow because when there’s a big snow, the state snow plows can’t constantly remove all the snow from the road. Hence, having ground clearance and all-wheel drive are imperative (if, you know, you want to go anywhere).

Our Driveway: An Ongoing Saga

Excessive snow on a portion of our excessively long driveway

Then there’s our driveway. Longtime readers know alllllll about our bobsled course of a driveway. At a very hilly quarter-mile long, our driveway was the one major downside we accepted when we bought our house.

Thankfully, Mr. Frugalwoods maintains it himself with our tractor, which is a year-round job: snow removal all winter, grading in the spring, culvert reconstruction in the summer, some more grading in the fall… Despite his ministrations, there are quite a few winter days where the Prius cannot get out of the driveway.

I know this because I have many fond memories of loading both children into the Prius only to discover that it would:

a) not go up the little slope from the parking area onto the driveway

b) go up a portion of the driveway and then roll backwards

Fun times! If it rolled backwards, I’d then have to reverse down the driveway, park it, unload both children and re-load them into our truck (a 2010 Toyota Tundra). Exciting as this ritual was, I’m over it.

And yes, the Prius was outfitted with top-of-the-line Nokian Hakkapeliitta studded snow tires. Those helped a bit, but couldn’t make up for her lack of AWD and 4 centimeters of ground clearance.

Why Don’t You Just Drive the Truck all Winter?

This is what we did the past several winters. The Prius would make debuts on less icy/snowy days, but the truck became our daily driver. This was sub-optimal and not our intended use case for the truck, because:

  • The truck gets HORRENDOUS gas mileage.
    • I’m talking 12 MPG. Driving the truck daily defeated the entire existence of the Prius.
    • The whole point of having a Prius was to capitalize on the Prius’s hybrid capabilities of 46 MPG. In addition to costing us $1M in gas, driving the truck all the time is terrible for the environment.
  • The truck is intended for rare usage for hauling farm equipment/building supplies.
    • The truck is for hauling the snow plow we bought a few years ago.
    • The truck is for hauling our maple syrup-making equipment.
    • The truck is for hauling the lumber we used to build the chicken coop and the woodshed.
  • Our goal is to keep the truck for many, many years as a beater farm truck.
    • Driving it often added mileage and wear/tear, which negated this purpose.

Why Do You Need Two Cars?

This is a fair question because I work from home and Mr. FW is early retired, so we very rarely both need to drive opposite directions at the same time. Thus, having two cars isn’t to solve the problem of a dual commute, it’s to meet our needs as subpar homesteaders and to ensure safety.

Since there’s zero public transportation out here, it’s a mandatory safety consideration to have two vehicles. We can’t have one parent at home with the kids without a vehicle–if there’s an emergency, they’d have no way to leave. I actually had this happen to me a few years ago (due to Mr. FW being out of town with the Prius and the truck breaking down) and it was an awful, terrifying feeling. I will pay whatever I must in order to have safe, reliable transportation.

What We Need In A Daily Driver

The chickens approve of their daily driver

After capitulating to the Prius’s ineptitude in our environment, we began a two-year-long research project into our next car. Our priorities were:

  1. All-wheel drive
  2. Reasonable ground clearance
  3. Reliability
  4. Affordability (not buying a Tesla over here, people)
  5. Modern safety features
  6. Enough room for two adults and two children
  7. The best possible gas mileage for a non-electric, non-hybrid vehicle
  8. Ability to haul things like skis, paddle boards, kayaks, etc on the roof

We would LOVE to get an electric car and it’s our five/ten-year goal to sell this car and buy electric. We didn’t get electric this time because the prices on electric vehicles are super high and the technology is super new. I don’t want to get the first generation of any new technology–I want to see how it plays out and then select a car with a proven record of reliability. Since electric vehicles use an entirely different technology than gas cars, I don’t feel confident falling back on my previous knowledge of car brands. It’s all different now! At any rate, our hope is that our next vehicle will be electric.

The Cars We Considered Buying

  1. Toyota Rav4
  2. Honda CRV
  3. Mazda CX5
  4. Subaru Forester
  5. Subaru Outback

These are all classified as “small” SUVs. We didn’t want anything larger–such as the Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Sequoia, Honda Pilot, Honda Passport, etc–because those cost more and get worse gas mileage. All of the vehicles on our list cost roughly the same and offer roughly the same gas mileage.

I made this comparison chart on Kelly Blue Book and, as you can see, these cars are nearly identical in every metric:

We test drove all of them and here’s what we found:

Toyota Rav4

This is the car we assumed we’d get because we love Toyota’s reliability record. Most of the cars we’ve owned have been Toyotas and we planned to continue that trend. Until, that is, we sat in a 2022 Rav4. Lo and behold when Toyota redesigned the interior, they did not take tall people into consideration. My husband is 6’2″ and I’m 5’7″. His head TOUCHED the top of the car and mine came very close. This was an immediate deal breaker. Can’t have a car we’re too tall for!

Honda CRV

Valiant snow-clearing effort by the kids

This was a fine car to drive, but we weren’t as impressed with the trunk space. We often need to fit two kids’ bikes + other sundries and this trunk seemed tight. More importantly, the CRV’s total package isn’t as good: the AWD isn’t the best, nor is the ground clearance, and recent-year CRVs have had an oil dilution problem. Due to these factors, we discounted the CRV pretty quickly.

 Mazda CX5

We loved this one. This was hands-down our favorite car to drive. It’s gorgeous, well-designed, smooth as butter to drive and has a very luxurious feel. I’m still a tad sad we didn’t get a CX5. But, our reasons were sound: its AWD capabilities aren’t top-of-the-line, the trunk space is smaller and, crucially, it isn’t as high off the ground as the car we chose. I would love to own a Mazda someday–they’re just so fun to drive! But, not the right car for us right now.

Subaru Forester

When we turned our research to Subarus, we intended to get a Forester. But when we went to the dealership, the salesperson told us that Foresters were way, way, way backordered and that it might be 6 months before we could get one. He then explained that the Outback has the same ground clearance and the exact same AWD system as the Forester, a BIGGER trunk and would be available sooner.

Subaru Outback

When I searched my photos for “car,” lots of “carrot” photos popped up. You’re welcome.

Longtime readers will recall that we owned a 2010 Subaru Outback when we moved to Vermont in 2016. It was, in fact, the car we bought for our new Vermont lifestyle! However, we were trying to use it as our truck. We bought the Prius and the Outback in the hopes that we could get away with using the Outback as our hauling vehicle and the Prius as our daily driver. We quickly realized that an Outback is not, in fact, a truck and you cannot, in fact, haul things like snow plows and full-size lumber. But we tried, let me tell you. Here’s the full story on our original Outback: Why We Broke Down and Bought a Used Truck.

As soon as we test drove the 2022 Outback, we remembered why we bought one in the first place. It ticked every single one of our boxes:

  1. Best AWD of the vehicles we considered (identical to the Forester)
  2. Highest ground clearance of the vehicles we considered (identical to the Forester)
  3. Best trunk space because it’s a station wagon as opposed to an SUV:
    • I LOVE THIS TRUNK and we fill it to the brim on the regular.
  4. Good gas mileage:
    • It hurt to say goodbye to the Prius’s phenomenal gas mileage, but we weren’t able to reap the benefits of that gas mileage during the winter anyway, so we should come out ahead on our annual average MPG.
    • We’re averaging 30 MPG with the Outback, which is far better than the truck’s embarrassing 12 MPG!
  5. One of my all-time fave photos of Kidwoods

    Good reliability:

    • We aren’t 100% jazzed with Subaru’s longterm maintenance record, BUT, buying a new car means it’s under warranty for 3 years/36,000 miles for basic and 5 years/60,000 miles for the powertrain, at which point we might sell it and get an electric vehicle anyway.
  6. Excellent modern safety features.
  7. Good affordability and within a couple thousand dollars of all the other cars we considered.
  8. A roof rack came standard:
    • This is perfect for holding our ski roof box (details below) and my paddle board.
    • This car was made for people who like outdoorsy, rural stuff, which makes life easy on us. Constantly trying to retrofit the Prius into something it’s not designed to do was a pain.

Plus, the waiting time for an Outback was shorter than all the other vehicles, except for the Mazda CX5. We could’ve driven a CX5 off the lot the day we looked at it, so if you need a car ASAP, check out Mazda!

This short waiting period was crucial for us because we needed to have the car before late October/early November (AKA the start of winter). And, we needed to have it with enough time to re-sell the Prius. Selling stuff during the winter (houses, cars, chickens) isn’t terribly common here. Most folks seem to prefer to transact when the weather’s decent. We put our name on a waiting list for an Outback in mid-April and had the car in hand by May 31st. Perfect for our timeline!

More on Safety Features

Another reason we wanted to upgrade to something newer than our 2010 was for the new safety features of the Outback, including: automatic braking, blind spot detection, more airbags, rear cross traffic alert plus modern crash test conditions. Newer cars have been re-engineered to meet higher crash test safety standards, which means they result in fewer deaths. The number of miles we drive means we’re much more likely to die in a car crash than from any other source, so having new safety features were a priority. When we added the Outback to our car insurance, our liability insurance actually went down–it’s cheaper to insure the Outback than the older Prius because we’re so much less likely to get into an accident with a newer car.

The Fate of the Prius

Kidwoods washing the Prius in preparation for sale

While used cars are bananas expensive to buy right now, that also means it’s a pretty sweet time to sell a used car. We listed the Prius for sale on Craigslist, our local town email listserve and Facebook Marketplace. We originally listed it at the price we paid for it back in 2015: $8,900.

We didn’t get any offers at $8,900 and so after two weeks, we lowered the price to $8,400. That was evidently the sweet spot because we immediately started to get offers. Interestingly, most of the queries came through Facebook Marketplace, which we’d never used before. In the past, we’ve bought and sold everything through Craigslist, but I guess Facebook Marketplace is more popular now. Many thanks to our friends A & C for recommending we use it–I honestly wouldn’t have even considered it.

A mechanic messaged me (through Facebook) that he wanted to buy it for his sister-in-law and came over the next day to take it for a test drive. He offered us $8,000, we countered at $8,200 and he agreed. A perfect negotiation where both parties felt like they got a good deal!

My Tips for Selling a Used Car:

  1. Do your research on pricing. Don’t just use the Kelly Blue Book price, look at what similar used cars are selling for in your area.
  2. List at the very top of the market with the knowledge that most buyers want to negotiate and you can always lower the price. You can’t exactly increase the price, so list high and then bargain down.
  3. Be extraordinarily transparent about the condition of the car. You don’t want to hoodwink anyone and it engenders trust when you’re transparent. It’s a used car, everyone knows it’s going to have some issues. We included the below rundown in our description of the Prius, along with photos of the body damage:
Make sure to disclose carrot irregularities too

While a perfectly reliable daily driver, this car does have 163k miles and comes with the following known defects that we never felt were worth fixing:

  • Faint gas smell outside the car when the tank is full to the top. It goes away after the first ~50 or so miles following a fill-up. We had our mechanic look into it and he couldn’t find any leaks and pronounced it safe. He recommended against dropping the tank unless it got worse. That was a year ago and it hasn’t gotten worse.
  • Occasional rattles from all the heat shields and plastic fairings under the car. We have our mechanic chase these down whenever it is in the shop, but it still has a heat shield rattle at certain low rpms. You can’t hear it beyond idle.
  • Very, very slow leak in the AC system. I have to charge it once every spring (easy to do with a $15 kit from Walmart) and it blows cold all summer. We had our mechanic do a fluorescent dye test, and he didn’t find anything (not surprising since it must be such a slow leak). We could throw parts at it, but we just charge it every spring. Been like that for at least 4 years.
  • Minor body issues: small crack on lower left bumper, slight separation of bumper on upper right, minor surface rust and some paint chipping along the roof. See photos for details.

The person who bought it said he was specifically interested in buying from us because we were so forthright in outlining the car’s known defects. He appreciated that we disclosed all of this upfront and both he (and we) felt comfortable sharing this knowledge of the car’s shortcomings.

Do Not Do a Trade In With a Dealership

When we bought the Outback, I asked the dealership to let us know what they’d give us for the Prius if we traded it in. I already knew I wasn’t going to trade it in, but I wanted the data of their offer for this post. After assessing the Prius, the dealership offered us $3,000 and told us that was, “a great price for a car so old.” HAH. By going through the nominal hassle of washing it, vacuuming it, photographing it and listing it, we made $5,200 more by selling it ourselves. People, it’s worth the “hassle” to sell a car yourself.

The Prius Numbers

Here’s the breakdown on our 2010 Toyota Prius:

Our Purchase Price Date Mileage at time of Purchase
$8,995 April 2016 95,802


Sold For Date Mileage at time of Sale
$8,200 August 2022 163,456

That means the Prius only depreciated $133 per year (or 16.73%):  Nice! Like I said, bad time to buy a used car, great time to sell a used car.

The Outback Numbers

What you’ve been waiting for! Here’s what we spent on our 2022 Subaru Outback Premium in Autumn Green:

Item Amount Notes
Subaru Outback $33,106.86 Via check
Remaining balance on Subaru Outback $2,500.00 Via credit card
Ski roof box $590.52 Roof box for skis
Rims & snow tires


Floor mats




Used from Craigslist. New rims are circa $600-$700 and don’t include tires

Floor mats

Kick mats $26.49 Kick mats (affiliate link)
Craigslist Advertising $5.00 To sell the Prius
TOTAL $36,827.77

As you can see, we put $2,500 of the Outback purchase price on our cash-back credit card, which means we netted 2% cash back–also known as $50. The dealership said we could put a max of $2,500 on a credit card and so we did. We paid the remaining balance via personal check. We’ve never financed a car because we don’t want to lose money to interest. Since we knew we’d need to buy a new car, we began saving up cash for this purchase about two years ago.

The floor mats, kick mats and seat cover all doing their jobs

You’ll also note that the ski roof rack was $100 cheaper than the list price. That’s because we bought it during an REI 20% off member sale and thus received a 20% discount. We were not the only REI members who thought to do this. The store was packed with gigantic delivery boxes of kayaks, roof racks, bicycles, etc. Clearly discount week is the right time to buy expensive outdoor equipment!

We also bought very nice, very expensive floor mats, which cover the entire floor (and sides) of the interior. We did so because we plan to one day sell this car and we want to keep it as clean as possible. And, since we live in the woods, we get about as much dirt in the car as outside the car. And gravel. Mud. Sticks. Leaves. And then of course there’s the snow, ice and salt… not to mention our two children. We were able to re-use this backseat cover we had in the Prius, but unfortunately, the kick mats didn’t fit (affiliate link). So, we bought these and they are ideal since both of our kids feel the need to prop their muddy boots on the seat back in front of them (affiliate link). And with that, the Outback is fully dirt-proofed!

Thanks to Craigslist we were able to find some used rims and snow tires, which are mandatory out here in the wintry sticks. The reason we get rims (in addition to tires) is so that Mr. FW can swap the tires himself every season, as opposed to paying our mechanic to do so.

Ok I can’t think of anything else to tell you. Hit me with your questions!

Have you had to buy/sell a car recently? What was your experience?

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    1. We asked our mechanic about this and he advised against it. Plus, it doesn’t solve the problem of AWD, which is a major issue in the snow and ice.

    2. I own a Prius C, and have found it is absolutely the worst car I’ve ever driven in snow, when going slow especially, or trying to take off from a stop. Toyota’s handling of the traction control is to basically shut off power to the wheels when they slip. Extremely easy to get stuck, and a lift kit doesn’t solve this.

  1. Love my Outback! Had a Forster but the back was too small to hold much and the Outback holds a bit more.. I do plan to buy a pet cover for the back seats though…

    1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying your Outback! Yeah, we were surprised at how much more room the Outback trunk has. It’s been really useful for hauling bikes and beach stuff and I imagine it’s going to be awesome in ski season! And I love the pet covers for the backseat–we have this one in our truck and this one in the Outback (was previously in the Prius, and fits the Outback just fine).

    2. We have always bought used cars as well, but last winter we ended up with a brand new minivan (paid for like yours) because the price difference was a few thousand for the warranty and having a brand new vehicle. It seemed pointless to buy a 2-4 year old vehicle for $3,000 less after our employee discount etc.

      Enjoy your new vehicle! We would love an electric as well, but with a larger family (2-3 years before our older 2 children are driving!) options are pretty limited with large SUV’s or minivans.

  2. A NEW CAR???????? Just kidding. It is insane out there. We have two daughters of driving age and have been looking for them a used car to drive to college and it’s insane how expensive used cars are. Gone are the days of little beaters for your kid’s starter cars. They are just so expensive. So while we did eventually find them a little used car, it was much more than we wanted to pay and it took us a while. I totally understand buying a new car right now. 5 years ago I wouldn’t have thought it but here we are…..

  3. Why not park the Prius at the end of your driveway and walk? Or take the truck just down the drive and transfer? Seems like an expensive solution to a quarter mile of road. Or buy a snowmobile! I live in rural Maine and just leave my Honda Fit at the roadside… hardly any shoveling in winter.

    1. Haha yep, we considered (and did) all of those options! The issue with the Prius isn’t just our driveway, it’s also the roads in our town (and the surrounding towns–LOTS of dirt roads that the Prius just can’t handle unless they’re perfectly groomed). Trying all of that is how we made it through 6 winters with the Prius 🙂

      Additionally, the modern safety features of the Outback were a priority for us. Given how much we drive (with our two kids), getting a car with better safety features was weighing on our minds.

      1. Yes! I’m not saying it’s as easy as driving an SUV, but children have walked for thousands of years quite successfully, twelve months of the year! Boots, skis, sleds, backpack carriers, the technology of the last 10,000 years still works wonders for child-moving! I’ve done exactly this for the last 9 years with my children, in Maine, in the winter.

        1. Bike trailers are fantastic for moving kids, too, even in the winter. A bike with winter tires can roll through more fresh snow than a car, and the trailer adds stability and is warm and cozy for the kid. I’ve done this a lot as well on rural dirt roads. But I’m not saying others should, just that they should view it as an option that’s not impossible, and has big benefits.

  4. How did you accept payment for the Prius (cash, cashier’s check, did you exchange at theit bank)?

    We are selling a car soon in a similar price and prefer cash, but thought that might be more than some buyers would prefer carrying.

    1. We did all cash, which yes, was a ton of cash, but it worked out. We went to our local bank the next day to deposit it.

    2. Thanks for asking this. I had the same question. I’d like to know how to make sure the cash is real and not fake. 🤔

    3. Local banker chiming in to say…. there is a HUGE issue with fake cashiers checks and money orders for online sales so if you choose to accept them be careful! If you do want to go the Official Check route I would personally still only work with local buyers and require it be a locally issued official check. Local banks do offer there own official checks and money orders and typically treat them like cash upon deposit, but if someone offers to send you “Extra” via official check as a deposit, to cover shipping costs etc…. RUN…

  5. I was told by multiple CPSTs that there needs to be nothing under the car seat (so no seat cover). When I switched the seat from rear to forward facing, I laughed at the dirt under the seat. I didn’t vacuum though.

    1. I was just about to comment about this too. I was skeptical at first because we had mats that were specifically designed and tested with children’s carseats, but sure enough, it was impossible to get the carseats in tight enough with anything underneath them. They are more prone to slip off the seat during an accident, and are not safe. The carseat manufacturers also all say do not use carseat covers under carseats.

  6. Slight tangent, do you know if the price of *car repair* is up as significantly as buying a car?

    I’m in no place to buy a new car in this market, so I’ve been considering whether I should invest more into repair and maintenance than I normally would.

    1. This is anecdotal from Ohio, but in case it helps: The parts may be more expensive or harder to come by, but the work itself was not substantially pricier than I expected when I had to have some recent transmission work done on my 06 Corolla (and thankfully the parts I needed were readily available.) We’ve done 245K miles together and I have zero inclination to wade into the wilds of car-buying, so it really wasn’t a question of if I would have the work done, but I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t more.

  7. I had a similar experience in 2012 when I bought my Prius. I think there had been a Tsunami which briefly sent used car prices through the roof. Unfortunately someone ran a stop sign and Tboned and destroyed my lovely paid-off Hyundai Accent, and I bought a new Prius because the ones with 80,000 miles on them were barely any cheaper. It was a great choice though I’ve always felt a twinge of guilt when I read your thoughts on new cars, lol.

    I just went ahead and sold that car to my friends kid, who desperately needed a new car, and bought myself a 2019 Hyundai Kona EV. My reasoning was that both of our cars are 10 years old, and what if nothing got better with inflation and we were really up a creek needing to replace two of them in a few years. The EV had a battery recall so had a brand new battery in 2021. The process was pretty easy once I found a dealer halfway across the state with some in stock and I’m super happy with the car, but I know I paid several thousand more than I would have a couple of years back. In this case I’ve realized I’m glad I went gently used because it is new technology – looking at the carfax for this car I can see the two recalls and then the owner traded it in. That would have been annoying and yet now everything is fixed and I love her!

  8. We had almost the exact same purchase, for some of the same reasons, a year earlier. My husband is 6’ 3” and we looked at the RAV-4 and CR-V, but the Subaru Forester fit him perfectly. We looked for used for a while but there were very few on the market at the time, and the low mileage ones were only $1k or so less than new (but got several thousand $ bump in the sale prices of our old used cars over KBB estimate). And they had a 2021 Forester on the lot, with the color and package we liked. We had to drive an hour away to get it, but we are so happy we did. We even paid for it the exact same way – $2,500 on a cash back card and personal check for the rest (total cost was several thousand under sticker price). I think we got in during the sweet spot when used car prices were up but new cars were still rather plentiful and had not hit their inflation bump yet.

    1. Fabulous! Yeah, we were surprised at how many cars are not designed with tall people in mind! And I don’t think of us as super duper tall, but I guess we’re above the average. Glad you found something that works well for you!

      1. It was shocking how many cars we eliminated by being tall! My husband is 6’4″, and I’m 5’10”. With (now) two kids in the backseat, we needed something roomy in the front and back. This requirement alone took us down to pretty much just the Subaru in our price point.

        1. We bought (we live in a prairie city) a Kia Soul (it looks like a box on wheels), partly because of the head space in the back seat. We have three boys and my freshly minted 13 year old is almost as tall as me (I’m 5’10). We think the kids are going to be quite tall. My husband is 6’3″ and we both can easily drive the car. We did learn that many cars have seats that adjust vertically (who knew?). I have a brother who is 6’5″ and he cannot really get into a few cars comfortably as he’s just too tall; I completely understand the frustration :).

  9. Congratulations! In June 2020, right before used car prices went through the roof, I bought a new-to-me 2017 Subaru Forrester that had just come off lease. Literally, turned in that day; hadn’t even been cleaned by the dealership yet. And even better, it only had 11,000 miles (!!) and I saved over $10,000 as compared to buying the same car new.

    I was so thankful I found the car; I needed it to replace my much-loved 2005 Honda CRV with over 250,000 miles. The old CRV was the best car I even owned — this was the older style “square” Honda, with plenty of room for storage. But it was starting to burn oil and as my only car, I was starting to worry about getting stuck alone somewhere.

    But I hear you on the storage space. The Forrester just doesn’t hold as much as the old Honda did. While I did get a great deal on my used Subaru and love all the new features not available on a 15-year-old car, I miss my Honda. It went on to another life with my brother, used by my high school nephew as a very, very local car, good for the 3 miles to school, his job and activities.

    Many happy safe miles of driving to you!

    1. Linda, did you have the table in the back you could pull out of the trunk?? We had a CRV for barely a year and that car had amazing storage. We were rear ended and the car was totalled, so we had to replace it and boy was I sad!!

      1. Yes — I loved that table! I’ve asked my brother than when the car finally gives it’s last mile, if I could have that table back!

        I’m so sorry to hear that your CRV had such a sad ending. My CRV remains my absolutely favorite car — lots of storages, decent mileage, reliable and comfortable to drive. I felt it was sized exactly for me.

    2. My recent “adulting” lesson is to keep up and read the TSBs, Technical Service Bulletins, for you car (or possible the car(s) you are considering purchasing). The 2014 – 2018 Foresters (and perhaps other Subies) have poorly manufactured Lower Control Arms and Bushings. Was about $1500 to replace both (we live in suburb of major metro area). We had uneven wear on our tires, which is a known sign that the LCAs were going bad, but the dealership was happy to let us pay for an alignment and due a major overall service before informing us 6 mos later that the LCAs were bad. 🙁 Ours is a 2017 with only 52,000 miles, typically LCAs should last into the 100,000’s +

  10. Shocked at your mpg figures. Just…ouch. Here in the UK (converting litres to US gallons- six pints, not eight pints as for a UK gallon) and using sterling to US $ at $1.20 to £1.00, we are paying $8.60 per US gallon in London. I have massively reduced my car usage. – not a particular problem, as I live in London and am a ten minute walk to the Tube (subway). But I’m getting 46 mpg on a 1.4 litre turbo petrol Audi A3. If I had your lifestyle essentials living in the countryside, I’d have to give up eating. Or start sizing up my neighbours to eat them instead!

    Hope that you have been excited to have got a new-new car. Enjoy the peace of mind of new, safer and warranty-backed reliability. Out of interest, did any Hyundais come into consideration?

  11. I feel your pain. We had a similar debate about our Toyota Camry. Ultimately, we decided to plow a bunch of money into it to upgrade suspension, brakes, and a few other things. It was a difficult call, but we’re hoping car prices will come down as interest rates rise, hopefully pushing down demand while supply has a chance to catch up–at least within the used car market.

    But like you said, we can’t predict the future, and it’s possible prices will keep relentlessly rising. However, I advise repairing cars vs. buying new or used, if it will get you another 50,000 miles or so (granted, you replaced your Prius for reasons not related to mechanical issues). Even though we spent a few thousand dollars on repairs, it still proved a better value when weighed against the price of buying used/new + title fees.

    1. Camrys are such great cars! My fist car ever–the one I bought with babysitting money at age 16–was a 1990 Toyota Camry station wagon, which is essentially the exact same body style as the Outback… so I guess I have a type. Good luck! I hope it lasts you a bit longer!

    1. She put the $2500 on a credit card (the most the dealer would allow) to get the $50 cash back from using the card. I am sure they had the $2500 in hand to pay off the credit card immediately so that they didn’t pay any interest on it.

    2. Outbacks are great cars! My one suggestion is to keep an eye on the crossbars when you’re carrying your SUP. We were hauling kayaks in our 2020 Outback when one of the crossbars snapped in half at highway speed. Fortunately, the tie downs at bow and stern held. If Subaru hasn’t changed the design from 2020 to 2022 (the crossbars on ours can swing to go lengthwise to widthwise), you may want to consider aftermarket crossbars such as Thule.

  12. Love my Forester. We got it end of 2021 new. I first tried Carmax for a Legacy, and they scammed me by disclosing an accident after I bought it. They let me return it though.

    Glad you like the Outback. Does your version have paddle shifters or down shift with CVT?

  13. And my A3 was my company car for 6.5 years from new (£30k – I spec’d it to high heaven because my employer was paying), and I bought it for £8k when I retired. Six months later, I was offered £9.5k for it by the dealer servicing it. I am moving house and will put monthly saved outgoings into a “new to me car fund”, as well as my existing savings for car insurance, breakdown recovery, maintenance and repairs).

  14. What a helpful post! Thanks for pulling it all together. My husband’s Rav4 is on it’s last legs, and we’ve also been putting it off, but I know that big hit to our cash is coming. I’m glad your family found something that checks all the boxes for you!

  15. In 2011 we bought a Subaru outback from a mechanic in VT and drove it down to Delaware where we were living at the time. The car lasted us about 4 years – there was an incredible amount of rust on the underside of the car from the salt from VT winters that wasn’t obvious when we bought it but got worse every year. The mechanic who we took it to before deciding to replace it asked if we’d been parking in the middle of the ocean. 😂 We’d gotten many miles out of it, but were thinking about having a third kid and ultimately got a minivan (with a CRV in between that we had to replace after a car accident). I enjoyed driving that car. Looking at replacing the minivan in the next few years but hoping the prices settle down first, so we can pay cash.

    1. This is a good point and something to think about when looking at reselling a car down the road. Those winters may take a heavy toll on a newer car and it may not last 10-15 you expect it to.

  16. I live in Maine where the Subaru Outback is the “official state car” – it is the absolute best performing, useful vehicle for northern New England. It will not let you down, will climb just about any hill or rutted driveway in the snow and ice, and there will always be someone willing to buy it from you when in 15 years of so you regretting decide it has given you its all! Thank you for providing us with your thoughtful useful, uplifting posts!

    1. Woohoo! Glad to hear it! Outbacks are everywhere here–and all other Subarus as well. Anytime we’re in a parking lot, it’s pretty much all Outbacks, Rav4s and CRVs ;).

  17. Glad you finally did this. Safety features mean everything. We love lane change assist even though we still look carefully before we change lanes, rear backup assist is priceless when backing into a space. Numerous airbags, automatic tailgate, etc. We have a GMC Acadia that is so easy to pack up for a vacation and lots of room. I am so glad you bought a new car. I remember a previous post where I commented on the features, lack of breakdowns, etc of purchasing a new car but mainly safety. Congratulations!!

  18. I just went through this! Had to give up on my 2011 outback due to 5k in repairs. I loved my outback so much and didn’t want to buy new so I was gladly willing to pay for the repairs after making spreadsheet after spreadsheet comparing costs … then the rug was pulled again when there were NO parts due to pandemic. I also did dealer trade in since selling an uninspectable old car would have been very hard … All in all, buying new was the right thing to do I believe, but there are things about the new subaru that drive me nuts – the cupholders are too deep (silly but annoying when I get a small latte- and why all the glossy surfaces? Subaru people are often dog people. What were they thinking? Anyway… it makes me happy to know the car is completely new and covered for at least 3 years. Congrats on the new subaru!

  19. I loved reading this and I’d love to read a series on other things that have changed about how you view finance over the years. Especially in light of the new economic environment, but even in terms of going to a rural place, having kids, making more money or retiring, etc.

    I know our views on finances and our spending have changed substantially at different times in our life. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences.

    1. Kristin, this is an interesting idea and I second the request. Mrs. F, how about a post on how finances have changed over the years from the perspectives of your older (i.e. more experienced with life changes) readers? I watched my parents grow increasingly relaxed with their budgeting as they aged and made more money. I know that isn’t true for everyone, though.

    1. Haha, thank you! I totally did enjoy that smell! Although it’s gone now and currently smells like the beach and children’s feet…. LOL

  20. Awesome, Liz! You made the right decision for your family, didn’t go into debt, and could afford it because of the frugal life you guys live. Well done! Enjoy the Outback – we have an Ascent and we love our Subaru!

  21. Very happy for you that you got a far more suited to Vermont winters! Many people outside the state don’t realize that even once the roads are plowed they are not actually clear and dry – they just no longer have several inches of snow on them. Not sure if it is a self fulfilling prophesy that most people have AWD so they only clear it to AWD standards, or that it is harder to fully clear rural or dirt roads. But the poor winter road conditions would definitely make me switch cars too.

    If you are looking at electric in the next few years, look into how well the electric cars will be able to hold up to winter driving, battery range under actual conditions, and availability of charging stations. I’ve heard horror stories about driving an electric car from Burlington to Boston and having it take 8-10 hours because charging stations were closed or not working (or trying to go 55mph on the highway to make the battery last longer). Hopefully access to charging stations and battery longevity will improve in the next few years and make electric cars a reasonable choice for occasional longer trips.

    1. I feel compelled to comment that we just took my EV from Mass to Bar Harbor and it was 100% doable with a minimum amount of planning. There were lots of stops with level 3 chargers around 95 and plenty of level 2 chargers in Bar Harbor itself. I see so many people assume that it’s not possible to road trip in an EV, but increasingly it is . Mine has a 258 mile listed range, though often gets more, and that is very adequate especially in a two-car family. Green Energy Consumers Alliance is a wealth of EV info for anyone interested.

  22. Studded tires make all the difference in the snow. I live in Maine and have never had all wheel drive and get around fine as long as I have my tires on in time for the first snow. But my question is, why not electric or hybrid, given the sizeable federal rebates, the fact you have solar, and the general trend toward electric?

    1. Agreed! Here’s what I wrote on those two topics in the post:
      -“The Prius was outfitted with top-of-the-line Nokian Hakkapeliitta studded snow tires. Those helped a bit, but couldn’t make up for her lack of AWD and 4 centimeters of ground clearance.”
      And regarding electric:
      -“We would LOVE to get an electric car and it’s our five/ten-year goal to sell this car and buy electric. We didn’t get electric this time because the prices on electric vehicles are super high and the technology is super new. I don’t want to get the first generation of any new technology–I want to see how it plays out and then select a car with a proven record of reliability. Since electric vehicles use an entirely different technology than gas cars, I don’t feel confident falling back on my previous knowledge of car brands. It’s all different now! At any rate, our hope is that our next vehicle will be electric.”

  23. Yep! My beloved Honda Odyssey finally bit the dust late last year. We bought it new in 2006 and had 250k miles on it so we knew we wanted another Odyssey, it was just was too good to us!! Since it was an emergency we had to buy quickly and really had a hard time with paying sticker price but after seeing some dealers charging above sticker price and seeing 2 year old, 20k miles Odysseys on Carmax for $2k MORE (!) we felt good about buying new again….. We have had such good luck with our Hondas and Hubby and our mechanic take good care of them.. No regrets here at all!!

    1. Oh I’m sorry to hear about your Odyssey’s demise! I nearly cried when we sold our 1996 Odyssey–that was truly a champion car among cars. Glad to hear you were able to get another one!

  24. Very interesting post! The standard wisdom no longer applies due to the pandemic; appreciate seeing your whole research and thought process. Congrats on the new vehicle. We bought a used Subaru Forrester just over a year ago – just barely beat the used car scarcity crisis. Enjoy!

  25. Not a big fan of boxer engine used in vehicle. Extended warranty mandatory if you don’t plan on financing mechanics new tool purchases of vacation. Last experiences of boxer engines by others have been less than favorable, with oil and coolant leaks.

  26. Welcome back to the Subaru family! We bought a new 2020 Outback in April 2020. My husband is a car guy/amateur mechanic with a strong preference for buying new and driving to the ground, and I was having a tough time getting him to buy into a used car. Through aggressive negotiation and favorable buyer conditions in the early pandemic, we ended up with 0% financing after putting $11k down on the negotiated $27k price. Now the dealer keeps offering to buy the car back at the price we paid for it or more! I think this will be the only time in my life that a new car actually appreciated in value during my ownership.

    Depending on what the electric offerings look like in a couple of years, we’re also considering selling the Outback and switching, but if that doesn’t pan out, we got a pretty good deal on the car we have!

  27. Had Toyota until 1994 until some genius at Toyota thought a person who wanted a manual transmission didn’t want power door locks/windows or really any other amenity. Honda time for 25 years but better half’s knees + clutch = no longer viable. We and our younger daughter both bought new cars in 2019 and drove off the lots that day (she didn’t buy the same make). I had a 4WD vehicle growing up and the Outback’s clearance matched that vehicle. The dimensions of Outback was almost the same as my Honda (garage fit, easy transition to a new car). I will say the Outback has more bells and whistles I’ll ever use (read: want to use). I miss my Honda but will say loading/unloading is much easier in the Outback – we’re not getting any younger and the height makes it easier for us to load larger (read heavier) items together. I don’t miss dead lifting four or five 40/50 lbs bags in and out of the Honda trunk.
    We’ve not had a major snowfall since we bought it (we’ve had snow). But eyesight will flash on the dash that it is no longer engaged if you hit heavy rains. We were on a busy 3 lane interstate when that happened. Haven’t had that happen on local roads during heavy rain.
    You might want to consider different tires than the ones that came on the vehicle.

    1. Also drove an Equinox. Besides the interior almost a mirror of a truck, it required PREMIUM gas and was more expensive (price and to insure). Premium gas alone was a deal breaker, interior or not.
      And when we bought in 2019, used Outbacks were almost as expensive as a new one. I’m not a fan of buying used. One plus of going 15 years between purchases is saving up cash. Financing was cheap at the time but decided I didn’t want to do paperwork.

      1. Not sure where you heard that- I’ve had three Equinoxes over the last several years (we leased) and none of them required premium fuel. They are fantastic on mileage with just regular pump gas- I average 32+ mpg around town.

        1. Said so on the interior of the fuel door. Also the standard car sites (Edmunds et al) stated premium was recommended.
          Better half and adult daughters rented a RAV4 a few years back – better half knew that wasn’t a good option for him (I’d be okay).

    2. Liz: Congratulations on buying your new Outback. I think you really made a wise decision. I bought a new 2018 Honda Accord and now-the local dealer will give me exactly what I paid for it if I sell it back to him. I plan on driving it until the wheels fall off, LOL!

      I think at one point you said that you had an Apple phone. You will really enjoy the Apple Car Play. You can listen to Spotify or Pandora music or podcasts. The turn by turn navigation is outstanding for longer trips.

      I also agree that having the safety features is important. Plus we both paid cash for our cars – no financing . Enjoy,

  28. I’m so afraid of scammers on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. How did you navigate a big sale with a stranger? Did they pay in cash?

  29. Personally, I prefer buying new cars. I drive them for a long time (I got rid of the 2004 Echo in 2019!). I don’t want to be stuck with others problems when buying a used car. I now have a 2018 Civic and I love it in the summer… but I HATE it in the winter. I could sell it and buy a Toyota instead, but I just finished paying it off (litteraly, last week) so my idea is actually to keep it for when my daughter starts driving (in 4 years) and acquire a new car then.

  30. It is so great to hear how you sold your car. Congrats! I am very interested in selling my car but worry about the safety of the transaction. I would love to hear how Mrs. Frugalwoods or others have handled that in a car sale. Where did you meet them? Did you let them test drive? Did you count the money in front of them? Appreciate any details or suggestions.

    1. The only time I sold a car was a “”as is”” , so no test drive, and I had made a paper indicatin the terms (price, condition of car, bought as is, etc), that the buyer and I had to sign and each keeping a copy (It was a crappy 2004 Ecco that he bought for 300$, in 2019, so…..). Then we meet at the licence bureau to exchange the car from my name to his name. I live in Canada and sometimes buyers will say “”it’s fine, I’ll do it myself””. or wil bring papers for you to sign, saying the are going to bring it to the licence bureau. NEVER EVER let that be. That person can then not do the change and you are still liable for whatever happens with the car, even if you are no longer the official owner. Many people had really bad surprises with this. And, yes, I counted the money in front of them. But I would say anything over 500$ I would ask for an e-transfert and confirm the transfert before giving the keys. Safer to not go around with a pile of cash.*** If you intend on letting the person test drive, please don’t do it with only you in the car. Sad to say, but I would at least have a man in the car with you (or by hmself, with the potential buyer). Good luck!

    2. Sara we are in the US and have sold two cars via craigslist. We let people test drive if they let us take a photo of their drivers license, can also ride with them if you prefer but as a female I never did that. We also meet them at the dealership with the car to have it checked out if they are wiling to pay for this. Once they are ready to buy we would have them bring a cashiers check for agreed upon amount and meet us at our bank during regular business hours so that we could deposit it immediately – once the teller told us yes it cleared then we would sign the paperwork over to the buyer along with keys while still in the bank. You can print all the forms you need based on state/city you live in for car sale. Its pretty easy all things considered as long as you are smart about. minimizing the risk of fraud. We have done the same process when purchasing used cars via Craigslists, I think it is a fair way to proceed with such a big sale that protects both parties. I would never trade a used car into the dealership, sure there is some tax savings as it brings down your purchase price but that never compares to how much more you can make selling it on your own vs trading it into the dealership. Hope this helps

  31. We love our 2021 Subaru Outback and with the turbo engine we can tow our camper (a very frugal vacation option). We bought it last year to replace our 2007 Buick SUV with 200,000 miles and while CT doesn’t get the super cold weather VT does we get our fair share so AWD is much appreciated. This is not our first Subaru Outback and we have kept them 10 yrs or more and always sold them at a decent price. We are sure you will not be disappointed with your decision.

  32. Will be curious to see how you like the outback after the first winter. We also live in a merciless winter area of the upper Midwest with the desire to go even further north and rural. That also means like you we must have a vehicle that can handle it. I haven’t been without 4WD for a very long time. Everyone raves about the Outback’s AWD so I’d like to see your thoughts after winter #1.

  33. We’ve recently moved back to rural life, and we’re trying to make our SUV work as our daily driver and the vehicle I take to work on a farm. One thing you didn’t mention is just how dirty “work” vehicles get. I’m always hauling a receiver hitch, power tools, various types of weather clothing, extra farm boots…. I hauled a goat the other day! I’m considering a farm truck just so I don’t have to off-load a bunch of stuff every time I want to get groceries or take the kids to the lake, etc, and will keep our “going to town” car looking nice.

    1. You made me laugh out loud with “I hauled a goat!” You are so right–the bed of our truck is FILTHY. Very thankful we don’t have to put goats and sundries inside a car ;). Although I did bring our chickens home in the front seat of the Prius… LOL

  34. Thanks for being so transparent about the changing economic situation that led you to this decision! We have done the same recently. Up until a year ago, we were proud owners of 2 2013 Ford Focuses- rockstars on fuel economy. Well, we now have a 13 month old another baby coming in November- we decided a family vehicle with AWD (we live in Iowa) was a necessity safety and function wise. Ended up buying a brand new Toyota Sienna Hybrid, got what we wanted, and have no regrets! Used car pickings were SLIM and expensive. I hope you love your Outback!! I really wanted the Ascent but the mini van was much more comfortable in the back seat. Here’s to not having to unload and reload children for no good reason!

  35. Welcome (back) to the Outback club! I also went through the same exact thought process, same exact car options, and settled on the outback 2 years ago. I also had had a much older one (a ’98) earlier in life. My only complaint regarding using the new models for rural driving: the backup sensors. Our driveway is at an angle and heaven forbid I back down it at more than 1mph, it sees a pothole as an insurmountable obstacle and skids me to a stop. Drives me bonkers. But otherwise, it has been perfect. Enjoy!

  36. Thank you for sharing your interesting post on how Covid and rural living have changed your perspective about buying a new car. Before the Pandemic I was a high mileage driver that saw logic of buying new cars and trading mine when they still had book value. One consideration for working with a dealer to trade your desirable car is the advantage tax wise. Your new car is taxed only after the value of your trade in.


    Honestly, I owned cars with flaws that I was unwilling to be transparent about. Thankfully, the dealers acted fast and offered decent trade in allowances that saved me considerable amounts of taxes.

  37. I feel the same way about new cars. Always bought at least a 2 year certified used about every 8-10 years. Our 11 yr old Audi we have owned for 9 years was running great but I just had a gut feeling that we were expecting some major repairs—we had never had to do anything but general maint/oil change/new tires/battery. And with supply chain issues how long would we have to wait for parts etc on a repair? I had been eyeing a Genesis GV70 but it was delayed in 2020 so we decided to go ahead with a brand spanking new 2022. Found a dealer that sold at MSRP. Sold the Audi on Carvana and got an ridiculous amount of cash for it, financed the GV70 at 2.50% but had the cash to pay in full. After the Fed meets next month to raise the interest rates I will take that cash an lock it into a 3 yr CD at approx. 3.50% . I already save every month for a new car so that will go to the car loan payment and still give me an extra $100 per month leftover to go to my car savings account plus I will l still be earning 1% on my money over what the car loan is. It just made straight financial sense

  38. We also bought a new car in this past year, a Subaru Ascent. The safety features were the reason. We live in Colorado and are in our late 60’s/70’s and all the helps are wonderful. And the headlights!!!! We’ve had a Forester (nice but too much road noise) and an Outback (loved that car, but downsized to one vehicle so wanted it roomy enough for road trips. The Ascent won. Didn’t actually look at any other brands besides Subaru because snow.

  39. Our son, in the Navy, has generally followed the going economic practice of maintaining a “beater” commute car and selling it when reassigned. This year for the first time, he actually shipped his car himself (the Navy ships one vehicle for them, thus the family car), from the east coast to Hawaii, because it was so much less expensive than to sell it here and buy another used one there. MUCH LESS. Every aspect of used car ownership that we’ve followed for years is on its head right now. Thanks for the detailed info/comparisons, and bravo for setting the example for adjusting expectations and practice when the economic conditions of a slice of our economy shift, as they have, over the last two years.

  40. We sold our 07 Prius last week and, similarly, came out with less than $150/ year use price. We live in the mountains and went with a used hybrid Highlander. It averages 20mpg pulling a trailer through the mountains and up to 30 without. I’m surprised you didn’t consider the bigger hybrid Toyotas but perhaps the wait killed the deal. We plan to possibly wait for the 2024 hybrid 4Runner or Tacoma.

  41. I may have somewhat similar road conditions as your situation (I live in the NW Angle of Minnesota – a little known exclave of the states; the only place in the contiguous US north of the 49th parallel). Lots of snow, dirt and ruts. My Prius definitely gets parked in the winter and my Outback takes its place for a few months!

  42. We never thought we’d buy new either!! We realized that between high inflation on vehicles and low interest rates on savings accounts, we were better off buying rather than continuing to save. Then, like you, we discovered the old frugal rule no longer applies: buying a new vehicle is currently a better value than used (if you can locate one!) We had a nice nest egg saved for a future truck purchase, so we paid cash for a third of the price of a 2022 Chevy Colorado and financed the rest at 1.89% interest through the dealership last October. To negotiate the loan, we showed them our lower interest rate offered through our bank, and they matched it, plus discounting a $750 coupon for financing with them and deducting their Costco and GM Educator rebates for $1500 more off the purchase price. They let us both charge $2000 on our 2.5% cash back credit card, and we paid the rest with a check. Our monthly payment is slightly over what we were budgeting in our “next vehicle purchase/car maintenance” category. The dealership trade in value was a joke so we sold our reliable VW Jetta station wagon to friends for their teen drivers. Like you, we were maxing out its hauling capacity. Our truck allows us to work our side gigs plus our own house projects more capably than the station wagon + utility trailer did, especially in winter! The only tradeoff is slightly worse gas mileage. We live a comfortable 1 mile from work so we share the truck and walk/bike to reduce mileage and expenses. Congratulations on your Outback! Cheers to safe winter driving, new car smell and warranty!

  43. We have always bought new cars and kept them for over 200,000 miles – with a used one, you don’t necessarily know its history and how well the previous owner maintained it. (My current wheels : a Prius, 13 years old this fall and in excellent condition). No snow or bad roads here, fortunately, as it has low clearance.

    Sold my old Volvo , age 22, for cash just by placing a for sale sign on it’s wiindow in parking lots.

    1. My husband and I buy new vehicles, maintain them well, and drive them into the ground. For me it’s very hard to find a lightly used work van; these are not status vehicles so owners don’t feel the need to trade them in. And since we lived in the mountains of Colorado for years, I purchased a work van with AWD which is extremely rare (and the best snow vehicle I have ever driven). And my husband is very particular about proper and prompt maintenance. Not to mention that we are terrible at buying used cars – they end up having lots of expensive problems so the math for us hasn’t worked out. Steven’s car is a Subaru Outback, the car of the Colorado mountains! Which also makes it hard to buy one used at much of a discount even before the current crazy car times – the competition for used Outbacks keep the price high in our area.

  44. Last year I bought a brand new car — a small sedan. The car I had was becoming unreliable and expensive to maintain. I’d never bought new before, and wasn’t even considering it … until I saw the interest rates for used, the lack of inventory, and the sky-high prices. So I have a car payment for the first time in my life, but I also have the safest car I’ve ever had, a warranty, and I should be able to drive it for *years* after it’s paid off. The interest rate I got (good credit + holiday promotional rate) means I’m paying very little in interest, which took some of the sting out, too.

  45. Interesting. I’m in the process of reaching the same conclusion. I’m a used-car guy and always have been. (I like late-model used.) When I took my 2019 Mini Countryman to the dealer for service recently, they offered me $3000 less than I paid 26 months ago. That seems like a smoking deal. I can walk away with $33,000 after having paid only $115 per month to drive the thing? Sign me up! I’m now in the process of parlaying that into a brand-new car. Even with the $2000 dealer markup on the new vehicle, this seems like a smart move. The difference in my case is that I’m not going after practical. As a 53-year-old dude, I’m going to allow myself to purchase a fun car for the first time. I’m still making sure it gets great ratings and gas mileage, though. So, bring on the Mazda Miata!

  46. A friend just lost her low mileage 2014 Honda Fit in a flood. Thought it was worth about $8,000 but insurance paid her $15,000 because used cars are worth so much. Very odd times. Of course she had to also buy a car, which turned out to be a 2019 Fit for about $21,000 or so through Carvana. I wonder about the wisdom of buying through that kind of service, but apparently it was the place to find a variety of used cars of the kind she wanted. (Came from out of town.) Does anyone know what the up charge is for something like Carvana?

    1. Hi,
      We bought a 2018 Subaru Impreza through Carvana last year. Much nicer car and cheaper than available used at local lots. Carvana gives 7-day money back trial and exchanges. You also have the option to reject the car on arrival (they deliver to your door), so scope it out. Then in the 7 days, have it carefully checked by a mechanic. In our case, we got all brakes and rotors replaced as well as half the car repainted after notifying Carvana of the mechanic report. I can’t imagine they made money on the sale of this car, but we’ve had no issues and are very happy. Super convenient way to get the exact used car you want and not have to run around.

  47. Thanks for sharing! I have a 2010 Prius w/ 161,000 miles on it. You are correct that it doesn’t handle well in a few inches of snow & the clearance is low! (I live in NE Ohio) there is some slight oil leakage & mechanic sd it’d be $2300 to replace cylinder head gasket (b/c they have to remove engine) I check the oil & add some between oil changes and plan on driving as long as possible… it’s paid off & I need to build up my car replacement fund!

  48. You were smart to buy a Subaru. We had a 2009 Subaru Forester that we paid (out the door including taxes etc) $20,000. We just sold it last week (107,000 miles) for $5,100. and the guy who bought it was very happy with the price. It was a great car for us and I am sure that this Outback will be a great car for your family.

  49. Congratulations. I’m considering doing the same. I’m wondering why you didn’t consider a hybrid? CRV or RAV4

  50. I thought the same as you about the seat heights in various cars (I’m 5’10”, my husband is 6’3″). What I learned is that most newer cars have seats that adjust vertically as well as horizontally, etc. So, the dealership person should have told you how to adjust the seat height on the first car you test drove. Their fail. Great post. We recently bought a brand new car as well, for much the same reasons as you.

    1. Yep, we did indeed ask the dealership and they told us (and showed us) that the seat doesn’t adjust vertically. The Outback’s seats, however, do adjust vertically, which we love.

  51. I love the thoroughness of this post. Also when I read the subject line of your email this morning I said out loud to my husband, “Whatttt Mrs. Frugalwoods bought a new car, but, but, she is (was!?!) the queen of buying used cars!”

    I’m still going strong on team Prius which works well for our family and the part of PA we live in. I have way too much fun taking photos of all of the large items that we are able to cram in the Prius. Have fun in your new car adventures 🙂 🙂 🙂

  52. I’m curious why you didn’t want a hybrid? The highlander hybrid is available with AWD. Is it that having the best awd system was the most important to you guys? And Toyota’s E-awd couldn’t compete with Subaru’s setup? Or you just didn’t want that large of a vehicle?

  53. My niece had an Outback and it lasted over 300,000 miles. She slid on black ice and ripped something underneath so she’d still be driving it if it wasn’t so expensive to fix. I have a 2008 Outback I bought used and it has 182,000 and still going strong. Good cars!

  54. As a Michigander, Wish Americans would at least consider vehicles made by American companies when shopping for vehicles. Otherwise thanks for the interesting article.

      1. My husband is in automotive as a fellow Michigander. The thing is, even the Honda Odyssey has been made in the US and was one of the number 1 US made vehicles for many years. But I do feel in Michigan there are many more GM, Ford, etc because we live here and want to support “the big 3” as so many people in automotive work for them here.

        Also, many vehicles from GM to Toyota are made in Michigan, Indiana etc. but yes if you work for a supplier OR the big 3, you are expected to buy a vehicle or get a company vehicle from them, which I take it is the case no matter what automotive company you work for.

        My parents have Ford’s only and all of their cars have 150,000-220,000 miles and zero issues. They maintain them and buy them fairly new. But again, I think most cars you maintain and care for have a much longer chance of lasting.

  55. This is sooo interesting!!! I have an older truck and been slowly saving money to replace it. I had teh idea in my head to buy used and then with the prices I was doing so much back and forth about used vs new and then if you go new do you buy outright or finance or or or or. End up with analysis paralysis and haven’t done anything. Love how you break it all down for us, how you went about it, why you decided things, etc. Thanks for sharing and being so awesome 🙂

  56. The current economy has turned some of our best frugal practices on their heads. I wonder, in what other ways we are now doing things that used to be un-frugal?

    I look at electric vehicles a little nervously. I live rurally, and many people here have long commutes to work, myself included. As I understand it, electric vehicles function best in stop and go traffic, not on long daily drives. There is currently no place near my work to recharge and exactly one charging station for the public in the little town where I live. How would these issues be managed in a rural place such as Vermont, I wonder? Do you think manufacturers will overcome these issues? And what about the resale value of an electric vehicle that will need battery replacement shortly after the sale? I’d love to hear about someone’s experiences with electric vehicles. Ideas for future posts, maybe?

  57. Congrats !
    We did used cars for years and did our research but ended up with thousands in repairs every time. Bought a new one in 2019 and zero regrets. Love the safety features too and peace of mind.

  58. I ended up paying $25,000 for a slightly used 2021 Toyota Corolla last year (in October 2021) so I think you got a good deal, given the circumstances surrounding vehicles. now.

  59. Outback is also our next car! The EV’s cant seem to get it right yet. We got stuck in VT snow and NJ beach in winter pulling our Hobie cat off. We need room for blokarts, music gear , gardening, trash picking , camping etc….

    We have been using our Toyota sienna mini van for years .. I redid our house with the space. The van is 20k… Holds more than a truck and your sheet rock doesn’t get wet. Sorry guys the truck purchase is DUMB… pay 40-50k get 15-17 MPG…. The van gets 30MPG nothing gets wet , seats reconfigure, tons of room for everything! If you’re a rack & ladder CONTRACTER – I get it – but every one else – trucks are just dumb nowadays.

    1. Disagree….trucks are good for towing, and tall weird stuff. They belong in a rural garage choice. Though I agree you can c ram a ton of stuff in a mini van.

    2. Ummm you can’t put a snow plow on a minivan. Pretty sure the FW family would be housebound all winter if they had to do that lol. Trucks are for doing truck stuff. If you don’t have a use for it, good for you, but not everyone is in the same situation.

      1. No…Indeed one can’t put a snow plow on a mini van. I’ll never buy a truck its become a NASCAR status symbol these days. Our dealer said folks drive down from NYC to but them in PA! Can you imagine? a Truck in NYC????? I do agree with Mrs Frugalwoods on eth EV. We paid the 1000 and got in line for a tesla.. but my fear of being an early adopter and the take away of the $$$ incentives made me get a refund of the 1000.00… at least they were nice about it. We need an affordable Model “T” EV car yesterday!

  60. We bought our Outback in 2016 brand new. No regrets on that purchase. She now has 143k miles on her and we have no plans to get rid of her. I bought a used 2015 Prius after our 2009 Prius (bought brand new) was pushed off the road by a dump truck in 2016 but recently totalled her so replaced her with a 2012 Lexus CT200H (Hybrid which gets 44 mpg) and we have a 2008 Diesel Ford F-250 Truck (17 mpg). Our car situation is a delicate balance of fuel efficiency, outdoor adventure and farm tough since I commute for work and we go on many road trips in both summer and winter plus we have 5 1/2 acres of chickens and other animals so I totally get what y’all are going through. Sometimes it’s smart to buy new, sometimes used. You just gotta do what you gotta do in this crazy life!

  61. I was driving my late mother’s Mazda for a couple of years. Free to me and I was able to give my Camry to my daughter. Both were the same model year. When I added the Mazda to my insurance, it was a lot more than the Toyota which surprised me. My agent was suprised too but then said “oh, that’s because Mazda’s are more expensive to repair.” I found that to be true. I’m driving a Toyota Corolla now and my daughter bought a Forester because she moved to Colorado.

  62. Last time I checked, Forresters required hi test gast, which is why it would never be on my list of possible cars! I would definitely consider an Outback (though I love Hondas)

    1. The Subaru WRX and STI’s require 91 or higher octane in most cases. The rest of the Subaru line-up does not. Our Forester takes 87 octane.

  63. I had a CR-V for close to ten years; great in snow. Last year, I paid cash for a new HR-V – great mileage. It’s just me, so I wanted a smaller car that was good on snow. I saved every COLA I got, and money I made from my part-time job, and paid cash. I put $5,000 on a credit card – for the cash back. I’m newly retired, so if it’s icy or snowing – I don’t have to go out. Enjoy your new wheels!

  64. I might be the lone dissenter here but I still think it’s better to buy used! We had the exact same situation as you (needed a car right away, love and trust Subarus – we even live in VT!!) and bought a 2019 Subaru Forester with 19K miles on it for $25K from a local – almost $12K less than you paid for an only slightly older car. I am happy to forego a warranty and that new car smell for that much money – and Subarus are notoriously reliable so I don’t anticipate any maintenance issues for many years and am willing to take the chance. We also considered following your older advice and finding that used “sweet spot” where cars have depreciated enough that they are a good bargain but will hold their value – I found quite a few options for 2016-2017 Subarus with about 50-80K miles on them in the range of $16K and am curious that you did not consider going that route. I suspect your decision to buy new is more a reflection of your changed priorities (safety being understandably paramount now that you are a parent) and your improved financial circumstances. No judgement, I just don’t think it’s the most frugal choice, even in this strange historical moment where used cars are more expensive than they once were.

  65. Toyota Sienna AWD Mini Van… 20-25k used.. gets 20-25mpg…. Take out seats for HUGE loads- put in seats for Kid’s events. Holds our snowboards, blokart, garden plants, cans of mulch, Sailing parts, Music gear etc…. WAY WAY better tahn any truck – NOTHING gets wet- like that sheet rock you bring home from LOWES for a house project? And that truck 12-15 MPG =criminal.. New Status trucks?= 40-50+k!! If you aren’t a rack & ladder contractor , why would anyone ever buy a truck? Make all your soccer Mom mini van jokes you want; the van is superior to any truck! It also has a low back end to drive your snowplow and gas mower into it. We love our “Vinnie Man”!

  66. I have a 2004 Forrester XT (turbo) and one of the best purchases I made for it was an extended warranty (can’t remember if it was 70k/7yrs or 100k/10yrs. I was living in CA at the time (2003) but you could purchase it from any dealer (I searched based on price for the same policy) so I used a dealer in the Midwest. This is my 3rd car and I’ve always purchased new with extended service and kept them up and running for at least 15 yrs. There is always a major thing that is not covered by the basic warranty and happens close to the expiration of the extended warranty. For the Subaru is was the sunroof which ended up freezing, burning out where a bent track was a major issue. The extended warranty cost $600 ($0 deductible) at the time and the dealer told me that the sunroof would have cost over $1500 without that coverage- cost my $0.

  67. Congratulations Liz and family on the purchase of your new car! May you enjoy it in good health for many years!

  68. Nice to see the logic on this one as my wife and I had figured the Outback would be a good car if we ever went rural.

    Also, while it was pretty obvious from your description that the Prius was just “done” in that environment, when I read that you had studded snow tires I was like, “no way, even with those it was that bad!?” Ugh.

    Enjoy the new ride!

    1. The Prius tried *so* hard with her studded snow tires, but without AWD, she just couldn’t hack it.

  69. I just wanted to say that I always appreciate the level of detail you provide in all of your posts. Rarely do I think of a question that you haven’t answered. So thank you for continuing to do what you do!

    1. Thank you, Kayla! I appreciate that! It’s nice for my (and my husband’s) obsessive researching to have a place to go 🙂

  70. I drive a 95 Geo Metro with 135K on it. I’ve owned it since 1997, when I bought it with 24K on it to use as a “commute on the freeway” car. After my husband and I got married, we were able to commute together since we worked at the same hospital, and after we moved to Oregon I worked at home until my retirement doing medical transcription. For me, it’s an ideal car. It’s a hatchback, and holds an amazing amount of “stuff” for the size of car it is. My husband drives a 96 Plymouth Neon, of which he is the original owner. Since we live in town both of these cars are suited to our lifestyle, and you’d be amazed how many times I’ve been offered money for my Metro. Nope, keeping it until it dies.

  71. Ah, a new car is on our list. Or used. We are in the same situation. We should probably consider replacing the 2006 Matrix. But it still runs. We have replaced two door handles and some parts on the inside of the driver’s door (the panel holding the lock and window buttons was disconnected). I have been waiting and waiting…because used cars are expensive. In fact, the cars on your list are exactly what I am considering (in addition to Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Rogue).

    But…we don’t have the weather issues that you do (and with the multi year drought, hey we can bike!) Kid #1 goes to college in a couple of years, so maybe he’ll need a car? In the meantime, we wait.

    Our other car is a 2009 Civic. We are thinking small SUV for the “big” Matrix (road trip car) and electric for the “small” Civic. In reality they are about the same size.

  72. Haha, we are looking at Subarus also, but I think we will just wait for another few winters, and maybe look at the full EV models that are coming out–not quite so dire around here.

  73. Now you know why Subaru’s are the unofficial car of Vermont! They are great cars and wonderful in the snow!

    1. This is a big joke between my boyfriend and I. We (WMass-ers) spend a lot of time in VT & NH… he has a Subaru which we definitely considered the official “mountain state” car. I have a Rav4 which we saw on a list as #1 car in VT. Now every time we’re north we count up cars to see who

      He loves the higher ground clearance, larger trunk and great snow/ice performance of a Subaru (he is frequently in small rural towns throughout the Berkshires and NY for commutes), I love the smooth ride and excellent gas mileage of my hybrid Rav. Both great cars!

  74. Here in Colorado, if you trade in a car, you get a sales tax credit for the trade-in value.

    Simple example: If sales tax is 10% (hope it’s not!) and your new car costs $30,000, you’d pay $3,000 in sales tax. But if your trade-in is valued at $20,000, you only pay $1,000 in sales tax.

    I think the dealerships here shape their trade-in value so that you’d only make a few dollars, after the sales tax credit, if you sell it yourself. For some people, they’ll go through the hassle of selling their used car themselves to save a couple hundred bucks, but I’ve usually received very decent trade-in values (less the sales tax credit, of course!), making selling it yourself not worth the effort.

    And given the shortage of used cars on dealership lots, they’re giving great trade-in values at the moment!

    But even if you get a similar credit in Vermont, 6% of $3,000 is $180 – hardly worth it. Great job on the trade-in!

  75. We sold our 2009 Honda Civic EX last week for $1,500 more than we paid for it 6 years ago. It wasn’t a glamor car but it was mechanically sound, trouble free, its body was good, and honestly, it was pretty comfortable. We put 75K miles on it and when sold, it had 135K miles. Just a baby!
    Last year, we bought our daughter’s much newer 2015 Honda Fit with 70K miles; we don’t need a big car nor one that can survive a Vermont winter. My husband did the oil changes so he already knew the car and of course, the driver. We’ve put a whole 5K miles since last September.

    We’ve had 3 Subarus. They are terrific and great for rural families. Enjoy!

    1. Good luck with your daughter’s Honda Fit! My neighbor has LOVED hers through the years. It has been a workhorse for her and she traded her old one in back in 2020 when she heard that would be the last year of them, to make sure it lasted her for a long time. I thought that was saying something!

  76. When you’re ready to go electric check out the VW ID.4 AWD edition! More fun to drive than a Mazda and more torque and horsepower than an Outback 🙂

  77. 1) The Kelley Blue Book comparison chart compares Front Wheel Drive of Toyota and Honda to All Wheel Drives of Subaru and Mazda. This makes it look like the Subaru and Mazada get lower MPG, but in reality, you are not comparing apples to apples.

    2) Why didn’t you sell the Prius in 2018 instead of the Subaru when you bought the Tundra?

    1. 1) Whoops! I made the chart specifically for this post and I must’ve selected the wrong model for those cars. Thanks for the heads up!
      2) Back in 2018 we were still under the delusion that we could make the Prius work during the winter. We realllllly wanted to keep the superb gas mileage of the Prius (46MPG) and, at that point, we’d only been through 2 Vermont winters with it. After four more winters, we realized we can’t make the Prius work any longer.

  78. As usual, we’re living similar lives. We too have an outback (but closer to your older one not a brand new one hah) and love it. The space in the back for two kids + large trunk + ski Thule up top + a hitch if we ever wanted to tow + AWD made it the top contender for us too (we also were looking at the Rav4 (which I previously had and loved), CRV, and Forrester).

    We also discovered that FB marketplace is apparently the place to buy and sell vehicles these days. Who knew!

    Love how you have it outfitted with alllll the matting and interior protection haha!

    1. Our parallel lives continue!!! Yeah, the dirt protection was a priority–we wouldn’t let the kids ride in it until we’d kitted it out

  79. Re: animals in cars …my neighbor’s friendly pet burro got scared in a thunderstorm and ended up a mile from his home- trying to hide in the ditch at my house. Poor little guy was soooo glad to see me and happily jumped in my minivan for a ride home. You just do what you gotta do….it’s only mud and wet burro stink😄

  80. No judgment here, first you are the gold standard of smart capable bloggers, authors and podcasters with an amazing track record. No way you are going to jump into something dumb because you didn’t do your homework. Second because you are right as usual. I bought a used 2017 Infiniti QX50 early in the pandemic from Vroom. It had 25,000 miles on it, looked and ran like new and was available shipped to me for about half its original sticker price. It’s a genuine rocket sled of a sports car. Things have changed since then, as you have pointed out. My wife, later in the pandemic had to wait months to get a brand new Bronco Sport, in the same overall price range as your new car, but more of an off road oriented, performance version. The two of us like fast cars so we both traded off mileage in favor of horsepower. In her case she always buys new, and keeps them for 15 years. Her previous car was a 2006 Exterra. If you keep a car a long time the difference in new versus used becomes pretty small on an annual basis, even in the past, and now the math often favors new cars. We buy with cash too, we are just allergic to debt.

  81. Thank you for this thorough post! I’m in a similar situation looking at new-new cars. Were you able to haggle the price at all or is inventory so low you just pay the sticker price?

  82. We did the same analysis as you and made the same decision. We bought a 2022 Outback through Costco’s Auto Buying Program. We’d expected to buy a Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, but the tight head room was problematic for us too. We also had a bad experience with the Toyota dealer, who (among other sketchy tactics) tried to upsell us on a Rav4 loaded with expensive packages we didn’t want or need. The Outback ended up being thousands less than the Rav4 (“options” apparently weren’t optional with Toyota — our choices were limited to incoming deliveries with options already added). With the Outback, we got to pick the exact color and accessories we wanted. The financing % and extended warranty pricing were better through Subaru too. It’s our first Subaru and we love it!

    1. Interesting to hear your experience! Yeah, the Rav4 headroom was bizarre–we were so sure we were going to get that car. I guess that’s why test drives are a thing!

  83. Like you, we compared new and used car prices. At this moment, in our location (AZ), new was the better choice. In a few months, it may not be. By buying new, we got the warranty AND paid the same/lower price as used cars without warranties. Because local used car lots are so bare and there were few cars being sold by private parties, we were shocked to see some used cars costing more than new. We weren’t in a hurry to buy and could wait the 6 weeks for a new Outback delivery.

  84. I have a 2021 Mazda CX5 and love it. I drive a lot so the feel of the car and the way it drives is very important to me. My sister has the outback and I just did not love driving it the way I love driving the Mazda. Oddly the two new-to-me features that I really appreciate are the heated steering wheel, and the cooled seats! yes, cooled seats- who knew! I did not think I would use them much, but we have had an unusually hot summer in Massachusetts and I am loving those cooled seats!

    1. Also, I used the Costco Auto buying program and got a great price! Brought the Costco/dealer quote to two other Mazda dealers and they could not beat it.

  85. We are on our third Subie. The first was an Impreza. The second was the Forester XT (they don’t make this anymore). Now we are on the Outback. We drove that Forester until it was totaled in a bad crash. That car died saving us, so we naturally looked to get another Forester, but hated the new design. Because everyone wanted a hybrid, the hybrid Crosstrek was sold out and would have been a long wait. We lucked out and found a new Outback that was was available. It takes regular gas. (Our FXT took 91 because of the turbo.) I would have gotten another FXT if they made it, but we know Outbacks are great cars. We got terrific resale value for the Impreza and were shocked how much insurance gave us for a 2015 Forester with 140k miles. You made a great choice.

  86. Great case study on how to reduce car expenses, Mrs. F! Most people probably know they are going to get hosed if they trade in at a dealership, but most people don’t sell it themselves either. Your example show car expenses can be very low expense, especially if you manage things yourself. That’s not unlike managing your own money instead of using a financial advisor. Lots of people will help you . . . for a fee.

    I wonder how many other FI-minded people take it for granted that car ownership has to be contested at the dealership. This certainly gets me to thinking about the next steps with my own (10 and 15 year old) cars! Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  87. As always your articles are well-written, informative and funny. I love how you included the two kinds of mats. I’ve been dreaming of mats like these and thanks to you I now have links.

    I am also about to buy a new car. I currently have a 2013 Mazda CX-5 which has been a very good car for us. We just need an upgraded 2nd vehicle since our current is a 1992 Toyota Camry (yes, I said, 1992 -that car is 30 years old!).

    While the Mazda Cx-5 is a good size for most trips I really want a slightly larger hybrid or plug-in hybrid SUV that makes long road trips and camping feel more relaxed and luxurious. Wish me luck.

  88. Thank you for sharing your car buying story! As so many have mentioned, car buying in these inflationary times has changed the frugal rules-of-thumb.
    Somehow, my hubby and I managed to beat the current bananas increase in used car prices by buying new to us used cars in the summer of 2019. He was driving a Ford Mustang convertible, bought used with cash several years before (I call it his Mid-Life Crisis) – while he lived that car, it didn’t get good gas mileage, was terrible in the snow (we live in suburban SW Ohio, so we don’t get a ton of snow, but we do get some big storms every winter), and he became very concerned about the environment (more so than usual). He searched and searched, then pounced when a 2018 used Prius at a reasonable price came available. I was driving a 13 year old Toyota Highlander hybrid we had bought used…..it had 150,000+ miles on it, and needed some work (brakes, etc)….hubby searched and searched, and pounced when he found an affordable used 2018 Highlander hybrid. Having the latest safety issues was important to both of us, and we need a vehicle powerful enough to pull our sail boat, so this fit the bill. He traded in the Mustang at the dealer (yeah, I know – his decision, not mine), and we sold my old Highlander for $2000 to a friend who was helping his cousin get back on his feet (friend was told of all known issues, and planned to get it all fixed before gifting it to his cousin).
    Fast forward post-pandemic….our niece in Colorado sold her pick up truck (I don’t know make or model) to the dealer she bought it from for MORE than she paid – then bought a new Subaru Outback. She loves it! We had a Subaru Forester many years ago, and lived it until it was totalled in an accident.
    Enjoy your new wheels!

  89. Yessss!!! Proud of you! Honestly, what is the point of being super frugal and reaching FIRE if you cant get out of your driveway? Frugality can border on an identity rather than a tool.

    I don’t know all your FIRE numbers, but I’d venture to guess the extra to buy a new car doesn’t make much of a difference in your financial picture. Even if you bought a new car 3 years ago, with worse roi, it still wouldn’t appreciably affect your financial picture. You both don’t need to work, and yet you have an income. I’d also venture to guess ,this car make a large difference in your lifestyle. Congratulations on buying a new reliable safe car.

    *Also bought a new car this last year. Had a 4th child and could no longer do 3 across. Opted for a new Hyundai palisade and was surprised our insurance premiums decreased as well.

  90. Well…I took advantage of the used car market as well. A couple of months ago, I sold my beautiful dream car…a 2015 Mustang GT Premium in Competition Orange. I absolutely loved that car….but due to a (positive) change in work circumstances, I wasn’t driving it anymore. So I sold it for only $1200 less than I paid for it 5 years ago. I ended up buying a 2008 Explorer, which suits my weekend needs of hauling things and my hope to do some car camping, with only 33K miles on it. It actually has less miles on it than my car…weird
    I put the rest of the money I received from selling my car in my investment account. I felt like such a real grown up. I hated to see the car go, but I reminded myself that I can always buy another one later if I want. Plus…I like FireCalc saying that it looks like I will 100% successful in my plan to retire in 14 years more than I liked watching that poor Mustang get covered in tree sap in the driveway.

  91. Great article and very informative. Of the four cars you drove which did you think had the quietest cabin when driving at highway/freeway speeds?

  92. You just made me read and emphasize with a whole article and a bunch of comments about buying cars, while I‘m an urban bicycle enthusiast and car hater who never had and most probably never will have a car. Such is your gift 😉

  93. This is perfect timing as we’ve been starting to think about replacing our 2008 Subaru Outback, but I’m worried about the shift to on-screen controls for everything. What has your experience been for adjust heating/cooling, etc. while driving? Does it take more concentration without physical knobs and levers? Would it be a problem with gloves on in the winter? Thanks!

  94. We live in the Upper Valley of NH and we are going to be in the market for a replacement car as well. Question – were you able to negotiate the price of the new car? Curious to see how much wiggle room there is for negotiation given the auto market with supply constraints post covid

  95. Congrats! Got a used Subaru Crosstrek last year after my old 2006 BMW lost its airconditioning in California after 250,000 miles … and I am so happy with it! Takes us to the mountains, skiing, hiking etc. without a problem. Has room for four tall people, including two teenagers who don’t moan when they have to sit in back. Enjoy your car! Even sold the old beamer for almost $2,000.

  96. Sounds like a reasonable vehicle for the climate. I spent 5 winters in a place that gets 500 inches of snow each year and drove a Honda Civic (with all season tires). Luckily I never wrecked, and only got stuck in the snow twice. If I were to move back there, I would get something AWD and put snow tires on it. Especially now that we have young kids.

  97. “Ground clearance isn’t something we considered”…

    Have you ever seen how high manhole covers are above grade in NY city? Ground clearance needs to be considered even in some urban environments. … LMAO

  98. Great piece. You really do your homework! About the only fiscal reason you might have opted for a used vehicle is your insurance might be lower than a brand new car. Other than that, you certainly seemed to make the right decision. My son, an avid hiker and outdoors guy, bought a brand new Outback two years ago and loves it. I needed a newer vehicle in 2021 to replace my aging 2007 Mazda. It was an awful seller’s market and took me months to find an acceptable vehicle. I wrote about it. See below.

  99. We had a Subaru, and loved it. Next we got a Toyota Sienna. It is the absolute best! It gets great mileage and has a TON of space. I was wondering if you had ever considered one? I know they come in AWD and Hybrid.

  100. Did I read correctly that you are only carrying liability insurance on the new car? Since it’s paid in full you can, but just curious if I read that accurately. My husband and I both have paid off vehicles. His is a used 2020 bought in late 2020 that operated as a car rental and mine is a 2008 bought new. We have full coverage on his since the cost to replace is much higher and mine has liability. He had to buy his since he was in a non-fault accident on his 2018 that he only owned for a year and the car was considered totaled.Having full coverage on a paid in full car worked out in our favor. You never think it will happen to you if you are a safe driver, but you can’t control those around you.

  101. I just upgraded my (new second hand) 2019 Forester to a 2023 Outback XT in Australia. I have finally ticked a bucket list item off by buying a brand new car. Also after having driven second hand cars my whole life, I now get to appreciate a dealership warranty and capped servicing for 5yrs. It may not be the most financially efficient decision. But in terms of comfort and driving I was so surprised with the Outback. I have some regrets in terms of money spent so far with loan down payment but I will get over this pretty soon. Congrats on this post getting so much attention. It is really well written.

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