4 years ago today, we got our first new car. We had put our name on the waiting list about 3 months earlier (early september). It was not a foolproof process, but we got the car we wanted, and have had very few problems with the car since.
We got the car with 3 miles on the odometer, and since then, we’ve driven an additional 57,493.4 miles (as of the time of writing). That amounts to 14,373 miles per year (which isn’t too far off the “normal” 12k miles per year most manufacturers claim. With those miles, we’ve put 155 tanks of gas in the car (1277.12 gallons), or $3804.33 worth of gas (which is an average of $2.98/gal). The lifetime average mileage, based only on those numbers is 45.02MPG. The actual current calculated MPG based upon the MPG of each tank, is 45.21MPG, so, pretty close.
Looking at the MPG of the 2007 Corolla (29MPG combined), and the 2007 Prius (46 combined), I see that a Corolla would have used 1982.53 gallons of gas, with a total cost (given the average above) of $5907.94, or about $2103.61 more (about $525.90/year (notice, comparing the two pages linked above shows the difference as $495/year, but that difference seems to be based on ideal mileage, not my real world mileage based on 4 years of driving)). I’m not sure what a fully loaded 2007 Corolla costs, or whether a Camry would be more inline with the Prius from that year, but we paid around $30k for a fully loaded Touring Edition. I also know our insurance costs are lower than comparable model cars due to the safety (and driving habits of those that own Prius’s). So, I don’t know where the break even point is for a Prius vs. other cars. But I know there are real savings on the car over the years. If I was really interested, I’d figure out loan payments for similar cars as well, but I’m not that interested. =)
Total cost of ownership, outside of gas, has been minimal. At this point, I’ve changed the oil 9 times, at a cost of about $20 per change. So that’s $180. I’ve had to change two air filters (the cabin filter, and intake filter) once (it’s coming up on the second change at 60k miles). That cost about $30 total. The only other work I’ve had to put in are changing the headlights, which were $50, and my own labor. That’s it, in 4 years. So, 4 years, $260, or $65/year. Not. Bad.
From this, obviously summer are the highest mileage months. August being the best of those. December is the worst month, though that includes a couple trips up to the mountain where driving in the snow, with chains, is going to heavily impact that mileage.
The difference between the lowest milage and the highest mileage is about 5.55MPG. This can easily be explained by air temperature, driving habits, etc.
So what it really comes down to is, do we like the car? Simply, yes. We love the car. It has a ton of cargo room, gets great mileage, drives well, is comfortable, and all and all, it’s a great car. Would I buy it again? Yes. Would I buy a new one? Maybe. I’m really waiting for something major before upgrading my car. Either straight electric, a plugin hybrid, or something a step up efficiency wise rather than just a new Hybrid (a brand new 2010 Prius only gets about 50MPG, which is only a 5MPG upgrade from our current car). We’ve talked about buying a Nissan Leaf, or something similar, but it’s up in the air (largely based on how the Leaf performs, etc).
I plan to revisit this topic again next year when we’ll be at 5 years, and theoretically 12-14k miles more.