The thread that started it for me.
(I posted this on Bogleheads - the BITOG of index investing, and thought it would be good to share on here too. If too long, see summary below)
Back on March 6th of 2016, at the age of 35, I purchased my first ever truly new vehicle: a 2016 VW Golf Sportwagen. It had 11 miles on it when I test drove it - with shipping packaging/stickers still - I was likely the first customer to ever drive it. Prior to this purchase, my "newest" vehicle was a 2005 Saturn Vue, purchased in 2012 with ~80k miles on it for $7200 - that was low for me! Under 100k - dang, that felt like a new car then.
Going back to post-dieselgate VW, Winter 2015... I found myself reading up on the new Golf VII models and how well they drove, got rave reviews, etc. Hmm... how much does a wagon cost... Oh wow, with VWs troubles, you can get some really good deals - I continued to research (had read bad things of VW reliability in the past) and kept looking for deals. Test drove one locally, a 2015 for a good price, but really wanted the 2016 for cloth seats (the "vtex" pleather was too warm in summer, and a larger infotainment screen with backup camera and Android Auto - which was like getting navigation for free).
Preferred the Silk Blue, with the dark grey/black interior and a 5 speed stick - the "base" model. The stick shift seemed to get the best mileage based on reports I'd read, plus it had the lowest MSRP - win, win. The lowly S model was very loaded coming from all my years of used cars. Great safety rating, all the conveniences I could want, drove sporty, yet quiet and felt well put together and was a step above in terms of quality, fit and finish for anything else you could buy new at the price I paid.
Negotiated on 1 of 2 Silk Blue, 5MT, black interior that existed in California at the time. Drove 4.5 hours (each way) to buy it, was about to walk out over $700 price difference, when the finance manager met the price we wanted. Was $18,5xx I believe. I just paid off my Penfed loan today, after 40 months, so I know that I spent $20,896.02 all in: purchase price, interest payments, tax, title and license fees (not cheap in CA). Still not bad as the MSRP was $22,445, + destination.
I decided to fully track expenses on this, instead of just gas and MPG like I had with previous cars. Prior to purchase I had estimated that a TCO over 11 years would be about $44k. We shall see if I keep it that long (not likely), but at least how it is lining up. One eye opening item (for me at least) was seeing just how much insurance and registration adds up, over time. We've used Geico for years and they were always the best price when I shopped around, and without owning expensive cars and having great driving records, our premiums were never high, but they still add up.
So here's my expenses to date, after 40 months of ownership and 54k miles:
Routine Maint: $662.16
"Warm & Fuzzy": $548.50
Insurance: $2441 (paid through 11/2019)
Est. KBB pvt party: ($11,000)
Net Cost: $18,526.30 or $463.16/month or $0.3431 per mile (now at 43 months and 60k mi, I'm at ~$465/mo -recent oil change, cabin/air filters, and headlight bulbs account for increase)
*I get awesome MPG - 38.4 average so far. Part of that comes from my "warm and fuzzy" purchases (things that include roof racks, coil spring helper bags for heavy loads, etc - "want" items), which included OEM underbody aero panels that come on some Euro VW and/or Hybrid models for better efficiency. They should have paid for themselves by now with hwy MPG savings. Of course I leave the racks off except when needed - I'm all for efficiency.
*CA gas - I have averaged $3.03 per gallon, 87, with this car
*I DIY my maintenance. Details of that $662.16 include: $80 for oil extractor, $25 oil change/tire rotations, $25 spent on purchasing wax, $14 for Philips xtravision headlights, $10 cabin filter, $280 for new tires + installation (@ 46k mi), $5 keyfob battery, $42 on spark plugs...
Other misc. notes: it felt weird to sell my Vue - it was a perfectly functioning car, why would I get rid of it? I spent more time detailing it and posting photos, than it was listed on CL for. Asked $2800, got $2500 within 3 hours of listing. Great timing and the kid who ended up with it got a solid, reliable car (also a 5sp stick) with ~145k when sold.
I ran many purchase scenarios, and determined that a well-bought new car, wouldn't cost that much more than buying and selling used cars, over the long term. We get to drive around in a newer, featured, and most importantly, safer vehicle, without much increase in cost. Of course we have low expectations as you can see by my "expensive" new car purchase price
This wagon holds as much stuff (for camping/climbing/surfing) as my old Saturn Vue, yet returns 10 MPG better, is fun to drive, quieter and safer.
I hope to continue to own it to 100k or 150k miles, if no major issues come up. A new Outback/Forester would likely replace it, based on cars available at this time. (we could use a little more room for gear and ground clearance on occasion for our trips - and would love the standard safety feature upgrade)
Just wanted to share my experience - if you made it this far, thanks for reading!
BITOG P.S. - I use M1 0w40 (bought with rebates of course!) and Mann/VW/Hastings filters, RLI Bio-plus in fuel, LC20 in oil
Pic shows why we bought a wagon! Holds all that camping and climbing gear, 2x inflatable SUP boards, etc, and gets near 40 mpg!