Prime vs 4 door stripped econo box (How much of a luxury item is a Prime?)

Discussion in 'Prime Main Forum (2017-Current)' started by flomofo, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. flomofo

    flomofo Junior Member

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    I have been trying to figure out the math on how long it will take for me to break even with buying a Prime over any 2016 model 10k to 12k stripper econo box (used Prius I never would). This is more for me to know how much of a luxury item a prius would be for me to commute in vs the cheapest tin box I can find new.

    I like the middle ground premium or basic plus models (since its hard to find a large selection on any one lot) which are in the 27,xxx to 29,xxx range right now.

    I drive a minimum of 160 miles per day four times a week and sometimes five or six times a week but went with a conservative 38000 mile a year estimate to calculate the difference between the fuel costs of a prime and any other car I buy. It is all freeway with patches of heavy traffic.

    Gas prices are around 2.99 a gallon for regular in my area (yes it could change).

    Insurance will be around 1400 a year (California and I drive a lot) for a new car and less than 500 for a used prius or a cheap econo box I would pay cash for.

    So I figure the Prime will never pay for itself if I include the insurance (yes when its old it will probably just be liability but by then....) cost but just going off of running costs which would likely be about equal for maintenance, the main difference would come from mileage I believe. With some econo boxes now claiming over 40 mpg hwy and likely getting in the high 30's with traffic from info I got from other people on a similar but shorter commute, I think the prime will have a conservative 10 mpg advantage at the speeds I travel at.

    So not counting insurance, I think it would take 15 or 16 years to catch up to a cheap econo box even with my super long commute...my brain says just buy a used prius with low miles but wondering if there is any logical reason to go prime instead.
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i think the cheapest car these days is 15 or 16k. no car will 'pay for itself', you have to pay.
    a slightly used car is always the best value.
    at your mileage, a lift back would be a much better option than prime, unless you need hov.
    can you take advantage of the $7,000. tax credit?
     
  3. flomofo

    flomofo Junior Member

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    Forgot to mention that the tax credit is 6k max but will take advantage of it. I believe when filing jointly the limit on income is like 500k a year?

    Otherwise I would have only considered a discounted 2016 liftback. The 25 mile electric range would just be useful around town on days off and when dealing with large patches of traffic on the freeway which my gen 3 couldnt get through without using and idling the motor when the battery ran dry.
     
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  4. Captmiddy

    Captmiddy Active Member

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    The price of the liftback versus the prime makes the prime a better value almost all the time. The tax credit pretty much fills the gap. Now if you can't use the tax credit then the role is reversed. But for the basic model you are talking about $22k after tax credits between the feds and state. To get a vehicle with even reasonable safety numbers close to a Prius, you are talking a minimum of $18k, so $4k delta. 38k miles a year / 30 MPG versus 50MPG, that comes out to almost 500 gallons of gas a year or $1400 per year in fuel delta. Also consider brake work which will happen every 2 years at that rate on the regular car and maybe once in 5 years for the Prius with regen braking. That adds another $500 to your delta (about $250 per brake setup is a nice price). So in 5 years you would have more than covered the delta between an $18k car and the base Prius Prime. I am only comparing safety set not luxury features in the Prime which will be a much more luxury car inside than the $18k regular car. Lane departure, radar controlled cruise that sort of stuff that you will not find on a basic $12 to $17k vehicle. If these aren't important at all to you, then perhaps going with the beater type is a better deal.

    Now the likelihood is that the price of fuel will go up toward $3.50 in your area over the next couple years, so that only quickens the pace of making up that delta. Personally I couldn't see myself buying a little beater with 3 star crash rating and none of the safety features that are now becoming more common. But then I bought the $34k Advanced so who am I fooling.
     
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  5. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    The 2017 Corolla starting at $18K list has the TSS-P features and has been known as a reliable car for 50 years.
     
  6. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    You, in effect, live in your car. Buy something that's comfortable with a decent sound system and has inexpensive tires, brakes, and windshields.

    My typical boiler plate advice for these questions is to buy a 3 year old Corolla (or the like), slap some 90k tires on it and drive it into the ground.
     
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  7. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    The Mirage, Spark, and Versa all start around $12k. Even with the lost cargo space, the Prime can haul more.
     
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  8. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    If you never charge (you will) and if you never drive except to work, you save $1000 a year in gas alone over a Nissan Versa. ($2 gas $2,452 vs $1,424)
     
  9. EV-ish

    EV-ish Active Member

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    I calculate about a $600 a year difference in fuel costs between a 40 and 50 mpg car over 38,000 miles a year at $3/gallon.

    I don't think it is realistic to presume that a $10-12k model will have the reliability or long life of a Prime, Prius, Fit, Civic or Corolla. So I would buy one of the above cars either new or used. As OP says, the difference in insurance probably overall favors buying used.
     
    #9 EV-ish, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  10. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    What about a CPO or a lightly used compact car? They're still fairly modern, will have some warranty left and the initial depreciation hit has been taken by the first owner.

    If I was always on the freeway, I wouldn't consider a subcompact (like a Fit, Micra, Mirage etc) mostly because of the size, the noise level/comfort and that a compact car gets very, very close mileage to those cars for not much more coin. A compact car for me gives me more "luxury" over a $12k econobox because manufacturers have improved them so much. They're much quieter, more comfortable, more fun to drive (if you pick certain models) and almost as fuel efficient (except for the Mirage, I think that is in its own class in terms of gas-only cars if you go with the CVT). That's just my comfort level.

    As for subcompact vs. Prime? Yeah in that comparison, the Prime is definitely a luxury car in terms of refinement, feature content and driving experience. The tires may be a bit noisy on MI freeways (esp. if they're just concrete slabs) but the ability to cruise down with full-speed radar cruise control (works down to 0mph), automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, supportive seats, standard dual-stage heated front seats (optional heated steering wheel) and (finally) a sophisticated suspension might have you think otherwise. I place some value in arriving at my destination more relaxed in a car that can provide me with that comfort level.
     
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  11. Captmiddy

    Captmiddy Active Member

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    Exactly my point, you would need an approximately $18k car to get the same safety features, and really not exactly the same but close. You probably don't need but also won't get heated seats and some other nice features.
     
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