Darlene has a small package delivery business, but his 300,000-mile van eats into his profits with fuel and maintenance costs. She has a $16,000 budget for something affordable and fuel-efficient to make her deliveries.
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Here is the scenario:
I have a small parcel delivery business, most of the parcels I carry would fit in the front seat, but I always get larger things and wish I had a tailgate and hope they fit. I have a van now, with 300,000 miles, but the prices are so high I can’t afford another one. This one wouldn’t get anything on the trade, so I figured I’d save it for those big packages and get something that’s fuel efficient, hatchback that’s quiet on the highway. I have to buy used and $16,000 would be my budget.
Budget: Up at $16,000
Daily driver: Yes
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Wants: Comfortable, reliable, spacious
Will not : something too thirsty
Expert 1: Tom McParland – Using a box to move certain boxes
As you probably know buying a quality car right now is a real challenge, but if you are open to various options and cast a wide net, you can find something good. It used to be easy to score a small hatchback with low mileage for around $15,000, but now you’re looking at higher mileage examples given market inflation. I recommend looking at tier two brands like Hyundai, Nissan, and Kia because your Hondas and Toyotas are going to be expensive.
For example, the Kia Soul fits perfectly because it looks like a box on wheels. Lower the rear seats, and you have about 62 cubic feet of space. These small hatchbacks will get around 30 mpg on the highway, which isn’t as good as a hybrid but definitely better than your old minivan. The Soul is also quite comfortable and reliable.
Here is a nice example with a cool color combination and only 80,000 miles within your budget.
Expert 2: Mercedes Streeter – Versatile Parcel Carrier
In the mid-2000s, General Motors built the very vehicle for people in your situation. Discover the Chevrolet HHR. Wait! Don’t close this tab just yet and hear me out.
On the outside, the Chevy HHR is the Chrysler PT Cruiser’s cooler sibling. I mean, they were designed by the same person, after all. Unlike the PT, the HHR benefits from a flat roof and a van-like body. It’s still a distinctive design over a decade later, perfect for covering up your company logo.
Inside, you’ll witness miles of downright terrible plastic. Here’s one area where Chrysler did better than the general. But the HHR somehow makes up for it with a cool hat trick. Those back seats? They fold flat. And I’m not talking about the flat kind but completely apartment. Combined with the flat roof, it makes a great space for carrying things.
My fiancée and I used her old 2009 HHR as a weekend camper. During its ownership, we regularly beat the EPA rating at 35 mpg, and that was with a normal driving style.
I will suggest two styles. If you want to sacrifice fuel economy for fun, here is a low mileage HHR SS. If you’re determined to save pulp at the pump, here is a low mileage HHR LT2.
Expert 3: Raphael Orlove – What if you wanted something worse?
Look, there’s nothing wrong with a Soul or an HHR. Modern, practical, space-saving. But that’s not what you want.
In my hometown, there was a cool architect. He did all the good downtown buildings, the mixed-use multi-unit zoning, the funky, cool, welcoming, accessible places. Lots of color, lots of wood. You know, quirky 80s hippie shit. He helped make the city look like it used to. He could have just designed normal buildings and they would have worked well, but he gave them charm and a friendlier design.
Likewise, he could have driven any normal car, and that would be good. Instead, he drove a red Citroën 2CV van, with the seats you could remove and use as picnic chairs if you wanted. Every time you saw him driving down the road, you felt like you were momentarily in a Richard Scary book. It had an effect on you. Good!
With that in mind, I would like to introduce the idea of keeping an antique on the road rather than just a delivery vehicle. This $8,500 VW Squareback Was Recently Restored and is way under your budget to keep up with your regular maintenance at your local old school VW store. That and getting new front seats! Hell, you’re in budget to get your own paint job. Darlene’s delivery service vehicle is coming!
Expert 4: Andy Kalmowitz – The Sensible Choice
You need a vehicle that will 1) work, 2) can hold a lot of shit, and 3) is effective. Well, my dear friend, you need a Ford Transit Connect. Is it as fun or exciting as the other three vehicles listed so far? No. BBut it is okay. You run a business and the last thing you need is a vehicle you can’t rely on.
This particular Transit Connect is perfect for you. It has just over 72,000 miles, which is barely broken in for someone like you who can clock it up in the triple digits. The car is 2.5-liter four popper, while not inspiring, will do the job about as well as anything else. This is also not a standard bone base model, so you get a few niceties like better wheels and body-color-matched side moldings. It even has a rear view camera and some kind of leather-esque seat. This 2015 Transit Connect also comes in just under your budget at $15,994.
I want to say, the car is so perfect for your task that it’s even the header image of this article. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
So, Darlene, my friend, don’t be stupid. Buy the car that best suits what you need to do: the Ford Transit Connect.
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