This blog is a way for me to share hard learned lessons about money with those who are just starting out on their own. I hope it's a way for you to avoid making the mistakes I made, and to benefit from my experiences

Monday, May 07, 2007

Gas to rise to $4 a gallon?

After seeing the relentless march of rising gas prices, I'm now convinced we will see $4 a gallon gas prices, at least in the south San Francisco Bay Area. Even the cheapest cash only places are now charging $3.35. $3.45 is more normal at the regular stations. Doesn't seem like more than 6 months ago, they were at $2.30 a gallon, or even less. And we are now moving into high driving season. Prices can only go up from here.

I'm kicking myself for my recent car buying decision. I bought a V6 Ford Fusion, and for a car it's size and weight, it's a total gas hog. My mileage, at least according to the onboard computer, is about 16.5 mpg for the last couple of fill ups. According to the sticker, it's supposed to get 20 in the city and 28 highway. Well, my driving is about 50% city and 50% expressway. I know the EPA estimate is not a realistic estimate, but given my driving conditions, I should be getting at least 20 mpg.

I could have easily bought the 4 cylinder version, and saved some dough in the process. But my prejudice against Ford 4 cylinder engines prevented me from even considering them, due to my previous ownership of two Fords with vastly underpowered 4 cylinder engines.

I had no idea they've increased the power output of their 4 cylinder engines so much in the last 20 years. I only found out when I went back and checked the specs for the Fusion I4 vs. my V6 Buick. Same horsepower! 16% less torque, but since the Fusion is about 1400 lbs (30%) less weight than the Buick, the I4 should have performed better than my Buick, and I never thought my Buick was underpowered.

I'm also kicking myself for not consindering the Camry. At the time I was looking, I thought the 2007 Camry was ugly. Now that I'm seeing them everywhere, I'm starting to find them attractive. The styling has grown on me. They still seem a little smaller on the inside than the Fusion and I like that interior room, but the V6 has more power and better mileage than my Fusion, just looking at the EPA numbers, and the 4 cylinder probably would have been fine too.

I've already made the decision that my next car will be something different. Plug-in Hybrid, electric, Biodiesel, whatever. Hopefully in 8 - 10 years, which is how long I generally keep a car, those alternatives will be available. If not, we're going to be in trouble as a nation. I told my wife she could have a new car in two years. I'm going to try and steer her towards a safe, but fuel efficient vehicle. Maybe a Prius. We'll see.

None of this is so much about the price of gas. My income has more than kept up. It's about using less of the gas. The price just makes it more noticeable. Don't get me wrong. I love the Fusion and think it's a great competitor to the Camry or Accord. It's just I wish it was more fuel efficient.

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