My wife and I have been contemplating buying a new car. Not since 1971, when we were newlyweds, had we shopped for a new car. We made a couple of side trips into car leasing in the 1990s, when lease deals were especially enticing, but the only "new" car we've ever owned was a 1971 Toyota Corona two-door. In that car, we brought our first-born home from the hospital. Fifteen or 16 years later, the little baby we brought home got behind the wheel and drove the car that had taken her from the hospital.
We are interested in a new car not because there is anything wrong with our old car, except that it's old. My wife has been driving a 2002 Honda Accord for 10 years. We bought it with 8,000 miles on it after the original owner, a minister, traded it in, and it has 110,000 miles now. But we're looking ahead to the day we retire (hoping to live that long) and think it would be wise to have a paid-for vehicle of recent vintage when we do retire. So the new car we contemplate buying might have to last longer than the 10 years or so we typically keep a car. This one might have to last 20 years.
We're looking at a small SUV because we've often found that the four-door sedan is not good at hauling big boxes or 8-foot lengths of lumber home from the store. And there have been times when we've taken off for a week of vacation with the trunk jammed full and a lot of overflow in the back seat. So we're hoping to meet our occasional needs for a bit more cargo space without going all-out on a big SUV or van.
In 42 years of marriage, my wife and I have owned (or leased) 12 vehicles, not counting the five used vehicles our three children bought while still technically under our roof (but away at school). I have felt nostalgic about a few of these four-wheeled expenses, and I have felt victimized by others, such as the one that had a nasty habit of breaking down each time we drove it out of town.
Vehicles are a necessary evil in a society built around the automobile. You can't get from Point A to Point B without a vehicle, and the costs of purchase, financing, insurance, maintenance and gasoline is overwhelming once you add it all up.
Nevertheless, here we are, about to plunge into the new car market for the first time in 42 years to buy what might be our last car, the one we'll bequeath to our heirs. Except: I'll want to replace my own 11-year-old car sometime before I turn myself out to pasture. Maybe a used car next time.