Help me decide what car to buy
August 14, 2017 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Currently I drive a large SUV and have decided that my next car will be a Prius. But I'm torn over whether to buy new or used. Details below the fold.

I'm 95% sold on a Prius over other models since I have driven Toyotas and have had very positive experiences. I also like that the Prius is a mid-sized car. Currently I am debating about getting a brand new car or used (probably a 2014 or 2015 model).

The two criteria that are most important to me are safety and cost (total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the car). I am looking for as many safety features as possible: Blind-spot assist, Lane departure warning, Automatically brakes to avoid collisions). It appears that in order to get those features, I need to go with the high-end model.

Below are what I see as the pros and cons for each option. What else am I missing?

Reasons to buy a new Prius
- More top safety features (some are now standard in the Prius)
- The discount for buying a used Prius is less than many other used cars
- Slightly better interest rate
- I think there is typically a period of free maintenance and service?
- Longer time before battery needs to be replaced
- Slightly better fuel economy

Reasons to buy a used Prius
- Lower purchase price (I estimate I'll be saving around $10K)
- I drive a lot and park in a lot of garages and on city streets, resulting in dents and dings in my cars. I like not worrying about minor scratches and would worry about keeping a new car looking nice.
- Slightly lower insurance costs

What else am I missing? Right now I am leaning towards the used car since $10,000 is a lot of money. But would it be better in the long run to go with the new car?
posted by seesom to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that there's a huge deal of difference here, except I'm surprised you can really get 10K off a newer used model. I will probably buy a new 2019 when they go on order.

I have two 2006s (110K, 140K) that are cosmetically extremely shaggy but mostly still functional, except we're both having non-critical but incredibly annoying electrical issues that started about 18 months ago. Toyota has been unhelpful diagnosing mine, we haven't even bothered with my husband's. Two-three years of new car life before you get to that kind of crap is worth something to me. The first eight years literally never worrying about my car flaking out on me (this was my first new car, and I had driven an extremely unstable Jeep for years beforehand) were beautiful.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:15 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're very concerned about the safety features of the car, that's a very huge deal, and I think the added peace of mind that you'd get with a new car would be very beneficial in the long-run.

With that said, you can't compromise at all here? I know nothing about Prius's, so I'm genuinely asking; that's not rhetorical. How are the safety features in the 2016 car? Can you find a 2017 that's been driven VERY slightly, like just off the lot kind of thing?

If you can't compromise at all, saving money is nice, but does that really outweigh peace of mind for you?
posted by Amy93 at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2017

I'd probably buy new. That ten thousand dollars also covers 3 years of usable life. So a new car for $30k will last 10 years at $3k/year whereas a used car will cost you $20k and last you 7 years at roughly $3k/year.

PS- the prius v (the 'wagon') has way better visibility (the rear window isn't split) and a bunch more storage/legroom.
posted by noloveforned at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you plan on keeping the car for indefinitely and can afford it, just buy new. I'd expect a new Prius to give you a good 10 years of problem-free driving, and you've got the full warranty on the hybrid battery and other key parts. The peace of mind would be worth it.
posted by the thought-fox at 7:05 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

The seats in the 2016 Priuses are very uncomfortable if you are in them for long periods of time. I never had that problem with the older ones.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:27 AM on August 15, 2017

You can save significant gas and money by forgoing the excellent space available in the Prius V or the still good size of the regular Prius and getting the Prius C (says the guy who wants a Niro for the interior space despite the worse fuel economy)
posted by mattamatic at 4:29 AM on August 15, 2017

Have you looked for a used Prius? They are completely unavailable where I live. People seem to drive them until they die.
posted by summerstorm at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2017

To answer the OP, concur that a new Prius will give you a nice long run with limited concerns, and you won't save much on a used Prius compared to other used cars. Their resale value is high.

I ended up with the Kia Niro because I could get a new Niro for roughly the cost of a newish used Prius. If I'd had a little more cash to burn, I might have gotten a new Prius instead. (But maybe not: I love my Niro.)

says the guy who wants a Niro for the interior space despite the worse fuel economy

2 points: my new Niro is getting over 50mpg. Also, it doesn't actually have more cabin space than a regular Prius (not the Prius C), it's just that more of the space is in the passenger cabin and it sits higher, so it feels a lot more spacious. The Niro looks and feels a lot more like a Rav4 than a Prius, frankly.
posted by suelac at 9:37 AM on August 15, 2017

If you’re considering the Prius V, it’s worth noting that the minor update in 2015 fixed a previous poor result in the then-new small overlap frontal crash test.
posted by musicinmybrain at 4:54 AM on August 16, 2017

The new Prius has a more colorful display, and has wireless charging for supported phones. I think the real question is what color do you want, and do you prefer the look of gen 3 to gen 4?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:29 PM on August 16, 2017

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