Cars, Culture, and Etc.

Comment: Hyundai Elantra Limited

In Analysis, Comment on March 19, 2008 at 9:38 am

Why do you not lie awake at night yearning for the day when you can own a Hyundai? Simple. Because Hyundais are not made to plunge their hand into your pants. Only to plunge their hands into your bank account. – Jeremy Clarkson

I’ve been driving around in a Hyundai Elantra Limited since Monday. No, it’s not the soon-to-be-released (and possibly amazing) Touring model, it’s just a regular sedan that someone spec’d to the milligram. Clarkson, as always, has a point. The worst crime a car can commit is by having no discernible soul.


Especially for $23,000.

Moving beyond the bland argument, that’s how much a totally unremarkable Elantra will run you. And the perceived value of such a purchase over a Corolla, Civic, or Mazda3 will cost you dearly. Using the Canadian Black Book, a 2007 Elantra will retain only 50 percent of its value if driven 25,000km in a year.

If you finance the car for four or five years, the depreciation levels off but is no more encouraging. Once factoring in your taxes and lease or finance rates over that period of ownership, that $23k car seems like a less than intelligent purchase. Oh, and then there’s the opportunity cost of your decision. From Pierre Money Mart blog:

“For example, if you take $20,000 out of an investment account that earns an average of 8% a year, the opportunity cost is almost $9,400 over five years. That’s the interest your money would have otherwise earned had you left it alone.”

And if you’re making the decision to buy the Elantra for financial reasons, why not just buy a used Corolla or Honda? But you’re not vain, right? You like the new-car smell. You like the convenience of new-car features, and new-car style. Finally, if you think you’re saving the environment because you’ve chosen a relatively frugal new car with better emissions controls, why not consider what Jay Leno has to say:

The car I’ve been driving to work in every day this past week is a 1925 Ford Model T. It just got me thinking about how much we like our hybrids these days. But isn’t it more environmentally friendly to take an old car, something like a Model T or a Fiat Topolino or a Mini, clean it up a bit and drive it around? Is that not a smaller carbon footprint than building a Prius in Japan, putting it on a freighter and shipping it all the way across the ocean? It seems that this is the ultimate in recycling.

So buy a used car, load it up with comprehensive insurance, rust-proofing, maintenance plans, plus a new set of winter tires for good measure. Get the mechanicals brought back to new, and spend a few hundred dollars on an incredible detailing job.

But for god’s sake: don’t think, for a moment, that an Elantra — or any other small, nondescript car — is worth your time or money. M!

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  1. A very shrewd observation. Vehicle prices really hit home when you do the math.

    But on another note — am I going to be kicked out of the brother(sister)hood if I admit that I think Jeremy Clarkson is an overhyped boor? He may be a phenomenal driver who knows cars inside and out, but he could use a good editor who knows the value of “less is more”. Jeremy, we got your point six buckets of dung/cans of worms/pieces of crap ago.

    He reminds me of that judge on American Idol, whose sole purpose seems to be to rile up the audience. I sometimes wonder if Clarkson rags on vehicles because he thinks the vehicles honestly need ragging, or because he knows many readers love the written equivalent of those horrible Survivor-style reality shows and that’s what brings in the bucks (er, pounds).

    Okay, I’m going to hell now. I just hope it doesn’t involve nothing to read save a book of Clarkson’s reviews …

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