Home » Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

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To the surprise of absolutely nobody who’s been reading The Autopian, David is absolutely smitten with his BMW i3. So much so that he’s sending links to additional i3s into the work Slack, and recently proclaimed his desire to own an i3 “for the rest of my life.” Keep in mind, this is the same dude who helped engineer the current JL Jeep Wrangler, but his rationale for going with a carbon fiber BMW over the JL Wrangler he helped develop is very interesting. According to David, “I’m not buying a JL Wrangler because I think buying a new ICE today is a bad idea.” So, is buying a new gasoline-powered car a bad idea?

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On the one hand, there’s life in the internal combustion engine yet. According to the analysts at iSeeCars, the average first ownership period of a vehicle lasts for 8.4 years, well shy of California’s 2035 combustion engine ban. What’s more, the average age of a vehicle on American roads is 12.2 years according to S&P Global, so we’ll still see combustion-powered cars doing everyday duty for years to come. The clock may be ticking on new gasoline-powered vehicles, but we’ll be experiencing used ones for years to come. Then there’s the infrastructure argument — outside of the Tesla Supercharger network, a reliable public DC fast charging network in America is about as real as Bigfoot. While a laundry list of automakers have inked agreements with Tesla on NACS connector adoption and Supercharger network integration, those changes aren’t here just yet. If you can’t charge at home or at work, an electric vehicle typically isn’t a practical proposition.

On the other hand, the list of pro-EV arguments is also long. If you’re able to charge at home, topping off overnight is so convenient compared to freezing your nipples off at a gas station. The lack of required warm-up is awesome, the minimal maintenance is incredible, and current incentives make something like a Tesla Model 3 a financially shrewd move. In addition, electric cars can do more than reduce pollutants — they can give you back the one thing that’s finite: Time. In certain jurisdictions, you can drive an electric vehicle in HOV lanes without any passengers. If that gets you home from work twelve minutes sooner, that’s 24 minutes per day round trip, or 120 minutes per week to see your family, savor your morning coffee, or enjoy the little things in life.

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Of course, if you work from home, there are arguments both for and against EVs. If your annual mileage on a gasoline-powered car drops, the cost-per-mile typically increases as service intervals are based on both mileage and time, and lengthy sitting can cause fuel to go bad. In contrast, EVs require far less upkeep and as long as you keep them plugged in, are easier to store. The flipside is that if you’re a driving enthusiast who works from home, driving is likely more of a treat than it is for commuters, and rowing gears, hearing a characterful engine, or reveling in a lightweight chassis is a hobby rather than a utility-like expense.

So, does buying a new gasoline-powered car make sense in 2023? Now’s your time to take the wheel and steer the conversation. Sound off in the comments below, because everyone’s situation is different and it’s hard to categorize people into boxes.

(Photo credits: Tesla, Toyota)

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Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
9 months ago

Yes, because EVs have about $13000 premium vs similar size ICE car while they advertise all the expensive and fragile things that are missing from it such us:
-exhaust $1000, and catalytic converter $5000
-engine $10000
-transmission $5000
-radiator $250
-EVAP system for gas tank $300
-fuel pump $$$
-4+ injectors, ignition coils ($75/each)
-mass air flow sensor $150
-engine oil and filter $100
-transmission oil $75+….

But somehow EVs are at least $10000 more than Spark, or Fiesta.
ANd some stupid tax credit subsidy form government that make EVs MSRP more by the same amount yet I still have to pay interest and sales taxes on full MSRP while they lie and advertise them for $7500 less, but won’t sell it for $7500 less.

Then in IL EV registration is $500 (was $1000 few years back) per year instead of $120 for my Wrangler and GTI.

I can drive my Wrangler for 7 years, 70000 miles for $10,000 EV premium.
It takes 70000 miles for EV to come out even in TOC vs same size car.

And I would have to run new 220V line to the garage (upgrade main electric panel to add 220V breaker, remove sidewalk, run wires in the trench to the garage, add another panel in there, put sidewalk back on (I have overhead wires to garage right now, and any changes have to meet 2023 code)) then buy a charger, and cable….

While I pay $40/week to drive my $40,000 GTI Autobarn that is not missing any parts that I paid for. Except engine cover that dealer stole at delivery for VW recall.

EVs need to save money for motorists. People buying $45000 EVs do not care about money saved on fuel.
People buying 20-30 thousand Golfs, Fiestas, Corrollas and Versas save money on fuel.

EssExTee
EssExTee
9 months ago

The real reason David’s not buying a JL Wrangler is because he helped design it

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
9 months ago

Yes, and it’s mostly for logistical reasons on my end.

I just had to drop everything and head to a part of the state where charging infrastructure is, uh, dragging its feet at best. I guess taking all interstates could’ve been one way to do it, but goshdarnit, that’s a much less direct route than cutting through rural East Texas. Then there’s all the other places I want to visit where even regular gas stations are few and far between. Much of the part of the state west of where I live, for example. Even if I won the lottery and bought a silly fast Taycan tomorrow, I’d probably keep an ICE car around.

Then there’s towing, which sucks down EV range pretty substantially. Even though the interstates between here and most tracks I’d take the 944 to are pretty well-covered with chargers, an EV would simply have to stop way more often to charge up, which is annoying. TBH, a hybrid Cayenne would be the miserly parsh owner dream, but realistically speaking, the newer ones that actually allowed space for the tow package are still out of my price range even if I found a job tomorrow.

I also rent, and my house doesn’t have any exterior plugs at all. I have to sneak a cord out the window to put Christmas lights up. I’m not gonna do that with a meaty car charger. The upside is that there are a lot of chargers around town, but still, I’m missing out on the substantial benefit of charging overnight at home.

So, there are still reasons to get an ICE in 2023.

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
9 months ago

Just traded in the ’19 G70 manual on a new ’23 Mazda3 AWD, good money saving move and still quite a likeable car… was considering Prius/Corolla Hybrid AWD (as I sell Toyotas) but wanted something that was a bit nicer inside and sharper to drive

Given how reliable our other Mazdas have been, I’m sure it’ll last long enough to be my last ICE.

SaltyOldGuy
SaltyOldGuy
9 months ago

This is REALLY simple…

If I could charge at home, I’d buy an EV. I can’t, so I’ll buy another ICE.

Unclesam
Unclesam
9 months ago

Burning fossil fuels is bad, plain and simple, so one should endeavor to minimize one’s usage. If you have a situation where you can use a BEV or PHEV, you absolutely should, and also decarbonize your electricity consumption to the greatest extent locally allowable.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
9 months ago

This is bullshit. Of course it makes sense to buy a new dinosaur powered car,now more than ever in fact. They’re as clean as they’ll ever be and at least here in Europe they will probably stop selling the things in a few years,so I say,buy one while you can. I am still hoping to be able to buy a brand new car,either diesel or gasoline before it’s to late..

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
9 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

Yes, I almost missed on hot hatches but scored a new GTI with manual and it uses half the cheap fuel my trade in used (91 octane too). Now even GTIs are automatic and Ford stopped making Focus and Fiesta to make only farm equipment.
Next I want a wagon but these are getting lifted with plastic cladding attached. Maybe I should change my Wrangler for E450 wagon or A6 Allroad since it takes 2 years to get a Bronco…

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
9 months ago

PHEV is the way to go for at least a number of years until the infrastructure catches up with the need (notice – not demand) for EVs.

HiFlyGuy
HiFlyGuy
9 months ago

Kind of wild that 147 comments in, nobody mentions we’re in a climate crisis that is intermeshed with a huge extinction event.

Who cares if modern civilization survives in a few decades? I want me a V8 with a manual!

God damn, humans are selfish idiots.

I realize not everyone can go EV right now, but huge numbers can and aren’t because of…reasons. Reasons made of selfishness, misinformation, and ignorance.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
9 months ago
Reply to  HiFlyGuy

Or they aren’t idiots and realize that a modern V8 with all the proper emissions equipment is a pitifully small amount of pollution. Other things pollute way, way more than modern cars

HiFlyGuy
HiFlyGuy
9 months ago

I guess I should be amused that you’re defending the intelligence of commenters by demonstrating a lack of knowledge about how internal combustion cars create CO2.

Yes, modern engines have lower emissions than older ones, but 18 mpg cars 20 years ago and 18 mpg cars now produce the same amount of CO2, the primary driver of our climate crisis.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
9 months ago
Reply to  HiFlyGuy

Transportation as a whole only accounts for ~30% of emissions in the US, light duy is 58% of that
https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/fast-facts-transportation-greenhouse-gas-emissions
When you break that down even further to the few V8 toys still being sold, it is absurdly small percentage. “the primary driver of our climate crisis” is so hilariously untrue.

Cerberus
Cerberus
9 months ago
Reply to  HiFlyGuy

Tell it to the OEMs—the greedy mega polluters. I touched upon it in my comment and also brought up how they’ve turned electric into a scam. Electric cars should be longer lived and generally lower maintenance with better potential for future upgrades, but are currently being engineered to have shortened lifespans than ICE with structural batteries that make replacement expensive, software that unnecessarily needs connectivity and can easily be unsupported (plus related subscription scams) to shorten useful life, short-lived electronics hardware that everything operates through so that a minor failure can brick a car, canbus systems that make repairs more expensive to diagnose both in tech time and limiting the number of techs who can work on them in a shrinking industry, and plans to only make it worse with gigacasting that will total cars for even minor collisions. Then, too, even if one were determined to repair a vehicle with a damaged gigacasting (f’n stupid name), who is going to stock (and ship) gigacastings after production of models using that particular BiW ends? And all that is assuming few out-of-warranty faults for parts that are likely to have a more limited shelf life than mechanical parts (which they’ll also still have to stock for suspension and such). While it can certainly be said many of those things are not isolated to electric cars alone, that they’ve been moving ahead with these changes so rapidly and in synch with electric development and production shows that we’re looking at the same—or worse—problem with a different name and moving the pollution problem around like a shell game. It’s like many municipal recycling programs that makes people feel good, but lands the stuff in a landfill or incinerator, just like the garbage, though perhaps after a long-distance shipping of it to a poorer place instead of more local disposal. Ultimately, the real garbage is the humans and they cannot be relied upon for the solution to the problems they created unless that solution is developing an actually effective virus that is contagious and asymptomatic for long enough to spread thoroughly before it is detected and countermeasures can be developed and it needs to sterilize a huge percentage of the infected, if not causing outright mortality.

HiFlyGuy
HiFlyGuy
9 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

There are plenty of non-gigacast (stupid name) EVs out there, as well as lots EVs without cell-to-pack batteries.

But that’s beside the entire point my comment was making.

Cerberus
Cerberus
9 months ago
Reply to  HiFlyGuy

And I was countering the claim that the choice against an EV is down to ignorance or lack of caring about the environment. Sure, there are some hur dur V8s don’t care, (Athena forbid anyone enjoy anything), but beyond situations where an EV still doesn’t work for some people, it’s a valid choice to buy something with the potential to last a lot longer, reducing the lifetime footprint over a disposable EV. That EVs should be better, doesn’t mean that they are. They are better vs tail pipe emissions, but that’s only one part of the equation and they are being engineered to be disposable. Also, not everyone has a place with a charger and the public infrastructure is already behind, never mind being able to manage the volume they want to make us buy.

Moreover, the real polluters skate while people hand wring about an ICE car with modern emissions equipment that works for them vs an EV compromise. Why are we not doing anything about factories we outsource to with little to no environmental considerations to save a few bucks buying crap we don’t need (or even ones in the West that pay off officials to look the other way for decades that, even if they get caught, pay a fine less than what they saved through non-compliance)? All that often unnecessary junk from outsourced factories is shipped across seas on ships burning bunker oil is tens of millions of cars’ emissions each. Every time a billionaire with a tiny dick fires off another stupid rocket, that’s millions of annual car emissions. Megayachts, private jet flights, hell even those flying VW Beetles people use to circle airports for the fun of it that were until recently/still(?) burning “low” lead fuel are all easier to hit contributors that would make a larger relative difference, affect few people, and serve little to no practical purpose, unlike forcing everyone into EV passenger vehicles. Or forget megayachts, even a small boat pollutes more than the average passenger car as they tend to burn more fuel per hour since water is a higher friction medium than air and emissions controls are minimal in comparison to automobiles, plus almost all of that non-commercial boating is for no other purpose than entertainment. Why do we make it difficult for anyone to build an energy efficient house over one made of spit and wood shavings when heating and cooling are massive energy footprints? Why don’t we incentivize companies to maintain and expand WFH to reduce commuter emissions from both the number of vehicle miles traveled (also factors into vehicle life environmental footprint) and greater emissions per vehicle per mile due to traffic backups so that people can sit in (over)cooled offices where people often wear sweaters in summer to keep warm?

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
9 months ago
Reply to  HiFlyGuy

my current daily driver is a 2010 Passat diesel with 240000 km on it,while it definitely creates more emissions than an electric car it will also surely last fucking decades longer, thus reducing the amount of aluminum and precious minerals required to get my ass from a to b in a given period versus buying a damen new car every 7-8 years.

Jeremy Aber
Jeremy Aber
9 months ago

As a second car? 100% get an EV. If it’s your primary, you might have to look a little closer at the use cases you actually need, but it’s definitely getting easier to recommend an EV these days.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Aber

Exactly. We have a big garage with several cars in it wired for 220 already. My commute is about 5 miles each way, even if I run errands at lunch I am not pushing any modern EVs range on any given day. Nevertheless when we went to buy a new car a couple years ago got a Subaru. Low twenties in town and 35 on the highway isn’t bad, and an equivalent electric vehicle with the 4wd my wife wanted was a lot more money, as in $10 grand plus. Just couldn’t justify it.

I personally think cost is as big an issue to EV adoption as range and charging time.

HowDoYouCrash
HowDoYouCrash
9 months ago

I don’t think it makes sense anymore, especially pure ICE vehicles. I say this as someone who has had a variety of typical cars (Subarus, Toyota Pickup, VW TDi, 2002, etc). I have a crappy used Leaf now for bumming around my city (Portland OR) and it works great.

Here in the PNW if you can get 175-200mi of winter highway range (raining, windy, 40º, blasting down I-5), you can absolutely go 100% EV.

So most folks, especially folks who don’t need to do Portland to Spokane or Seattle to Spokane all the time, can go 100% EV. If you were doing tons of long distance highway driving I can totally understand going hybrid or phev, PHEV really only makes sense if you have charging at home. If you’re in an apartment, with the current range of good EVs, you will be just fine using public chargers.

Long term the issue is going to be having enough reasonably priced level 2 chargers in cities. If I’m going to pay $150-200/mo for parking I want to have access to overnight charging.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
9 months ago

First of all, I don’t ever buy new cars, so my opinion doesn’t really matter to automakers.

Secondly, there’s already almost no new cars I’d ever want to buy, even if you put a gun to my head and forced me to buy a new car. It’s basically a choice between a manual Supra, manual 86/BRZ, or Miata, that’s pretty much it. Every other car is either too ugly, doesn’t offer a manual, isn’t proper RWD, is too big and heavy, etc.

Aside from that, my lifestyle is built around ICE vehicles. I like to go on spontaneous trips to faraway places with zero planning, aka get in my car, fill the tank, and drive somewhere 400+ miles away at a moment’s notice. I generally prefer to drive to places rather than flying, at least within a 1200-mile range. And I refuse to own a vehicle with an automatic transmission of any kind. I prefer naturally-aspirated engines as well, particularly of the straight-6 and V8 variety.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
9 months ago

Me too on most all of that stuff

Who Knows
Who Knows
9 months ago

For me, no, not really. We’re at the point that instead of seeing an EV as a 3rd vehicle for commuting when I got it almost 6 years ago, it is now the primary vehicle and the secondary vehicle is the occasional use old offroading ICE. The wife sold her ICE wagon a couple years ago, and there have only been one or two trips since where it would have been nice to have. The only ICE vehicle I’d consider at this point would be some sort of fun, stick shift sports car as a 3rd vehicle, but it would probably get driven about 5 times a year and otherwise just be a liability.

Despite all the claims from people that EVs don’t work on in the boondocks or the cold, we live in one of the coldest spots in the lower 48, and the nearest car dealership of any type is almost 100 miles away. Just getting an oil change once every couple years is an annoyance at this point, and if we had to do regular maintenance on an ICE it would really be a pain. One of my wife’s clients had a brand new Rav4, and couldn’t find a dealership to do the initial, free oil change closer than 4 hours away. Sometimes we end up driving 30 minutes out of the way just to go to a gas station in the old ICE if we’re heading up 4wd roads nearby and need gas, but luckily it only gets filled up a few times a year. The EV has it’s issues, mostly only 200+ mile drives in the winter, but it is generally so much better that the thought of dealing with an ICE on a daily basis is a non-starter.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago

“So, does buying a new gasoline-powered car make sense in 2023? ”

Depends on the use-case and vehicle type. For example… if you want a minivan and you’re in North America, the number of electric minivan options available to you is exactly ZERO.

For myself, I never buy new. But having said that, the car that will likely replace my 2008 Honda Fit will be a Tesla Model S. I’m coming into some money soon and I also want a car that is a bit bigger than my Fit… while at the same time, uses less fuel/energy. The Model S is the size and body style I’m looking for (though it would be even better as a wagon)… plus as way better performance as a bonus.

And if I didn’t need/want the space and hatchback body of the S, then I’d look at a Model 3.

And used Teslas have come down a lot in price over the past year because Tesla has been cranking out BEVs in such high numbers.

I’m still gonna hang onto my Fit probably into 2024. But it’s seriously showing its age in the form of rust and other things.

And financially, if the Tesla lasts as long as I expect, then it will have a TCO about the same as the Honda Fit. I’ll save on operating costs… mainly fuel cost (which is my biggest expense on the Fit). But the depreciation expense, insurance and repair costs will likely be higher.

Last edited 9 months ago by Manwich Sandwich
Myk El
Myk El
9 months ago

Next car is going to be a hybrid. It makes the most sense for my use case and I’ve given it a LOT of thought. An EV could work and I could rent something for the longer driving trips, but my experiences with renting cars the last couple of years has been decidedly not pleasant, so going with the hybrid.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
9 months ago

I don’t buy the end of ICE by 2035, PEHV sure. But the end? no. Our charging networks are probably on the better end of the world but it’s still not there.

Jake Baldridge
Jake Baldridge
9 months ago

Another way to look at this question: Does it make sense to buy a NEW ICE car at this point.

For me the answer is “no.” There is nothing currently on offer that makes financial sense (why is everything $50K and 5+% interest? thanks inflation). I can spend an absurd amount of money keeping the car I love going for the next 3-5 years and not spend near what a new car would cost to finance (even with a hefty down payment). Plus I know this will be my last daily with three pedals. (Cue sad trombone)

If something catastrophic happens to it, I plan to buy a used PHEV. My daily driving is only about 10 miles, so even something with a puny battery like an A-3 e-tron would fit the bill.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
9 months ago

I actually contemplated this in 2021…and ended up buying ICE. I have zero regrets about this decision. I love seeing EVs on the road, and learning about the various technologies involved, but I don’t like being an early adopter. And the battery degredation issue really bothers me; I keep my vehicles a long time, so I’m used to expensive repairs, but some of the quotes I’ve seen for battery replacement on an EV are disturbing.

Mike B
Mike B
9 months ago

IMO the question should be the other way around – does it make sense to buy an EV in 2023? I say no, not yet. And really, I think buying a new vehicle PERIOD rarely makes sense, but that’s just me.

Maybe in 2033 this question will be more relevant.

And to be clear I’m not anti-EV, I actually love the idea of them. I just don’t think that this is ready for prime time. Maybe the next gen of EV’s. I feel like buying an EV from the current crop is like buying a plasma TV when LCD and LED are around the corner.

EDIT: I would love to have a hybrid as a commuter though. Something like a Kia Sportage or Hyundai Elantra. Spending that much money just to save on gas makes no sense though, I’ve run the numbers and it would take a decade to break even on that. Sticking with my paid off, 20mpg 4Runner is more economical.

Last edited 9 months ago by Mike B
Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

Yes. This is where I am at. EV’s are getting better and cheaper. Not quite at the rate of Moore’s law but I will have at least 1 or 2 more ICE vehicles before an EV. Between my wife and I, our DD’s are a 2016 and 2019. The older car is getting up there in km’s so when it dies, we will probably get an ICE or PHEV type car.

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