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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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

Yes, especially a PHEV.

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
4 months ago

When looking at the EV adoption rate over time consider these numbers: 7%, 15 million and 300 million. (All are close approximations.) 7% is the current EV market share among new cars, 15 million is the approximate number of new cars sold in a given year and 300 million is the approximate number of registered vehicles in the U.S. If EV sales were currently 100% of new car sales it would take twenty years to completely turn over the fleet, and even then there would be a lot of people hanging onto their ICE cars and trucks. But current market share is nowhere near 100% and it could be at least twenty years before it approaches 100% according to some analysts. We will be seeing ICE vehicles on U.S. roads for a long, long time to come.

Last edited 4 months ago by Marty Densch
Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago

For the vast majority of US buyers at least buying a new ICE car still makes plenty of sense. For the rest buying a Plug In Hybrid probably makes the most sense. There is still a relatively small portion of the population for whom an EV only vehicle is the best choice of vehicle.

Njd
Njd
4 months ago

Like any type of purchase, it depends on the individual’s needs. I think for most people a hybrid makes a lot more sense than a BEV. For me personally I travel to places several times a year that don’t have easily accessible charging. If the Maverick hybrid was available with AWD and the higher towing capacity I would’ve strongly considered it but since it’s not I bought the ICE.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
4 months ago
Reply to  Njd

Yep. Midwest here, I’m not planning road trips (which include visits to my aging parents) around mediocre charging infrastructure and the associated wait times. We needed a family hauler for road trips, so I am buying a RAV4 hybrid. It’s rated for light towing, big enough for a family car, can be refueled in 5min at any gas station, and still gets 40mpg. We’re considering an EV for our second “in town or short road trips” car.

Njd
Njd
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

The EV as as a second car might be what my family does too when my wife decides it’s time to replace her beloved 07 Prius. She feels that going to standard ICE from a hybrid would be a downgrade for her, but BEV might not make sense depending on how much road tripping we expect to do. My Maverick will only get more and more compact as our family grows, so that might not work well for tripping with 2-3 kids.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

It absolutely still makes sense to buy an ICE car today. The current crop of BEVs are beta products. They come with massive compromises and they’ll be completely outdated in 3-5 years. They’re essentially rolling cell phones. Depending on where you live the infrastructure is likely to be inadequate, you may not be able to take normal road trips like you can in your ICE vehicle, and they’re horrendous investments.

Obviously very few cars are GOOD investments, but take a look at what EVs from 2-4 years ago are selling for right now. I see premium ones like the Audi E Tron listed for roughly half of their original MSRP. The depreciation is shocking, and as battery technology continues to change rapidly EVs will be outdated within only a few years of purchase.

Some people are hyper passionate about BEVs, and I think that’s all well and good. If that’s your thing and you’re willing to put up with the compromises they require then have at it. They also make good second or third cars if you’re part of a multi car household. Just be sure to lease them. Do not, under any circumstances, buy a current, new EV.

I agree with the folks who say PHEVs are the right answer for where we are now. They don’t really require any compromises and offer like 90% of the benefits of a full BEV anyway. Hell, there isn’t really a full consensus on how much going full BEV really helps the environment right now anyway. They’re extremely carbon and resource intensive to build, and it seems as though you have to drive them for tens of thousands of miles before they have a smaller carbon footprint than an ICE vehicle, although the actual estimates vary significantly.

If we actually care about reducing emissions then hybrids and PHEVs are the answers for now because they work for everyone. I also think BEVs will become a lot more viable in the next 5 years. We also have to discuss uses as well though. If you just need a simple commuter for short trips than a BEV is great. If you have to do longer trips but want to do a lot of your driving electric then PHEVs are great.

If you do a lot of long distance driving than a traditional hybrid is probably the best answer, although modern turbocharged ICE powertrains are pretty frugal at highway speeds. Even my Kona N can get into the low 30s and my GTI topped 35 MPG a handful of times. If you need to tow then a BEV is out of the question.

And if you want to do track/performance driving ICE is still king. That’s more or less how I wound up buying a new ICE car last year. I do the occasional track day and frequent backroad blasts and I like having an engaging dance partner. Short of unobtainable stuff like the Rimac and Taycan BEVs don’t really have the engagement part down yet and they don’t offer much of anything other than straight line speed.

Will they improve on those fronts and become more attainable? Of course, but right now a fun, engaging EV is a six figure proposition unless you want to give Elon money, which I certainly don’t. There’s a chance that the Ioniq 5 N is a game changer, but again…it’s a $60,000+ car. You can get an M2, Dark Horse, ILE Camaro SS/used ZL1, used 911, Miata AND a Toyobaru, post markup CTR/Integra Type S, etc. for that price, and there’s no way in hell I’d go BEV over any of those in 2023.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“The current crop of BEVs are beta products. They come with massive compromises and they’ll be completely outdated in 3-5 years. They’re essentially rolling cell phones.”

So?

I’m still using a phone from 2016. It works fine on my carrier’s 4G network, it does the smartphone things I need it to do and only cost me $60 (available as low as low as $30). As a bonus I can replace its battery in seconds. Try that with your typical modern phone!

I think If you can live with an EV today you’ll likely have an easier time living with that same EV in 12 years as charging infrastructure improves. Sure there’s a chance your plug will be Betamaxed but if you buy an EV that uses the current standard I think there will still be at least as many charging options in the future as there are today when you’re ready to move on. If you are lucky enough to have home charging you’ve already got a leg up. Doubly so if you’ve also got home solar. Chances are more home charging options will be available in the future too.

Conversely I think its much more likely in the future gasoline $$$ >> electricity $. Here in CA two of the five refineries are permanently switching from gasoline to renewable diesel:

https://cen.acs.org/energy/biofuels/California-refiners-shift-production-renewable/98/i32

Of course the best option would be the one that doesn’t exist: A range extended EV with at least 200 miles of EV only range and a tank big enough for another ~300 on 5 gallons of gas.

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago

Serious question that I’m not sure I’ve seen answered…are EV chargers safe/usable in the rain?

Obviously the charger in your garage should be fine because the port itself should be dry under its cover, but what about public chargers in the rain?

I don’t know if I’ve seen any superchargers (or similar) with any kind of weather protection.

Regardless, back to the question at hand–I’m an apartment dweller and friend to several other apartment dwellers. EV adoption is both unaffordable and ill-advised til we live in complexes with chargers available.

Meantime, I’m rockin’ a Prius v and hope to make it last as long as possible.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Yes they’re fully grounded. You can safely plug in during a downpour

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Dinklesmith

Thanks! I figured they’d be safe somehow…just wasn’t sure if that would take something specific.

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
4 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Also, no electricity is flowing through the cable until the car and the charging station communicate with each other. At that point you’ve stepped away from the cable and are sitting in the car or in a coffee shop. When charging is complete electricity stops. You can’t remove the connector while electricity is flowing.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
4 months ago

I own 4 older ICE vehicles currently, with little to no interest in anything newer than they are as far as cars go. With that said, if I ever buy a newer vehicle it will likely be a PHEV. I would love if they sold the Ranger PHEV here as I want a truck I can occasionally tow a car trailer with but that is more economical the rest of the time and don’t want to pay F-150 prices. Currently I have my eye on the supposed PHEV F-150 depending on what sort of rebate is offered/used prices once they hit the market. My current job offers free charging for employees so I have window-shopped electrics but I spend less than $100 a month on gas as is so can’t justify adding a car payment on a 5th vehicle that will not add more utility than the current ones.

MegaVan
MegaVan
4 months ago

I’ve been thinking about this overnight. I want it to be a yes or no answer, but it’s not.

It boiled down to “can I replace my car with a new EV” – and for one car, the answer is yes. I could replace my Mini with a Bolt for similar cash as a new Mini. Or just lease a EV Mini, and both would be fine for my commute and grocery shopping (what I do with the Mini).

EV’s don’t have the portfolio to replace a full size van. I need 6 car seats in the car? Maybe the Kia EV9 can do that? There’s no minivan option, no commercial van option, and whenever GM does the Yuburbalade it’ll be $110k.

I’ve put $6k of fuel in my van to go 40k miles. The math doesn’t work, and that’s really frustrating.

So it easily makes sense to look at a non-EV because not everyone can operate with a mid sized SUV or sedan.

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  MegaVan

Truly, full-size vans are my target. I had a ’97 conversion Econoline-150 for seven years and I loved the thing. Maintenance was getting too much, though. But it’s gonna be a long time before an EV equivalent will come along, never mind affordability on the used market.

Ford’s E-Transit still doesn’t even have a passenger configuration available, although I do think they said it’s coming.

Mike B
Mike B
4 months ago
Reply to  MegaVan

Good point. I thought about this other day, literally the only EV that can meet my needs as well as my current vehicle (’13 4Runner) is a Rivian R1S. That Rivian is about 1.5X my gross income, in no universe will I be affording one. Only way I was able to afford the 4Runner was buying it in 2019 when it was 6 years old.

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
4 months ago

BEVs won’t make sense in rural Ohio for a while. I am very keen on getting a hybrid though.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  John from Ohio

God I hope they put a charger in East Liverpool at some point

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
4 months ago
Reply to  Dinklesmith

I’m farther south than you but apparently our Pilot is putting in electric chargers which is about 10 minutes from me.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  John from Ohio

I’m up in Youngstown which has good charger coverage due to I80. Ashtabula and East Liverpool are the two bad spots though

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
4 months ago
Reply to  Dinklesmith

You would think since I70 runs right through here we’d have chargers out our butts but nope. We can’t have nice things down here.

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
4 months ago

I bought a new ICE car in 2023 just because it’s fun. I wanted to enjoy a manual transmission and an entertaining engine while I still can. In addition to the fun car, I look forward to something that is essentially the E-Class wagon, just happens to be electric. So far, the Polestar 2 might be the closest.

MegaVan
MegaVan
4 months ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

The Volvo V60 plug in hybrid by Polestar is pretty nice.

If I had a few extra million hanging around I might convince my wife to replace the Mini with that.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
4 months ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

Last year I bought a new car specifically for those reasons. Manuals (and ICE cars in general) are going to be going away, and I thought I’d get a fun one while the getting was good, as they say. If my next car must be electric, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
4 months ago

I can’t afford a new car, but if I could I would be interested in a Chevy Bolt (except all the ones in my area are marked up $3-$4k over MSRP). It’s got the range for the trips I am likely to take, and I can charge at home. In reality I need to find a ‘new’ used car for my wife, so I’m inclined to look at ICE vehicles for that purchase.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
4 months ago

Wait, David’s decision was a new Wrangler vs the quite old used EV? Doesn’t seem like an apples to apples comparison

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
4 months ago

I know what you’re getting at, but the question begs for a rewording.

The question I’m choosing to answer is “Does it make sense to buy a new purely internal combustion powered car in 2023?” And to that, my answer is: in large part, no. Pure electrics have their niche, hybrids would do well most everywhere else, and edge cases where ICE is truly the one viable option, fine, you win, I guess.

But the enthusiast, you cry! This is a car enthusiast website!

Yeah, and I freely admit the vehicles I love don’t make sense. It’s probably true for you too.

R53forfun
R53forfun
4 months ago

Yes.

755_SoCalRally
755_SoCalRally
4 months ago

This is an easy question for me to answer and it boils down to street parking. I live in a house behind another house and have no driveway/garage, so there’s no place at home to charge a BEV. My next vehicle will likely be some sort of hybrid, but I won’t be going full electric for many years.

Mike B
Mike B
4 months ago
Reply to  755_SoCalRally

Same. I live in an apartment with no charging anywhere close by, and I do not see ever being able to afford a home where I can have my own charger. Unless workplace installed chargers become common, or they get charging time down to 5 minutes, I’m going to be dragged kicking and screaming into EV ownership.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
4 months ago

As I have said more than once before in this forum, right now the best option should be a PHEV. Most of the benefits of electric (emission-free commute), but non of the drawbacks (range-anxiety, charging accessibility). Yes, PHEVs are compromised and for the most part they are very bad compromises, but we’re living through a transition that will take decades; what most of us need right now is a car that will not be obsolete 5-10 years from now, and in my opinion hedging your bets is the smart choice.

Last edited 4 months ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Dan Bee
Dan Bee
4 months ago

I do think that a strong PHEV pickup truck would do well for the folks who choose or must buy a 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel pickup today. Curious to see what RAM offers next year here.

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
4 months ago

I think my change over is still 5 years away. Main thing I’m waiting on is a decent home battery which is actually cost effective.

I have excess solar power most days as it is, so a home battery storing all that, to then top off the car each evening when I get home is ideal. I expect this is about 5 years off, and probably ties in with a bunch of updates to the current crop of EVs. That and my current normal car will be well due to swap over by then.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
4 months ago

I live in NYC, and a city is where an EV would make the most sense. I really wanted to get something like an EV6, but since the only chargers that would take less than an hour to get to are almost all incredibly slow 7kW or for Tesla only, and most are curbside in a very competitive parking environment, I have no way of telling when I’ll actually be able to plug in, so EV is a no go for me. I bought a Mk7 GTI instead.

Last edited 4 months ago by OnceInAMillenia
SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
4 months ago

Ah yes, the HOV lane. I’ve never lived anywhere with one of those.

Chargers? We have one here. One. And it’s one of the slow ones.

I do think it’s cool the charging infrastructure along the interstates is getting better. I haven’t seen an interstate since May.

As far as I can tell, it’s all about where you live and why you drive. At the moment, both for me make me Team ICE. And I’m about to car shop. Maybe I should say truck shop or Jeep shop, because there are still tons of gravel and dirt roads out here, and my Mazda 3 isn’t happy on them. Probably a used truck or Jeep, because I plan on scratching it up.

I did see a new Rivian truck here the other day, out in the middle of nowhere farmland. I’d bet everything I own that the driver also owns a diesel truck. And that he’s a pretty cool farmer.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
4 months ago

It’s still VERY early days of EVs. I’m not into the early adopter thing. I like to let things get sorted first. The charging infrastructure is still in its infancy. It’ll be at least another decade before it starts to take shape, and maybe two. I’ll buy at least one more new ICE vehicle,if not a few before I take the EV plunge.

And I am not anti EV. It’s just not ready yet. I’d be down for a plug in hybrid though.

B3n
B3n
4 months ago

I’d buy an EV as a secondary vehicle, to serve as grocery getter and local runabout for shorter trips.
But for a second vehicle, they are still too expensive and used EVs are risky, unknown territory.
At the moment, it’s $5k beaters for me as a second car.
I couldn’t really make it work as primary vehicle, there are simply too many compromises. Range too low, charging too slow, plus cold weather range reduction, abysmal range when towing, and the biggest issue, they are just too damn expensive.
And while there was improvement in the past 10+ years, the core issue remains the same: battery energy density is very low compared to gas/diesel.
So I think there’s still going to be a strong demand for ICE vehicles, probably for many more decades to come, and for most people they are still the primary choice as of 2023.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

“I think buying a new ICE today is a bad idea.” Congratulations. That’s the single saddest sentence ever written here. Buying a new EV today just makes you a test subject. Except for being less polluting there’s no viable reason for an EV. Let’s be fair and make all cars eligible for a $7500 credit. Which would sell more?

John E
John E
4 months ago

Well, unless any of you ev fans are willing to give me the $35k it will take to add enough solar panels and level 2 charger to my off-grid system, then yeah, buying an ICE vehicle in 2023 makes sense. If you live in an apartment that doesn’t and won’t ever have chargers, yeah, buy an ICE vehicle. But I was smart. When everyone in March 2020 was running to hide in their bedroom in their pj’s, I went and bought a brand new truck with an MSRP of $33,000 for literally $20,057. I’ve since put 38,000 miles on it and it has hauled and towed tons of alfalfa, feed and other ranch supplies without needing tens of thousands of dollars of new solar equipment. And I get 25 mpg to boot.
P.S. I never got covid, either(while some of my friends are on their 6th booster and have had covid 3 or more times????????).

Ronan McGrath
Ronan McGrath
4 months ago

Depends on your usage.

I have thought about an urban EV ( I live downtown) where range, convenient charging and the like are of no concern. Further,in a dense urban environment your Ferrari has the same performance as my Smart Fortwo. 20 MPH.

The Smart fulfils the role right now.

However, for the really long-distance stuff such as driving to Arizona I want a fast, comfortable car with a big tank; typically I will take a Panamara ST Turbo which I can drive all day with no fatigue; ten minutes to refuel and hit the head, no worries about lining up for a charge.

At some stage I want a really small EV for the city that will be the shopping car to replace my 19 year old Smart. Right now they are available in other countries, but not yet here. Maybe a Fiat 500 EV or the like, but no bigger.

Parking matters.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
4 months ago

Guys, really? This is like David saying he’s only wearing shorts because he just moved to LA, so does it make sense to buy pants.

Borderline clickbait. You can do better.

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