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Why Downsizing to a Smaller Car Just Makes Sense – and Cents

Let’s face it. Gas prices are never going to go down. Neither are car prices. Nor vehicle maintenance costs. Parking is never going to get any easier. Maybe it’s time for you to downsize to a smaller car.

Actually, there are many reasons why so many people are downsizing today. Consider the following:

  • Smaller vehicles usually cost less to buy.
  • They get considerably better gas mileage.
  • They have great resale value due to their popularity.
  • They’re often more reliable since they’re more basic.
  • They’re considerably easier to maneuver and park, especially parallel park.
  • They can give you a different – and fun – driving experience.

Wide Variety of Choices

Smaller vehicles come in a variety of makes and models. If you’re really into economy, the Smart Fortwo is aptly named. This little car, less than nine feet long, has only two doors and carries only two passengers. But it offers a rear engine and an automated manual five-speed transmission that lets you go from manual to automatic without the need of a clutch. Starting at around $13,000, the Smart Fortwo goes from 0-60 in less than 13 seconds and has a top speed of 90 miles per hour. It gets about 34 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

Other popular small cars include the following:

  • Toyota Yaris Hatchback
  • Scion iQ
  • Fiat 500

Life Stage Scores

Consumer Reports uses what it calls a Downsizing Life Stage Score when rating small cars. Key criteria include performance (0-60 in less than eight seconds), easy front-seat access, front-seat comfort, good handling and ride, and a quiet cabin. The scores go from zero to 100. Here are some of their top picks:

  • BMW 5 Series – DLSS 88
  • Genesis G80 – DLSS 87
  • Lexus ES – DLSS 84
  • Lexus RX – DLSS 82
  • Infinity Q70 – DLSS 81
  • Audi Q5 – DLSS 80
  • Porsche Macan – DLSS 80
  • Chrysler 300 – DLSS 80
  • Honda Ridgeline – DLSS 77
  • Acura RDX – DLSS 76

Personal Choice

It goes without saying that you have personal preferences when choosing which car to buy. What’s of prime importance to you may not make that much difference to someone else. If you’ve decided the time has come for you to downsize, you definitely need to thoroughly test drive a variety of smaller vehicles. No matter who recommends them, using whatever criteria, there’s no point in your buying a car you don’t like and that you won’t feel comfortable or happy driving.

Sure, the economic advantages of downsizing are obvious. Whether buying new or used, a smaller vehicle costs you less to begin with and costs you less to operate and maintain. Your monthly car payments will be lower, and it’s likely that your auto insurance premiums will also decrease. All of this gives you extra cash with which to do other things.

But don’t forget that downsizing to a smaller car should also be a fun and satisfying experience. While cost savings are always a major consideration, money isn’t everything. Your driving needs also may have changed. For instance, your kids may have grown up and left home, relieving you of the necessity of driving an SUV. Or you could be doing ever more city driving due to your job. Or you may have bought a new townhouse or rented a new apartment where parking space is less than ideal. Or you’re just flat tired of driving a huge, heavy gas guzzler.

Whatever your reasons for deciding to downsize to a smaller car, know that there’s undoubtedly a make and model out there that will fit your needs – and your preferences – quite well. Who knows? You may find yourself actually enjoying driving once again!

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