After quite a bit of thought, debate, and calculation around our household, we finally decided to trade in our Land Rover Freelander on a Ford Escape Hybrid. This may seem like a shock to some of my friends and family, who knew how much I really did like driving our Freelander. It was fun to drive and it’s not as though we hadn’t put a lot of thought into that purchase. However, gas prices as have risen considerably over the past (nearly) four years. Further, there were issues that I did have with the Land Rover (aside from notorious LR electrical system issues): a
sport transmission that had horrible lags prior to shifting, no armrests for the driver (you never miss them till their gone), rear seats that folded in a way that robbed the vehicle of much needed cargo room, a gas tank that resulted in a max range of only 330 miles, and (weirdest of all) the engine heat would essentially cook your right foot while driving over long distances. People would occasionally ask me how I liked it or if I was still enjoying driving it, and truth be told I did. Despite those gripes, it was a great vehicle and I have no reason to doubt that it will keep running for many more years. In a way, that was the biggest problem of all: I was going to have to keep paying for a gas-guzzling SUV for many more years to come. That began to weigh more and more on both our bank accounts and our consciouses.
Well, this past weekend, we got a call from the Ford dealer just a couple of blocks away. They happened to have the only 2006 Escape Hybrid in central Virginia (there are a few left up in NoVa). We had test driven it before, and they knew were interested. I think they gave us the “there’s someone else who’s really interested in this car” routine, which wasn’t really the big deal. It was the fact that they had just added some more incentives or last years models to move them off the lot that perked our ears. We did the math one more time and came to the conclusion: the insurance was less (domestic parts, mostly), gas mileage was nearly 50% better, and there were some nice incentives in the form of zero (and low) APR’s and cash discounts. This coupled with the fact that the IRS recently changed the hybrid tax deduction to a $1,950 tax credit made the car not only more environmentally friendly, but also much cheaper to own and operate (seriously, do you have any idea how much the maintenance schedule on a Land Rover runs?).
Well, we went over to the dealership with to see how much we could get for the Freelander (turns out, it was still worth something, at least after I got it a final bath). We also wanted to know if they could locate a Hybrid Escape that had a sunroof, since we loved having one so much. After spending an awful lot of time and energy trying to track one down, I decided it was just too expensive and likely to be not worth having (it only comes with $4,000 in extra options we didn’t really want). At the end of the day, I decided we should just buy the nice black and silver one which we had test driven. Angela reluctantly agreed, and so we drove away in a our new truck late that evening.
I’ve already decked it out with some roof racks and a few stickers here and there. I took my TerraPass off of the Freelander and stuck it on the new vehicle. Purchasing carbon emission offsets combined with a hybrid puts us pretty low on the CO2 scale, which is good. Now, we never thought we were all that snotty about driving a Land Rover (hard to be when the interior looks like an ’83 Datsun), so we’re not going to start being all smug about driving a hybrid SUV, either. We do care a great deal about reducing our carbon footprint as well as the environment in general, but economics was the main reason we made this purchase, not altruism. We simply don’t have the resources to be that smug, any more than we did to be snotty enough to buy a Range Rover.
As far as the new vehicle goes, so far I love it. It handles and performs very well (as good or better than the V6 did in the Freelander). It essentially fixes all of the issues I had with the Freelander without many drawbacks (no mesh map pockets on the ceiling). It even has a few niceties the Land Rover didn’t have. So, I’m glad I changed out the English Green oval for the blue oval, even if it was a much more green decision to do so.
Note: It was a weird coincidence that Trey bookmarked this post last week, about a guy who made a somewhat similar decision that Angela and I did.