I got pre-approved for the car loan for enough to cover the vehicle, tax, title, license, insurance, and all. It's a bit of a crank since the CU won't be open until Tuesday, but I'm driving the 'Sploder up to North Branch tomorrow, and since I'm not trading it in, it's unlikely I'd be leaving it there anyway. Most likely it would be a pick-it-up-next-week thing.
I did a comparison with another similar vehicle. Another 2006, less miles (45k compared to 75k), and 4wd as opposed to FWD. They're almost identical, with the 4WD one having a zoomier sound system with a CD changer and MP3 player. It's also something like $3200 more.
So I did some checking. The 4wd hybrid is actually an AWD hybrid (i.e. full-time 4WD instead of selectable), and it lowers the gas mileage significantly, like 30 percent.
As much as I like 4WD in the winter, That much of a jack ain't worth it.
The 36-MPG city rating is high of course, though some users are getting 44 MPG with short low-speed runs. The usual user-reported mileage is 32MPG, which is still hella better than the 'Sploder's 12. And there is a company that is producing a secondary Li-ion battery pack that's electrically chargable (like plug it in to the wall socket) that fits the Escape hybrid. It's still way too 'spensive ($5000), but it's a consideration down the road.
And gas prices are gonna continue to go up. Mo-day weekend is this weekend, and I would so very much not be surprised by $4/gal gas by Saturday (Diesel is already over $4.50). I'm noodling about an electric scooter too, or possibly one of the old-tech pedal-power bikes as things wear on. I'm not quite there yet, as a bike to work and back has other problems associated with it (between time and sweat/stinky factor), but the border for what I'm willing to do is pushing farther out as the gas prices increase. Six bucks a gallon by Labor Day isn't exactly out of the ballpark, and I think that's another breakpoint for marmot-power.
On the plus side, it would count for my workout, and there is a shower at work. On the minus side, it would be an easy hour one way, and there would still need to be pooch-walkies.
I hate taking on more debt. It's very good debt, in that it is a secured loan, it's through the credit union so the payments will be taken out of each paycheck so I get no late payments ever (as well as a nice interest rate reduction), and it helps build my credit rating up even higher. I just hate borrowing money needlessly.
However, one can argue need pretty easily here, or at least weighing pros and cons.