Dear Alex,

I own a 2019 VW Arteon and my wife has a 2019 VW Polo, each with 30,000 miles. We are both retired so costs are important. My wife says it would be better to sell both cars and have one between us, such as a Honda Civic Hybrid or VW Golf. I don’t like electric cars because of the obvious difficulties and have heard that hybrids could have a problem if not used for long periods, so I feel that with regular care our existing cars could see us out. What do you recommend?

– PR

Dear PR,

There is an unseen cost you need to consider and that’s depreciation. If you were to buy new, you’d lose money on the car as its value fell – though how much of an issue that is depends on how long you think you’ll both keep driving, given you mention your current cars seeing you out. 

So your best bet might be to buy a “nearly new” car, let’s say about a year old. That will mitigate the depreciation cost and keep it to a more palatable level, in line with the combined total amount of value your two VWs will shed over the same period. 

Even so, it’s worth doing your sums, because the most effective course of action will depend on your annual mileage, fuel use and maintenance costs. 

I suggest swapping both cars for a year-old Toyota Corolla. It’s the same size as the Civic and Golf and it’s a hybrid like the former. It’s true that hybrids can flatten their batteries if they’re not used for a couple of weeks, but that issue can be mitigated with the use of a solar or trickle charger.

The Corolla’s residual values are pretty decent, so it shouldn’t lose value too rapidly. What’s more, it will deliver better fuel economy than the Arteon and might even match the Polo. 

And you’ll get an extra year of warranty each year you service it at a Toyota dealer until it’s 10 years old (or has done 100,000 miles). As a result, you reduce the risk of getting a big, unexpected bill as it ages – and if you stick with your two VWs, that’s something that could become more of a factor, even with careful maintenance.

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