Vehicles

We bought new vehicles when we moved here 11 years ago.  I needed something to drive when I was here and Cherie’s 10-year old minivan was about to bite the dust.  For hauling and farmwork, I bought an F-150 4×4 pickup truck.  Cherie bought a Honda Pilot.  They turned out to be good choices for us.

The truck is now used almost exclusively around the farm, primarily for hauling heavy loads.  It’s pretty beat up, but still runs well.  It has a little over 100,000 miles on it.

The Pilot has been our workhorse vehicle.  Because the truck is a gas-guzzler, we use the Pilot whenever possible.  It’s been ideal for our produce deliveries and has never given us any trouble at all.  It now has well over 200,000 miles on it and is still going strong.

Considered without regard to the context of our lives, neither vehicle seems an environmentally wise choice.  That is particularly true of my truck.  But a heavy duty pickup truck is nearly essential for this life, and as much as Cherie wanted a hybrid or a smart car, neither made sense for country/farm living.  We are careful to drive as little as possible and we try to minimize our ecological footprint in as many other ways as we can.  We want to live in a less toxic world, but fuel efficiency isn’t the only relevant factor in deciding what we’ll drive.  As with so many things, there are other factors that have to be balanced in the mix as well.

I see lots of city people driving tricked-out pickups without a scratch on them.  Worse, I see them driving monstrosities like Hummers or Escalades.  I try not to be judgmental or “greener than thou,” and perhaps if I knew their life circumstances I’d see that those vehicles make sense for them, as ours do for us.  But I suspect that in most cases those vehicles are chosen not for their utility, but rather as fashion-statements.

We’re hoping our vehicles have another good 11 years in them.  But when the time comes to replace them, we’ll try to make the right decision on what to do.  Whatever other factors we end up considering, I’m pretty sure our choice won’t be intended to impress anyone.

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10 comments on “Vehicles

  1. Joanna says:

    I know that dilemma. The country roads around here are atrocious at certain times of the year and if we haven’t had the grader out at the right time and so a big 4×4 makes sense for us. It also makes sense for pulling a horse box. Here in Europe though the sizes are smaller and so we have a 2.5 litre engine.

    I always used to think that too many Americans drove cars that were far too big, until I saw how they were used in Colorado. I had never seen so many attachments that seemed to make the trucks double up as tractors. Also living in Colorado a small engine was not much good up in the mountains, they just die. I still agree though, there were still plenty of folks driving the big cars when there was really no need to.

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    • Bill says:

      Big vehicles make sense for people who drive off road, haul loads, etc. When I lived in Tampa I knew people who drove massive vehicles from their home to their office (no more than 5 miles each way). They never pulled a trailer, hauled a load of wood, or drove down rutted muddy roads. It was just the style at the time.

      Lots of folks in the States bought Hummers and the like then regretted it when gas prices skyrocketed and the resale value of those things plummeted. I’d say now it is much more common for people to pay attention to fuel efficiency when choosing a vehicle. Hybrids are quite popular now.

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  2. bobraxton says:

    our other Prius is a bicycle

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, the trip to Texas went well in a new rented car. Mileage was nearly 30 miles per gallon with spacious room to boot. I don’t have a big truck but even a Ford Ranger has some guts to haul and tow for garden work. However in today’s standards the 18 miles per gallon in town is not any thing to crow about. I have become a guy that will say use the right tool for the job. If a super duty truck is needed for the job then I say use it. My 10 year old Ranger has 186,000 miles on it and still runs strong and powerful. He (I call him Ranger Rick) has towed boats and trailers many times over the years. He laughs at hauling 1500 pounds of retaining wall blocks or squish the tires at hauling limestone rock to the garden from a retaining wall. If you want to read about him earning his keep, you can go here to see a post about garden mulch for the garden. http://www.grit.com/farm-and-garden/do-it-yourself/the-great-yard-waste-mulching-caper.aspx#axzz3MrkpUq8U

    Have a very Merry Christmas my Virginia blogger friend.

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  4. Leigh says:

    I reckon those kind of apparently illogical choices are the result of having our identity as humans so tied up in something like a vehicle.

    We’ve got the vehicle dilemma going on right now. Dan’s old Chevy S-10 has almost 400,000 miles on it and is literally rusting away, but it still runs and doesn’t leak oil! He bought it new in 1988. My Jeep Cherokee Sport is good for some things, but not for hauling goats and hay. The idea of having to have a truck or car payment, though, does not compute. So we just keep talking and driving and life goes on.

    Aside from all that, Merry Christmas!

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  5. avwalters says:

    We’re starting our country adventure with 12 and 15 year old vehicles. Rick’s truck has only 70,000 miles–a Toyota Tundra that worked for a builder and will continue to work as a country vehicle. Mine, a 15 year old Audi is not as convertible to the county life, but it’s a wagon and can haul quite a load. Still, both vehicles were California cars–so no rust, and no exposure to salt until now. At this point, the most environmentally solid thing to do is to keep driving them (we,too, limit our driving) into the ground.

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