Piston Slap: Truly a Re-volting Notion?


2017 Chevrolet Volt - Image: Chevrolet

Jason writes:

Dear Sajeev,

This isn’t so much a Piston Slap question, but rather a “what would Sajeev do (WWSD)?”

My father recently approached me and said that he and my mother are interested in getting a pre-owned electric to replace one of their aging cars. My father drives a 2009 Hyundai Sonata GLS (w/ popular pkg) with 65k on the odometer and my mother drives a 2008 Honda Civic EX Sedan with 85k. Both cars are close in age and miles, however, the Honda bests the Hyundai in resale value, hands down. Whatever they end up selling, my dad will keep to drive as an everyday car and my mom will get the electric. My dad is adamant about selling the Hyundai due to some shortcomings like the interior build quality (dashboard makes noises during hot climate) and the fuel tank has an odd evaporation issue where it forces the car not fill properly. However, I’m more for selling the Civic because the Sonata overall is a quieter and plush car for someone his age. In the past, he has complained the Civic is too low and I see him struggle to get in and out of my stock ILX. It’s a tough decision for us because both cars were purchased brand new and if you saw them today, you’d think they qualify as certified pre-owned vehicles.

The second question is the car they intend to purchase. My mom really likes the look and shape of the Nissan Leaf, but I introduced the Chevy Volt as an alternative and she approves. Both are completely different from one another but are a few thousands a part on the certified pre-owned market. My mother has a few years left until retirement and commutes (30 miles round-trip) for work, so both cars will suit her current and future lifestyle.

I know it might sound crazy to you (and readers) to sell any Asian car in such prime of their lives to get an electric car, but my parents are aging and at the end of the day, it’s whatever makes them happy that matters to me. So which makes more sense, selling the Sonata or Civic? Leaf or Volt? Or are we crazy and just keep the set up as is?

Sajeev answers:

Let’s address the elephant in the room:

“I know it might sound crazy to you (and readers) to sell any Asian car in such prime of their lives…are we crazy and just keep the set up as is?”

Son, take it from this countrified Tex-Asian autowriter who — before this Piston Slap gig — was frequently (mis)cited for an Anti-GM bias: nobody thinks you’re crazy for considering a GM or Nissan electric car.

While GM made a huge mistake with those ignition barrels, Toyota’s recent gooey dashboards and Honda’s transmission bearing failures prove nobody’s perfect. I stand behind my reviews — especially that shameful 2008 Cadillac STS — but even I admit purchasing decisions are now dependent on a buyer’s brand perception, styling preferences, incentives, specifications, performance numbers, etc. and not reliability/durability metrics.

So go electric, either the certified pre-owned Chevrolet Volt or similar Nissan Leaf will suffice and both have fantastic depreciation. If Mom thinks the Leaf’s range is unacceptable for her occasional need for wanderlust, the Volt is the clear winner. If not, a test-drive will help her out.

And if I’ve learned anything about aging relatives’ car preferences, let your father decide which car to sell. Both sound fine: he must come to his own conclusion about his struggles of vehicle ingress.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.