Reader Question: On Fiat?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Marks asks: Excellent and balanced article on the Fiat. It is truly a cute, roomy and economical subcompact. But this is the age of muscular pickups and SUVs. I don’t see these preferences ending. I own/drive a gorgeous, dependable and luxurious 2001 Jaguar Van Den Plas that’s worth nothing today (relative to its original cost). Sedans are hopelessly out. Thank you for your thoughtful and entertaining articles! Always enjoyable.  Always informative. PS: I’m with you on the electric car but I hope that Musk’s Tesla survives, if only to frustrate all the predatory short sellers out there.

My reply: You’re absolutely right about the preference for pickups and SUVs – and crossover SUVs (the big one). But what’s driving this, so to speak? Yes, there is the versatility we often hear of – and it’s true. But the cost is also high – and what makes that possible?

Answer: “Easy” financing; the six-seven-year loan at no or very low interest, which enables people to buy more vehicle than they can afford. As I mentioned in the article, the average family income is about $60k. Gross.

Even assuming no taxes – and no other expenses – that income reasonably allows for the purchase of a $20k-ish car. But the average price paid for a car last year was more than $35k. It’s economic madness. And it can’t last.

The Fiat is a sensible car – in terms of what it costs. But Americans – many of them – want insensible cars, which they are able to finance because of a system structured on people living beyond their means.

On sedans: You’re right, again. But the main factor contributing to this has been the downsizing of sedans, especially back seat and trunk-wise. Big sedans of the sort that were once common no longer are – because they’ve become extremely high-end/high-priced luxury cars (e.g., the Benz S and BMW 7) which most people can’t afford.

It’s sad – chiefly because artificial. The whole awful mess exists because of government (the busybodies ad control freaks) deciding it’s their job to decree car design and our job to pay for it!

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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