High Gas Prices Transform Geo Metros From Weak To Chic

The formerly mocked and neglected Geo Metro is finding new popularity amidst high gas prices. According to CNN, the Geo Metro is making a spectacular comeback, especially on eBay. You might be surprised to learn that the Geo Metro and Toyota Prius get nearly the same gas mileage. Now consider that a Metro can be found for about $7000 compared to a new Prius which costs $21,000+, it becomes easy to see the attraction. Details, inside…

Graphic from CNN:

Marci Solomon considered a Prius but decided the Metro was the best economical choice for her. The article says,

For the most part, Solomon plans on using the car for commuting from her home in Rochester, Washington, to her job. The vehicle she has now, a Honda Element, was getting 28 mpg, and she was filling up twice a week, costing her nearly $100. Stations were charging $3.97 a gallon in her area Tuesday, she said. The Metro is an investment in the future, Solomon said, even if she did pay more than five times the Blue Book value of the car.

“It was all about saving money,” she said. “I don’t think gas is ever going to go down, and these are going to be the types of solutions we have to turn to. I wanted to beat the rush.”

The rush may have begun. The 1996 2-door 3-cylinder Metro Solomon now owns opened on eBay May 7 with a bid of $200. A week later, Solomon won the car auction with a bid of $7,300. In 1995, a new Metro hatchback sold for about $9,000, according to Auto Mall USA.

In May alone, 43 Metros of various years and models were sold on eBay, ranging in price from $221.50 to Solomon’s bid of $7,300. The cars have been hot items, drawing upwards of 49 bids on certain vehicles, with many of the auctions coming down to last-second bidding wars. On Tuesday morning, 34 Metros were still up for grabs.

It’s good to see this little guy making a comeback. Obviously, a Prius is going to offer more in the way of safety, speed, style and features but saving $14,000 on a car that gets nearly as good gas mileage makes good economic sense. So the next time you see a Metro roll up, don’t disrespect, they’re rockin’ 46 miles a gallon!

Gas prices drive Geos from clunkers to chic [CNN]

Comments

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  1. Wow….no wonder those guys on Free Credit Report dot Com are so upbeat and singing. Their credit may be ruined, but they’re about to be rich.

  2. missdona says:

    Let’s not forget, it’s 46MPG for the manual/standard transmission. How many Americans are really driving them anymore? I wanted to buy my last car in a standard, but none existed within 100 miles of the dealership.

  3. DashTheHand says:

    It can be as chic as it wants, but realize that in an auto accident your car just became your coffin.

  4. Kevino says:

    @DashTheHand:

    I came here to say exactly that. Don’t get hit by anything bigger then a Geo Metro if you’re riding in one.

  5. Chic? Really?

  6. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    $7000 for a 16 year old compact car? Ridiculous.

  7. bmoredlj says:

    Anyone who thinks the Metro is too unsafe to drive around has the fear. Anyone who thinks the Prius is more stylish than anything has the blindness. And paper money discriminates against them with its uninformative texture.

  8. DailyDriver72Imp says:

    I work at an auto parts store and have had people call up for parts for these Metros lately .I don’t carry the CV Joints for them in stock or even the valve cover gasket.It’s either next day for the little stuff or Factory Direct Orde that would take over a week.

  9. VA_White says:

    I drove a 1993 Geo Metro for nine years. I bought it slightly used back when I was young, single, and nearly broke. In the nine years I drove it, it never once broke down. Not once. I put new brakes on it, new tires, got the oil changed regularly, and that was it. It was an awesome car. But it was ugly and the air conditioner just couldn’t keep pace with the desert’s heat. I sold it to a high school kid for a thousand bucks about five years ago.

    When gas was 1.40 a gallon, it cost me eleven bucks to fill up my car. :)

  10. Gev says:

    @DashTheHand: Not to mention the fact that a 16-17 year old econobox is probably not going to be the most well-maintained car in the vehicle universe.

    I’m guessing it won’t last as long as the Prius would and that over the period of time you’d own the Prius you’ll spend close to or more than the purchase price of the Prius in repairs and replacing the Metro with another one when it has a breakdown that’s too expensive to repair.

    And yeah, I’d never want to get hit by anything while driving one.

  11. SundaySunday says:

    A Metro is a smart purchase in terms of mileage and low cost. From the details in this post, I’d say Ms. Solomon way overpaid for her car, though.

    I’d suggest craigslist or the auto classified circulars you can pick up at your local grocery store would help get you a car much cheaper. And you’d have the benefit of personally going and checking out the car beforehand.

  12. @Gev: Agreed on potential condition.

    Most drivers of the Metro, since its inception, were not doing it because gas was pushing up towards a dollar a gallon (gasp!). They did it out of economic necessity. And that almost never translates well to “good maintenance”

    The Metro was a laughing stock back then, even among other small cars. No reason why it still shouldn’t be, even if people found one thing to like about it.

  13. fodder650 says:

    Now here we would know this. But not one mention in the article of the Suzuki Swift its based on? They even mention the Festiva.

    Well I guess we are waiting on Smart sales and Mini sales to see if bringing over the smaller Euro/Japanese cars is worth while. But the Smart isnt a good comparison since it gets only ok gas mileage for its size. 35mpg is pretty disappointing in a fortwo

  14. The car gets better mileage than the Prius (where it counts, on the highway), it looks better than a Prius, it doesn’t have all sorts of modern electronics and safety equipment to break and weigh it down so it is way more fun to drive than a Prius. Come over to Jalopnik, we’ve been extolling the virtues of small light and fun cars forever. Getting your car news from CNN is like getting sex tips from a nun.

  15. whatdoyoucare says:

    @VA_White: I loved my Metro! It was such a great dependable car. I never ever had a problem with it, either. It makes me wish we still had it :( but alas 3 kids and 2 dogs just don’t fit well in the back seat.

  16. 1992 Vehicles by Suzuki
    We have revised the 1985-2007 MPG estimates to make them comparable to the new 2008 MPG estimates!
    Suzuki Swift
    3 cyl, 1.0 L, Automatic 3-spd, Regular C-31 H-35
    Suzuki Swift
    3 cyl, 1.0 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular C-38 H-45
    Suzuki Swift
    4 cyl, 1.3 L, Automatic 3-spd, Regular C-25 H-31
    Suzuki Swift
    4 cyl, 1.3 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular C-33 H-39
    Suzuki Swift GT
    4 cyl, 1.3 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular C-24 H-32

    2008 Vehicles by Toyota
    Learn more about EPA’s new MPG estimates!
    Toyota Prius
    4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular C-48 H-45

    The Swift dumps an average of 5.8 Tons/Year of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
    The Prius dumps an average of 4.0 Tons/Year of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

    The closest measurable score for the Swift was 2004 and it had an EPA Air Pollution Score From 0 to 10 of 3

    The Prius had an EPA Air Pollution Score From 0 to 10 of 9.5

    0 = worst, 10 = best

    [www.fueleconomy.gov]

  17. Lackey says:

    I agree with the premise – it’s sad that a sixteen-year-old car gets better mileage than damn near anything available today. BUT – to pay $7300 for one is beyond ludicrous – its laughable.

    My main concern, however, is the fact that even at 28 mpg, she’s filling up twice a week. How about this for an idea? Live closer to work. The false economy I see is: what is your time worth? You’re never getting those two hours of commuting back. That’s time you could spend with your family or whatever it is you do in your free time. I’ll never understand that…

  18. Snarkysnake says:

    The best Metro ever made isn’t worth $7000 used. For God’s sake,people. Ebay is for idiots to purchase cars like this,for that kind of money.

    Frequently a “first car” , these things are plenty clapped out by the time they are dumped on Ebay.They have lots of known issues (like rusting front strut and control arm mounts that will snap at highway speeds). The quality was just middling for its time,but they are hopelessly crude by todays standards.
    I did own and drive a Ford Aspire which was slightly larger than the Met. It was an OK car,but like most of these econoboxes,built down to a price.(The Festiva was the same engine,transmission and suspension,but with a boxier body)

    Save yourself a lot of headache – get a 2-3 year old Kia,Hyundai or a little older Toyota Corolla and you will get very good gas mileage without the quality issues. (Stay away from older Hyundais- It took a near death experience for Hyundai to get serious about quality).

    But please,please don’t bid up the price of these old Metro’s on Ebay and give any ideas to the crooks that are lurking there.

  19. tomok97 says:

    I drove a Metro once as loaner car and it was scary. Any slight wind nearly sent my careening off the road.

    That being said, I drive a 95 Geo Prism and it’s a great car. The only time it’s ever been in the shop are for general useage problems, i.e. broken timing belt, alternator crapping out, etc. It has a 175,000+ miles on it and still runs like a top. (Knock wood) And I get about 30 miles to the gallon. It ain’t pretty but it’s paid for and dependable. :)

  20. KaiserM715 mourns the departure of Deartháir II says:

    Buying a Metro over a Prius is more green as you are “reusing” something as opposed to buying something new (no new materials consumed, energy for manufacture has already been consumed). Something often over looked when the smugs are boasting of the greenness of their new Prius. Of course, I guess that makes any used car with decent mileage more “green” than a Prius…..

  21. Daniels says:

    The guy selling the Metro on eBay probably couldn’t believe his luck.

  22. @Lackey: Here’s another idea. Find an apartment where the difference in rent isn’t more than the cost of gas. It’s not as easy to do than it is to say, is it?

  23. RINO-Marty says:

    Geo Metro, fun to drive? Uh, no. It is a death trap. Some people consider “modern safety equipment” a plus.

  24. @tomok97: The Prizm (aka Toyota Corolla…big surprise) was definitely a workhorse. I knew a couple people who had them past the 200k mark.

    Unfortunately, that car has no bearing on the other, since those were GM’s random cherrypicking (lemonpicking) days of GEO.

  25. I_can_still_pitch says:

    I drove a 92 Geo Storm for years. Got just under what the Metro got for gas mileage. It wasn’t ugly, NEVER broke down, had a good air conditioner, and by the way – had airbags. I got in a pretty spectacular side/front impact accident and drove the wrecked car home. The brand-new Toyota that hit me disintegrated and could not be driven. Bought it in 98 for $1500 – was still going strong in 2005 when I got hit.

  26. Ryan H says:

    For those saying she over paid for the car, consider this.
    Her current car gets 28 MPG. The new one gets 46.
    She is currently filling up twice a week at $100 a pop.
    That’s $200 a week. With the new car it will be roughly $120 a week. So saving $80 every week.

    At $7000 The car pays for itself is about a year and a half. if she keeps the car for three years with only minor maintenance costs she will be UP by almost as much as she has paid for the car. That’s not bad at all.

  27. forgottenpassword says:

    Those tiny cars may be good for big city driving, but I wouldnt want to use them at dangerous highway speeds. Or during winter (in snow & ice). Do they make 4-wheel drive geo metros? Also…good luck hauling anything besides groceries in it. And towing anything substancial is pretty much impossible.

    I’m sorry, bit tiny cars look like clown cars. I actually saw one of those smart cars the other day & had to do a doubletake because of how insanely small it was. Might as well drive a golf cart while you are at it.

  28. Mudd-Dobber says:

    I drive a Chevy TrailBlazer and enjoy about 18mpg at best. About a month ago; I am driving, wife is passenger and two kids are in the back. I stop at a stoplight but the minivan behind me doesn’t even slow down. At 55mph she jammed into the back of me and I end up in the back of the car in front of me.

    We are still alive and kicking thanks to my gas-guzzling SUV, can’t say as we would have faired very well in a smaller car. I may spend extra $$$ on gas each year, but to me it is worth the expense.

    I like having a good bit of steel between me and the cell-phone addicts on the roads.

  29. @Ryan H: But if gas prices come down (even just a little bit, say to $3), the car could easily correct back to fair market price, which is probably $1,500. Plus, she’s giving up all the utility and reliability of the Element.

    I can’t emphasize enough that Americans are in the midst of a massive knee-jerk that is mostly unfounded (from a financial perspective). Generally keeping your current car will pay off in the long-run.

  30. Kajj says:

    @Ryan H: Yeah, but old Geo Metros don’t cost $7000. It doesn’t matter whether she’ll make the money back. She overpaid because she paid more than the going rate. No math required.

  31. BlackFlag55 says:

    Wouldn’t you know we sold Old Reliable just before this stupid run up of gasoline prices. 1989 Honda Civic 4dr with 226,000 miles that still got 40mpg. Smoked like Winston Churchill, but it sipped gasoline.

  32. SundaySunday says:

    @Ryan H: Except, she grossly overpaid for her car. A random look at craigslist showed a 2000 Metro selling for $1795.

    Her car would pay for itself a lot sooner, and if she ever goes to sell it, she wouldn’t take a bath on the resale. (She will never be able to sell her car for close to the 7 grand she paid).

  33. stre says:

    practical, yes. chic? no.

  34. statolith says:

    Hmm, my Prius gets much more than 45mpg on the highway. More like 55 mpg, especially cruising down the freeway at ~70 mph.

  35. brandegee says:

    @tomok97: That’s a great choice for a used car. It’s a Corolla with a GM badge discount.

    If you’re looking for a mileage king, you’re better off with an old Civic VX hatch. More comfortable, better quality, and as long as the timing belt was changed regularly it should produce a reliable 45-50 mpg.

  36. starrion says:

    @Ryan H:

    Presuming that the Metro lasts that long. Those cars had numerous problems with the engine that could see it off the road long before she makes up the overpayment.

    Paying $7k for a $1500 car is not “saving” money in any way. It’s overpaying for another car – period. If she got the Metro for $2000, then there might be reasonable grounds.

  37. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I would highly recommend a used Honda Civic HX coupe, instead of the Geo Metro.

    Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.9 gal.
    Manual: 39 mpg / 45 mpg
    Automatic: : 35 mpg / 39 mpg

  38. forgottenpassword says:

    I wonder how the mini cooper compares? Thats about the only tiny clown car I would even concider getting (because it has a cool novelty to it). ANd only for in town driving…. no way in hell am I getting on the highway on one of those.

  39. Sucko-T says:

    You can also get something not available on a Prius.

    A convertible!

  40. MeOhMy says:

    It may get better fuel economy, but it’s still a tin can with 4 wheels and not many safety features. In high school we used to have a great time with our Metro-owning friends when we figured out that it didn’t take a whole lot of manpower to pick one up and move it!

    You can get even better fuel economy on a motorcycle.

    But here’s hoping the manufacturers take note. Hybrids look good on paper but are more expensive and there are still a lot of unknowns in terms of long-term costs. A light and efficient conventional car may still be a better bet. Oh and it has to have a reasonable price. I’m talking to you, SMART. For $6000, sure. For $14000 when I can get 4 seats and decent fuel economy from an xA/xD/Fit/Yaris, etc? No dice.

  41. SundaySunday says:

    @Ash78: Plus, she’s giving up all the utility and reliability of the Element.

    Thanks, Ash. That brings up another good point. Efficiency is a lot more than just MPG figures. Trading down to a Metro, she lost a lot of practicality in the tall wagon she used to own. There are quite a number of subcompacts in the used market that were available as wagons that made better than 28 hwy.

    Toyota Corolla, Suzuki Esteem, Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix, possibly even the Saturn SW1 or Ford Escort / Mercury Tracer.

    I’m not meaning to pile on, but looking at this as a case study in choosing a more efficient vehicle, this story seems to hit a lot of important factors to consider.

  42. chucklebuck says:

    @Sucko-T:

    This is what I currently drive, only mine’s red.

    I love my Geo more than my newer car (Scion xB). It’s great on gas, it’s great in city traffic, and I love driving around with the top down. Yeah, maybe other people think I’m a tool driving around some crappy junker, but I’m having fun with it and filling my tank for under $25, so who cares?

  43. friendlynerd says:

    I once drove a friend’s 89 Metro 3cyl. automatic. Going up a minor grade was cause to floor it – acceleration was painful. That’s not to say acceleration is all that matters, but this thing was beyond anemic. I would estimate its 0-60 time at 20 seconds, no joke.

  44. chucklebuck says:

    @chucklebuck:

    But as to these crazy eBay listings, it also helps that I only paid $1200 for mine. I don’t think I love the Geo $7300 worth.

  45. Buran says:

    @missdona: I’m driving my first “automatic” (VW DSG – really an automatic manual, no torque converter) in a long time; before that, I owned several manuals. Sadly, a lot of cars are losing the manual transmission choice and sticking you with an automatic — and I don’t mean the kickass DSG type that performs better and gets more mileage than the manual version of the same car (true!).

    I’m mildly weirded out that a car that does 28mpg is insufficient to some people (that’s better than most out there, if it’s mixed city/highway), but if you drive a LOT, I can see it.

  46. MarkB says:

    Bought a 1991 Geo Xfi a few years ago for $300 because the clutch was toast. Cost me about $400 to get it in super shape. I used it as commuter for a year and it got over 50 mpg on average. In the end, I chopped the rear hatch off and made it a truck and got $1800 for it on eBay. I wish I still had it.

  47. dculberson says:

    Here’s a 1997 Metro for $2699 – from one of those small dealers that are prone to overcharging:

    [columbus.craigslist.org]

    She paid way too much. It baffles me as to why anyone would pay that much.

  48. ARP says:

    Gotta agree with other posters that suggest getting a used civic or corolla. They sip gas, last forever, and replacement parts are easy to find when you do need them fixed. I think you’re going to pay for the metro a few timies over in repairs, compared to gas savings. They’re boring, but the whole point of this post is practicality, correct?

  49. stezton says:

    It has been weird recently how many people have knocked on our door asking if we’ll sell my husband’s old 1991 Geo Prizm and it’s not like the thing even looks good. The red paint is coming off, it is dented and dinged, the inside driver’s side door handle is broken and the passenger side window doesn’t go down. People must be desperate for decent gas mileage.

  50. @forgottenpassword:

    1. Dangerous highway speeds? Like 85 MPH? The speed limit is 65.

    2. People in Watertown, New York, used to say they did surprisingly well in snow. And they should know.

    3. Did anyone suggest one could take a Geo Metro camping? That doesn’t make the Metro useless. Neither does nonexistent towing capacity. Last I checked, I didn’t see very many people towing trailers full of crap to work.

    It’s a pity that such a car had to be made by Suzuki instead of somebody like Toyota. It gave them a bad rep and generally screwed things up for everybody else.

  51. SinisterMatt says:

    @bmoredlj:

    These cars ARE a death trap. My mom almost died driving a Metro when some yutz in a big truck rear ended her doing 70 when traffic was at a standstill.

    Because of that, and even if it gets 50 miles to the gallon, I refuse to drive one. 26 mpg? That’s alot better than my 6 year old Mercury Sable gets in the city (I average about 17-18 mpg). Spend a little more for safety, for the sake of Pete.

    Cheers!

  52. Balisong says:

    Wow, Jay, way to ignore the fact that this Marci Solomon spent $7,000 on a $1,200 car (this is how much I received thru my insurance when my own ’96 was totaled). This was greenlighted on Fark with much more relevant discussion. This story is actually about how NOT to bet thru auction on an old POS car. My own couldn’t go up hills in the mountains over 35 mph. I am not exaggerating. I do not miss that car.

  53. farker says:

    Numerous studies have shown that buying a used car that gets better-than-average gas mileage is a more economical than buying a new (or newish) hybrid.

    However, this woman paid way too much for this vehicle, so even if it only takes her 18 months to recoup her costs, it’s too long considering that car is worth about $500 (check Edmunds.com if you don’t believe me)

  54. sean98125 says:

    She needs to put about 60,000 miles on the Geo to break even. I wonder how many miles are currently on it? It’s a 1995, so it probably has at least 100K.

    Of course she could save even more money if she carpooled or took the bus. There’s a park and ride lot on I-5 near her home in Rochester with buses that would probably take her to where she works.

  55. Overpaying by 600% is not the best way to save money.

    That being said, I had a 99 Mazda 626. 4 Doors, seated 5 fairly comfortably, 2 liter I4 and a 5 speed. Plenty of space in the trunk for that girl you “picked up” at the bar.

    I got 40 on the highway and upper 30s driving around town in it. Oh yeah, and I’d have survived a crash with anything larger than a bicycle in it. This woman is the prime example of someone going to an unbelieveable extreme to try to save money. In the process she’s wasting money (hell she could get a 5 year old mazda in decent condition for 3 or 4 grand nowadays), and jeopardizing her safety as well as the safety of the people who ride with her.

    I guess what they say is true. You can’t fix stupid.

  56. NonHomogenized says:

    There’s one little problem with this assessment: there is only one model of Geo Metro for which this statement applies, the XFi.

    For those who don’t know, the XFi was an attempt to manufacture a super high-mileage car, which was accomplished by stripping out absolutely everything which is not essential to the operation of the vehicle (including such things as air conditioning), to reduce the curb weight to barely 1600 lbs, and by using a different camshaft, ECU, and transmission to increase fuel efficiency (at the cost of a significant portion of what little power the metro had to begin with).

    As noted in POLAЯ OF THE DAY’s comment above, the next best model in the Suzuki Swift/Geo Metro lineup had the rather lower fuel economy of 38 mpg in the city, and 45 on the highway – only tying the prius on the highway, and getting 10 mpg less in the city.

    It should also be considered that only about 10% of all Geo Metros sold in the US were XFi’s. And Canada fared even worse in that regard, so you can’t get them from Canada, either.

  57. MeOhMy says:

    @SinisterMatt: Sorry to say that if your Sable at a deadstop gets rear-ended by a truck going 70 you’ll be lucky to be alive as well. I agree with you that the Metro lacks safety features but it’s important to recognize that at high speeds and when there is a big size disparity between the cars involved, it’s pretty much a disaster no matter what you’re driving.

  58. hwyengr says:

    @forgottenpassword: A couple of points:
    1)Until just this week I lived in the Upper Midwest my entire life, and never needed a 4wd vehicle to drive in the winter.

    2)I just drove my “clown car” Mini Cooper from Chicago to Los Angeles, and had the time of my life. Today’s small cars aren’t yesterday’s Chevettes and Pintos. I’ve never had a more stable roadgoing car than my Mini.

  59. Balisong says:

    As to what everyone’s saying about the metro’s safety, or lack thereof, I was actually happy with how mine did in the accident. Granted, it wasn’t a horrific accident, and it only involved a mustang, but I was going 50 mph when I hit it side-on (not my fault BTW *grumble*). The metro’s hood crumpled up well.

    But for God’s sake, don’t spend $7000 on one! And don’t write articles about what a good idea it would be to do so.

  60. Balisong says:

    Though, as someone else already stated, it did get blown about on the road by gusts of wind…and I couldn’t get it up the hill leading out of our neighborhood when there was ice on the road…had to call work and tell them I couldn’t come in…because my car…couldn’t get up a hill…

  61. ZekeDMS says:

    It’s not that I don’t like the geo metro or anything, but that car has a very limited weight capacity. In fact, I’ve found a few that can’t get into reverse over 700 pounds. Sure that doesn’t sound like much, but when your carpoolers include your fat self and two samoan co-workers, it’s amazing how fast that metro can stutter.

    It seems I’ll stay with my jeep a while longer.

  62. Lackey says:

    @Steaming Pile:

    You know what? If there’s two more hours I can spend in my more-expensive home, it’s generally gonna be worth it for me.

    Where I live, people I know add 30 minutes to an hour to their commutes (one way) to buy a house at $250k instead of $300k. Not even close to worth it to me.

  63. macmizzle says:

    Hmmm…. Aren’t the Geo Metros horribly unsafe? I believe that is what I’ve always heard.

    According to safercar.gov, the Metro has a “High Likelihood of Thigh Injury” and even calls it a “Safety Concern.” The Call me insane, but I’d stick with the Prius… and my legs…

  64. cynu414 says:

    I’m in it for the airbags…..and the back up sensors/camera, navigation, touch screen, HID lamps, traction control, stability control, anti-theft, etc. It’s worth the difference to me.

  65. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I have a Honda Insight, spent a little over $200 on gas — last year, for the entire year — and it has airbags. No, I can’t haul much more than groceries in it, but if I need to haul something, I’ll give a friend a few bucks, borrow their station wagon, and buy them lunch. If you’re not a construction worker and don’t have a job that requires you to take a bunch of stuff all over the place, how often do you need to haul stuff?

  66. CRNewsom says:

    I’m guessing that the people who say they wouldn’t take a small car on the highway have never ridden a motorcycle on the highway.

    I have no problems with small cars on the highway (or motorcycles, for that matter). If you like filling up your explorer with $4/gallon gas just so you feel safer, that’s fine by me. Make sure you aren’t near me when you think 4 wheel drive somehow helps your braking ability though.

  67. JONNRG says:

    She paid $7300 to save $50 a week on gas. That’s funny, no matter what kind of car she bought.

    Filling up twice a week?! Ouch! She just lives too far from work.

  68. ScottCh says:

    The table at the top of this article has some serious problems. For one, the EPA has adjusted its mileage estimation process in the last year, causing the Prius and other high mileage vehicles estimates to go down. So comparing it with the Geo Metro’s 1992 measurement looks worse than it should. Add about five MPG to both of the Prius measurements to balance out.

    Another difference is that the table only shows the comparison for the Priuses’ gasoline engine. Its electric motor kicks in another 70 horsepower, making it a much more capable vehicle. The table does not show that the Prius is a true four passenger vehicle, with comfort that is better than many medium sized cars.

    Other people have mentioned things like the safety, air conditioning, and other features of the much more modern vehicle. The Prius is tied for the highest score ever registered in Consumer Reports annual survey of car owners.

    If all I want to save gas, I leave the car parked and ride my bicycle. I have better things to do than nursemaid a very old econo-box.

  69. Canoehead says:

    “It can be as chic as it wants, but realize that in an auto accident your car just became your coffin. ” – Try a compact urn.

    I drove the Sprint throughout the 90s – I was a poor college student and it did the job at a great price. I bought it used for $4400 in ’94 and sold it for $1700 in ’02 – not too shabby.

    As far as “greeniness” ges, a new Prius might last longer than a used Metro, but odds are the batteries won’t – replacing those puppies will likely cost the same as the old Metro, and how exactly do you plan to dispose of all that Nickel and other nasty stuff?

  70. CRNewsom says:

    @Canoehead: By “dispose of” I assume you mean “recycle.”

  71. Orv says:

    @macmizzle: I seem to recall that the Geo Metro’s safety ratings were low at first, but became much better later in its production run when it was partially redesigned. I know I looked up one of the later ones and was surprised that it scored better than my Ford Crown Victoria, a massive boat of a car. Unfortunately, NHTSA’s website is broken so I can’t find when the cutoff was.

    I think in general Americans greatly overestimate how hazardous small cars are. We sort of see subcompacts as a lower-class thing, something you only drive if you can’t afford anything bigger. It’s different in Europe where tiny “city cars” are common. I admit, though, that in areas with a lot of SUVs on the road driving a small car sometimes feels like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

  72. Orv says:

    Oh, and one safety concern with the Prius is the battery pack. Some fire departments have expressed reluctance about doing Jaws-of-Life type rescues of people in Priuses due to the fear of electrocution. If I get in an accident I really don’t want to be in a car first responders are afraid of.

  73. au6553 says:

    I tried fixing up and driving a Metro convertible. And what a mistake it was. It was a three cylinder with a standard trans. Yes, it was slow, and yes the gas mileage was ok. The problem is, these were not built to last or be fixed up past their normal expected life. I had so many problems. First, there’s rust. If you see any, don’t bother. Second, the three cylinders have a nasty habit of plugging up the EGR port with carbon, and you get no warning of it until you end up burning your exhaust valves to a crisp. What else? They used multiple different alternators on these things, and autozone does a fine job of mixing them up. If you buy the wrong one, expect it to throw the belt at the worst possible time – say when you’re on 94 in the middle of the worst part of Detroit.

    Last but not least, forget about finding the weatherstripping for the convertible top. It is not available ANYWHERE. People buy used weatherstripping for these things, and it goes for a princely sum!

    I like Metros, but if you’re going to bother with one, don’t buy a convertible, and for god’s sake, clean the EGR valve port (not just the valve!) immediately.

  74. au6553 says:

    I almost forgot- the unloved Toyota Echo can get 40m.p.g.. It is at least as ugly as the Metro, but it can get out of its own way and is a hell of a lot more reliable.

  75. Parting says:

    If saving money is that important : buy a Smart. It will pay back, since no other car in North America has comparable fuel efficeincy.

  76. Orv says:

    @Victo: I’m not so sure the Smart is worth the cost premium — you can buy a much more versatile used car for the same price. And since it’s really a Mercedes you know costs for replacement parts are probably going to be steep.

  77. bigmac12 says:

    A friend of mine has a Metro and another friend has a Echo. Having ridden in both I would ovewhelmingly choose the Echo as it has great acceleration and power and rides good along with great gas mileage. The Metro just seems to chug along and rides like a tank but does get great mileage.
    Neither of them can compare to my Miata for power and stability at speed….but I only get around 32mpg on the hwy.
    Mac

  78. roche says:

    She is a tool for paying 7,000 for a Metro. I got my 97 Metro for 1,500 with 65k miles about 5 years ago.

    I cannot find the link anymore but mine actually got decent crash test ratings and it has dual air bags.

  79. BlackFlag55 says:

    Hah. You want unsafe? Google the Peel P50!

  80. jimconsumer says:

    Gahahahahahhaahahha!! This is hilarious. A few years ago you could pickup a Metro in decent running condition for a few hundred bucks. Now people are paying a small fortune for ‘em.

    Here’s an idea: Honda Insight. My Insight is about the size of a Metro but gets 70 miles to the gallon and has all the modern safety features. And, I only had to give 12 grand for it. Beats the hell out of 7000+ for an old Metro. Much, much nicer car.

  81. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Ash78:

    From the Somethingawful forums thread on this subject:

    “The Northwest region’s resident asskicker in Stock Front (rallycross) has a Swift and a Metro. You wouldn’t think you’d see a Metro go a lot faster in the dirt than an STi, but they can. I fear those things.”

    There’s something else to like about the laughingstock.

  82. TechnoDestructo says:

    @roche:

    Oh, about 5 years ago when gas prices were about half what they are now?

    Assuming it’s still in comparable condition, that car is probably worth twice what you paid, now.

  83. Orv says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I’m not surprised. The car weighs almost nothing. You can make up for other shortcomings with suspension and engine mods, but if a car is too heavy, it’ll be a pig in rally events no matter what you do to it.

  84. TechnoDestructo says:

    @jimconsumer:
    AND, unlike a Prius, it’ll keep going when the batteries die.

  85. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Orv:

    [www.scca.com]

    “Stock front” means no modifications. It’s the light weight, the FWD, and driver skill. You can do amazing things on loose surfaces in a <2000lb car, even if it’s worthless on asphalt. (My ’84 Corolla taught me that)

  86. Nick986 says:

    I’d rather stick to driving my 2000 Taurus and enjoy having some things like airbags and crumple zones. I’m going to guess that a Metro IS a crumple zone. If I’m being easy on the gas pedal, I can do ~30MPG Hwy, and ~20MPG city.

  87. TENGRAM says:

    the longer i own my metro the more i love it. mines not even running well (i suspect a fouled o2 sensor due to the raw fuel smell), its an auto, and its the LSi 1.3L (yep, the hi-po version) and it still gets over 30mpg. this adds up quick driving 80 miles 5 days a week. i just had 4 new kumhos put on it and they were $25 a piece. there is more to economy than simply mpg.

    would i pay $7k for one? hell no. that is ridiculous. it should be very easy to find one for under $2k and at that price they are a bargain.

    i admit that the size makes them unnerving safetywise but i actually have plenty of legroom (no fear of “thigh injury” as someone mentioned earlier) and i am 6’3″. also, the 99 model i have has airbags.

    i know i haven’t done a thing to convince the naysayers and that’s ok. i want them to remain low in price for those of us who know what value is.

  88. cynu414 says:

    @Canoehead: Toyota has an 8 year 100,000 mile warranty on the hybrid components. Possibly even longer depending on the emissions warranty.

  89. first2letters says:

    @VA_White: I had a new Metro that I bought around that same time and drove for just as long, and I can attest to not only the great gas mileage (mine was the standard transmission, no A/C, and it got around 52 MPG on a good day), but also to the surprising lack of repairs the thing needed. After the second kid, my wife and I traded it in for a used minivan, but I miss my little Metro, even if it crawled up hills and got pushed to the side of the road during especially windy days.

  90. bzr says:

    Quick, snap ‘em up before they go for millions at Barrett-Jackson in 20 years!

    After all, if Pacers can be considered “ironic-chic” these days…

  91. jimconsumer says:

    Also, $7000 would have bought her 1,750 gallons of gas at $4 a gallon. That’s 49,000 miles worth of driving in her Element. Just drive the fracking Element, for crying out loud.

  92. TechnoDestructo says:

    @bzr the paranoid android:

    If there is any justice in this world, the Metro convertibles will be doing just that.

  93. pigeonpenelope says:

    i don’t care if cosmopolitan magazine names it the coolest car in the world, i will never ever ever buy a geo metro. i’d rather bike to work and i live quite a distance away.

  94. kabuk1 says:

    Heck yes, long live the coffee grinders!!! This is the way to go, IMO, buy a small old car that gets prius mileage & flip off all the elitists. Oh, and spend the money you saved by NOT buying a grossly overpriced hybrid on other stuff :)

    The $2200 I spent on my 99 Dodge Neon was the best $2200 I’ve EVER spent. It’s not only cute & zippy(and a 5-speed & fun to drive), it also gets about 35-40mpg city & about 10 over that on the highway. It had 91,000 miles on it when I bought it & apart from some basic maintenance(hoses, belts, plugs), I’ve had to do no real repairs to it. And I know in a wreck I will live too, cause I was in a full-frontal wreck in a neon last december & I walked away with only bumps & bruises. The best part of all is that I won’t be getting assraped by a stealership for the next 7 years.

  95. kabuk1 says:

    @BlackFlag55:

    Haha I was a p50 now!

  96. rioja951 - Why, oh why must I be assigned to the vehicle maintenance when my specialty is demolitions? says:

    @kabuk1: I already do so, I transformed my Grandpa’s old Suburban to a diesel engine. Nobody driving near me even attempts to cut into my way, they know just how much weight I’m lugging around.
    Besides, I make some bio-diesel at home, so it isn’t like I pay to much for fuel.

  97. iicarrii says:

    @DashTheHand: You’d be surprised. I rolled one once, well actually I rolled the damn thing 6 times, and we all walked away. Then again, maybe it was because we were packed in there like sardines. E

  98. Coles_Law says:

    @Ryan H:I took it as her two weekly fillups totalled $100, meaning she saves $40/week. It’ll take over two years to make up what she overpaid, based on gas savings. Eventually she will come out ahead. Her insurance may well go down too. Besides, if she was driving an Element, the appearance of her car is obviously not a concern. :)

  99. Ribald says:

    Okay. I’m an engineer, so I’m with people saying that death-by-squishing is an issue in this car. If you get hit by a four-ton SUV in a 1500-lb car… well, the cold equations of energy conservation are not your friend. Nor is the lack of thirty-six airbags, or whatever the Prii and Yarii are running these days. Those cars are still lighter than an SUV, though (to say nothing of the transit bus or heavy truck that eclipses them all), and I’m not sure I’d want to be stuck in one when that 120-lb, 270-volt battery pack caught fire after a collision.

    I’m also an EMT, though. Been with one fire or rescue company or another for a good decade. Saw my first dozen MVA trauma fatalities the first three months I was a probie, and lost count after that.

    To make a long story short, I’ve seen far, far more people die in trucks and SUVs than in econoboxes. Part of that is because most people don’t really have the skill to handle one in an off-nominal situation (hence all the Explorer rollovers), and a lot of mass is actually detrimental when you hit something solid. Another part is that the man driving an econobox knows his life is forfeit should anything larger than a bicycle touch him. He remains alert, watching his mirrors at a stop to make sure the guy behind him is stopping. If endangered, he is ready to make a dive for the median / shoulder / sidewalk, whereas a complacent SUV man spends his time fiddling with the radio or talking on his phone, easy prey for a rear-ender.

    Some of the time, I drive a two-ton Hemi Charger, but that’s a personal choice, so I can’t really complain about the fuel costing me too much. The rest of the time, I’m commuting to work on a 360-lb motorcycle. On the Capital Beltway. Much riskier than the econobox, but if one does one’s homework, there are generally opportunities to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. I’d drive my old (45MPG, $400) Tercel without hesitation, if I still had her.

    If you’d rather just sit in your SUV and feel safe, by all means do so. But know that it’s only a feeling — every corpse I ever pulled out of a wrecked urban assault vehicle had the same astonished look on their face — the “how could this happen?!” one.

    –R

  100. niccernicus says:

    Seems like ole Chevrolet already had a eco-friendly car. No need for the hybrid Tahoes.

  101. BlackFlag55 says:

    Ribald – EMT here, also. volunteer rural. Thou speakest truth. Most folks seem to think anything driven at all four wheels makes them bullet ptoof and invulnerable. And once that multi-ton mass gets out of order and starts fish tailing and cart wheeling … it’s too ugly to describe here.

  102. entoman says:

    I just purchased my 4th geo metro.
    I own a 91 convertible, a 92 5 door coupe, and a 92 convertible. I used to own a 91 5 door coupe, but that car was totaled when my mom ran over a truck tire and tore the tranny mounts up.

    As far as their reiliability, they are relatively good in that department. Fuel mileage varies alot. the 1.0 liter 5 speed models get 45-50 mpg in the LSI version, while the XFI got up to 10 mpg more. My 92 LSI 5speed gets 50 when I drive 60-65 mph, 45 @ 70-75mph and about 40 when I am dragging a trailer with a riding lawnmower on board.
    The convertibles get about 40 mpg due to the automatic transmission. I am currently looking for a couple of donar cars so I can convert the automatics to 5 speed transmissions.

    On the road, I have to be forever vigilant looking out for the idiots who think that their giant truck is indestructible. If one smashes into me, I will get the worst of the crash.
    I may upgrade the cars with a roll cage, but that just isn’t too attractive right now.

    Roominess, the 5 door coupes have a surprising amount of interior space.
    I have hauled 50 2x4x8 boards and up to 40 patio blocks (12×12) and now with the trailer, I can haul 10 sheets of plywood at a time now.

    Fuel savings, I calculated that at $3.00 gallon fuel, I was saving about 6K per year over my extended cab truck since my work dictates that I drive up to 50K miles per year. at $4.00 gas, that savings is even more…
    Go ahead and don’t drive one, that just means more for me….

  103. JamalMozie says:

    I have never cared about what anyone has to say about what I drive. It’s time to WAKE UP America and realize your financial decisions are controlled by advertising. Stop watching TV and stop reading magazines. I owned a 92 Geo Prizm from 1996-2007 and that thing NEVER broke down, and ALWAYS got good gas mileage. They should never have discontinued making it.