I Am Swapping My Volt For A Highway Cruiser! What Car Should I Buy?

Image: Chevrolet
Image: Chevrolet

Nick’s wife is starting a new job that requires a lot of long-distance highway travel. She is looking for something a bit more comfortable than her 2012 Chevy Volt with some updated features. With a budget of up to $45,000 what car should she buy?

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Here is the scenario.

My wife is starting a new job that will require travel a few times a month but otherwise working from home. When she travels she’ll be driving 400+ miles a day sometimes, on midwestern state highways with little-to-no high-speed charging infrastructure. Electric cars are out. Her current car is a 2012 Chevrolet Volt that we love, but we’d like something a little quieter and more luxurious for the long highway drives - something with power adjustable seats and lumbar adjustment which her Volt lacks. Target price around $45,000

Quick Facts:

Budget: Around $45,000


Location: Kansas City, MO

Daily Driver: Yes

Wants: Comfort, reliability, good MPG

Doesn’t want: Something that rides high

Expert 1: Tom McParland- Once Again The Answer Is Obvious

Photo: Kevin Williams/Jalopnik
Photo: Kevin Williams/Jalopnik

So unlike the electric vehicle market where great deals are easy to find, the hybrid/PHEV segment can be a tough one as most buyers want some level of electrification but don’t want to be reliant on a charging infrastructure that isn’t quite ready.

Now the obvious answer to your Volt replacement should be the all-new Toyota Prius PHEV and, on paper, it checks a lot of boxes. However, the market conditions for that car make it a difficult sell. Given the high demand and low inventory, the chances of you scoring something in a reasonable time frame at a reasonable price (near MSRP) are low.

Once again, I’m going with one of my most recommended models, the Kia Niro. It’s a small hatchback/wagon offered in hybrid, PHEV, or full EV configurations. The interior feels very spacious and it’s super practical for its size. While there aren’t a ton of these on the ground, inventory is far better than the Toyota, and advertised discounts under MSRP are common. Within your budget zone, you can score a fully loaded SX Touring model that will be equipped with all the upgrades you could ask for.

Expert TK: Owen Bellwood - There’s No Need To Go All Electric

Photo: BMW
Photo: BMW

Nick, I’m inclined to agree with Tom that the best thing for you right now is some kind of hybrid car. This way you’ll be sure of good fuel economy while your wife is covering her 400 mile commute and you’ll have something that’s clean when you’re on shorter drives and running around town. And while the Kia is a nice suggestion, it just won’t quite cut it if you want to arrive in style.

Instead, Nick, you and your wife should look to Europe and, specifically, Germany where they make some excellent luxury cruisers that can soak up the miles. What you need is a BMW 5 Series - this plug-in hybrid BMW 5 Series to be precise.

With a 530e on your driveway, you’ll have the keys to one of the last truly sophisticated BMW designs, with its timeless looks and slick interior sure to suit you down to a T. What’s more, because this is a PHEV you’ll get around 20 miles of battery-powered driving on shorter journeys and pretty good economy when it comes time to drive to work. With this 2023 example, you’ll also get the electric seats you yearn for, a neatly-finished leather interior and all the latest tech you could hope for. Nick, here’s your new car.

Expert 3: Andy Kalmowitz: THE Reliable Luxury Cruiser

Nick, tell your wife congrats for me. A new job is always super exciting, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with the best luxury cruiser money ($45,000) can buy! If you’re looking for a new car, Tom’s suggestion is certainly the way to go, and if you need a hybrid, Owen’s 530e is a solid choice. But, your wife deserves *real* extremely reliable luxury: the Lexus LS. There’s no car on the planet that will be better for eating up highway miles day after day while swaddling you in luxury features and materials.

Sure, an LS500 isn’t going to return the same sort of gas mileage that a hybrid car will get you, but it’s not like the mileage is bad. Lexus says it can get up to 30 mpg on the highway, which isn’t too bad for a luxury barge. Regardless, you’re not going to care about gas mileage as you sit in your beautiful Japanese interior. That’s just a fact. Additionally, its 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 is going to last a lifetime, so you’re going to save on maintenance over a hybrid. That’s a big win in my book. It’ll also be loaded with all the latest driving tech and luxury conveniences to make it an even more lovely place

Finding the right LS is easy. They’re all pretty great, so all you need to do is find the lowest mileage one with the options you want in your budget and get it. Because I’m such a great guy, I found a wonderful LS500 for you in Topeka with just 46,000 miles on the clock, meaning it’s barely broken in. It also features a lovely brown and cream interior and a clean CarFax. To make matters even better, this car comes in under your budget at just $41,000. That’s hard to beat, Nick and Nick’s wife.

Expert 4: Rory Carroll Let’s Do Something Exciting

Screenshot: Autotrader
Screenshot: Autotrader

I had a bunch of reasons why you should do this instead of doing something smart, but Kinja at them so just look at this 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe. It’s under your budget.

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