For many years, my wife had been driving a 2008 Honda Pilot. We bought the SUV in 2009 as a people hauler, back when my in-laws and eldest son were living with us. We also needed a dependable car to drive all seven of us to church on Sundays.
Now that it’s just the four of us, I decided to buy my wife a 2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid instead of a Tesla Model 3, which everyone seems to want these days.
You might think the Model 3 would be a much more frugal choice considering the recent price cuts, tax incentives, and fuel savings. But please hear me out.
The Corolla is a car she can safely drive from point A to point B, not pick her up from point B to impress her friends.
Of course, there’s no question Tesla is the sexier car. Tesla’s autopilot is a revolutionary technology that lets you sit back and relax while your car drives itself. It can handle multiple road situations, from highways to city streets, and even park itself in tight spaces. It’s so smart, it can even detect pedestrians and cyclists, and avoid them with ease.
Toyota Corolla’s Safety Sense 3.0 is a boring feature that only helps you with the most basic aspects of driving. It can warn you if you’re about to crash into something, or if you’re drifting out of your lane, but it won’t do anything to prevent it. You still have to use the pedals and the steering wheel, like a caveman.
But then, that’s exactly why I picked the Corolla. I don’t want her to rely too much on autopilot, which could give her a false sense of security. I’d rather see her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road when driving.
A Tesla is way more expensive to own and maintain than a Corolla.
For starters, the MSRP for the lowest Model 3 trim is $38,000— a whopping $16,000 more than a hybrid Corolla. Even if you factor in the tax incentives, fuel savings, and low maintenance— a full EV with no internal combustion engine enjoys— a Corolla will still come out ahead in this department.
Sure, you don’t have Tesla oil changes. However, being a full EV that runs on a heavy set of battery packs, you’ll change the tires more frequently than a Corolla. And guess how much these special EV tires cost? At $250-$350 for a single tire, you can expect to pay around $1000-$1400 plus installation charges for four new tires at Costco or Tire Rack. That’s way more expensive than you would spend on a Corolla!
With a hybrid, the combustion engine works less which means fewer oil changes. And like a Tesla, it has no starter, serpentine, or AC belts to replace. Not to mention, it also has regenerative braking which takes much of the thermal load from the rotors— your brakes last longer.
And when the batteries fail 300,000 miles later— a new hybrid battery will set you back $3,000 to $5,000— but a hybrid Corolla will keep running and won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. In contrast, prepare to shell out $20,000 for an out-of-warranty Tesla or use it as a giant paperweight.
Tesla’s insurance and repair cost is way more expensive.
Teslas have a limited supply of replacement parts, which are not mass-produced or widely available. Parts are more expensive and harder to obtain and have a limited number of service centers, which are specially equipped and trained to handle Tesla repairs. Not to mention complex software and hardware system, which requires specialized tools and skills to diagnose and fix. This means that the repairs may take longer and involve more labor costs, as well as potential software updates or recalibrations.
In contrast, Toyota parts are ubiquitous and widely available. For instance, my wife recently hit a deer damaging the left front side of my Prius C including the headlight assembly. I was able to perform a DIY repair by replacing the headlights ($100 each) and the driver-side fender ($300 painted). Good luck performing such repairs on a Tesla.
No wonder, insurance companies charge higher premiums and deductibles for Teslas, as they have to pay more in the event of a claim. It also means that the owners may have higher expectations and standards for their Teslas, and may opt for more expensive repairs or replacements than necessary.
Build quality and convenience
Quality issues, such as paint defects, faulty door handles, and software glitches have plagued Tesla. The Toyota Corolla, meanwhile, has been consistently rated as one of the best cars in its class by various experts.
Moreover, the Corolla can be refueled at any gas station in minutes, while the Tesla Model 3 requires charging at specific locations for hours. The Corolla also has a longer range than the Tesla Model 3. The Corolla can travel up to 604 miles on a full gas tank, while the Tesla Model 3 can only go up to 353 miles on a full charge.
The last thing I want is for her to suffer from range anxiety. Now that she has the hybrid, her carbon footprint is way less than the SUV she used to drive without having to deal with the need to charge at home.
The Model 3 is one of the best-selling EVs, but the Corolla is the best-selling car ever!
Everybody knows that the Toyota Corolla is one of the most reliable and affordable cars on the market. It has a great reputation for being durable, fuel-efficient, and easy to maintain. No wonder, Toyota has been able to sell 50 million units since its debut in 1966.
Of course, the Model 3 is not a slouch in this category either. In fact, it was the best-selling EV in the world in 2022, with over 2.5 million units sold since its launch in 2017 before being overtaken by the Model Y.
Still, the Corolla is the G.O.A.T. in this category. I love my wife so much that I decided to buy her nothing, but the greatest, lmao.
My wife didn’t ask for a Tesla.
I would have bought a Model 3 had she asked for one, but she hasn’t. She didn’t even ask for a new car let alone a brand-new one. I’m the luckiest husband for being married to a relatively low-maintenance wife.
I wanted to get rid of the gas-guzzling SUV, but I’m not ready yet to “save the planet” by switching to a fully electric vehicle. Besides, our kids will likely inherit this car. I wouldn’t want them to own Teslas as their first car.
Although the Corolla won’t turn heads, she was delighted to drive a brand-new car finally. A car that is more cost-effective in the long run than any Tesla. My coworker who owns two Teslas disagrees, “I’m a scientist and I do everything in a spreadsheet.”
I hope he factors in his car payments, then let’s wait and see.