I hate my CRV. It’s a dumb vehicle. It’s goofy looking, it’s uncomfortable, it’s too big, the gas mileage is too poor, and it’s relatively expensive to insure since it’s classified as an SUV by my insurer. I just sort of hate it. The thing was foisted upon me by my wife and mother in law when we were expecting our second baby. The Fit was too small for two rear facing car seats (it actually was) and the 2008 CRV LX (it only had about 30,000 miles) was being offered by my MIL for a substantial discount. I sold my Fit, pulled a couple thousand out of savings, and hooray. Big dumb baby blue SUV.

ANYWAY, a few years later and I’m being proactive here. We now have a new Toyota Highlander so there’s no need for two large SUV-type cars. I want to trade my CRV for something that makes more sense for my driving needs. Here’s the catch. I want this trade to either be straight up, one for one, or even return cash to my pockets. I can’t pay money to make it happen. The Edmunds TMV for the CRV is right around $9,000, although I’ve yet to find one on Craigslist or AutoTrader for less than $10k, and most have 100k+ miles. Mine has 51k.

Given my 28 mile round trip commute each day, on which the CRV averaged 20.6 MPG and which includes dropping the kids off at daycare...

Question 1) A Civic sedan of similar vintage seems to be the obvious choice. I’d prefer a manual, my wife wants an automatic. I don’t want a Corolla. A mid-size would probably not get the fuel economy I’m after. But what about something less obvious like a Matrix? Prius? Mazda3? Saturn Astra? I love hatchbacks. No VWs though. This car would have to be dead reliable. I only drive about 10,000 miles a year but it’s mostly in heavy urban traffic.

Question 2) I really don’t know how this would work in Texas. If I were to trade one for one with another owner could we avoid sales tax? There’s nothing more annoying than used car sales tax. It’s been taxed once, why are we taxing it again? Could we just create a bill of sale for $1, swap titles, and be done with it?

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Question 3) This is for folks who work at dealerships. What would be your opinion of trading a used car from your lot for another used car? Sounds dumb, right? I suppose the CRV would be slightly more desireable than a Civic or similar, so maybe that would help grease the wheels.

I have crunched some numbers and the difference in fuel savings between my CRV and a Civic is about $700 a year. I haven’t gotten a quote from USAA on insurance, but I expect some small savings there too. On the surface this seems like a good plan. Right?

This would also allow me to keep my Alfa, which satisfies my Jalop-sensibilities. Assuming I ever get it running again.