Buying anything new is really a bad investment. The only time you may come out ahead is buying a end of the model run vehicle for a closeout price. Even buying used from a dealer is a bad deal unless you can really haggle with the to a reasonable price.
New vehicles are horribly expensive to own and loose value quickly. The only large, expensive purchase that doesn't do this (usually) is a house. That being said, I don't think taking a loan out to buy a vehicle is necessarily a bad decision. If you get a good rate, sure you pay a little more due to interest, but many people, like myself, prefer to have cash on hand if it's ever needed. Up to now, the only debt I carry is a few g's in school loans that I intend to pay off by the time I graduate. I do plan on taking a loan out to buy a daily driver car, like a CTS-V (or diesel JK) near the completion of college though.
That being said, vehicle needs depend on what you do. I drive 10 minutes or less to work and 10 or less to class. So my ZJ makes a pretty good commuter vehicle - gets reasonable mileage for what it is and it's still worth having for occasional towing of trailers and long trips or having extra passengers. Best of all, for what I paid for it 60k miles/5 years ago, I could still get out of it today! Maint on it costs next to nothing and is all easy to do - all I do is fill it up about 3 times a month or so and do routine maint.
My CJ was an impulse buy, but it was the right price and I knew I could do anything I needed to do to get it running. I don't know what mpg it gets, but i'm sure it's on par with my ZJ, if not even a little bit better. It'll make a decent off road vehicle and fun toy for the summer. I put a tank or so of gas in it a month, maybe 2 (cut out one on the ZJ then) and i've got very very little invested into it so it's a great buy. Parts and stuff are also dirt cheap.
The next purchase will be a bike, hopefully at the end of spring, to save some money on gas. I figure if I buy it now, and keep it for at least 2-3 years, the gas savings will pay for itself. Then either ditch the ZJ I have now to build a Long Arm one, or Long Arm another WJ/ZJ to wheel. By the time I finish college, I'll probably be needing to buy a DD car (CTS-V :drool ) or find a diesel JK if they ever make them...
1996 Grand Cherokee
RIP Troy (bigbluezj94)
1996 ZJ FOR SALE