Having lived many years car-free, when my husband and I got married, it wasn't until we adopted a Very Large Dog that we realized it wasn't going to be viable to be without one. The older Subaru Outback has a lot of fans for a reason - great design, built in roof-racks, and a crapton of interior cargo space while staying super comfy - but the MPG? Not a stunner, and I was always offended at how they blew off the opportunity to have a hybrid version of the Outback. So when we downsized back to the city in 2021, I realized we were in a pretty good place for a trade-in, even during the pandemic. Why? Because in the Pacific Northwest cities (I specify cities because the country folks were, even to go to the grocery store, driving gas-guzzling, embarrassingly oversized $70K trucks that you KNEW were not being used for farm work), the 'weekend warriors' are still drooling over Outbacks.
Which means even for a 2015, the trade-in value was nuts.
As there's only one model of the Prius whose body style doesn't drive me insane, and it costs way too much, I chose the Prius's less cool cousin, the Ford C-Max. It's smaller than the Outback which is great for city parking, the MPG is almost double (especially in summer), and the seats still flatten for hauling stuff (not to mention it still takes a tow hitch for bike racks which we're glad for). And it included my two non-negotiables - front seat heaters for my back, and backup camera for safety (how did we live without these?).
Oh and did I mention we did an even exchange for this hybrid that's also 3 years newer than the less efficient Subaru? SCORE! We refuse to do car payments, so this was pretty essential for us.
It's been a HUGE money saver, and just like in the city and country chapters, it's our only car, as my husband still bikes to work (but now, happily, also has the luxury of a discounted bus pass for inclement weather in our very hilly city). If you can't afford to buy a used or new electric quite yet, or - like us - don't have the infrastructure for a charging station (we park on the street), you can still make a positive environmental change by trading in for something that gets at least 10-20mpg more than what you have now.
And yes, you will not die if you don't have a huge car. Promise.