Pick a Car, Any Car!

It is the summer following your high school graduation and Bill Gates has just made you an offer you don't want to refuse. Since you have become so adept at using Microsoft Excel, one of Mr. Gates' most profitable products, he has decided to reward you by providing you with a car to use during college. You may choose any car from the following list:

CarPassenger Capacity0-60 TimeEngineNHTSA Frontal Star Rating*MPGOctane RatingAnnual Insurance Cost
Ferrari 360 Spider24.5 secs400-hp 8-cylinder gasNot tested.13Premium$9,500
Mini Cooper Convertible S46.9 secs163-hp 4-cylinder supercharged gas4/430Premium$3,000
Toyota Prius512.7 secs70-hp 4-cylinder hybrid gas/electric5/455Regular$2,000
Chrysler Crossfire25.4 secs215-hp 6-cylinder gas5/421Medium$4,500
Cadillac Escalade AWD77.5 secs345-hp 8-cylinder gas4/415Premium$6,500
Chevrolet Avalanche LT-2500 4WD Truck58.7 secs320-hp 8-cylinder gas4/416Regular$2,900
Volkwagen New Beetle410.2 secs115-hp 4-cylinder gas4/424Regular$2,000

*Risk of head and chest injury to driver in a frontal collision is listed first, followed by risk to passenger. Five is the highest (safest) rating.

The Conditions

  1. You can drive the car as long as you remain in college. If you quit college, you give the keys back to Bill. (Mr. Gates actually dropped out of Harvard University to co-found Microsoft, but he wants to encourage you to hang in there.)
  2. Mr. Gates will pay for the entire cost of the car, plus its maintenance (oil changes, tune-ups, etc.).
  3. The only items you have to pay for are gasoline and insurance.
  4. Mr. Gates will give you a $200 per week allowance to pay for gasoline and insurance. If you have money left over after paying for your gasoline and insurance, it is yours to keep.
  5. You cannot use any other source of money to pay for insurance and gasoline. In other words, don't ask your parents or roommates for gas money.
  6. If you are involved in a wreck that is not your fault, Mr. Gates will replace your car. If the accident is your fault, you lose the car.
  7. If you graduate on time, the car is yours to keep.
  8. Don't try to find any loopholes in these conditions. Mr. Gates can afford the finest attorneys.

Your Assignment

  1. During class, develop a strategy for deciding which car you want. You may want to take into consideration the number of passengers, how much gas will cost, and safety.
  2. Use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet to help you determine how much it will cost you to drive each car for a year. On average, how many miles can you afford to drive the car of your choice each week?