Fair enough! I've not done an analysis of all the costs, so I could be wrong on all this...however if she had a better-on-gas, more reliable Asian vehicle (even if it was an Asian van instead of an Asian sedan as a compromise) I'm guessing the additional up-front cost would be money better spent; at least from the point of view of reliability hassles.
How do you put a monetary value on reliability hassles?
My dad used to say that when buying a used vehicle the brand is less important than the condition of the vehicle, and although I would agree with that overall, a Toyota van is a better machine than a Ford Aerostar van.
I can't find any Internet cost studies that show older American vehicles versus older Asian vehicles nor any studies showing total costs of vehicle types over time...but I can say that auto rental companies sell their fleets with regularity and my employer supplied laptop gets replaced every three years...so there must be something to the cost/benefit as time goes by.