jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
[personal profile] jenn_unplugged
My trusty little BMW 330 is now 7 years old, and still running really well. I always knew that if we had another child, I'd have to get something bigger, and I've been in no hurry to do that. But Doug wants to park his car (a '99 Porsche with almost 60K miles now) and start driving mine, and get me something bigger, so we've been doing our research.

I've bought several new cars in my adult life, and until now, it was fairly easy. My list of criteria involved things like color and "cuteness", and there were certain interior features I wanted, and a good warranty -- and that wasn't hard to find in my price range. But now, it's SO much more complicated, OMG.

The two most important features of this car are that it be in the price range we want (around $25K, no more than $30K) and that we can fit a rear-facing car seat behind one of the seats and have the person sitting in front of it be reasonably comfortable. With one child, we could put the rear-facing set in the middle, but with two, that's not an option. I've done a lot of measuring and searching, and it's almost impossible to do this in a car that is not an SUV. And I'm talking about a smallish convertible seat -- not one of the kinds with the infant carrier that snaps in and out.

So here's where it gets complicated. The other items that are very high on my list are:
(A) Good gas mileage: at least 20 in the city, which is where I do most of my driving. My commute to campus is 50 miles round trip, so this one is important to me.
(B) A decent amount of cargo/trunk space: enough that we could take one car to the airport with four of us traveling. We can barely do that now in my car with just three of us.
(C) I reeeeally want to keep my satellite radio, and I'd like an iPod jack. Luckily, these things are more and more standard.
(D) I prefer leather seats for the easy cleaning (children, you know), and I have wanted heated seats for a long, long time. I could continue to live without that, but it's something I'd love to have.

I don't need:
(1) A navigation system. Those typically add $2000 to the price of the car, and I could buy a Garmin for $150 bucks. Sure, they come with other cool features like back-up cameras, but it's not worth $2000 to me.
(2) integrated DVD players for kids. I would prefer to install my own for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it'll be a lot cheaper that way.
(3) Seating for more than 4-5. This one could possibly come back to bite me in the ass (we're doing IVF, after all), but I'll risk it for now.
(4) A huge honkin' vehicle that goes off-road and chews up puppies with its tires and such. I may end up in a minivan one day, but I really don't want something that I can't reasonably park in the garage at work.

That narrows down the list of possibilities a hell of a lot. What makes it even more complicated is that car dealers tend to have in stock the basic and the fancy versions of each model -- not the ones priced in the middle. So for example, one car I was really interested in was the Toyota Venza, but the dealers in the central TX area either have the very basic version (which has none of the interior features I want), or the tricked out version (which is $36K).

At this point, it's looking like it'll either be a Toyota Rav4 or a Hyundai Tucson. Those are the only two vehicles I've found in my extensive searching that even come close to meeting all the criteria. We ruled out so many things I thought would be perfect, like a Toyota Prius (fails B) and a VW Jetta TDI wagon (fails B and a RF car seat won't fit).

We're going to go try to drive some cars this week. I'm just amazed at how hard this has turned out to be. I'll let you know what we decide... :-P

Date: 2010-03-16 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With another one on the way, I've been thinking along these lines, too. I may steal some of your research. :)

Date: 2010-03-16 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really like my Honda Civic. The Sunshine Kids car seat fits rear-facing just fine, and that's not a smallish one ;-). Well, it's narrow, but long, if that makes sense. However, the trunk space is somewhat limiting, depending on how big your suitcases are. If you're ever expecting to use a double stroller (which seems unlikely, but as an example) the Civic is pretty much too small to do anything else with. Just throwing it out there, though, because I really do love mine :-)

Date: 2010-03-16 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I may print your list and call it my own. ;)

Can't wait to hear what you decide on!

-Emily (in GSO)

Date: 2010-03-16 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For what it's worth, we have an '06 Camry and Norah's Britax Marathon fits rear-facing just fine with room to spare for the front seat passenger :) I like those Rav4's though. We'd been talking about getting a small SUV too before we ended up getting the Camry (bought it for a really good deal from my dad because he was upgrading to something else).

Good luck :)

Date: 2010-03-16 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What about a Mazda 5? If you put the back two seats down, it has a good amount of storage space, but overall it's pretty small (technically a microvan, as opposed to a minivan).

Date: 2010-03-16 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, and we very easily fit both a Recaro Signo and a Cosco Scenera in the middle row of one (my father-in-law has one).


Date: 2010-03-16 04:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Howdy Jenn - I've owned and recommended Toyotas for more than a decade. My 2004 4Runner has been a good reliable vehicle, but the materials quality (interior plastics, cloth, carpeting, etc.) was a huge step down from my mid-1990's Camry. I've had a 2009 Rav4 as a rental car and been truly disappointed. German cars are a really hard act to follow...if I was looking for something in the Rav4/Hyundai Tucson segment, I would take a peek at the Honda CRV or Pilot. Its really hard for me to say this, but Ford seems to be building some really competitive cars now (Fusion, Edge and Flex) Good luck - Roy

Car idea's

Date: 2010-03-16 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I get to drive lots of rental cars... I can say I find the RAV4's pretty underpowered when you are used to driving a BMW. The two cars I would think fit your criteria and are OK to drive are the Altima Hybrid and Ford Fusion. No idea where they come in on cost though. I'm still happy with my 11yr old BMW!

Date: 2010-03-17 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I drive my beloved Odessey, but David drives a Subaru Outback wagon, and loves it. I think it meets your criteria.

Date: 2010-03-18 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have no idea on whether or not car seats would fit (though I think they would), but I *love* my Honda Fit. Definitely not as powerful as a BMW, but it's got a lot of cargo room and is quite a roomy (and safe car). It was also recently named one of the cheapest cars to own for five years.

(A) Good gas mileage: they tout 28/35 - my reality in Los Angeles is 23/31.

(B) A decent amount of cargo/trunk space: a ton (and I do mean ton) of space.

(C) I reeeeally want to keep my satellite radio, and I'd like an iPod jack. - not sure about satellite, but iPod stuff is pretty standard with them. I upgraded and got the Honda link which also charges the iPod while you drive.

(D) I prefer leather seats for the easy cleaning (children, you know), and I have wanted heated seats for a long, long time. - I do not believe they come with leather or heated seats.

I really love this car...and everyone I know has said it's quite roomy. Last summer, four adult women took it for a long weekend/spa vacation outside of LA and everyone's stuff fit in there with us and everyone was comfortable...for what it's worth.

Date: 2010-03-23 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heheh. The way I pack, I could easily pack for four people and have it all fit in the Prius's trunk. I am the Gold Medal Grand Master champion of packing! Maybe I could give you lessons - you could get it all in there.

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