We are talking about maybe getting a new, larger vehicle. It’s difficult fitting all three kids in the back, and I’d really like to be able to pick up a fourth kid. Basically, I’d like at least 5 passenger seating. The law says kids shouldn’t ride in the front seat until all other seats are full. So, in theory, if we needed to pick up one extra kid in a pinch, we can seat Isla in the front seat with a booster. Which is good to know, but not a good solution for regular car pooling.
I consider AWD a hard requirement, as I drive over a small mountain to drive the kids to and from school every day. Also, we go skiing occasionally and live on a very steep hill ourselves. AWD gives me peace of mind, and I’m definitely willing to pay for it.
More earth-friendly would also be attractive. We currently have a Subaru Outback (26 / 33 mpg), and an old Ford Focus (23 / 29 mpg). It’s interesting to me that our Outback, which is a much larger vehicle, is so much more fuel efficient than the Focus. I guess that’s the outcome of Obama’s fuel standards, mostly, and time to technology development. I felt pretty good about buying the Outback for this reason, even though it’s not a Hybrid.
Minivans and 3-row SUVs are harder. When you start looking at AWD, things get pricey, fast. Some options I looked at today:
- Subaru Ascent, AWD 21/27 $36K 3RSUV
- Chrysler Pacifica, AWD 17/25 $44K Van
- Toyota Sienna AWD $43K 35/36 Van
- Toyota Highlander AWD $44K 35/36 3RSUV
Chrysler does make a hybrid electric van, but they don’t offer it in AWD. Perhaps that will change. I can’t really see buying a car that only gets 17 mpg around town. The Subaru Ascent isn’t much better.
The Toyota Sienna is the lowest rated van in its class by many. They specifically knock it for having limited 3rd row space, even with the 2nd row seats all the way forward. Since we’d have at least one person in the third row most of the time, that’s a pretty big deal.
We paid about 28K all in for our Outback, so the idea of paying more than 40K for a car definitely gives me sticker shock. Even 36K for the Subaru sounds a lot more appealing than 43 / 44K for the two Toyota options. Isla will be old enough to sit in the front seat in 3.5 years. Maybe we just need to stick it out.
I guess the thing to do would be to test drive a few different options. Any thoughts from van owners or 3 row SUV owners? If you have one or the other, how did you decide which to get?