car shopping

Last time I went car shopping, I learned that “BOY HOWDY” was Texan for “OY VEY.” It’s time to go car shopping again, this time in the Northeast, just for me.

We currently own three cars, which means we’re paying insurance for a car we don’t drive, the most useless of property damage insurance quotes we’ve ever bought. Long ago paid in full, the car sitting in our driveway is a Mercedes convertible without all-wheel drive–as a redhead, I’ve never been a fan. For that kind of money shouldn’t all the wheels drive? Not just the rear ones? I mean really. But Phil loves the car.

My dad kept telling Phil that the convertible was impracticable for the suburbs. A car. A man. And the word “practical.” It’s a combo that shouldn’t exist. When are men practical about cars? They’re little passion projects, or at least projections and ego displays. There are of course city men, who fight car ownership with their whole being, insisting that even if they did need a car one day, they wouldn’t care what kind it was. Until, of course, the day came when he needed a car. Then, he’d hate it, but he’d care.

Surprisingly, Phil didn’t put up too much of a fight. Before Halloween he was darting around town in a brand new two-door car by BMW. Ask me the name, make model or type of engine, who knows. Knowing that he’d be driving the thing to work, I reasoned that it was his car. He’d be the one in traffic, two and from, with an hour commute. I stayed out of the decision process entirely. He didn’t want the feel of luxury, as I would have, no. He wanted sport. I couldn’t believe he’d want a car that didn’t have that automatic trunk function, where the door opens for you. Perhaps that’s a feature prized more by people who drive big and shop big. Enjoy your car dear.

But now, Phil says, it’s my turn. Also paid in full, while the Lexus RX 350 SUV I drive is perfectly fine–I’m happy with it–Phil insists that we trade it in along with the convertible, so I may get an update. “It’s time,” he says. And I guess he’s right, what with depreciation values. He tells me to go start test driving, but in truth, I’m not some test-driving girl. I do my research beforehand. And I care so very little about the brand of a car and care much more about the cute little features. How much mileage per gallon, yes. But really, how many USB ports are there? What about that OnStar system? I do not care if it is a Honda, Kia or Dodge. Truly, I couldn’t care less. It’s not so much about the money as it is about the gadgets and features (when GM sent me a Buick on a trip I took to LA, I was seriously sold on OnStar. Also, after my Riding In Cars with Girls who Talk Like Boys adventure, I’m most excited to check out Cadillac and Chevy. Maybe I really am a GM girl at heart). But the bigger question I have is this?

How big should it be? Granted, I have two children, but know what happens when two children each want to have a play date after school? It means someone is going in the trunk. No, it means it can’t ever happen. Is it crazy to get a bigger car to accommodate a family of friends? Part of me is seriously considering a three-bench car, at least a car that can seat 6, just so we can take one car, when say, I get together with my step-sister and her two kids. However, how often does this happen? I might just try out one of these deals from intelligent car leasing companies, a few, week long test drives will give me the time to make the right decisions. Perhaps I should just be thankful for my smaller family, always with the built-in excuse that I cannot drive a van full of kids or pick-up even more kids or become the chauffeur to kids whose parents are all too happy to be uninvolved. Perhaps I should use what God gave me and stick with a smaller SUV, that seats only 3 kids.

Are you happy with your car? I’m now on the market. Also, why have cars stopped coming in good colors? I want hunter green with beige leather interior. Or a really nice navy. And heated seats and heated steering wheel are essential in this blissfully blustery state of New York.



  1. I just traded in my Acura mdx for the new pathfinder… this car is adorable plus I have the bells and whistles..heated seats and steering wheel, iPod port that conne T’s directly to the radio, sunroof and panoramic roof, remote start on my key, Birdseye view parking assist. Can u tell I love it?

    1. Author

      Also, what didn’t you like about the Acura MDX? Just curious. I know nothing about it, but Consumer Reports gives the MDX 2013 a top top score: “The well-rounded MDX is very functional, somewhat luxurious, and competitively priced. It rides well and its refined powertrain provides smooth and quick acceleration and an average of 18 mpg with the slick six-speed automatic. Body lean is contained and the steering is responsive, with low effort yet good feedback. When pushed to its limits the MDX is balanced and secure. Fit and finish is impressive, and the five main seats are comfortable. But the small third-row seat is only for kids. Controls are a little confusing at first but are easy to use once they’re mastered.”

      1. I have the MDX 2005. It was time to replace it, so I test drove a ton of 3-row SUV’s. Highlander Hybrid was my favorite on paper, but I hated the drive. Also hated the Volvo. Really liked the GMC but it’s BIG. Test drove the ACura 2013 MDX and imo that was the best ride, best feature and the price point is comparable to the others. I pick it up on Tuesday. If you go that way, I recommend Smithtown Acura (ask for George).

        I didn’t drive the Pathfinder, though, or the Kia. 4 was enough.

  2. Oh my gosh, a new car!!! Lucky girl :) I’ve been driving the same thing now for 6 yrs. I LOVED my car when I got her, love her still, but for me too, it’s time. I will pass her down to one of my daughters. Toyota Prius 2006, 128k miles. 46-50 mpg. I got her, when I was done with KID cars. The mom van years…lasted wayyy too long. I had three kids, but usually had 6 or 7 in the car. Going to the pool? Whole neighborhood was soon along for the ride. So the Prius, was me saying, ahhh…seats 3 uncomfortably….purrrrrfect!

  3. Can I get a “holy fuck” on this one??? You have a paid in full Mercedes and a Lexus SUV and a BMW and you need advice on what to get? How about a trip to reality? You are a still a spoiled child. I am amazed at how little emotional growth you have experienced.

    Also, weren’t you worried about money a few months ago??

    1. My family has a 2012 BMW X5, A 2013 BMW 7-series, a 2012 Infinity QX 56, and–don’t fall off your computer chair–a 2012 Ferrari California that was given to my dad as a gift. I guess I should tell my dad he is a spoiled child that worked hard for his money but shouldn’t be able to spend it how he wishes. Jealousy is not a good look–find something better to do with your time.

      1. But is he on a blog asking for advice? Is he spending his own money? Context matters – perhaps you should read more carefully in your spare time.

        1. Author

          Why wouldn’t I ask people for advice? I ask advice on everything else. I consider most of my readers to be smart and informed. And it is MY money.

    2. ahh..There you go.

      We are all priviledged to someone else. There’s always someone worse off than we are. Should I not mention the wonderful steak dinner I had yesterday for fear that someone who is living off Ramen Noodles might hear me and feel bad? Homelessness is a reality so you should never speak of things you bought for you home because a homeless person might hear you. How about intelligence…if you are really smart, you should dumb down your conversation because most people aren’t that bright.

      People should be able to talk about THEIR life, as is it. I don’t expect anyone to weaken their story to accomodate some deficiency that I might have…financial or otherwise.

      1. I agree, Renee. Do you remember Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.? Here’s a quick synopsis I found on wiki, and it is definitely worth reading again. “It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced. The government forces citizens to wear “handicaps” (a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down those who are too strong or fast).”

        1. I liked it better when you couldn’t figure out Disqus, and could not leave multiple ‘wisdom packed’ comments. ….

    3. I seriously feel sorry for people who can read about material possessions that someone else has and actually feel bitter and angry about it. Why on earth should you care how many cars she has and who made them? Had she not said, you would have speculated. And had she not mentioned that they were paid off, you would have flamed her for borrowing money for luxury cars she couldn’t afford.

      Here’s a better idea: walk away from the computer and live your own life. There must be something you can do that is more interesting and more productive than criticizing someone for writing about her possessions on her own blog.

      Stephanie – I have a toddler and a baby on the way, so we will be in the market for something larger than my Lexus GS (gasp!) also fully paid off (the horror!) soon. I look forward to reading about the results of your search!

      1. It doessn’t mean that TYWD is jealous for posting that comment.

        Why would Stephanie need to come on here for advice. She can do the research. I’m sure Phil knows what he’s doing and doesn’t need her asking her fellow yentas for car advice. Just another excuse to show off, just like she did about her ring. I live a very charmed life in Soho and my husband and I don’t have any need to even own a car anymore. It’s just Stephanie’s materialism and Jappiness that as a fellow Jewess gets on my nerves.

        1. Author

          Why WOULDN’T I ask for the advice? Why wouldn’t I want to hear the experience of owners, some of whom I’ve known for years… online.

          It is clear that YOU have sensitivities where “things” are concerned, be it handbags, jewels, cars, homes…

        2. I didn’t say TYWD was jealous, I said “bitter and angry” and I stand by that characterization. I think it makes all the sense in the world for Stephanie to ask experienced consumers for opinions on vehicles they own. That information is far more valuable than reading Consumer Reports or even a test drive.

          What I don’t understand is the need to comment on someone’s blog and attack them for writing about their own life. If it is so annoying, close the browser and move on with your life. I can only assume TYWD (and other haters and trolls on websites everywhere) has something more interesting and more productive to do with their time.

          1. Why do you always jump to the ‘bitter and angry’ charge? So knee jerk and idiotic. Why couldn’t stephanie say: I need a new car, I want these features, what do you all drive? She did not need to mention what she owns. Nouveau riche and tacky as hell.

            And I am having fun, not bitter.

            1. Do I “always jump to the ‘bitter and angry’ charge?” That’s funny, since I so very rarely comment on this blog. You’re the one attacking a woman for writing about her personal life on her personal blog, but you’re right, I’m the idiot.

              What I don’t understand, and you still haven’t addressed, is if you dislike what she writes so much, why not just stop reading? Why make senseless attacks? If this really is how you have fun, perhaps you need a new hobby. Martial arts might be a good fit, since you could then have the opportunity to kick someone in real life. But maybe you’re afraid they might kick back. Is that why you sit behind the safety of the computer screen, where you can attack anonymously and without recourse?

              1. It is not a senseless attack. It is real criticism. If YOU do not like my comments, You should step away.

  4. ugh…I hit send before I was finished! Didn’t get to tell you what I’ve had my eye on! The Audi, all road. Its stable, but refined :) Also looking at the Ford Fusion hybrid…because I do like my Prius when it comes time to fill up. (90$ a month fyi…which is about 1500 miles) And lastly, because I’ve only had two Toyota’s ever, and loved them both, I’ll likely bail on these first two options, and go to Toyota, the Camry or Avalon hybrid. Enjoy the shopping!

  5. I’m on my 5th Camry, top of the line, and obviously love it. It’s got all the bells whistles and drives beautifully. My husband just got rid of his Honda for a Camry & agrees with me.

    1. Author

      I need the cabin space and trunk convenience that comes with an SUV, I think. Ideally (I say this now because I haven’t driven one) I’ll find some “seats 6” car that doesn’t guzzle gas or look like a minivan or small bus. They should sell some of these cars by calling them “Parallel Parks for you, Perfection Vehicles.”

  6. I drove our 10 year old Honda Pilot for 6 years. Three rows, seats 8 and was great for hauling friends when the kids were younger. When our eldest son started driving, he tossed his stinky lacrosse bag in the “way back”, along with no more than 4 friends. Now the younger son is driving it. Not the best gas mileage but has been the lowest maintenance vehicle for the 108K miles we have driven it. Good luck!

  7. I drive a Buick Enclave and love it. We also only have 2 kids, but it’s nice to have the extra bench (total of 7 seats) when it’s needed. It’s got the bells and whistles, but is cheap for maintenance as it is a GMC underneath the nice exterior.

  8. Buick Enclave. It has a third row. You can get either bucket seats for the middle row or bench. We have a bench in the middle, so the car seats 8 people. It’s a nice, smooth drive snd has heated seats, OnStar, satellite radio, etc. It also has pretty decent mileage for an SUV (much better than the Lincoln navigator we had previously).

    I can also recommend the Toyota Highlander hybrid. Good for toting around kids and their friends. And likely the best mileage for an SUV.

  9. I just bought a Honda Pilot bc I needed the 3rd row for when the girls each have a friend. It was between the Pilot or the Toyota Highlander but the Pilot won bc when you have the third row up in the Highlander, you have zero space for bags or groceries. If we go on a trip and both girls bring a friend, we need the extra room. I also highly recommend the Acura MDX. I love that car but it was out of my price range.

      1. My mama in law built a house in the country about an hr and 1/2 from us so we spend a lot of weekends there. And yes, come back to Austin and I’ll take the beans.

  10. Ick. You really turned me off with this post. Not sure you realize how entitled/privileged it sounds, or maybe you do and you don’t care.
    (btw, auto correct tried to turn my name into Khrushchev!!)

    1. Author

      I thought it would be weird to talk about cars without mentioning brands, especially when I’m on the hunt for suggestions. Not sure what icked you out. My first car was a Saturn. I am not into cars… Just into technology I guess. I guess to me, I don’t worry about being offensive about materialistic shit because it is just that… In the scheme of things it means nothing.

      1. It clearly means something to you. And to those without. You are still tone deaf as ever about status.

  11. I’ve had my 5-serie BMW 11 years and they tell me the engine will go for 300,000 miles, but past few years, it’s needed a few thousand a year in work.

    I was reluctant to let go–it’s the best, most solid car I ever owned and I was pretty attached to it…till it started needed more and more. Plus so many new safety features available.

    We’ve just about settled on a Subaru Outback. Its a crossover SUV, I like the way it looks, we’ll super load it up with premium features and it’ll still be way cheaper than his Volvo or my BMW, both fully paid since the start. That means more money for our real love, travel, and can’t beat that.

    Last thing left to do is drive new model, drove ’11 and loved it. The pearlescent white is gorge.Take a look!

  12. I like small cars. I got a Mini Cooper S in 2006 before I had a kid. I love it. Until E was too heavy to pull the infant carrier through the trunk I drove that car. So to be honest my dream car is the Mini Countryman. It’s a 4 door SUV but still looks like a small toy.

    But I realize most moms, especially with more than one kid, like their ride a bit bigger. I am partial to Honda & Nissan. I got a Honda CRV. I love it. As far as “gadgets” or little creature comforts it has the heated seats, navigation, back up camera, SIRIUS (I NEED Stern), etc. but it’s not too big for me. Most of my friends with 2+ kids have the Pilot and love it.

    We used to have a Pathfinder and Bryan feels it was his best car ever. When it was time to turn that one in, he took the Mini and I got the CRV. But he hates the mini and wishes he could get another Pathfinder. But we own the Mini outright and he’s not looking for another car payment.

    Bryan isn’t big on names/labels so no Lexus, Mercedes, BMW. All those names mean is way more money when it comes to repairs. He had a Lexus before we met and it got stolen. My father was a BMW man exclusively and I remember a replacement key being like $50-$100. I also don’t like the perception that comes along with driving those cars.

    A lot of moms at E’s school have the Acura MDX but it looks like it has a lot of blind spots to me- as did the Nissan Rogue when I test drove. A friend just got the Toyota Rav 4- I don’t like the way it looks but it had like 4 USB ports and a regular 2 prong electrical outlet!

    If you need the 3 row thing I’d definitely look at the Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder.

  13. Two cars paid in full I would say oooh! stop there and save money. But- if you can, and need a third- I would suggest Volvo. Then again I am biased I grew up with them, we loved to refer to them as ‘tanks’. Very safe, too. I know they make SUVS and are high in safety- I don’t know if you’ve ever tried one but perhaps give it a go.

    I also second (or fourth– i think a few commenters piped in) on the Pathfinder as being a solid (and good looking ) SUV. Aren’t we lucky we have more options now than the ugly mini vans our parents had to choose from? HA!

  14. I drive a Toyota Highlander – love, love, love it. Big enough to schlep around stuff, but small enough to enjoy driving it. Leather seats a must – great sound system too.

    As an aside – I HATED driving other people’s kids around. Middle daughter went to a small religious school, and on the days when I’d have to drive groups to various competitions, etc, I’d change the voice on my GPS to either Jesus or the devil. The reaction from the other kids was PRICELESS. I also love the Yoda voice. “Turn to the right, you must”.

  15. I fell in love with the Volvo crossovers when I test drove cars, they we really nice and super safe feeling.

    I have friends who went kicking and screaming into minivan ownership, but now absolutely love them. I think the Honda odyssey/toyota sienna both have lots of bells and whistles.

  16. Love my Enclave. It is a really nice looking car and great value. Until both of my kids were out of booster seats, I would not drive other kids around (except cousins) but now that they are older (eight and ten) I want the third row to bring friends along.

    1. Author

      I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Enclave. I also want to check out some of the GMC SUV’s. A neighbor has one and it looks nice. Saw the Infiniti JX35, I think, at the gym parking lot, and now I want to check that out too.

  17. I test drove cars all summer and finally purchased my first new car over Labor Day. I did not get an SUV, actually I got the opposite of that, a 2012 Chevy Sonic.

    I think it is important that you know what you want and are honest about it. Pretending to care about something that you don’t just means you signed up for a conversation with a car salesman for 20 minutes of your life you won’t get back.

  18. In Boca, at the preschool where we sent our kids, people my age were rolling into the school drop-off driving Bentley convertibles and Rolls Royce cars. I didn’t once think, “Good for them,” or “How nice.” Instead, I judged them, thinking, “Why would you ever?” I wasn’t jealous, didn’t envy the choice, didn’t even wish for the ability. I just thought, “There are so many better ways to spend your money.” But those are my priorities. I also thought, “Those cars are for people near death.” Like, they should come with oxygen tanks. I realized then, as I do now, that there are 31 flavors for a reason. We all value different things.

    I’d prefer a nice car and fewer vacations. I favor a nice watch to nice clothes. If I had to choose between a buttery handbag or statement shoes, I’d go for the bag. I’m not above luxury. I also know better than to ever envy people for their stuff. For their cars or rings or multiple homes. If they speak of these things as if they’re “no big deal,” then I’d have to assume that they aren’t a big deal to them… not necessarily because they’ve become so clueless and entitled, unaware of how much they have, but because perhaps, like me, they know that it means so little in the scheme of things. And it simply cheapens the message to say, “I know I’m so lucky, and that this is seriously a privileged problem to have, but…” To me, it’s like having to couch a gripe about one of your kids by beginning, “You know I love her to death, but…” To me, it really should go without saying.

    Some reporter once asked J.Lo what it was like, all the money, homes, things. And she said, it’s nice for a moment, but then, there’s a leveling off, where the stuff, you don’t notice it so much, it falls away and you’re left with what really matters: family, friendships, decisions. You’re left with emotions and choices and hoping you’re living the right life. The other stuff is just that. Stuff.

    So when I rattle off three luxury brands, of three cars we own, with such indifference as to make me seem unappreciative, or more, unaware of how much I have (3 cars!!), really, what I’d hoped is that I’d be communicating how little these things matter to me, that while some might covet a luxury car for the brand and what it says about them… I know better. All it really says is, “I’m willing to spend money on this.” I don’t even know if it says “I’m able,” because people max themselves out for appearances.

    What I failed to convey, clearly, is that WE ARE THE ASSES paying for insurance on three cars, that before Phil bought a new car, he ought to have sold the one he wouldn’t be using. Now, to sell it, he wants to trade it in, and to do that, I need to get a new car, then sell the one I have, since it’s newer than the convertible. I included the brands because it’s weird to have an honest conversation about cars without mentioning them. Plus, I really mostly wrote the post because I wanted feedback, to hear advice from other car owners. I certainly didn’t write the post thinking, “Now, this, this is what will make me a relatable writer.” For that, I write about The Bachelor.

    Um, that was a joke.

    Does this make sense?

    1. Yes, it makes total sense. And you are a VERY relatable writer, even though I don’t feel like my life is completely like yours. I like that you don’t take the comments of one d-bag personally and that you listen to the rest of us. :) Thank you for sharing your life, thoughts, recipes and makeup tips. It lightens my day when I’m bogged down at work and dreading a tough evening with a tough 2 year old. Cheers! And let us know what you get. I have the same wants/needs for our next car!

  19. For what it’s worth, I am a car fanatic. I have a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder that has been a decent car, and am already researching SUVs for my purchase of a decent lease turn-in in two years or so. I would not buy another one.

    Since you live in the northeast and have to deal with winter weather, I highly recommend the Acura MDX (all-wheel drive and one of the few cars still made in Japan) or any Suburu crossover/SUV (ditto). Also, it’s a brand new model, so of course there are no 5 year reliability studies on it yet, but the Infiniti JX35 is getting rave reviews. If car brands truly mean nothing to you, and affordability is key, I also recommend the Kia Sorrento. They are very popular down here in GA, as they are made here, and everyone I know that has one loves it. Good luck!

  20. *I would not buy another Pathfinder – I’d trade up to the Infiniti JX35. Sorry for the conufusing statement. Haven’t had my tea yet.

  21. I drive a 2008 Land Rover LR3 and absolutely love it. Seats 7, lots of bells and whistles. I am in the market for a new car (thinking of another Land Rover, but this post is helpful for other options). Definitely think into the Land Rovers, though. When I bought it, EVERYONE said oh, those are so unreliable! And guess what? I’ve had zero problems. I think perhaps Land Rovers used to be unreliable so everyone just assumes they still are. Anyway, it does guzzle gas, but I suspect most of the larger SUVs do.

    1. Eek. I think the land rover, way more than the other SUVs, guzzles way more gas. It’s the only reason I wasn’t planning on looking at it.

  22. My sister has 2 kids (11 and 10) and bought the GMC Acadia, simply because she tends to haul their friends around often. She wanted to be able to seat 8 without having an SUV the size of a Suburban.

    I believe the Acadia and the Enclave are similar. Lots of great bells & whistles, plus a nice ride.

    When my son was 11, I bought a Honda Accord to save gas money. I miss my SUV every day and hate not being able to bring 4 of his friends skiing with us. (However, I love how little I spend in gas.)

  23. The only two SUVs with a third row that you can access without somersaulting (or squeezing or knee-walking) over the second row are the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. I highly recommend you consider one of these, because regardless of your plans for not carpooling, you’re gonna end up with the whole gang more than once in a while. And given that, it is extremely annoying to hear the arguing about who’s going back there and waiting for everyone to get smacked in the head with backpacks and elbows as they get situated. I have the Acadia and am very happy with it, although I’ve heard the Enclave is a bit smoother. When you don’t have third-row passengers the seats fold down very, very easily for extra storage capacity. Good luck!

    1. The JX allows you do to this, although it doesn’t work with all car seats (they have a website that will tell you which ones; our ginormous Britax Advocate doesn’t work). Also, the Highlander has the option for buckets in the second row.

  24. Check out the 2013 Ford Explorer! LOVE it!!!! Has all the bells and whistles and plenty of space!

  25. We just bought the Infiniti JX for our family of four. Part of the attraction is that you can access the third row even with car seats installed in the second; with other cars that have a bench second row, you have to climb over the second row or in through the back window (the Pilot is like that). Highlander and Enclave have bucket seat second rows that help with this. It definitely has a lot of the bells and whistles, like you said you like — a 360 degree camera, which is awesome for parking, remote start, warning lights if someone is in your blind spot, automatically stops if you’re about to back into something, same thing with front crashes (nice for highway driving if someone steps on the brakes in front of you),

    If you read the reviews, most of the dings are for performance, and a few note that they basically sacrificed performance for fuel economy.

    I also thought it wasn’t too monstrous looking (the Pilot was that).

    Other cars that were recommended — Enclave (I thought it drove really nicely and I liked it a lot, husband less so), Highlander, and MDX. MDX gets very strong reviews, but the third row takes up most of the trunk space. If you’re only using the third row on occasion and won’t store things back there, I think that’s fine, and it might be nice to have a smaller car most of the time. But if you envision needing both the third row and trunk space (eg, picking up grandparents from the airport, carpooling to hockey practice), it might not work as well.

  26. I love cars, but stick with my 2001 Volvo c70 convertible because it is paid for and there is nothing wrong with it. You like the Lexus, right? Nothing wrong with it? Paid for? Why not sell the Mercedes and bank the bucks in a no-touch car fund until there is a real reason to replace the Lexus. Or until you drive something that you really love.
    You’re a smart woman –wise, too. Trust your instincts on car as well.
    BTW, I did think my beloved would need a major repair last year so I did some looking. I wanted something with better mileage but hated driving the prius, too many blind spots. I liked the Audi a3 diesel– (30 city/40 highway). It’s small-ish, but will seat two adults, two kids and a child friend and tote stuff. But it turns out I didn’t need a new transmission, just a 300 dollar part.
    Good luck!

  27. Hello fellow Long Islander!! This past summer I was in a similar predicament. I too have 2 kids (mine are both still in a car seat or boosted up booster). The debate over the third row went back & forth for us, but honestly it was I who insisted. I wanted to be able to have my mom in the car or my inlaws or friends of the kids, especially since I will probably have this car for the next 4 years and my kids will be 7 and 9 then.

    Anyway I ended up getting the GMC Acadia 2012. I am so happy with our decision. It drives & handles really well. Has great gadgets, space, etc. I got the bucket seats in the 2nd row and they are awesome!!!

    This past weekend I found myself back at GMC (time to trade in my husband’s small SUV, actually beyond time). I saw the 2013 Acadia, which the body is a bit different. It looks great! I highly recommend it. We never owned a GMC previously but are now considering our second one.

    Best of luck car shopping!

  28. Three words: Volvo Overseas Delivery. They pay for two plane tickets to Sweden, two hotel nights, airport transfers, your car insurance to anywhere in Europe is covered, there is a discount, and they ship the car to the states for free. Plus you can get colours that aren’t available in the US. My husband and I did it two years ago when we bought an XC60. Best vacation we’ve ever taken, and we fell so in love with Sweden that we have a pipe dream of just up and moving and living there permanently.

  29. Check out the new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. I’m in love! It has some really great features like the panoramic sunroof and touchscreen navigation. It also has a HUGE cargo space and optional 3rd row! Other features include iPod hookup, ALL wheel drive, window shades for kiddos, captain seats for 2nd row and TONS of cup holders. :)

    I’m hoping to get one this summer. Good luck with your search!

    1. Author

      Thanks for this. I will now for sure check it out! Now I have a lot of cars to go check out. Phil won’t go with me to any of the dealerships until I narrow down my choice. I wonder if there is a strategy as to where to begin. Like start with your “safety college” car, to avoid disappointment down the line? Begin with the Kia?

  30. I forgot to mention… the Santa Fe comes in hunter green with tan leather interior. :)

  31. I don’t think it is crazy to buy bigger for the sake of others. I have three kids so I insist on something that seats 7. You want to be able to be the mom that can drive to and from. It’s wonderful for spur of the moment trips to the zoo with sis and you don’t have to break up conversation to ride in two cars. Also, if you like bells and whistles and made for a mom check out the Chrysler Town and Country. I realize it’s not an suv but I always swore I’d never drive a minivan, that was until I drove one. They are made for a woman, and they have on star, satellite radio, back up cameras, heated seats, more usb ports and cup holders than you thought possible. Also you can opt for DVD systems, configurations that include a table and swivel seats for card games on long trips. I love mine!

  32. I’ll never understand why you guys need such big cars. In the States, I mean :-)

    I ordered my new car this morning; it’s a MINI Countryman, sort of a small SUV. Really lovely, the interiors are great and you have plenty of choice of colours, patterns, materials. And it’s really safe and “green”, if you care about that, too. Seats 5, rather small trunk, though. I can’t wait to get it, it’s so cuuute :-)

  33. Hi! It’s Noisette. Remember me? Thought so. I do understand the appeal of the third row, but I JUST CAN’T get over the gas mileage on those behemoths. As such, we got an Audi A6, it’s a beautiful car, technologically awesome, gets very good mileage, and there’s room in the back seat for a car seat, a booster and a (small-ish) person in the middle. I have two kids now (6 year old and an 8 month old) and much of my not-at-work life involves schlepping them from place to place but I have to say, I can count on one hand the times I’ve missed having more room in the car. More people want to come along with you? They can drive their car. Playdate? The other mom has a car too. It’s not worth sacrificing the economy and peace of mind for the maybe 5 times per year you’d want to stick a third kid or adult in the car. My two cents. Also I have a Nissan Leaf. Kids fit nicely in the back of that, too. Yes, I am another kind of snob…
    PS- How about the Lexus hybrid SUV? From what I understand the mileage on those is rather good. No third row, though, alas…

  34. My Mom loves Toyotas, my Dad loves Nissans. I drive a Mazda 3 which I just love but it is not practical for kids. My good friend has a Mazda CX – 9 for her family and loves it. My sister swears by the Mazda 5 but it has tiny tires, maybe not the best for the Northeast.

    Good luck on your search!

  35. That photo of just part of the car is absolutely gorgeous. You have an amazing eye for detail. I’ve noticed it throughout your whole blog. LOVE it :)

  36. So, I have a BMW car and I’ll move to some sort of station wagon next. I like the fact that wagons have that 5th door for groceries, dogs, etc.

    What I will weigh on 2 things – Color and Practicality.

    Color. I LOVE my car but wish I had NEVER gotten it in white. Like me, you live in a highly trafficked area and you’re going to get bumps and bruises on the car. For whatever reason NO ONE not even BMW can exactly match the whites. I have had to have the car completely repainted – which is not only a drag, it also involved lots of haggling with the body shop. The car looked like a patch work quilt for a while. It’s a lovely car now, and I haven’t had anything go wrong with it. BUT…..

    I’m now pushing for a Subaru (over a Mercedes wagon.) Yes, I said it. A subaru. They are AWESOME cars and the company is amazing. They’re net zero plants which means good for the environment. People who have them love them – they come with all of the bells and whistles and are a superior driving vehicle. Their price point is also low enough that you could also have a fun convertible. (Keep the Mercedes or get something fun like a Porsche. You’re close enough to the beach that a convertible is a must!)

    Subarus are known as the 3rd car (2 fancy cars and 1 very practical car.) Drive it, you’ll love it! The Outback is the top of the line, but I’m crazy about the Crosstrex. They are amazing, amazing vehichles.

  37. We just got an Enclave. It’s so nice. I am just starting to use the OnStar. It’s pretty great. Who needs a GPS?

  38. We’ve owned the Toyota Highlander with 3 rows, the Honda Pilot and the Volvo XC90. The Volvo was by far my favourite, the Highlander would be 2nd (although the 3rd row is really just for smaller kids) and the Pilot was my least favourite although, with winter tires, you could stick that thing into any snowbank and have it come right out, smooth as butter…hated driving it the rest of the time though.

    1. Author

      I haven’t looked at the Volvo or highlander yet. So far, I’ve seen the Honda Pilot, the Nissan Pathfinder (I couldn’t see out the back window), the Infiniti JX35, Acura MDX, Subaru (no power lift gate in a 2013!), and quickly saw the Buick Enclave but without a sales associate, it could have been an older model (it had an analog clock in the dash!). I love the luxury of the Infiniti. Phil prefers the Acura (I think it likely has much better pickup, better safety ratings – though I don’t love the exterior of the car, it looks tight and angry or robotic). Next up I plan to check out the highlander, the GMC Acadia Denali (hope I like it!). I think I prefer the second row bucket seats to a bench in terms of easy access. I am even going to look at a minivan, though not sure I’d ever go through with it.

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