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Need a new family car - please help me decide

eoren1eoren1 Posts: 12
My wife and I are in our early 30's and have a 2 year old and 2 month old. Currently own a 2002 Honda Civic EX with two car seats that take up the entire back row. The car was bought new and has 38k miles (to give you an idea of how little we drive it). We are living in DC but may be moving to Boston in a few months. We're looking for a new family car that has room for the two car seats and space for one adult back there. Also need good amount of storage/trunk room for stroller, groceries, etc. Target cost is 25k or so.
I started off looking at the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 V6 but quickly veered over to the sedans where I've been looking at the 2008 Honda Accord EX sedan and the Volvo V50. Not sure that the SUVs offer that much more space than these sedans - am I mistaken? Also, decent gas mileage and a comfortable ride is important thus making me look at the 'family' sedans more carefully. As our current Honda has been the picture of reliability, that is also quite important. As is driveability in snow (paved roads) as well as overall safety.
I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on the global question of SUV vs Family Sedan. Then, any suggestions on cars in either category?
Thanks in advance,
E
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Comments

  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Having raised two kids, go directly for a minivan. Space, sliding doors ease of access and their entry/exit, ability to haul everything under the sun, ability to seat kids and a car full of friends, etc, etc.
  • hackdhackd Posts: 65
    I personally vote for the SUV (Explorer) as I am about the same age as you with 2 older kids. A midsize SUV was my choice as the thrid row is key for kid's friends or in laws or parents traveling with us. We take a few extended trips and in the summer it would be impossible to travel with all of the gear (plus dog) without the SUV...an accord would not cut it. I think your decision comes down to mileage vs space. I am probably also a little prejudice as I refuse to drive a mini van...a macho guy thing which I can't kick. Just from previous research I am thinking a Mitsubishi Outlander may be a decent choice based on price, 3rd Row, and better then standard SUV gas mileage...please note I have never drove one but just recommending a car based on your criteria that you may have not considered. Good luck.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    An SUV rides like a truck. A Crossover rides more like a car, but still doesn't handle like a car (top heavy). Same with a minivan. If room is the most important aspect, I would go for a minivan (a real man can drive a minivan, while wearing a pink shirt, and has no concern with "image"). I have never owned an SUV, Crossover, or Minivan because a car has always been big enough, and I will always pick a car over anything else for driving. The Accord is a good choice, if it fits your needs for space. I think the 08 Accord has a large enough rear seat to accomodate two car seats, and maybe enough room for another person.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I second (or third?) the decision to look into a minivan. There should be a few GREAT deals on leftover 2007 Odyssey minivans that would be available under $25k. The mileage won't be nearly as good as the Civic, but having Stability Control should be on your list for Boston (the Civic doesn't offer it, the CR-V, Accord, and Odyssey have it standard.

    I'd avoid the Explorer - 13/19 City/Hwy with only 210hp - not a good compromise.

    Your family sounds suited for a RAV4 or CR-V with AWD in Boston (y'all would actually reap some benefits of it in the snow).

    Have you checked out the new Nissan Rogue?
  • hackdhackd Posts: 65
    Please note I did not recommend the Explorer for him based on his criteria...I just recommended the SUV option as the Explorer is just the car I drive. Almost all SUV's get the same crappy gas mileage so I just threw out the option which I think has the best for a 3rd row SUV that he may have not considered...07 Outlander had almost the same MPG as an Odyssey.

    For me the Explorer makes sense because it is great in the snow, comfortable, practical 3rd row (power & split), has minimal cabin noise on the highway, and is reasonably priced. I could care less about the pickup as I am not towing anything or planning on racing anybody off the line....I also get 22 on the highway which is decent...just wanted to defend my car:)

    I actually test drove the Rogue for a second car a couple of months ago and thought it was just ok. Comfortable and has a nice exterior but was loud in terms of engine and wind noise. Probably offers better space then an Accord as even in smaller SUV's you can creatively pile your travel gear higher in the trunk.

    Please a note a co-worker has a 07 Odyssey and claims it is the best minivan she has ever owned.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I wasn't trying to knock the Explorer :) - but its technology is nearly a decade old (that engine is MUCH older and therefore less efficient; in fact, the 292hp V8 matches it for fuel economy). Also, truck-based SUVs have less interior space than car-based SUVs/CUVs.

    Almost all SUV's get the same crappy gas mileage so I just threw out the option which I think has the best for a 3rd row SUV that he may have not considered...07 Outlander had almost the same MPG as an Odyssey.

    The Outlander is VERY small inside relative to an Odyssey, and their third rows are really not worth comparing to each other. The Odyssey 3rd row is roomy enough for me (6'4"). The Outlander has what amounts to be jump seats.

    If fuel economy is a concern, and an SUV-type vehicle is what you want, its hard to beat the CR-V/Rogue/RAV trio. If you don't need an SUV - definitely go with a midsize sedan. In Boston, I can't help but thing the added benefit of 4WD/AWD would be worth taking a look at over a sedan.

    I live in Birmingham, Alabama, so I chose the Accord over the CR-V back in Nov. 2005. I get mid-upper 30s on the highway on average, have hit 40 MPG twice (conditions were perfect), and average just under 30 MPG in my commute into Birmingham from the 'burbs every day.
  • hackdhackd Posts: 65
    Also, truck-based SUVs have less interior space than car-based SUVs/CUVs.
    What car based CUV has more interior space then an Explorer? I can't imagine any that even come close when strictly looking at useable packing space with the 3rd row down. I even remember looking at the Mazda CX9 which is an SUV and it spec'd out as having more space with the 3rd row down. When I went to look at one it wasn't even close to the eye due to the low height in the trunk area (3rd row down). They also probably measured with 1st and 2nd row seats all the way up which is not practical. I have been packing up SUV's for a long time and at this point I have come to the conclusion that spec dimensions don't always tell the whole story. If you are right, though, I would probably be interested for my second car search.

    The one thing I think we both would agree on would be the Explorer's city gas mileage in Boston traffic...it would be scary...probably be lucky to get 10 MPG

    He may want to actually take a look at the Subaru sedans/SUV's as I think they have some decent/in-expensive AWD models. My parents love their Tribeca.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    What car based CUV has more interior space then an Explorer?

    Hyundai Veracruz, for example.

    190.6" long

    Cargo Volume, cu. ft. 86.8

    Seating Capacity 7

    Front Head Room, in. 40.3

    Max. Front Leg Room, in. 42.6

    Rear Head Room, in. 39.9

    Max. Rear Leg Room, in. 38.4

    Ford Explorer

    Overall Length, 193.4"

    Cargo Volume, cu. ft. 85.8

    Seating Capacity 7

    Front Head Room, in. 39.8

    Max. Front Leg Room, in. 42.4

    Rear Head Room, in. 38.7

    Max. Rear Leg Room, in. 36.9

    So, the VeraCruz has about 4 inches more room overall (leg and headroom combined), with an extra cu. ft. of cargo space. All, while weighing less, having more power (unless you opt up for the V8 Explorer) and getting better fuel economy.

    The Explorer is a fine vehicle for its purposes, and its recent upgrades make it better, but the Crossovers almost beat the Explorer at its own game, except when towing.
  • hackdhackd Posts: 65
    Good post....as I wasn't aware of that car....I think I would rather drive a mini van then a Hyundai though:)

    What about the luggage capacity figure...does that mean anything? Not being sarcastic as it just seems the number for the Explorer is huge when compared with other CUV's.

    I thought you were more referencing the RAV4 crowd.

    I apologize to the thread starter for high jacking his thread.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Well, vehicles like the CR-V do have gobs of room considering their price point, fuel economy, and exterior size.
  • bug4bug4 Posts: 370
    I have consider this question adnausium. Each family needs something slightly different. But, I'll bet the more you think about this, you make lists, compare prices to functionality, etc. etc. etc. -- you'll end up concluding that a minivan is "the bomb!" :shades: There is just no way around it. They are comfortable, extremely roomy, they get decent gas mileage, they drive well, have front wheel drive and, did I mention, they're roomy. Oh yea -- they also have LOTS of room! :D I have a 2yr old and a 5 yr old and, trust me, unless you buy a huge sedan, none of the cars considered in this thread are practical for fitting two car seats and an adult in one row. The new car seats just take up too much room. I've tried it in my new 08 Accord, and, while possible, its not comfortable for any extended period of time.

    You know, if you are in the market for a mini-van, I have some advise that might be worth considering. If you can, buy a Honda Odysee. I have driven two of them and am very impressed. My ex-wife owns a brand new Toyota Sienna and, IMHO, it is no where near as nice as the Odysee. On the other hand, a minivan is something that is going to be abused. When considering family vehicles about 6 years ago, I decided to purchase a Dodge minivan with 28k miles on the odometer. I purchased it for 1/3 the price of a new Honda. Yes, it was a Dodge and had some minor problems and the "fit and finish' wasn't as nice. But, it was reliable and the fit and finish doesn't make as much difference when its smeared with ice cream and muddy feet. I decided to go "cheap" and just get something that I didn't have to stress about or worry about maintaining its shine for resale value. It had little resale value, so I drove it for 100,000 miles and never regretted the decision. You could probably pick up the prior-generation Chrysler/Dodge minivan for really cheap right now and the cost of ownership would be extremely reasonable. On the other hand, if the minivan would be your only vehicle and your image-conscious at all, perhaps you want something a little more up-scale. :D Just my thoughts!
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I would obviously recommend the mini-van. I did forget to mention one thing that my daughter brought up (visibility), after they had grown up in a mini-van for 10 years. The mini-van was our daily driver for them, but also had a Suburban. I wanted to get a sedan, with the thinking that by the time that my oldest daughter would be learning to drive, that it would be the perfect 'used' car for her. So the family was out looking for a sedan, and after the test drives my youngest daughter indicated that she couldn't really see out of the windows (not really tall enough, and forward visibility blocked by closeness to the front seat), and she was afraid that she would be sick. What we hadn't realized (or necessarily given any thought to), is the great visibility that chldren have from the seats of min-vans.....as compared to sedans.

    To me this is a no brainer. The mini-van just fits all the different stages of what you'll need during their childhood years.
  • vietviet Posts: 847
    Eoren1,

    Based on your provided info. , I vote for:

    1- First option: '07 Honda minivan Ody. LX (for cheaper price).

    2-Second option: '08 Accord sedan 4 cyclinders LX or EX.

    Either of them should fit in your budget, rear space, reliability & gas mileage. These above van/ car are rated top models in their classes. Good luck with your final decision. Please let us know your choice.
  • jpf5jpf5 Posts: 2
    We are in the same situation with 2 kids and just bought the 2008 Accord. There is room for a third adult in the back seat. It is best if you have the two car seats next to each other so that the adult in back can sit near the window. Not sure why but this makes it a lot more doable.

    We also looked at the CRV but gave it up for the same reason you mentioned. There is actually less cabin room in it. If you don't want a mini van or SUV it doesn't help for people to tell you to get one. Sure it will have more space, but it will also suck gas and be a pain to park and navigate around Eastern cities and parking lots.

    The thing that sold me on the Accord it that it has every safety feature you could want included on all models. I like that they don't make you to buy a V6 just to get stability control.

    All that said, if you plan to have 3 kids you may have to look at a mini van. Check out the Mazda 5 if you haven't already. It was tempting to me, but doesn't come with stability control and I'm a safety freak....

    Best.
  • I'd throw out a Honda Pilot. You should be able to get the VP model for a very good price, sub-$25K right now.
  • eoren1eoren1 Posts: 12
    Thanks to everyone who posted.
    I'm thinking the Honda Odyssey for my wife and the Honda Accord for me. Will test drive and let you know what happens.
    E
  • vietviet Posts: 847
    Eoren1,

    So, now your budget for new cars has inflated to $100K+ already. Keep us posted. Honda Ody and Accord are both ranked number one in their classes.

    Accord '08 has all fancy and safety features (VSA, traction control, ACE, big full airbags to protect torso...) that you cant resist buying it. Pricing is reasonable. Ody is ranked as a top van.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Anyone interested in a large, value-packed, family car should check out the new 2008 Ford Taurus. In my area (Birmingham, Alabama) I'm getting quotes for less than $21,500 and that INCLUDES taxes and fees; it's around $20,000 before them - in other words - a large, powerful (263hp), comfortable trip car for the price of a Honda Civic EX.
  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017
    Grad,

    You and Ford can call it a Taurus, but a rebadged Ford Five Hundred, that couldn't convince many people to buy it, is a possible safety hazard. Drivers may fall asleep from boredom.
  • exshomanexshoman Posts: 109
    I was never a big Taurus fan myself, but this latest iteration is worth looking at, especially if you're ever going to have two baby seats plus an adult in the back. It's got a huge trunk and big back seat.

    Exciting? No, but the new 3.5 liter engine means it's no slouch any more. A lot of family cars fall into the "less than exciting" category.

    Given the original criteria, it's worth a look. That's why I like Grad. Even though he owns two Accords, he's not blind to the fact that there are many good automobiles out there that serve the varied needs of different people.
  • Spot on...MINI VAN! Bought my Dodge Grand Caravan new in 1996. Unbelievable versatility for those with kids. It has 140K miles and as stated is not worth much to anyone but me. We are keeping it as a back up vehicle and because sometimes we just need to haul the kids friends or a few sheets of dry wall occasionally. I have owned a Jeep Cherokee and a Grand Cherokee which came and went, but the mini van rules. BTW it gets 19 mpg around town and we have hit 25 mpg on the highway (22 normal) with the 3.3 V6.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    I like the new Odyssey commercials that remind us how it used to be "cool" to own a van. Then they started calling them "mini" vans, which only made them sound weak and feminine. When I was young my brother-in-law had a van with wall-to-wall carpet, paneling, a nice stereo with some large speakers in back. With the side-pipes it sounded great, and looked cool too. The side-pipes were very dangerous though, I can remember burning my leg at least once while getting out.
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    I thought for sure we'd buy a CRV to replace our crashed Mazda6 Wagon but the Accord is SO MUCH bigger inside. It's also cheaper and better equipped (at least on the low end, we have an LX), better MPG, and you can get a 5 speed in it (our preference.) I was sold on the CRV on paper and never considered the Accord until we got to the showroom and drove both.

    We are very happy with ours.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    That reminds me, I was test driving Odysseys, until I drove the 03 Accord. Somehow the van was forgotten after that. :surprise:
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    More than a rebadge, I assure you. Better ride and handling, upgraded interior, highest-rated safety, 30% more power AND improved fuel economy make this vehicle worth a look after the refresh over the 500. With largest interior and trunk space out there it's a great people mover. Not EVERYONE buying vehicles is after canyon carving and driving excitement. Some (I'd wager more) are interested in the best ride, features, and price. On those points, the Taurus delivers quite well.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    The interior of the Taurus is kind of strange looking (big square shaped dash with small gauges) and I'm not crazy about the exterior look either. But if interior room and trunk space is a major need, the Taurus is a good choice, IMO. You could do some ball-room dancing in that trunk. :surprise: Handling, and fuel economy are probably better than any SUV with comparable interior space.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I agree that the interior look is... different... but it is at least quite functional if not overly stylish. Same for the exterior (although I like the "Taurus" better than the 500). For me the Taurus is hard to beat with its size and power, since I'm 6'4" - size is worth some $ to me, and worth giving up some style. The size of my Accord is the reason I'm not in a more stylish Civic Coupe, my original choice.
  • eoren1eoren1 Posts: 12
    Just test drove the 08 CR-V EX. Very nice ride and build. Excellent room and use of space on the interior. Just about sold on that car for my wife. Should be able to get the two car seats in with room for an adult between them on those few occasions that we need it.
    Sat in the Accord for a few minutes and really liked it. Will have to test drive the 4 door for myself. Any thoughts on how well it would handle the snow in Boston? This being the AWD version.
    Thanks,
    E
  • vietviet Posts: 847
    The Honda Vehicle Stability Assistance (VSA)/ traction control will be useful in Boston in winter. Some guys tested the VSA on snowy roads and it worked pretty good.

    BTW, my brother-in-law just bought a second Honda CRV AWD. He was quite happy with his first CRV FWD. I bought my '08 Accord EX-L V6 and now it is sitting in the garage since my purchase. I have been driving my other "pampered" (with extra fine fragrance) Accord.
  • jaybee9jaybee9 Posts: 12
    I think , as others suggested, that a minivan is the way to go. Worked for us with our two kids.

    HOWEVER, that being said, I would urge you to check the forums on this site about the Odyssey. We bought ours in 2000, based on honda's reputation for reliability and value. What we have found is that at 124k we are now in need of our SECOND transmission. Honda is aware that there is a problem, but will not own up to it, and their assistance is discretionary, at best.

    I do not know if current models have had this defect removed, but you can rread all the horror stories for yourself, both in US and Canada.This seems to include models as recent as 2009. As the saying goes" let the buyer beware!".

    I am a long time Honda buyer, but after my experience, both myself and many others will not buy a honda minivan again. In fact , I just bought an "09 accord Ex-L and to date, have had no problems, but I will keep an eye out for any postings here that indicate its time to get rid of it.
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