A wondering from the EcoWonder...
Busy working mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs and 1 husband seeks a new set of wheels. Fuel efficiency is a must, a DVD player and lots of cup holders will be considered a plus. Must be willing to work long hours and be ready on a moment's notice to haul 5 or 6 kids to the movies, sleepovers and to sporting events. Experience with lots of snow, some ice and pot hole dodging is required. Candidate must not have allergies to dog hair, grass, dirt or mold and should be comfortable with dog poop on the bottom of shoes and the smell of 4 sweaty boys on a 96 degree day.
Yep, I'm in the market for a new car/van/SUV. I know, I just said a dirty word. SUV. I have four kids, three of whom now weigh more than I do and will soon tower over me by almost a good half foot. I still have one boy in a car seat, two large dogs and a husband who needs leg room. My car needs to be super sized, not because I want to, but because I don't have a choice.
My mother owns a teeny, tiny hybrid. My sister has a neat little sedan for her two teeny, tiny boys. My other sister still drives a sporty little two door with a stick shift, no car seat in sight. Me? I need something just short of a school bus or a cargo van. The story goes like this...
Two years ago I gave up the suburban prerequisite mode of transportation, the hulking SUV. I traded it for a much greener mini-van with power doors, a DVD player and climate control. Pretty nifty features and it got better gas mileage and even fit into my garage with room to walk around it on all four sides! Until it went into the shop at 3,000 miles. Again at 10,000 and then again at 11,000 for an entire new transmission. And then it snowed and I couldn't get up my driveway or down my street. Now, my lease is up and I am looking for a new ride. New or used? Lease or buy? SUV or mini van or crossover?
I need three full rows of seating, lots of cargo space and air conditioning. I would like to get decent city mileage, 95% of my driving is around town, so those inflated highway mileage numbers mean nothing to me. So far I have three candidates that have answered my want ad, but maybe you all know of a better, greener option for big families? I feel that this is a segment of the market ignored by the automakers, both domestic and foreign.
Candidate #1 - The mini-van by Chrysler. Mileage is pretty poor, 16 city and 24 highway. My older van gets 18 mpg city, so I am disappointed they actually decreased performance in this day in age. Features and price are a big benefit, it's affordable, it's easy to drive, I can have power doors, a DVD player and leather seats in my price range. Another big draw back? It's what I own now and haven't had stellar luck with quality or winter driving. And, after my screaming and yelling and cursing episode in the service department when they told me my current van needed a new transmission, the day before we were leaving on vacation? Let's just say I am pretty sure I would have to find a new dealership...
Candidate #2 - The SUV. I have been stalking two used Tahoe Hybrid SUVs by Chevrolet. The size is ridiculous, the highway mileage is pretty bad and I think the wacky sticker running down the side that proclaims "HYBRID" is absurd. However, it gets 20 mpg in the city, which is key for me and it has tons of space and the price on these used models? A screaming deal. And, it will offer me better traction and safer travel in the winter. We've had 60 inches so far this winter, so my patience is wearing thin driving around town in my mini-van. But really? After all this talk about going green and I go back to a SUV? And what will I have to take out of my garage to fit the monster inside? What about hybrid driving? The batteries, the maintenance? Will it end up costing me more than a basic mini-van?
Candidate #3 - The crossover Flex by Ford. The mileage in the city sucks here too. 16 mpg around town, 24 on the highway. And, I sort of think it looks like someone squashed it flat on top and it's a little skimpy on storage space. However, I can get an AWD model that will handle much better in the snow and the prices are pretty reasonable for both a new or a used model with the features (DVD player!) that I really want / need. And Ford seems to be holding their own in this economy, so no fear about them going bankrupt in the middle of the night...
So, I'm stuck. I have a little time to make my decision, but the Type-A personality in me means that I must research every option, track down every rebate and test drive every model. I plan to buy this one and keep it for years and years, so I need to make the right decision for both my family and the environment.
Do you have a greener, cleaner, more spacious and reliable vehicle suggestion for a big family?
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