We recently paid off my car. It was used when I got it, and it's
getting close to ten years old. It still runs great and has decent
mileage for its age. But we're outgrowing it. The car has always been
on the small side for my husband, who's six-foot-two. And to be honest,
it gets tiresome to bend over into the back seat and struggle with the
car seat. I need something slightly taller, and definitely with a
higher roof. Plus, my car does not have the LATCH system.
So even though we're finally without a car payment, I'm thinking about a newer vehicle. I haven't started test driving yet, as I want to figure out our budget, and our requirements. As a mom, what do I want in a car?
I want good gas mileage.
Gas is almost $4/gallon here. It probably will be by summer. I don't have to drive a lot - everything's pretty close. But when I do, I want fuel economy. Does that rule out an SUV? I'm not sure. Do I want a hybrid? I would need to research how long the batteries last and how much they are to replace. Just because it's cheaper now doesn't mean that repairs wouldn't be an expensive nightmare later.
I want a safe car.
Of course, we all want our families to be safe, don't we? My ideal vehicle would already come equipped with a convertible child safety seat for up to at least 60 pounds, preferably 80. Wouldn't that be a terrific option for families with small kids? If - and only if - there wasn't an outrageous markup.
Safety equipment is a must, of course. Fortunately, it's also a given in the last several years, including LATCH and airbags.
I want comfort.
I want comfortable seats that don't kill my back after a 3-hour drive. I want ergonomic features with plenty of adjustments due to the difference in size between my husband and me. All of the seats should be easily adjustable - and maybe removable if I do go for an SUV.
I want some gadgets, but not too many.
I'm a gadget girl. I love them. But not in my car. I need music. Hands-free would be nice, but I have a bluetooth headset. Extra charger receptacles are great. And I could see where a DVD player in the back could be nice when the kid gets bigger. But guess what? I didn't have things like that when I was a kid, and I survived road trips. He will, too. Besides, more gadgets means more things that can break.
I want affordability.
You know what was great about my Honda Accord? It was used, in great shape, and had a great price. I don't want to go from $250 a month up to $600. I don't want a $40,000 vehicle. I think that's ridiculous. So many families are on a budget, and we're one of them. This is my biggest hurdle, really. How do I find a nice, used vehicle that is in excellent condition but doesn't cost more than my college degree did?
Those are the questions I'll be pondering as I start looking. I really wish I could test drive a few vehicles for a week, or even a month, so I can see what it's truly like to live with them. Wouldn't that be lovely?
I have a few in mind. At BlogHer in 2006, Saturn had several vehicles there for test drives. I loved their hybrid SUV - I think it was the Vue. It wasn't large and it was fun to drive. But my husband and I recently saw a couple of Dodges that hold some possibilities, too. One was the Nitro, and one was the Journey. Of course, since I've had Hondas the last few years, I'll probably check out the Pilot and the Ridgeline. Maybe even the CR-V. My dad is a huge Ford fan, so I was going to look at the Edge, but the price I saw might nix that one. (It might nix the some of the others, too.) So many choices!
I'm sure I'll be telling you more about my search as I go along. What should I look for? Do you have a vehicle you love? What makes it perfect for your family? What do YOU look for when you shop for a vehicle?
Photos (c) GM and (c) Ford.
By Becky Scott