Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Minivan or SUV? (Or BMW 1-Series)

So here's the latest "discussion" that Wife, Esq. and I have been having: should we get a new car to deal with babies, and if so, what kind?

I was leaning toward keeping our current cars. They're certainly nothing fancy--an 02 Honda Accord and an 03 Hyundai Elantra, but they work fine and they're paid for. But then the Honda's battery died yesterday--I had to get a jump from my boss to make it home from work. So now, do we spend $100 on a new battery for a car that has recently severely inconvenienced me, or just trade it in?

Yeah, probably time for a new car, when you put it that way.

I'm leaning toward a mid-size crossover--maybe the Toyota Highlander:

We rented one in Florida last week, and I actually liked it a lot. And that was the older generation.

Wife Esq. wants a minivan. To which my response is not only no, but hell no. Unless I'm never, ever expected to drive a car with the kids in it. (This seems unlikely. I always drive.) She likes the Toyota Sienna, but I think the only tolerable minivan would be the Honda Odyssey, based largely on this Car and Driver review, which calls it "practically fun," and the best-handling minivan out there.

You probably noticed the Asian-import bias to our consideration set. Let me say that until recently I worked on marketing for GM, and I actually do like their Lambda crossovers quite a bit, especially the Buick Enclave:

Unfortunately for both us and for GM, GM finds it basically impossible to offer competitive lease rates. (The depreciation kills them.) So it's probably back to the Asians for us.

Unless Wife Esq. lets me get the car I really want, to complement her minivan:

So, readers, any opinions? Especially interested in hearing from folks with kids of their own, or anyone who's in favor of the 1-Series.


10 lbs of awesome in a 5 lb bag said...

We only have one kid, but have a Subaru Outback XT LTD and a BMW 335i sedan, both with manual transmissions and turbo engines. I know two sets of parents with twins, both of whom have minivans. Couple #1 also has a Ford Mustang convertible as their second car, and couple #2 has a Jaguar XK convertible as their second car. Sensing a trend here?

Keeping your sedans with twins probably will be tough, because of the size of the double stroller(s) that you'll end up getting. I imagine that it will be tough to cram those into the trunk of a sedan, especially if you want to leave room for anything else.

My wife has no interest in a minivan, and I don't either, at least not as a daily driver. My wife drives a long way to work each day, so a minivan wouldn't be the best option in terms of mileage, putting aside the coolness factor. If we have a second kid, I've talked about getting a used minivan for weekends and a little sports car for her daily driver, maybe a Pontiac Solstice. We'll cross that bridge if we ever have a second kid.

We've rented a minivan before when on a family vacation. I tell you, there is a lot of convenience there. Also consider whether you have family in from out of town a lot. If you do, will they ride around in the same car with you if you go anywhere? With one kid, we can get the three of us and two parents in the car with us, but it's a squeeze. With a minivan, it would be a lot easier to put everyone in, as they're really designed to be people movers; SUVs and crossovers were designed for other factors (all terrain capability, towing and hauling) as well as moving people.

Something to keep in mind - if you want the car to haul guests, as well as you and the kids, check out how the center row seats move to give access to the third row. If the seats have to fold the seatback forward to do so, will they still move with a car seat strapped in? For example, the BMW X5's seats pivot up and forward without the seatback folding forward, allowing them to move with a car seat strapped in.

Liz Jimenez said...

Resist it all you want, the Toyota Sienna is the best thing since sliced bread when you've got two babies to schlep around... :-)

Of course, I'm the one who drives it. My husband still drives his Jetta most of the time. But even he agrees that, what the Sienna may lack in the "hip" factor, it more than makes up for in practical benefits.

What A Card said...

The Odyssey is definitely the way to go. I was the one in our family resistant to a minivan, until I drove it. It handles so well, and you just can't beat the automatic opening sliding doors when you have twins. Seriously...I just barely have one finger free to hit the button on the key chain, let alone a free hand to open a door myself. Gasp, the tribulations of having to open a door myself! At the time (2005), the Odyssey also got the best gas mileage of all the minivans. No idea if that's still the case, but I'm glad now we took it into consideration.

Anyway, I've come to really love it. It's really handy if you travel often by car. We lug around a double jogging stroller, 2 pack and plays, 2 single strollers, 2 booster seats, and all the assorted clothing and gear needed with two babies. Oh, and our own stuff, too. But we're big time car travelers as we have family in NY we often drive to visit.

Our second car is our non-kid car. It's a '00 Civic. I know you're super jealous at what snazzy cars we have. It's hardly dented at all, and we've rarely knocked the rear view mirrors off of it. Okay, fine, our 2nd car looks a little like one of our boys' matchbox cars. We'll probably replace it soon with a...wait for it...Civic. Hopefully one that is less dented and has the normal number of rear view mirrors attached.