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What Kind of Car Do I Want?


JumpyTheFrog
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I currently drive a 2009 Honda Civic, but my kids are beginning to get cramped in the back seat on long trips. Our other car is a late 90s Lexus which is somewhat bigger. I like that it has few blind spots because it is mostly windows. The Civic has more blind sports, but not like some cars where you can't see over your shoulder.

 

We have thought about getting a minivan, but I'm not sure I'd like driving something so big. (We'll be visiting family next week, so I can drive my mom's Sienna for a few days to try it.) I test drove a Honda Pilot four years ago and hated it. The rear windshield felt like it was a mile away and I had a hard time getting a feel for where the vehicle was. I won't go into how impossible it felt to park when I brought it back to the dealer.

 

I am not interested in a large SUV. If I'm going to drive something big, I want something more practical like a minivan.

 

In short, my biggest criteria: few blind spots, not hard to park, doesn't feel like driving a land yacht.

 

ETA: I have also have reliability and safety features in mind. Right now, I am mostly trying to narrow down to car size/category.

Edited by HoppyTheToad
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I have a Subaru Outback. It is a station wagon. I have also owned a Mercedes Station wagon and a Volvo Station Wagon. Station wagons are what I turned to after having had a minivan for a number of years, and hating it. For me, the minivan was very problematic with getting babies and young children into the car. But I am just throwing out station wagons as an alternative to either vans or SUVs.

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I have a Subaru Outback. It is a station wagon. I have also owned a Mercedes Station wagon and a Volvo Station Wagon. Station wagons are what I turned to after having had a minivan for a number of years, and hating it. For me, the minivan was very problematic with getting babies and young children into the car. But I am just throwing out station wagons as an alternative to either vans or SUVs.

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I have a Subaru Outback. It is a station wagon. I have also owned a Mercedes Station wagon and a Volvo Station Wagon. Station wagons are what I turned to after having had a minivan for a number of years, and hating it. For me, the minivan was very problematic with getting babies and young children into the car. But I am just throwing out station wagons as an alternative to either vans or SUVs.

 

I have wondered about a station wagon, but they mostly don't seem to exist anymore. Does it feel more like driving a car than a minivan?

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Take a look at car comparisons on Edmunds . com. Or another such site.

 

I mention this because my friend and I got cars at the same time and she always assumed her minivan was soooo much bigger (and therefore harder to park etc. than my sedan was. But the actual measurement disputed this. My car was longer by several inches.

 

This site tells you all the space information. So you can see the real deal.

 

For the record: we've bought at least 5 (of not many more cars) based on specs alone. Never test drove most of the cars. I mention this to let you know how much I count on this info.

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My husband has a Honda Civic and I drive a Toyota Sienna. If we're in the city looking to park on the street, sometimes I can have trouble finding a spot big enough to park my van. But in terms of skills? I think it takes less skill to parallel park a minivan than a your car. The back of the van is the back of the car. I drove a Honda Accord before moving to a van, and while it did initially feel huge, I didn't find it hard to acclimate.

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I wouldn't personally recommend a minivan. They're meant for 7-8 people. The civic is considered a small car. Maybe just bump up to a medium sized car. I agree with looking up stats for space comparisons, for the inside of the vehicle.

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If you're used to a smallish car and get in a bigger vehicle it will seem huge the first two or three times you drive it. But after a bit it seems normal. So I'd drive your mom's Sienna several times to really get the feel of it and then decide how you like (or not) a larger vehicle. I wouldn't rule out a larger vehicle based on the impression from just one test drive.

 

ETA: I can also tell you that the newer Civics have much more interior room (leg and head) than models from a few years ago. Our current Civic (2015 or 2016--I forget which) is roomier than the Accord we had a few years ago. I prefer driving my CRV. For me it's a lot easier to handle and maneuver than the Civic, even though it's bigger.

Edited by Pawz4me
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I wouldn't personally recommend a minivan. They're meant for 7-8 people. The civic is considered a small car. Maybe just bump up to a medium sized car. I agree with looking up stats for space comparisons, for the inside of the vehicle.

Allegedly. In reality I found fitting four kids in a minivan challenging

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I love my Sienna minivan. The turning radius is awesome, plenty of room. I am a horrible parker and I find the Sienna to be relatively easy. The inly time I struggle is in a tight parking garage, but the mall or street parking easy peasy. It is also nice to have room to throw a friend or three in for an impromptu playdate.

 

That being said it I am ready to downsize. I have two getting ready to go off to college in the next couple of years so I will only have one at home. I have no clue what to get!

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Test the Honda CRV and HRV and the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Outback.

 

My stepmother got a new CRV, and it is fun and easy to drive. I have had an Odyssey forever. It does have some blind spots but has cameras and other safety features. The CRV is much smaller and more maneuverable. The small BMW SUV is tons of fun to drive as well. If only we had fewer children... ;)

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Whatever you get, have all family members sit in their normal places. Adults in our family are tall, and the front seat of many four door cars does not have enough head room. I do not like my hair touching the ceiling! When we were looking, the adults also sat in the back seats because when the kids learn to drive, that may happen. That totally ruled out many cars and the smaller SUVs we looked at. 

 

So, we ended up with a minivan (Honda) that I never really liked driving - but it was so nice to have all the seat room, spare passenger room (yes, we took extra kids to all sorts of events), and just extra space when we went on trips. 

 

So, even though my dh and I both drive cars now, we kept the van for long trips and just hauling things. We are slowly replacing our 6' privacy fence, and the van is nice for hauling the lumber and cement. My girls learned and are learning to drive the minivan. IME, it is easier to move down in size than up in size. 

 

Not much help, but there are other advantages to minivans. Those backup cameras are super cool!

 

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I love our Honda Odyssey. I moved from a small Cavalier convertible to it after kids. It may have taken a few days to get used to, but now it feels weird to drive something else. It's a nice ride and drives easily like a car. We have three kids and bring friends along as well.

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Jaguar?  :D

 

I will have my Toyota Sienna mini-van for the foreseeable future because though soon I will not need the space as we won't have that many outings with all three boys at once, I haul 4H club members all over the state, and once or twice a year, out of state. I need the room until I retire from this volunteer gig.

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http://www.buick.com/suvs/encore-compact-luxury-suv.html

 

Something like this.  We have the Chevy sister

 

http://www.chevrolet.com/trax-small-suv

 

 

LOVE it!!!  5'10 son still has tons of growing room.  Plenty of cargo room for the groceries.  Isn't huge.  Gets around 30 mpg. It does have a few blind spots but has a good backup camera to help park and back out.  Handles like a car and not like an SUV.  It's only 5 feet across the front and about

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Take a look at car comparisons on Edmunds . com. Or another such site.

 

 

Thanks for the idea. I discovered that Siennas are only 4-10 inches (depending on the year) longer than our Lexus. Also, they are similar in length to my first three cars, although I think they probably have more blind spots. 

 

 

If you're used to a smallish car and get in a bigger vehicle it will seem huge the first two or three times you drive it. But after a bit it seems normal. So I'd drive your mom's Sienna several times to really get the feel of it and then decide how you like (or not) a larger vehicle. I wouldn't rule out a larger vehicle based on the impression from just one test drive.

 

Good point. I'll drive her Sienna for several days and see if I can get used to it quickly. My MIL has a Highlander, so I can try that, too.

 

 

When we were looking, the adults also sat in the back seats because when the kids learn to drive, that may happen. That totally ruled out many cars and the smaller SUVs we looked at. 

 

Excellent point that I hadn't thought of. 

 

 

Did you mention a budget? I am in love with my Cadillac CT6. The kids love the backseat massage seats and entertainment package. And I like that it is fast. And we all like the safety features.

 

 

I was impressed with the safety features you mentioned in the other thread. However, that is out of our budget. Our kids are still young enough to be rough on everything we own, so we don't want to have anything too fancy for them to destroy.

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I didn't realize there were non-hybrid SUVs with such good gas mileage. Do these (or any others) really feel like driving a car instead of van or truck?

 

I'm a little on the short side and find cars harder to park than DH because he can see the end of the hood and I can't. I only realized a year or two ago that he doesn't have to guess where the front of the Civic is because he can see it. I kind of wish it had a hood ornament that stuck up so I could see better.

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Thanks for the idea. I discovered that Siennas are only 4-10 inches (depending on the year) longer than our Lexus. Also, they are similar in length to my first three cars, although I think they probably have more blind spots. 

 

 

 

 

Good point. I'll drive her Sienna for several days and see if I can get used to it quickly. My MIL has a Highlander, so I can try that, too.

 

 

 

 

 

I had a Highlander as a loaner car and was excited to drive it because I was sure that would be my next car. Drive wise it drives exactly like the Sienna. What I didn't like was the blind spots. There were a lot more on the Highlander than my Sienna. I really dont feel there are blind spots on my Sienna.

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Doesn't Sienna have an option for blind spot mirrors? Mine is a 2006 and I love it! I will drive it to its grave and stand and weep over its rusty frame.

Edited by Paradox5
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My dodge caravan has very few blind spots. The Journey crossover I rented for a week had HORRID blind spots. The trend is for rear windshields to be smaller for who knows what reason, and couple that with the high headrests and I couldn't see anything. 

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