Monday, September 19, 2011

When a Minivan is not enough

So recently a teacher of mine asked about replacing her Volvo V70. Her family is growing and with that her car needs. First I'm devastated that someone would want to get rid of their V70, it's my favourite car. But also she says "NO!" to minvans. So if you too want to expand sans minivan here's my response to her E-mail:

I'm actually disappointed that you don't want a minivan. I'm just going to put it out there that they are fantastic. Practical, Comfortable, Spacious and Affordable, you can't go wrong with any minivan, except maybe a Chrysler one. And just recently Sarah Jessica Parker admitted to driving a Honda minivan and loving it.

Since you don't want a minivan there are still loads of options. Three Row Crossovers are big business, but remember their third rows are never really all that kind. So let me give a brief overview of the ones you are considering and ones you should consider in no particular order.
  • Toyota Highlander - They're not cheap, nor do they get cheap over time either. But they are a great package. My best friend's parents drive one and they love it. Also you don't need a Hybrid to get good mileage. If you never in a rush a 4 cylinder model is available. Thumbs up
  • Ford Explorer - If you are considering this you have to buy new. I like the new one a lot, its good looking. But it is big and heavy, which means no fun to park and thirsty. Also it's a Ford and though people say their quality has gotten better, I'm still not sold. It probably won't be a headache like a 90s Taurus but it's no Toyota. Thumbs up
  • Volvo XC90 - This car has stayed the same since I was in Grade 7. That could mean that they've had lots of time to iron out the kinks or that Volvo doesn't know how to replace it. I don't know how the reliability has been with your V70 but definitely look at that when considering this one. It has gone through a whole myriad of engines. The current 3.2 Inline-6 is probably a good bet, Yamaha built the V8 but you'll be paying for it at the pumps.  I love Volvos but this isn't my fav.  Thumbs not doing anything.
  • BMW X5 - Nice SUV but... a bit boring. Only newer ones have a third row seat. The seat is a waste of leather and foam. Unless the passengers you put back there have no legs don't use it. I have tried to stuff people in the back of an X5 twice at various auto shows only for the sadistic pleasure of seeing them suffer. Thumbs down
  • Honda Pilot - This is another good option, 8-seats and lots of space. The current one isn't as good as the original, but you wouldn't regret owning one of these.  Thumbs up
  • Subaru Tribeca - Subaru couldn't have done this any more wrong. Ugly when it first came out and now a bit of a nothing car. If you want a Third Row this isn't something to consider. The company that really understood crossovers with the Forester disappoint us this pudding. It was the start of the sad spiral down for Subaru. Thumbs down.
  • GMC Acadia - I drove one of these during the Olympics and grew a fondness to it. I'm really impressed with its space. You can get it with 7 or 8 seats and it drives rather nice. It's a GM so I'm not the most confident with it's reliability. But my sister-in-law's parents have the Buick version (Buick Enclave) and they haven't been complaining about problems. It's also sold as a Chevrolet Traverse. Thumbs not doing anything
  • Ford Flex - Yes the looks are interesting but I quite like them. Think floating roof design a la Mini Cooper and Range Rover. As for space this thing has LOTS. Thumbs up
  • Mazda CX-9 - It's Mazda's biggest SUV and does have 3 rows of seats. It's great, but I still have a thing about Mazda grilles. Thumbs up
  • Dodge Durango - A year ago a Dodge wouldn't have even crossed my mind because of how awful they were. But apparently the new Durango shows how far Chrysler has come in the past year since Fiat took over. It won a comparison test in my favourite car magazine.  I'm actually impressed with the speed at which these improvements were made on all Chrysler cars. Still it's a Chrysler and there is a lot of baggage with that brand, baggage that Kia and Hyundai are working so hard to shed. Thumbs confused. 
  • Dodge Journey - Take a look at it. It's small but a really neat packaging experiment. I kinda like it. Plus it's really cheap. Thumbs up

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