Our house is "IKEA'd" LOL and it's lasted through three kiddos and two moves so far... it's serious value though I agree, you need to go to a store and actually handle the product to decide if it's going to work for you. I find the children's stuffed toys to fade in the wash pretty quickly, and the particle board items to sag/splinter, but for the most part we have no complaints.
We live about 5 hours from two different IKEAs and visit two or three times a year. We can fit a fair amount in our minivan, but for one shopping trip we rented a Suburban from the local car rental place (this was when we were fitting three carseats across in a subaru wagon so cargo space was really limited even for flat pack). If you're good at packing a vehicle, this might be an option for you too. One way rentals are going to be more expensive than "in town", but you shouldn't be spending more than 70 dollars a day plus gas for a small Ryder or UHaul... of course, a 4 dollars a gallon that gas might add up. When we looked into having a klippan sofa shipped to us (from the Philly IKEA or the Elizabeth NJ IKEA to central NY) the IKEA mediated shipping costs were over a thousand dollars (for freight!)... at that time we learned that there are people who will go to their local IKEA, pick up a pre-paid item, and ship it privately for an additional fee. It wasn't a big enough savings for us at the time, but it may be worthwhile for you depending on where you are/what you want to get... it's actually a pretty common cottage industry in Alaska since there is no Alaska IKEA and IKEA wont ship there. My brother and SIL love IKEA and often work with one of these private shippers (through craigslist I think?) to get furniture to their home. LOL
~~~~~~~~Oh, the website should give you the product dimensions when packed... DOUBLE CHECK the space in your vehicle if you go that route... just a few weeks ago we had to unpack a bunkbed frame in the parking lot because it was literally a quarter inch too tall in the box to fit under our bench seat.