Mothering Forums

Mothering Forums (
-   Frugality & Finances (
-   -   What car to buy for next 10 years? (

whalemama17 01-04-2013 09:11 AM

I currently have a 1996 850 Volvo station wagon with 200k+ miles on it. It has served me well, but as the repairs pile up, I'm trying to figure out which car to buy next. I have a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old. My goal would be to buy a car that is a few years old and drive it until it falls apart!


Anticipating that this next car will be one I hold on to for 10+ years, here is what I would love insight into:


-With two kids, is it a big help to have a vehicle that can seat 6 or 7 people? Growing up my family had station wagons with a seat in the trunk, so we could fit a lot of people. This is the question I am most stuck on.


-If I stick with a 5-seater, hatchback, wagon, or compact SUV?


The vehicles which seem potentially good:

-Toyota Matrix

-Upcoming Toyota Corolla wagon

-Toyota Rav4

-Toyota Highlander

-Subaru Outback

-Subaru Tribeca

-Mazda 5 (Not thrilled about the sliding doors...)

-Mazda CX-9

-Hyundai Elantra Touring

-Hyundai Santa Fe?


Thanks for any help, or sharing what car you drive and why it meets your needs best.

wildmonkeys 01-04-2013 06:26 PM

I have a Mazda 5 and I actually like the sliding doors/wagon combo.  I find with kids old enough to get out of the car themselves - it is nice to not worry about them knocking into the car next to us - I also found it easier to buckle them in when they still needed help.  That being said, I prefer the size of the Mazda 5 to a real minivan.


As for negatives - as my kids are getting bigger (I have a nearly 13 year old) and I drive his friends around - I find the back rows (especially the 3rd) lacking in leg space.  The bigger kids look really crammed in the third row.  My kids also complain the third row is hot - our model doesn't have AC vents back there.  We have also had trouble with the tires - it has these smaller tires which are more expensive and do not last as long.


Overall, it has served us well - I like having a small car and 6 seats and it is easy to drive and gets good gas mileage. I feel like it was a very economical/practical family car.

veganmama44 01-04-2013 07:07 PM

i have a 2006 hyundai tucson (the slightly smaller version of the santa fe) and i love it. i bought it new, it now has 150,000 miles on it. all i have ever had to do was replace the tires 2x, soon to be 3, the brakes 2x, and just recently i had to replace an airbag sensor. thats it. my modelseats 5, im not sure about the santa fe.

A&A 01-05-2013 07:40 AM

Subaru is 4-wheel drive, which might be important to you in Mass. (Not sure about the others).  Also check out the National Highway Safety Institute's ratings for the vehicles you're considering.

ollyoxenfree 01-05-2013 11:00 AM

Originally Posted by whalemama17 View Post


-With two kids, is it a big help to have a vehicle that can seat 6 or 7 people? Growing up my family had station wagons with a seat in the trunk, so we could fit a lot of people. This is the question I am most stuck on.




This depends a little on your lifestyle. We only had 2 kids. I thought a fuel-efficient sedan would comfortably seat the 4 of us and meet our needs. I didn't think we would be minivan-drivers. Hah! 


Our kids attended different schools outside our home neighbourhood, so their friends weren't just down the street. It often meant that I was driving 4 or more kids around - my 2 kids and at least 1 friend each. There were lots of group project meetings, after-school playdates, out of area birthday parties that involved picking up their friends along the way. The kids joined sports teams (soccer in the summer, hockey in the winter) and we did some car pooling to practices and games. We needed extra cargo space for big hockey bags and sticks. We bought a cottage and a dog and we would often need extra cargo space if the kids invited friends away with us. DS is now 19 and he plays in a couple of bands, so the minivan gets used as the "band bus and equipment truck". 


We may finally get rid of the minivan in a year or so and look for that fuel-efficient sedan. 

greenemami 01-05-2013 12:00 PM

I have a toyota matrix and really like it.  We have 3 kids, so it is a little cramped when they are all in there, but it is perfect for 2.  I do think when they get older, it would be nice to have extra seats to drive friends, etc.


I would definitely buy the matrix again-gets good gas mileage, a large trunk, haven't had any problems with it in the 6 years I have owned it.  Hope that helps!

mamarhu 01-05-2013 02:09 PM

I am at a similar decision making point - ready to retire the old Volvo station wagon. The engine and tranny are fine, but every other aspect of this car is dying!  I have 2 teen kids still at home, and also need room for my mother's wheelchair. So the tiniest of cars won't do. I am seriously looking into hybrids. Not a SUV, but Toyota's bigger sedan - I think it is the Prius V. Plenty of leg room in the back seat, and a big storage area behind. With about double the gas mileage, it will help pay for itself (I drive hundreds of miles a week for work).

Peony 01-05-2013 03:01 PM

I need extra room for extra kids. I know other families that don't have any seating space for other kids and I seriously have no idea how they do it. We car pool a lot or I will take a friend back to our house for a playdate. It seems like I just end up with extras randomly as well which is fine by me. Twice this week I have had every seat in my 8 seater SUV full and  school is still out here. Granted we are a family of 6! I have difficulty "only" ending up with an extra 2 kids sometimes. 

sageowl 01-05-2013 03:35 PM

I have a Subaru Outback that I'm rather fond of, and will drive into the ground.  It's 9 years old now, and I've had to repair a few things, but nothing huge so far (knock on wood).


Things to think about:

How much do you rely on your current vehicle?  (I live in an area where public transit is good, so I only drive sporadically).

How important is fuel efficiency/gas mileage to you?

How important is traction/safety/etc?

How much long-distance travel do you do?  (those larger vehicles really shine if you do 1000+ mile road trips on a regular basis.)

How much hauling of other people (besides immediate family members) do you think you'll be doing?  Are you likely to get into "activities"?  (Kids often want to do stuff with their friends.)   

Do you need a vehicle that will haul "gear" or other large items?


Things I've observed about the Outback:  fuel efficiency is fine, I love the traction--AWD (I live in an area where this is critical), it's not the most comfortable vehicle for doing long road trips, you can't fit a ton of people in there (4 is about it, really), the trunk space is great for a car (but nothing like what you get with a van, when we go camping, we often use both vehicles to haul all the gear).

SunRise 01-05-2013 03:56 PM

I have a 10 year old Pontiac Vibe (essentially, the Toyota Matrix, same look and the Vibe is made w/ the Toyota engine. Pontiac is now defunct though). Its been a great vehicle, 120,000 miles, good gas mileage. Comfortable. Im actually looking in to new cars too, so I dont have any new suggestions for you. But my Vibe runs really well, just regular oil changes and a few tune ups, a new exhaust sytsem when the muffler died and new tires, brakes, etc. But mostly, it runs well enough that I keep postponing getting a new car. I have a 10 year old and 2 year old. When the 10 yr old was 8 and more social, room became a slight issue ... he could only have one friend in the car w/ him, but now he can sit in the front, if needed, and invite 2 friends on an outing.  The back is roomy enough - we go camping and all the gear fits in the back. Can throw other things on the roof.  Bikes on a bike rack on the back. With the two year old and an umbrella stroller, its a little packed, but we have always fit in everything.


A more spacious back is one of the main things I am looking into for a new car though. Jetta wagon is high on my list (as it comes with roof rack plus more; the Prius wagon for instance, I nixed, because it doesn't have a roof rack). And 4 wheel drive is another component I want. The Vibe is a little weak in the snow on a slight hill (but good set of snow tires may help in that area).

TIFF4NY 01-06-2013 09:10 AM

We are expecting our 2nd and have two huge dogs so we knew we wanted a three row suv. After a LOT of researching we went and test drove a Nissan Pathfinder last night and we are pretty satisfied with it. It ticks all the boxes and so now we're just waiting until we find one with all the features we want and will likely buy it. 

holidaymama 01-06-2013 09:56 AM

We have two kids and one on the way with a MIL in tow a lot. We have a Ford Expedition 2003 with a third row. It's a gas guzzler, so we only take it when we have to, but we LOVE it for travel. We recently purchased a 2008 honda crv and although I really like it and bought it for the reasons you mentioned (we have a dog too so the hatchback is nice), but I wish we had bought a minivan, especially now that we have one on the way. That said, the CRV gets great gas mileage and sits higher than a car and stores a lot more.

whalemama17 01-06-2013 01:34 PM

Thanks for all of your replies! I especially appreciated the questions to consider in narrowing down car options. What has been interesting/problematic is realizing how irrational my car preferences are (weird brand loyalty to Toyota because we had one when I was a kid; aversion to sliding doors because of their minivan-look despite the practicality). Hyundai seems to have improved in quality, but I can't quite get on board with Kia's yet, despite the potential appealing combo of the Sorento. 


I test-drove a Highlander last night. I loved that the rear seats can convert to two captain's chairs and the third-row option. It was large, but not overwhelmingly so. Compared to my Volvo's fuel efficiency (or lack thereof) of 18 City/26 Highway it is actually an improvement! Funny to realize that here in eco-conscious Western Mass my Volvo would be perceived as more eco-friendly than the Highlander SUV, which turns out not to be the case. In some ways, the Highlander since it's built on a car-based platform is more of a big station wagon. The other option would be a hybrid Highlander. 


But, I still feel guilty about the idea of getting an SUV, even if it is a car-based model. Minivans don't seem to get that much better gas mileage though. 


So, still trying to figure it out. My spouse has a Matrix with a roof rack and cargo carrier. During a recent trip, we were able to transport everything, though with children in car seats til 10+, and later with larger teenagers, I don't think it would be very comfortable. But are we American's just spoiled? It seems like other countries have become more accustomed to smaller vehicles overall.


The Mazda 5 really does seem to be the ideal combination-a smaller vehicle size, option to seat 6, and low price-just don't love the sliding doors and prefer Toyota's for some reason. 

camprunner 01-06-2013 04:31 PM

We have a Hyundai Santa Fe with 120,000 miles on it and very few problems at all. Infact, we purchased a Kia Sedona recently based on how please we are with the Hyundai (basically the same company).  We didn't have such good luck with the Toyotas we had.

whalemama17 01-07-2013 06:38 PM

I drove a Mazda 5 today-it's perfect!

  • Size felt much more manageable than the Highlander. Looks-wise, it appeared more similar to a Prius V/wagon/hatchback than a conventional minivan.
  • The sliding doors do seem practical...
  • With the 3rd row up, there was very, very little cargo area available, but that row would be used occasionally anyway.
  • Price is excellent. 


Basically, the Highlander did feel luxurious and spacious-probably tapping into some reptilian-brain feeling of safety due to its hugeness. But the Mazda 5 seems to have the best of both worlds, a bit more of a Euro-sporty feel, and more eco-friendly.

Christine08 01-07-2013 07:09 PM

Looks like I might be a little late to this thread... We just bought a 2013 VW Jetta TDI wagon and we really like it! It's a diesel and it gets really good fuel mileage. It's very comfortable and seems roomy enough to me. We have two boys, 2&4 and might have another and I think there will be plenty of room as the boys will be moving onto boosters soon. The trunk has a lot of storage. The car is mainly for taking day or weekend trips and driving the kids around town. I love the way it drives! We were looking for something 'big enough' and I really wanted to avoid an SUV or Minivan. We already have a 2005 Ford F-250 (for pulling our camping trailer) and 2006 Ford Escape--I love both of them too but not the best fuel mileage! We had a Toyota Matrix a few years ago which was a great car. The VW reminds me of that car somewhat just more room, a little more luxury, better fuel economy, more power, etc.  If we need more storage for a trip, it has racks to put a cargo container (like Thule, Yamaha). It seems like there's been some bigger advances in technology with cars and that is why I wanted a new/newer car (there were no used models available). The VW has bluetooth, iPod, etc. which neither of my other cars have. And, most importantly, the advances in safety.

Peony 01-07-2013 09:58 PM

Sliding doors are very practical. Your kids are still quite young but in a couple years they will be flinging the car doors open trying to get in, and flinging them open right on other cars... I adored my sliding doors back when I had a minivan. Tight parking spaces/ garages, and door dings were not an issue!

Basylica 01-08-2013 07:34 AM

My parents are dihard toyota fans and have rotated through quite a few (my stepdad can't seem to go 6m without trading a car in, and currently they have FOUR cars that are HIS and his only, mom and brother each have a car. if mom's car is in the shop, bro has to drive her because she can't use stepdad's cars. he WALKS to work *headshake*)


They owned more than one highlander and they really liked it and used it to drive here to texas from chicago to visit atleast twice.


I got burned by a carolla when I was a kid. in the 2 years I owned it I funneled in like 5-6K. evidently the year I owned (91) was a lemon year for the model despite having some of the best ratings....just my luck!

I traded in for a 99 kia sephia just when kia was getting started. AC was an option back then and they only had a 3yr warrenty.

In the 11 years I owned the car, I had the fuel pump go out when it was like 6 years old I think, and like 2-3 breakjobs and tuneups. I'm really bad about changing oil reliably, and due to long stints of unemployment and driving to chicago would put 5K on my car in a month or two, then not use a single tank of gas in 4m. Not ideal for a car.

when the car was 11yrs old the struts were going, and all my rubber was dry rotting (sitting outside in texas weather i'm surprised it held up that long. summers are brutal!) so my power steering fluid line was leaking and my windshield wiper fluid harness needed replacing.

then I started having some engine trouble. if it was ANY other model car it would have been worth fixing because my car was in actually really good shape and got amazing gas milage (40 +/- depending) but KBB had car in "excellent" as 400, and "fair" as 200.


I traded in for a kia soul and I've been really happy with kia as a dealer/mfgr. I think i'll be trading in however for a VW because they removed cruise from the soul (I had a 2010 but they offered me a lower payment and newer car for the 2012 model....oh well) and while I'd NEVER had a car with cruise it def made driving to chicago tons easier on me :)


Be careful when you consider size parents suffered sticking us all in awful station wagons because those were the only cars that offered 8 seats (minivans ALL did 7, and we had 8 ppl) and finally bought a 12 pass extended cab van (basically 15 pass) when I was err....15?

we really didn't use it ALL that much, the engine blew and cost a TON to fix, and by the time myself and my stepsis were 17 (same age) we hardly ever went anywhere as a family anymore so there was usually 6 people or less.....

The extra space may seem nice for a year or two or three, but if you are buying for long term you may find it's a bit of an overbuy.


Like people who buy 4bdrm houses when their kids are in highschool and realize just a few years later they have 3 empty bedrooms :)


I'm DEAD set on driving stick (one of the reasons I gravitated towards kia back in the day) so my options for cars are somewhat limited. VW tiguan is top of my list, and i've heard fiat is making a similar compact suv type car that may make the list - not sure yet. I found with the 2 kiddos I need ample head/foot room as the boys are 9 (or will be in 3 weeks) and 6 and already 4'8 and 4'5 respectively. Adult height is supposed to be 6'3 and 6'7. I want to keep my next car until they are driving and just buy a new/smaller car at that point. We'll see...

But Its rare we drive with someone else, occasionally my fam visits and we squish, but I really have plenty of room in front and there is plenty of room for 3 in rear. I LOVE the hatch and fact that when kids are with their dad for the weekend I can fold the seats down and fit some pretty large items in the rear due to the headroom - its much higher than it looks. I could probably fit a washer or dryer in the car easily on it's side.


I totally fit bunkbeds in the rear when I bought a set!


If/when I buy a new car after my planned purchase for next summer-ish, it'll be when the kids are older and i'll probably buy a little fuel efficent 2/4dr and only use the bigger car for family treks or whatever. that way i'll have 2 cars but when I don't have the kids I can use the smaller vehicle :)

trekkingirl 01-08-2013 08:00 PM

My mazda5 had to have the transmission replaced. It also uses tires fast as they are towed in for better handling. In other words, they wear on the inside way faster than on the outside. After replacing the transmission I found out that they are notorious for having a faulty valve body or something like that. Mazda knows and won't recall it since it is such an expensive part. Not sure if the new models have fixed this problem or not. Mine is an 08. Other than that I love it. Really is the best of both worlds. I call it my magical micro van!


edited to add that to replace the headlights are $100 per bulb. Both of mine have already been replaced.

mamarhu 01-09-2013 08:45 AM

Not a cheap idea, but worth it to me:


If it is available, rent the car you are considering for a day or so. The rental will probably have a few thousand miles, so be a little less sparkly. No obnoxious salesperson next to you. Haul your regular family, drive up into the mountains, get stuck in rush hour traffic, load it up with groceries, go where you really go. Even use it for a trip out of town to see if it is comfortable for a longer ride.


I did this once a few years ago, and learned the trunk of the car I was considering was too small for 4 bags of groceries. And once I tested a minivan like this, and learned it couldn't manage the steep, unpaved road I lived on.

trekkingirl 01-09-2013 09:58 PM

that's what I did with my mazda5 and ended up loving it and buying it.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Resources saved on this page: MySQL 5.56%
vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.