Are you in the market for a new car? Lease is up or your car is just had it? My lease expires this week. I have stalled and stalled hoping that a hybrid minivan would some how pop onto the scene. I now have a Toyota Sienna all-wheel drive car to carry my brood around.
I have been scouring the road lately as to what is my next step. Am I ready to give up the minivan for a smaller car? Although many of you may think this is a snap decision, this decision is equivalent to making a new career choice. I have been driving a minivan for fifteen years filling up the seats in that time period. Over the years, some of my children have reached the age and weight requirement to move to the all mighty front seat.
Decisions I had to make. Were we ready for the family to have only one big car that could fit all 6 of us? Could I get away with a smaller car since my husband wanted to keep his large car? Would I be able to car pool with a smaller car? Would I fit three growing boys in my back seat that I would not want to trade in a couple of years from now when they approached teenagehood? (The fourth one would have to sit up front.)This was an agonizing decision for me.
I drove a myriad of cars to see what I like. Bear in mind, I don’t feel I am one of the best drivers. I need all the help I can get. Plus, safety is a huge issue for me. Was I safer in a larger car with my children? So, I drove or looked at the Prius, Odyssey (Honda minivan), Camry (with an eye for the hybrid), and Toyota RAV-4 SUV, and the Honda CRV. I had previously driven the Nissan Altima.
Here is my own take on these cars from the perspective of an overly cautious driver, mom, and smaller sized person. So, it is slightly skewed towards comfort, does it work for my family and my budget, and can I drive it. Kind of basic, don’t you think?
So, what was my favorite if I did not have my car? The Honda Odyssey. This car drives just like mine with a small front to make it easier to park. Nice front and rear air conditioning. (No more “it is hot in here” screaming when I freeze easily when it is 70 degrees outside.) The middle between the two bucket front seats lifted up so if you need to get to the back quick, it is a snap. Great for young parents. Now, I have to climb over my console or open the door and get out.
According to the website, the Odyssey is rated as a ultra-low emission car. The EPA Mileage on the website is listed at 16-17 in the city and 23-25 on the highway depending on which model you buy. Starting manufacturer’s list price ranges from $25,860 to $40,610 based upon the package and the model you choose.
Which minivan would I choose if I had to between the Sienna and the Odyssey? I would choose the Sienna only because I am a creature of habit and don’t like change much. So, I would choose what I had. They are both great cars.The dilemma that I was facing, was it time for me to leave the minivan stage? (Kind of like giving up the crib when your last child has grown out of it.) Was I ready to take the leap back to being just an adult not a car pooling soccer mom anymore? Major identity issues mixed with environmental concerns was a highly emotional cocktail.
Still wrestling with this concept, I drove the Honda CR-V. It’s a smaller SUV. I had my husband sit in the back seat to see how he liked the ride. Then, I had him move into the middle seat where one of my children would have to sit. Did he think it was uncomfortable? That middle seat could cause a lot of arguments as well as pushing and shoving. For many of you who may not have experienced this, having a WWF wrestling fight in your backseat makes it quite hard to drive. I just did not need the aggravation.
Similar to the Odyssey, the CR-V is an ultra low emission car. The EPA mileage listed for this car was 20 miles in the City and 27 miles on the highway. The highway mileage for the 4 wheel drive car was slightly lower for highway mileage (26). Starting manufacturer’s listed price for a basic model starts at $20,700 to $28,400 based upon the package and model you choose.
I found the ride to be hard on me. I was used to more of a car ride which is a plusher ride. Since I live in my car, the ride was really important to me. (My house is so clean but I can’t say that about my car.) I decided this car was not right for me. Plus, the middle seat in the back row was uncomfortable.
On to Toyota. I have been dreaming about driving a Prius. What a cool car this is. In black it is absolutely sporty. (See the picture above.) Very hip. The eco-benefits are unparalleled to any other car on the road.
When I got in it, I immediately felt I was sitting on the ground. I have a small stature and am small boned, not a lot of meat there. My back started to hurt while I sat in the car. It drove well too, despite my back hurting. My husband even commented that the ride in the back seat was good; however, he wondered if you could fit three adults comfortably in the backseat. One of the other drawbacks to the Prius is it has a spoiler across the back of its hatchback which was visibly disturbing to me. It was in my line of vision every time I looked in my mirror. The salesman said that some people ignore it and others can’t. Personally, I think it is because I am small (5′ 3”) that this bar is in my way. Toyota did compensate and put glass underneath it to give the driver more visibility as well as providing a backup camera.
The Pruis has alot of pluses. I love the hands-free phone capacity via blue tooth phone technology, voice activated navigation system, and the instrument panel which is within your eyesight rather than looking down at your panel like you do in a regular car. The car also has a smart key system so you do not need a key to start the car. It is a remote that you could leave in your purse or pocket.
Gas mileage is estimated by the Company to be 48 miles in the city and 45 miles on the highway. Manufacturer’s listed price starts at $20,950 to $23,200 based upon the model and package you choose.My heart wanted the Prius. My back said I wasn’t ready for a car. My eyes said that spoiler would be a real problem. I was so disappointed since I love this car.
The next best car to the Prius I though was the Camry. It is a little bigger inside than the Prius, and plush for those who want more. For example, it has a powered driver’s seat with an option of heated front leather seats. The Prius has just a bar under the seat to move the seat back and forth. The dashboard is quite nice as well. I would say the Camry is more like a traditional nice car compared to the Prius which seemed more modern and cool.I could see why the Camry was one of Toyota’s best selling cars. A reasonably priced hybrid car with a nice plush interior.
How is its gas mileage? The salesman told us that the hybrid version of the car was rated for about 33 miles in city and 34 miles on the highway. (Note, a regular Camry is rated for 21 miles in the city and 31 on the highway.). Manufacturer’s list price on the Company’s website starts at $25,200.
Again, I drove the car and my husband was the official backseat tester. I had driven in the back seat of a Camry before and disliked it. I wondered if he too would feel the same way. The car drove very similar to the Prius and my back really hurt. I thought with a plusher car, the seat might be more comfortable, but I was wrong. I think the difference between a car and a minivan is that you sit higher which may cushion your ride.My husband concurred with me that the backseat ride was uncomfortable, but that the backseat was bigger than the Prius.
What’s left? The Highlander is a SUV with a hybrid option. It can sit 7 with an optional third row. This car could have easily been the next step for me. However, when I sat in the car the big front totally intimidated me. I was used to my sloped small minivan front. How was I ever going to park that car? I guess I am just hopeless.
The estimated gas mileage on the Company’s website is 27 miles in the city an 26 miles on the highway. Manufacturer’s List price starts at $33,700 to $39,950 based upon the model and package you choose.
I looked at the RAV-4 which is the smaller SUV. It had the same uncomfortable middle seat and less leg room it seemed than the Honda. I decided not to drive it. Manufacturer’s list price starts at $21,100 to $23,355 based upon the model and the package you choose. Gas mileage stated on the Company website varies depending on the size of the engine to whether the car is front wheel or four wheel car.
I had previously driven the Nissan Altima. It is a nice sporty car, but after I was done driving it, my rear hurt. I think it is the car issue again. You feel everything on the road. The ride is the backseat is much better than the Camry. Right now I feel it can seat 1 teenager and two medium size children. If you are looking for a hybrid car, this is a great car. (Remember I have boys so my space perception may be a little skewed.)
Manufacturer’s listed price starts at $25,070. Gas mileage is listed by the Company as 35 miles in the city and 33 on the highway.There are other vehicles that are SUV hybrids. Check out one of my fellow eco-blogger’s sites, Hybridsuv.com/blog.
The Final Decision
Why couldn’t Toyota make a hybrid minivan? What was I going to do? We went home and I was so upset. I had to make a decision. I knew I could not just buy an eco car in my price range when they were not comfortable for me or was really too small for my family. What would you do in my situation?
Well I thought about it and I decided to buy my minivan. Its buy-out was less than its value on Kelly Blue Book. I felt that buying it was lessening one more car being bought. Perhaps in a few years, there will be more hybrid or electric cars for me to choose from. Secretly, I would like my husband to get rid of his car and get a Prius or a Nissan Altima hybrid.
Was there a car I should have looked at? If anyone has bought a hybrid lately or a car with great gas mileage, then please tell us your story. Why did you buy this particular car and what has your experience been like, positively or negatively. Or perhaps you too have test drove certain cars. What were your thought on any of the hybrids?