April 26, 2011

Well, IS There A 40MPG Car For Dads?

It doesn't sound like it'll take the edge off of summer driving, but DadTherapy car guru David Thomas says definitely/maybe/soon.

Is there a 40mpg car for dads? [dadtherapy.com]

10 Comments

I was also at the NY Auto Show and you couldn't help but notice all the efficiency claims as you walked the floor. I agree that there just really aren't many family friendly (read: carseat friendly) high mpg cars out there. But carseat requirements are at least partially responsible for America's preference for large, inefficient vehicles. Some other car show observations:
No matter how cool a car we were looking at, the kids were constantly looking for the next minivan. The only exception was the mini display which was as interesting to the kids as it was to their parents.
The Scion coupe concept gets my Best in Show although I only got a few seconds to enjoy its awesomeness before being dragged into a Sienna (see above).
Subaru continues to grow while making each car uglier than its predecessor. The new Impreza seems to be an attempt to continue this trend.
The Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza are promising significant gains in efficiency but it will be interesting to see what happens to performance.
The Ford Fiesta and Focus feel like real solid vehicles (maybe the Focus could be that 40 mpg Dads' car).
The Fiat 500 does not. This is a great looking car that is fairly cheap. It looks like a great deal. It feels like it will rack up warranty claims.
My son and I could have watched the Jeeps on the off-road course all day, comparing the suspension articulation of Wranglers and Grand Cherokees. My wife and daughter reminded us that it was past nap time.
It is not news but Hyundai and Kia have arrived. Their displays were prominent and huge.
Everything I've read about Chrysler's improved interiors is true. The new Journey, Grand Caravan, Town and Country, Charger and 300 seem at or near the top of the class on the inside.
How did Honda become such a boring car company? People seemed to want to be at their display, hoping for something special but constantly distracted by Fords and Hyundais on either side.
The Nissan Juke will be/is a hit. The Murano Cross Cabriolet will not.
The Hyundai Veloster will be a hit. It is cheap, looks great and feels nice. It will be filling many spaces in high school parking lots. Hyundai is simultaneously cranking out exciting cars in nearly every category from small coupe (Veloster), to mainstream sedan (Sonata) to luxury car (Equus). Toyota is doing none of these despite the marketing advantage of three distinct brands.

Seth,
I wish commenters on my blog at work were so spot on.

I think you nailed it on all of the above.

FYI Juke is selling much better than I expected and I think even Nissan is surprised. I see them around Chicago all the time.

my 40 mpg blog was really focused on 40 mpg exactly on regular gas. Honda Civic @ 39 mpg and Cruze at 36 mpg and VW Jetta TDI at 42 mpg have really large backseats for the class. New Impreza might even work well with the added room versus the old one and 36 mpg with AWD.

holy smokes, now I feel like I've been to the NY Auto Show, too. Nice work.

And it's funny how I'm old enough to feel weird about admiring Hyundais, when they're pretty obviously very good cars. Also, how glad to be surprised by the new Focus, which I really like in concept [and in Europe] and can finally like here, too. The Fiat is a mystery to me, though. And I even own a Citroen 2cv.

One more car: The Audi A7 is a beauty. It may be the best looking car in a lineup that already includes mostly attractive vehicles. I like the CLS but this is nicer. The 5 Series GT is a joke next to the Audi. Might be OK as a Dad car but it's not going to deliver 40 mpg anytime soon and the pricing is steep (although not outrageous for its class).

One more NY auto show parenting tip: If you're trying to keep kosher for passover and need to avoid the hot dog and pretzel stands, you can sit your family down in the back of a Ford TransitConnect and enjoy your matzah "sandwiches" with the knowledge that the cargo area is easy to clean up. You will get some funny looks but I think the Ford people appreciated the demonstration of the TC's versatility.

I still wish they'd revert to the original Scion xB and up the MPG. My 2006 is still one of the easiest cars to get kids and tall adults in and out of. Why they decided to make it smaller and less efficient is beyond me.

I totally agree. If I could find a mothballed 1st gen xB, I think I'd buy it in a second. Such a great form factor.

Seth,
I'm driving an A7 right now. The BMW is a larger vehicle, bigger back seat. The A7 is much better looking though and more of a performer. The GT was more of a cruiser...and ugly.

Good engine and price though for what you get. Haven't put the kids seats in yet.

Dammit, I missed the auto show with a pair of sick kids. What was the actual wagon scene like? The E-class was the only thing that impressed me last year.

The A7 looks so sweet.

The GT is such a mutant, but it feels like it's grown less ugly over time.

dt,
The wagon scene was not good. If you limit yourself to true wagons (sedans with way backs) you basically have the new Acura TSX and Cadillac CTS trying to fill the white space left behind by the Subaru Legacy and Volvo V70. Beyond that, I know of the offerings from Saab and the Germans but honestly don't recall seeing any of them prominently displayed at the show.
If you expand your definition to include crossovers, there were plenty. If you're willing to throw hatches into the picture there is even more exciting stuff going on. It's looking like "hatch" is no longer a dirty word in the US market.

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