October 18, 2006

Car Playoffs Final: Some Latebreaking Scores

  • Mercedes: 1, BMW: 0: When a delivery van pulled in front of my wife this morning as she was driving our old 1985 Mercedes Tank Coupe, she stopped short. Far shorter than the BMW 6-series behind her, has it turns out. The BMW guy shredded his front end, while the MB has not a scratch. I think those Xenon headlights are like $50,000 a piece, too.


  • Honda Now: 2, Honda Then: -1 Wow, I saw the new CRV in person this week, and contrary to early photos, it's surprisingly non-ugly. Thoughts?

    Also, growing up, my favorite micro-Honda was theCity Turbo [which was created by Honda's founder's son, who also started Mugen. The City was one of the first tricked-out Asian streetracers. And Honda never saw fit to bring it to the US, even though Road & Track put it on their best cars around lists for years. ...] And though this morning's bumper thumper may vindicate me a bit on the "they sure don't build'em like they used to" issue, I'm picking up a pretty strong no-more-old-cars vibe around the house. So I wonder about the Fit, which is kind of growing on me.

    In the world of major purchase decisionmaking, "well, how much car can you afford?" trails only "spend two months salary for a ring" for sheer economic, moral, environmental, and social bogosity. So as we start thinking and talking about a new car, I'm really interested in how much car people find they actually need and use. And except for maybe the Scion, you can hardly buy less of a car right now than the Fit.


    Take a look at the Mazda 5. Its 2x2x2 configuration w/ double sliding doors could be right up the urban family alley.


    I tried to test a Fit when I was buying back in summer -- couldn't find one to drive, much less buy. Folks were going on wait lists and paying MSRP+ (two deal breakers for me). I settled on a Mazda3. I wanted to control: the crowd (3 kids), gas consumption (I'm getting 29mpg in mixed use) and cost (my rule: car payment not greater than 529 contribution per month). 3 does all three and "zoom-zoom" to boot. Plenty of car, even here in Texas where people name their kids 'Slade after the Caddy SUV.

    Our first kid is almost two, and both my wife and I drive 2-door VW Golfs (GTI & R32). Her GTI is older, and she's about to trade it in on a new 4-door GTI for ease of car seat access. (I'm stubbornly sticking to my 2-door.)

    For the couple times a year when we need more cargo space (Xmas road trip, etc) we just put a Thule tub on the roof.

    We think we can stay in this size class for the second kid, but if we have a third we might move up to something like a Passat wagon.

    We spent part of the summer in France and Germany, where a Golf-class car is the 'medium' model in most manufacturers' lineups, and those Yurrapeans have kids too.

    PS: the Bugaboo Frog fits in the Golf trunk but takes up most of it; the Maclaren Quest pretty much disappears back there, and the Recaro Young Sport fits (and looks) perfect in the back seat!

    PPS: Nothing against bigger cars in principle, we just like feeling small and nimble. Vroom...

    My golf is not a good family car for me. I have to drive with the seat all the way back which doesn't work so well in a golf with a carseat (the seats go back almost touching the seats behind them).

    My wife ended up having to trade in her Cabrio (starting falling apart. Like door handles falling off falling apart), and ended up with a Scion xB. Fantasic family car. You can actually put people in the back seat with a car seat. It feels like an optical illusion inside. With the front seat all the way back, I'm still several inches from touching the front seat while in the back seat. There is plenty of room for people. The only problem is the lack of trunk space. We'll probably have to get a roof rack eventually. It really makes you wonder where the heck all the interior space is going in those monster SUVs.

    [every car we're considering, we're comparing to the xB. the only factor is the trunk space. And the fact that I want heated leather memory seats and a non-factory color, which would all cost as much as the car itself. -ed.]

    We lease a new Volvo V50. It's great, but we would be perfectly fine with a 1992 Corolla wagon or some other such (cheap, used) thing.

    I hope your wife's ok. Can't beat the Mercedes tanks for safety!

    We get along fine in a Jetta with the kid and two good-sized dogs. Wish I had a hatch-back instead so I don't feel guilty about the dogs hanging out in the trunk (with the back seat folded down, of course). However, it is definitely begining to feel small. If/when we go for kid No.2, we will either have to get a bigger car, rent one for road trips, or leave the dogs at home.

    Funny about the xB. Someone I met on Saturday was talking about how that was going to be his next car and how much room was inside. Did I mention that this guy must have topped 300lbs? And he fits in his wife's xA. go figure?!

    Don't overlook the safety of some of these smaller cars. I haven't been in a fit or a scion, but they both appear quite sturdy. I just remember getting into a friend's geo in high school or college and wondering if I'd make it out alive. Running over a squirrel could do some serious damage to one of those.

    We took a longtime deciding on a car. We started out thinking about "small and nimble, vroom" as well, and adamantly (esp. the wife) anti minivan and SUV. Audi a4 wagon was too small for my 6 ft 2 frame, and the cabrio was a tight fit in the back seat. The A6 was fabulous, very roomy and comfortable, but spendy and I could just imagine the horror of the first coffee spill or dog hair in the gorgeous interior. Volvo wagon seemed to generic (XC70) and the v50 too small. 3 series BMW also was too small and the 5 series too much like "I borrowed Dad's car". What did we end up with? The Lexus Rx400h hybrid. Lots of room, looks good, the hybridosity assauges SUV guilt, and the blacked out windows in the back seat make parking lot nursing much more private. It cost to o damn much but what can you do? We love it

    I just sold our 3-series wagon and purchased a 2006 Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV.

    I find it to be the right vehicle for my small (1 child) family in our more-rural-than-most area. I needed ground clearance. I wanted AWD. I wanted to support an american car company. I wanted a hybrid. That leaves one vehicle - the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner hybrid.

    I like it.

    The Fit is awesome, I highly recommend it if you can get hold of one. So much more room than the Golf, much better mileage than most cars and it is a ton of fun to drive. Almost Mini-fun.

    We are a Scion XB family and love it!!

    We've got a Prius and a Saab 9-5, but the Prius has the family car duties. Better headroom, a hatchback, handsfree Bluetooth phone and LATCH (the tags on the seat actually say Isofix) are big kid-friendly pluses. Oh, and then there's the 50 mpg.

    The only negative on the Prius are the cloth seats, which are pleading for something awful to be spilled or upchucked on them before I get around to covering them.

    The new CR-V is lightyears better than the previous versions. Even better, it's essentially (minus the turbo 4 motor) the same car as the spanking-new Acura RDX... but it's $10k less (comparing the two most-loaded versions).

    I also like the new Mazda CX-7, but it only gets 24mpg - the CR-V gets 30.

    The Fit rocks. Get the sport manual and you will be happy. The use of space, while being small and easy to park, is awesome. Honestly, it feels bigger than it is, apart from the dynamics. The CRV is another good option, just a slightly different deal. The fit is a few years old, so all the goodies don't compare as wekk to a new introduction.

    Our 4 person family just bought a Honda Element. It is a bit more room than we need in a car but we take a lot of road trips so the extra room comes in handy. A quick run down on what the kids like about the car: A) the seats sit very high so they can see out of the front window B) there is a tailgate for impromtu picnics on wet grass days C) Plastic floors that you sweep clean!!! (I doubt the kids care but I do!) D) An optional tent attachment and even if you don't get that, the seats fold flat so you can sleep on them.

    My wife & I are also Honda Element owners. You simply cannot underestimate the amount of space inside the vehicle. And for those instances when you need to haul larger loads of stuff, the rear seats can fold up against the walls or even be easily removed entirely - and then the interior space become downright cavernous!

    Wanna see just how much you can pack in there? Check out the photos from a recent Ikea trip on our blog:


    And like Shannon, I'm very happy with the plasticy flooring material that makes worrying about spills a thing of the past.

    Another xB family here. Can't say enough good things about it. But I understand the trunk space issue. bugaboo stoller fits on it's side without blocking the window. I've also put it in the backseat behind the driver when the trunk is full of groceries. Thing is roomy as hell.

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