Currently in our garage is a 2004 Toyota Corolla. It's a workhorse of a car and has served us well. And it has helped us survive the bite of higher has prices, continuing to average upwards of 35 miles per gallon. Plus, there's the advantage of very few repairs outside of regular maintenance.
But a few road trips and adding a (large) dog to the family have illustrated its limitations. The trunk is surprisingly roomy for a compact family car, but when we're driving to visit the family we have in a reasonable radius (1 very long day or 2 easier days), the backseat becomes overloaded with a cooler and Scooter's diversions. Even for our shorter trips down to Capital City, the backseat's full once the dog's back there. He easily fills one-third of the backseat, a full two-thirds when he takes a nap.
Figure in the second child we'd like to have (or twins, as I tease Trillian) and...
We've decided that once Trillian is back to full-time work (which is now on the horizon) and we've had a few months to put some of our savings back in the bank, we'll be purchasing a mini-van, probably a Toyota Sienna.
I'm hoping my cousin forgets that time I swore up and down that I would never own a mini-van, despite her protestations of how convenient it was.
Trillian came around to this idea a lot faster than I did. And I quickly admitted that for all the situations we would need to cover on a regular basis, we probably need a vehicle with 3 rows (which the dog has made even more of a reality). For a while, I was pushing for a Highlander Hybrid. An SUV, yes, but a hybrid. Once I did a little research, however, I discovered two facts that made it hard to justify over a minivan. (1) The Highlander's highway mileage is no better than the Sienna's, and our city mileage, where there is a noticeable difference, would be minimal; (2) There's a $15,000 price difference.
So sometime in the next year or two, I will be behind the wheel of a minivan. Sometimes. The Corolla will still be the car of choice for solo trips or with a single kid. If I get the job at the Small Liberal Arts College in Capital City, it will be my commuting car until we've paid off the minivan--at which point I'll be looking at the small- to medium-sized hybrids so I can offset the minivan even more.