Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Just don't call me a soccer mom

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.


kgirl said...

We almost fell prey to the allure of the mini-van - it's like a house on wheels!

But then we realized that it's like a house on wheels, and we live downtown where houses are really tough to parallel park.

So we went mini-van lite - a Mazda 5. We actually pick it up tomorrow, and I'm excited, but wow, it's a long way from our Ford Focus hatchback.

Team Serrins Springfield said...

We were in the same exact position a year and a half ago. Transporting two adults, two kids, two dogs, and bags was just impossible in a Toyota Camry. We looked at the Hylander and rejected it for the reasons you said. We'd like a mini-van but are kind of waiting for a hybrid mini-van. So we bought (like kgirl) a Mazda 5. We've had it for nearly two years now and are pretty happy with it. My wife drives it most of the time and she is very very happy with it. I find it a bit cramped in the front seat. But it does what it needs to holding the kids in the 2nd row and we fold down the back row to put the dogs and luggage in it.

Mouse said...

The Sienna is, I think, the smallest actual minivan. I don't think we could go any smaller if we have a second child because of car seat configuration. I'm tall and generally drive with the seat all the way back. Right now Scooter sits behind Trillian, but he'd have to move behind me once we needed to install a rear-facing seat. And he has long legs like I do, so it wouldn't be comfortable for either of us. With the Sienna, we buy a little more legroom and a full-size middle seat.

Plus, as Trillian likes to point out to me, the dog (at 65 pounds and 5+ feet tall on his back legs) counts as at least another person. So if we ever take him on a long trip, we'll have to figure that in to the cargo space as well.

We also would prefer a hybrid minivan, but from what I've seen, that's not happening anytime soon, even though Toyota has a smaller one over in Japan--they just have no plans to develop it over here!

Aliki2006 said...

We love our minivan, but I definitely think it's become a house on wheels for us. One thing to consider about it that might work to an advantage: L. can't stand to be sitting next to T. in any car. He has a hard time in cars--the stimulus of all the scenery flashing past, the feeling of uncontrolled motion, all get him very tense and he gets very angry and upset. With the minivan we're able to set him up in the back by himself, with his seat full of books and catalogs and magazines, and T. is up front, in one of the "captain's chairs". I don't know what we'd do in a smaller car--adapt, I suppose. But the minivan configuration has been a lifesaver for us!

Sandra said...

Soccer mom.


We just got a cross over kind of small SUV because the boy and the dog and their friends weren't fitting in the sedan any longer. I hear you on this post.