Considering a New Car - Any Advice?

Updated on January 25, 2011
J.S. asks from Quincy, MA
16 answers

OK I am considering a new car. I currently have a 2007 Subaru outback wagon and I am not in love with it, never have been. Everyone I know who has a Subaru raves about them but I am totally lukewarm about mine. It handles well in the snow, but seems like a lot of road noise and the back seat is AWFULLY uncomfortable (I get completely carsick if I ride in the back of this car - it's that bad). I had a 1995 Ford Escort for 11 years before I got the Subaru and honestly I think the Escort was a better car (!) at less than a quarter of the price.

Anyway, I've got a 3.5 year old daughter and a black labrador retriever that I bring everywhere, so it's nice to have the option to put my dog in the way back when I am going out with my little one plus two adults. So that part is handy. And, like I said, I like the way the All wheel drive handles in the snow. But the gas mileage is outrageous- like barely 20 around town.

So, I am thinking about trying something else. I am not a fan of minivans and with just one child (not sure if we are done but I am an older mother so it may be out of my hands) hardly seems warranted. What about any of those "crossover" vehicles? What else has all wheel or 4 wheel drive options with the possibility of a "way back" or hatchback or third row a dog could sit in? Oh and the other catch - I want a standard (manual transmission) not an automatic, so I need something I can get in a manual transmission, which isn't that easy anymore.

I welcome the wisdom of the Mamas!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

I love my new Mazda5. It's not AWD, but I have 3 children, 1 of whom is with his father 50% of the time, and the Mazda 5 gives the option of 3 rows of seats (6 seater) or more trunk space. The only drawback is that with the back row of seats up it has a really tiny trunk -- I can fit an umbrella stroller in the trunk with the seats up, but that's about it. But you can also have 1 seat up and 1 down in the back, and have more trunk and a 5th seat, which is what we often do. I love the fact that I'm no longer driving a minivan. So far, it's handled well in the snow and ice.



answers from Atlanta on

My advice before you buy a car right now is to read Dave Ramsey.....he might help you make a decision. Its not always for everyone because each person's financial situation is different.

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answers from Austin on

Honda Pilot. Last night 4 large adults all fit comfortably in the car and we went to a drive in! Plenty of room.. Lots of space in back for our huge coolers..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My only advise is to buy used. Even if it only has a couple hundred miles, you can get it WAY cheaper! There are nice used cars out there. Brand new cars (IMHO) are for suckers. As soon as you drive it off the lot, it loses thousands of dollars in value. Let someone else take the hit.



answers from Eugene on

I too love my Volvo XC90. We picked it up in Sweden drove it around Europe for 2 weeks then they shipped it back. Check the over sea program. It is the right size, quiet, great stereo. The dog could sit when the 3 row is down, not up. I have know idea about manual transmission. When we bought it we started with a sheet basic car, then we checked off exactly what we wanted. They made the car for us. Another good thing about getting in Sweden. I would imagine more Europeans drive stick than we do. It does have some kind of manual transmission shift on it, no clutch. I never use it.



answers from Seattle on

Love my volvo xc 90 fits my dog and 2 kids great.. quiet ride.. we bought ours used but like brand new.... great in snow.


answers from Phoenix on

I love my tahoe 04 . I would not get anything else. great for my two kids, field trips for schools, grocery shopping, out of town guests. I can seat up to 9 people, drives like a car and safe and fun. never had any problems and don't mind the gas.



answers from Minneapolis on

Honda CRV. The Pilot is huge, the CRV big enough. Drives great. My ex just got one (a big man) with our daughter and a German Shepherd. Likes it a lot. Though the dog is not in the "way back", she shares the back with my daughter. There is storage space in the back.


answers from Jacksonville on

An amazing crossover, is the Mazda CX-9. It has 3 rows, comes with available AWD and has that dual auto/manual shifter. So you can drive it in automatic, or you can choose to shift, whichever you prefer (I am a standard transmission lover myself!).

If we could afford a new car right now, that is what I would be driving. They cost a lot less than most of the other crossovers and you get a lot more luxury for a lot less $$. They also have a CX-7 that has no 3rd row and is slightly smaller, but otherwise practically the same features available.
My husband has been driving a Mazda (6speed) since 2003 and we LOVE it still. No plans to get rid of it anytime soon. It has over 200k miles on it and still drives like a dream.

ANY vehicle you decide to test drive, go to and check it out. You can use their tools to find what the going prices are in your area of the country with which particular features, the average gas mileage, and reviews from actual people who own and drive the car....

Have fun with your search!



answers from Phoenix on

I currently have an 01 highlander, but am looking to get something newer. I really wanted a slightly used Highlander, 08 is the new model, but even for an 08 it is pretty pricey. Based on ratings the new Kia Sorento has been voted #1 for safety and it also has 3rd row seating option. I am looking at getting one this summer.


answers from Kansas City on

research, research, research. before you step one foot on the lot, know: #1, what you want, and most importantly, #2, HOW MUCH you are willing to spend, monthly payments, and total price. don't get talked into something you're not sure about. if you're not sure or it feels wrong, walk away. i don't know about all wheel drive (don't think it's an option) but we looked at pontiac vibes and they are super cute, sporty but with the room. i ended up getting a chrystler pt cruiser, would not recommend. too many issues. and a cheap motor - i was told by my mechanic it is what was in those horrid little Neons. ew!



answers from Boston on

If I were to buy a new car today than I would go with a Nissan Murano. I know a couple of people who have them and love them. Plus the roominess inside is mind boggling. I was shocked when I got in for the first time - so at least test drive it. My husband on the other hand is a huge FORD made in America car guy and would like to see me in a Ford Edge. We rented one for a trip and it was pretty nice - but not as roomy. I currently drive a Toyota Highlander and was a die hard Toyota fan until the last couple of years and now would not buy Toyota - my son is too precious for me to chance all of there recent issues and there are just too many to convince me that they are back. Good luck and let us know what you went with.



answers from Boston on

We had an outback and liked it, but I am the least picky person about cars. I wanted it to be able to fit the two kids, two dogs, two grown-ups, and be any color but white : ) We just got a cr-v and are happy with it. The dogs fit in the back, and the backseats fold down, move up, all kinds of cool stuff to make more space. It's handled well in all this snow. And I do think that the seats are more comfortable too. It doesn't have quite the pick-up as the outback, but gets good gas mileage and was affordable. I have no idea if you can get it in manual transmission. Good luck!



answers from Boston on

We got a Hyundai Elantra Touring last summer. it's a wagon. So far I really like it. It gets decent mileage for a wagon (worse than my old Ford focus hatchback but better than the outbacks - we looked at those). It was a great price and it came with some nice features. You can get it as a stick. I will say that with the recent weather it has handled reasonably well but the wheel wells are rather small so they get packed with snow fairly quickly. It's not a huge issue but it does effect driving on the very messy roads we've had lately.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think any car you can pay cash for is a GREAt car -- and it rides nicer when you know it's YOURS. No payments for me. Ever. (Another Dave Ramsay Commercial! haha)



answers from Boston on

I would look at Hybrid options if you are concerned with gas mileage. Family member has the hylander hybrid and they just bought a 2nd one because they loved the first. not sure if hybrid has manual transmission option. I also love my 5 speed but am considering going automatic for the hybrid vehicles - I am thinking about going with a prius once I have my finances in order.

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