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We're in the Market for a Car - OT

Sorry for the OT post, but I was hoping to solicit some feedback from the community.

My wife and I have decided to buy a car. Since we returned from our nearly two years abroad in 2003 we have not owned a car. We've survived six Toronto winters, and getting things done with first one, then two, children without owning a car. We managed that by:

  • Living in mid-town Toronto, thus being able to walk to many places (grocery store, book store, hardware store, library, etc.).
  • Making extensive use of public transit. Our house is a five minute walk from a subway station.
  • Getting access to a car when we need it through our membership in AutoShare, a car sharing program.
  • Renting cars for longer trips (e.g. vacations).

We've noticed, however, that we've been getting AutoShare cars more and more frequently, as much as three times per week. We believe that even at that rate using AutoShare is much less expensive than owning a car, but it's also less convenient. Particularly when one has to install and uninstall two car seats on each occasion. So we're taking the plunge and buying a car!

The first step, of course, was to define the requirements for our new car:

  1. It must fit comfortably on our parking pad, which means that the car must be around 4700mm (15.5 ft) or less in length.
  2. It should have a reasonable amount of cargo space, as we enjoy camping and road trips with the kids.
  3. It should have reasonably low fuel consumption.
  4. It should be nice enough to justify buying a car after all of these years ;-)

With those requirements in mind, we started looking at specs online, and have compiled the following list of candidates:

  • Acura RDX
  • Audi A4 2.0T Avant
  • Volvo V50 T5 AWD
  • Saab 9-3 SportCombi
  • Lexus RX 400h
  • Mercedes R350

The Lexus and the Mercedes might be a bit too long to fit on our parking pad (it's kind of hard to judge without actually attempting to park them), and they are also more money than we think we're prepared to spend, but we're leaving them on our "long list" for now. I should also mention that we're not considering buying a brand new car - we'll be looking for a late-model (e.g., 2007 - 2008) car.

I haven't paid attention to the world of cars for a very long time, but I'm guessing that some people reading this might have. So, if you have an opinion on any of the above cars, let me hear it!

All great cars... Have to admit that I love my mother-in-laws MDX (RDX's big sister) and drive a Honda so an RDX would be at the top of my list. The Lexus RXs are great. Handle great. Drive Great. More pep then you would expect. Haven't driven the Hybrid but the older ones are awesome. The Audi is beautiful but I haven't driven one...

Those would be my top 3. Audi A4 2.0T Avant, RDX and Lexus RX 400h

The Audi will probably be the most fun of all these cars to drive which in my book is one of the more important criteria (despite the fact that I drive a civic...). My 2 cents...
# Posted By Daniel Sellers | 5/27/09 2:36 PM
Show your love for our planet by buying an electric or hybrid vehicle!

They may not be as nice as standard fueled vehicles, but think of the positive impact you can have. Also, there's always the Tesla models, depending on how nice you really want :)
# Posted By TJ Downes | 5/27/09 3:26 PM
Show your disdain for the hippies by buying a Hummer with an exhaust leak! ;)
# Posted By Bob | 5/27/09 3:48 PM
@TJ: I agree with your sentiment. We started our search with hybrids. The love of the planet is the main reason that we've been carless for so long. Unfortunately only the Lexus hybrid meets our requirements. We looked at the Prius, but its cargo space is a bit too small to be practical to us.

We have also considered the fact that we will not be driving this car very much, as we're quite used to getting around without a car. So our footprint will be minimal regardless of which car we choose.
# Posted By Bob Silverberg | 5/27/09 4:48 PM
One thing I must say, is that you are picking high end cars. With that said, I will move on to my comment.
I think the best choice would be an SUV since you want to transport groceries and weather conditions seem to point on the side of winterish ;-)
My pick would be the Acura RDX, its very very very roomy (I know because my friend has one) and it handles like you wouldn't believe. The only thing that is going to get you is the tune-ups or anything that you need done on the car (can you say expensive?). But this is a great vehicle.
May I also recommend the AUDI A4 2.0T since it has all-wheel-drive. The other cars are way to pricey for me and I refuse to pay money when I can get the alternative with more features and comfort for a better price.

My 2 cents.
# Posted By Agent RR007 | 5/27/09 6:25 PM
I bought a 2008 RDX for my wife and haven't looked back. A ton of features standard and a great car to boot. Great for hauling around kids and their stuff.
# Posted By Justin | 5/28/09 7:39 AM
I'm on my second 9-3 and love it. The '03 was a little weird, but the '06 is plenty stable and goes like a bat out of hell. Highly recommended if you want something that's a little out of the mainstream with personality.

Also, look at the Honda Fit. It's a completely different segment from what you're looking at but the sheer functionality and efficiency of that car has repeatedly impressed me. Three of my friends have them and can't say enough good things.
# Posted By steve | 5/28/09 8:40 AM
I don't see any vehicles from the Big 3 on your list. How about helping the workers of Ontario and Michigan when they need it most?
# Posted By Rick Mason | 5/28/09 9:07 AM
I'll submit a vote for the A4. The avants have a great amount of space for a compact car and the Quattro will be serve you well in your northern clime.
# Posted By steve | 5/28/09 7:42 PM
I vote for the A4, my brother has an A3 and its great.

@Rick: I think both SAAB and Volvo is Big 3 cars, GM and Ford actualy (but don´t know for how long..).
# Posted By Göran | 6/4/09 7:25 PM