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killer of cities and forests

US companies: Ford, Chrysler, GM

always intrigued by the Smart Car....


argh having never owned my own car, may have to buy 2 of them to live in Chicago Suburb-s

probable generality

  • Jihi will Commute in small-ish car

  • I will have family-sized behemoth

    • Station Wagon/Hatch Back are good alternatives to small SUV-s. They offer better fuel economy, ride and handle more like sedans, and have flexible cargo-carrying capabilities.

    • Want 3 seats in the 2nd row, so many Mini Van-s are out. But not all. The main appeal of three-row vehicles is their ability to carry a combination of people and cargo. They include minivans and SUVs, although larger SUVs provide both better access and more cargo space. Our list highlights the best and worst of three-row vehicles based on seat comfort and ease of access to the third-row seat.

  • for winter traction both need 4WD/AWD? AWD will also be fine for most normal snow conditions on paved or graded roads, or for traveling on forest, desert, or other dirt roads without high rocks, deep sand, or steep inclines. If going well off the beaten track, or where you'll likely encounter more severe conditions, you'll probably be better off opting for 4WD. (But "TractionControl" systems aren't sufficient.) (For 4WD, note that some systems require stopping the car to change modes.) But remember 4WD and AWD systems only provide extra traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering. And mount winter tires on all four wheels for balanced handling. Remove them after winter, since these tires wear quickly on dry roads (plan on about three winters of use). And be sure to opt for ABS on any vehicle.

  • hmm buy used?

Fuel Economy - range of "overall" mpg best-cases by category (I'm dropping the super-best cases from each)

  • small: 28-32

  • sedan: 24-28 (we've rented plenty of these - they're fine for weekends but limited in cargo)

  • Station Wagon/Hatch Back: 25-30

  • small SUV: 21-24

  • mid-sized SUV: 18-21

  • Mini Van: 19

mistakes to avoid

lease vs buy/finance

features for both cars

  • backup parking sensor

  • GPS, Voice Control, Blue Tooth/IPhone

  • heavily tinted windows all the way around

  • if no enclosed trunk, then some sort of privacy-shade to hide goodies from passing strangers.

  • unusual color for easier finding in parking lot?

some high-rated larger cars: want to have 3rd row of seats

  • Toyota Sienna (Mini Van) link the affordable CE, the midrange LE, the upscale XLE and the Lexus-like XLE Limited. Most Sienna buyers will be happy with the CE or LE, and these are the trims to look at if you want the eight-passenger option, which places a three-person, 40/20/40 bench seat in the second row in lieu of twin captain's chairs. 70cuft, 18mpg, $27k.

    • hmm, looks like can't get 8-passenger with AWD! Reject!

      • argh can't find link for that belief, now I can't confirm it. And dealer said it wasn't true (though I have to see to really believe). But back on the list for now.

      • Sept09 update: confirmed you can't get AWD for 8 passengers. But drove this and liked it so much, in combination with awesome cargo capacity, that still front-runner.

    • nice review from 2004.

  • Pontiac Vibe link Noisy and swaying ride. Reject.

  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid link Handling is sound and secure, but not particularly agile and the steering feels vague. The third-row seat is tight and does not fold in a 50/50 split. 37cuft, 24mpg, $32k

  • Honda Crv link * The LX gets you the basics like powered accessories, air-conditioning and a CD player. The high-volume EX model adds niceties like keyless entry, alloy wheels, an upgraded stereo, moonroof and privacy glass. For those who want it all, the uplevel EX-L's additions include leather upholstery, power driver seat, satellite radio and a subwoofer. The sole item on the SUV's options list is a touchscreen navigation system that includes a rearview camera.* 25cuft, 21mpg, $27k invoice price.

  • Hyndai Santa Fe link 37cuft, 18mpg, $24k

  • Nissan Murano link The S comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, split/folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer and auxiliary audio jack. The SL adds privacy glass, a power driver seat, a power return feature for the rear seats (if lowered, they return to their upright position at the touch of a button) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls. The top-shelf LE has 20-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, roof rails, automatic xenon headlights, leather upholstery, heated seats (front and rear), a power passenger seat and a pop-up cargo area organizer. An upgraded Bose audio system, iPod integration, satellite radio, keyless ignition/entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity are also standard for the LE. 31cuft, 19mpg, $28k

  • Subaru ImprezaOutbackSport link 22cuft, 23mpg, $19k

  • Toyota Highlander link 37cuft, 18mpg, $26k

  • Toyota Rav4 link There is no moonroof on a base model. The wheels on the sport and limited are bigger. Suspension on the sport is stiffer. It's all about the options that you like. 38cuft, 22mpg, $23k Hmm: A tiny third-row seat is optional. Probable reject.

high-rated small cars

  • Infinit M35 expensive

  • Infiniti G-37x link $37k

  • Acura TL link $36k

  • Lexus IS250 link

  • Ford Fusion/Hybrid $32k

  • Mercury Milan/Hybrid $36k

  • Toyota RAV4 $30k

  • BMW 328i link $39k

  • Subaru Impreza 2.5i wagon link 2.5i Auto Satellite Radio & Navigation sedan $21k

  • Mitsubishi Outlander SUV link $22k

  • Nissan Rogue SUV link $26k

  • Audi A4 link too new to project reliability? $37k

  • Audi A6 $50k history of weak reliability

  • being short, Jihi wants to be "up" to be able to see - have to get small SUV?

  • comparison between the Infiniti, BMW, Audi, and Acura.

  • review of Infiniti. Bad ergonomics for navigation system (too far away from driver)?

  • Sept10: drove the Infiniti and the BMW. The Infiniti is definitely the more human-friendly car, and more reliable.

Specs for purchase

  • Toyota Sienna: I'm looking for a new Sienna, 2009 or 2010, with AWD, XLE or Limited, with GPS system, backup camera, Bluetooth. Daytime running lights. Window shades maximum possible. Don't care much about color, slightly prefer non-silver. For accessories want VIP (Vehicle Intrusion Program) and Emergency Assitance Kit.

    • Dealers:

      • Pauly Toyota

      • Libertyville autonation.com

      • foxlaketoyota.com

      • toyotaarlington.com

Sept20 update: bought from Pauly Toyota.


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