SUV recommendations

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SUV recommendations

Postby huxbnw » Sun May 05, 2013 8:05 pm

My family (two kids under 5) is looking for an SUV that has a flip up third row. After a series of more budget cars, right now we are thinking of the BMW X5 or an Acura MDX, probably a certified pre-owned model but we could get new. Any other contenders to consider? We'll probably also look at the Toyota Highlander. Thanks.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby henry » Sun May 05, 2013 8:29 pm

Toyota Highlander
Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia (all made by GM)
Mazda CX-9
Honda Pilot
Ford Flex
Ford Explorer

I don't own any of the above but the Highlander is nice and rated highly by Consumer Reports. Third row is small though and sized for kids. The GM triplets seem to have the largest interiors and the most usable third row. MDX is nice but more of luxury SUV and the third row is also pretty small. X5 also has a tiny third row that is hard to access.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby smiley » Sun May 05, 2013 8:45 pm

same situation as you with 2 kids under 5. we owned the MDX - was a very good car, a true workhorse. downside to the '08 model we had was single tv screen flipped down from above creating a weird angle for kids to watch on long trips.
does the X5 even have a 3rd row?
to be honest, we used the 3rd row in the MDX maybe 3 times, and with 2 carseats in the 2nd row, it was challenging to use. the extra cargo space was nice.

i would suggest you look at the Infiniti JX35 (we own now) or the comparable (practically same car but several grand cheaper) new Nissan Pathfinder.
3rd row is usable by adults, easy to get into without taking out childseat in 2nd row, 2 tv screens mounted in headrests (sure, it's a luxury but my kids love this).
we love this car - more "luxurious"-feeling than the MDX with better leather and nicer trim, and drives so much more like a car than a truck.
also the gadgets are awesome - the around-view monitor and the backup collision intervention are amazing, making this very large vehicle very easy to maneuver and pull out of tight parking spots.
these would likely be the same price new as the other cars certified preowned.

:happy
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby LadyGeek » Sun May 05, 2013 8:49 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (car).
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby TRC » Sun May 05, 2013 8:50 pm

BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby rxjayhawk » Sun May 05, 2013 9:00 pm

Honda pilot! Owned 1 for 8 years no problems. Great in all weather. You are lucky, one of the two best times of the year to buy a new vehicle (last week in June) is rapidly approaching. Great deals if you play your cards right.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Jake46 » Sun May 05, 2013 9:12 pm

Honda Pilot. I had a 2007 & now have a 2012. Great vehicles, great service.
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Volvo XC90, Chevy Travesrse

Postby RNJ » Sun May 05, 2013 9:30 pm

WE just purchased our 2010 Volvo XC90 off lease. Love the car. Very simple layout, safe, reliable, family friendly (2 young kids).

Also, recent new lease on a Chevy Traverse, the least expensive of the three GM model types (Traverse, Acadia, Enclave). We've had the car for a month and are really enjoying it. Nothing fancy, but it splits the difference between an SUV and a minivan. Great feature: get the version with the second row "captain's chairs" instead of the bench configuration. In this way you can have 5-point harness child seats in both second row seats and still have full access to the third row (I hope I'm explaining this properly).

We are not car people so we usually go for a safe, simple, family-friendly design. I like the Volvo, but the Traverse is winning over my wife and me.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Browser » Mon May 06, 2013 10:59 am

I'd add the newly redesigned 2013 Nissan Pathfinder to the mix. Very nice vehicle with best in class gas mileage and top flight interior. As for the Honda Pilot, the boxy bodystyle is due for a remake for the 2015 model and they are adding a better powerplant for 2014. Sort of a utilitarian interior, especially compared to the Pathfinder. I'd wait on that one since the current vintage is long in the tooth.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby psteinx » Mon May 06, 2013 11:04 am

Have you considered a minivan instead? Modern minivans tend to have fold flat 3rd rows (for a lot of cargo room in the back, when needed), and are in many ways very well suited for families with kids.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Wolkenspiel » Mon May 06, 2013 11:39 am

TRC wrote:BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.


We bought an X5 35i two years ago. Other than filling up every other week, total cost has been 0 and the car hasn't seen a dealership since we drove off the lot in 2011. Unlike a Highlander, the X5 is also fun to drive (as far as SUV's go).
I owned two 3 series BMWs previously, which provided a hassle free total of 100000 miles (both of them bought used).

The OP should test drive his possible choices, and decide whether he wants a car or an appliance.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby kraftwerk » Mon May 06, 2013 11:49 am

You can get 4runners with a flip up 3rd row. 4runners and grand cherokees are basically the only "SUVs" which are still real SUVs, rather than lifted minivans. The highlander for example is built of a Camry chassis.

Budget constraints - 4runner.
No budget - Land Cruiser.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby sesq » Mon May 06, 2013 11:56 am

My kids are 4 & 7. We got a highlander because my wife (minivan refused) wanted the feature where you can take the center seat out of the second row and access the back without moving car seats. She is a honda fan, but that feature was must have to her. I think volvo (too much) and one american (sadly don't trust) car had similar features.

We have had it a year and it is handy. I note (to myself) that this level of access is standard on minivans. But no reason she shouldn't get her preference.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby AUAstroMan » Mon May 06, 2013 12:29 pm

I would strongly recommend the Toyota Highlander. And if you can wait 8 - 12 months you will probably get a good deal on a new one. They just showed the redesign of the vehicle that will go on sale in early 2014. That means that the current generation will be receiving significant discounts toward the end of this year. Despite the fact that it is at the end of its life cycle, the current model is still at or near the top of most rankings (see earlier link to Consumer Reports).

If you absolutely want to go more upscale, the Acura MDX would be my vote. You just have to decide if it is worth the extra $10k. Personally, I'd rather get a new Highlander versus a pre-owned MDX.

Also, I would highly recommend going through a buying service such as USAA (if you are a member) or Costco. You'll almost certainly get a better price than negotiating it yourself, and the process is very easy and stress free. Even if you are not currently a Costco member I would sign up for a one-year membership to get access to the service, you will more than make up for it in the savings on the vehicle. There are other buying services out there (many credit unions have them for example), but USAA and Costco are consistently ranked as the best and they are "free" for members of those organizations.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby huxbnw » Mon May 06, 2013 1:22 pm

Thank you for all the comments. Very helpful advice from the Bogleheads. We will now move the Toyota Highlander to the top few candidates based on the comments. We'll also look at the Infiniti, Nissan, Honda, Volvo and other options. My wife has vetoed the idea of a minivan. This vehicle is primarily for two parents and two kids under 5 for both city and country driving. We would like a third row for the limited times when we are driving grandparents or kids' friends (maybe less than 5% of the time). So the flip up third row will only be for kids and used on very limited occasions. After years of inexpensive cars and saving, we are planning to buy the car that we want (be it the X5, MDX, Highlander or otherwise). Safety is very important. We plan to drive all the options this summer, with the idea of purchasing a new model or certified pre-owned model in the late summer or fall. Please keep your comments coming--so helpful to hear from this reliable group.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby huxbnw » Mon May 06, 2013 1:23 pm

I am a bit partial to the X5 based on superficialities (looks, etc.). But I can easily be swayed by better options. Thanks!
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby tyrion » Mon May 06, 2013 1:27 pm

Might want to look at the Kia Sorrento as well. It has a third row seat and is being positioned as a more upscale option this model year.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Jamieson22 » Mon May 06, 2013 1:40 pm

If you decide against the necessity of a third row, take a look at a Subaru Outback.

We just replaced an '06 Grand Cherokee Limited with a '13 Outback Limited and the Subaru has more legroom in front with 2 car seats in the back than the Grand Cherokee did and about same amount of storage behind rear seats. Plus the added benefit of getting > 15mpg on the highway is nice too.

If you wanted something "fancier" than the Outback, you could spend $10k more for a Volvo XC70 wagon to get the same thing.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby BW1985 » Mon May 06, 2013 2:25 pm

I love my '13 Ford Escape. Great technology, sleek look, good ride and mpg.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby inbox788 » Mon May 06, 2013 2:28 pm

Jamieson22 wrote:If you decide against the necessity of a third row, take a look at a Subaru Outback.


The Outback is a great wagon, but don't overlook the Forester (smaller) or Tribeca (larger). The Forester is brand new model this year, and if you can wait till next year, Tribaca is also getting a redesign, rumored to be based off Hilander, but IMHO, better looking.

OP, just get the X5 if that's the car you want and can afford it. If work was providing you with company car with free gas, what would you ask for? Everything is a trade off of cost vs. value, luxury vs. value, feature vs. value, etc.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby semperlux » Mon May 06, 2013 2:29 pm

Another second for the Honda Pilot. Family owns one, and we use all 3 rows at least once a week for family get togethers. Our primary reasons for choosing the Pilot included a full size fully functional 3rd row, awesome gas mileage, shorter total length compared to a minivan with easy blind spots for parking, and the entire back can be folded down flat for moving things.

The Toyota was neck to neck with the Honda in our decision, but after test driving both, felt the Honda had a little more "pep " and was a little more fun to drive than the Toyota. Regardless, don't think you could go wrong either way.

Oh, and I agree with the previous comment about Toyota's 3rd row being smaller. Honda's was full sized if you're planning to seat adults in the back. And if you're also looking at Lexus' GX, their 3rd row is basically the same as Toyota's, since it's just the "luxury " version of the Highlander.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Random Poster » Mon May 06, 2013 2:30 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:I owned two 3 series BMWs previously, which provided a hassle free total of 100000 miles (both of them bought used).


Ummmm...I'm not sure whether your statement should be interpreted as being a good thing or a bad thing.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby semperlux » Mon May 06, 2013 2:40 pm

Random Poster wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:I owned two 3 series BMWs previously, which provided a hassle free total of 100000 miles (both of them bought used).


Ummmm...I'm not sure whether your statement should be interpreted as being a good thing or a bad thing.


Haha, I'm with you on that one. :happy
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Browser » Mon May 06, 2013 7:55 pm

I noticed a Subaru Tribeca in the dealer lot the other day and thought it was a very appealing-looking vehicle. Didn't think it was a Subaru from a distance because of the luxo styling. The only negative was that the mileage didn't look so good to me compared to the competition. The 2013 Forester went to a CVT type transmission, which really boosted the EPA mileage compared to the 2012 (Subarus are all full time 4-wheel drive, which generally get worse mileage). Maybe the Tribeca is going to CVT and that will help the mileage rating? I'll have a look if the 2014 is a new model. BTW, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has a CVT which is probably the reason it has a better mileage rating. I've test-driven CVTs and they can be a little different from the usual auto gearbox, so you'll want to pay attention to that factor when you test drive CVT equipped vehicles.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby otbricki » Mon May 06, 2013 9:23 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:
TRC wrote:BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.


We bought an X5 35i two years ago. Other than filling up every other week, total cost has been 0 and the car hasn't seen a dealership since we drove off the lot in 2011.


Not even for the free maintenance program?
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby dkdoy » Mon May 06, 2013 9:33 pm

We had a 2002 Highlander for 10yrs and had no problems at all. Loved it but decided to buy a new 2013 Highlander. For our needs the Highlander is a perfect vehicle.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Wolkenspiel » Mon May 06, 2013 9:34 pm

Random Poster wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:I owned two 3 series BMWs previously, which provided a hassle free total of 100000 miles (both of them bought used).


Ummmm...I'm not sure whether your statement should be interpreted as being a good thing or a bad thing.


One (a 320) was bought for $1200 with 180000km. 4 years and about 110000km later it was too much hassle to get a 16year old car through the German bi-annual inspection (which involves a bit more than paying some guy at a gas station 30bucks). The other (a 325i) was driven by me for a little more than a year and then sold to a relative when I moved out of the country. It was traded in for a new car 12 years later. The only major problem in 14 years total was a leaking radiator, IIRC. I hope that helps.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Wolkenspiel » Mon May 06, 2013 9:37 pm

otbricki wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:
TRC wrote:BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.


We bought an X5 35i two years ago. Other than filling up every other week, total cost has been 0 and the car hasn't seen a dealership since we drove off the lot in 2011.


Not even for the free maintenance program?


No, not so far. As the wife's car it has only 6k miles. I assume it will let us know when the time comes.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby otbricki » Mon May 06, 2013 10:07 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:
otbricki wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:
TRC wrote:BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.


We bought an X5 35i two years ago. Other than filling up every other week, total cost has been 0 and the car hasn't seen a dealership since we drove off the lot in 2011.


Not even for the free maintenance program?


No, not so far. As the wife's car it has only 6k miles. I assume it will let us know when the time comes.


I thought they recommended service at one year regardless of mileage if for nothing but to rotate tires and check fluids.

Which reminds me. I gave BMW a lot of consideration the last time I bought a car. I just could not get past the insistence on run flat tires. It's a characteristic of BMW anyone considering one of these cars should understand before purchase.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Wolkenspiel » Mon May 06, 2013 10:36 pm

otbricki wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:
otbricki wrote:
Wolkenspiel wrote:
TRC wrote:BMWs are money pits.
Mdx are gas thirsty and require premium.
I'd go highlander.


We bought an X5 35i two years ago. Other than filling up every other week, total cost has been 0 and the car hasn't seen a dealership since we drove off the lot in 2011.


Not even for the free maintenance program?


No, not so far. As the wife's car it has only 6k miles. I assume it will let us know when the time comes.


I thought they recommended service at one year regardless of mileage if for nothing but to rotate tires and check fluids.

Which reminds me. I gave BMW a lot of consideration the last time I bought a car. I just could not get past the insistence on run flat tires. It's a characteristic of BMW anyone considering one of these cars should understand before purchase.


They'll pay for annual oil changes, but the BMW suggestions seems to be to follow the "Condition Based Service". I'm pretty sure the BMW engineers in Munch just roll their eyes at people changing their perfectly good synthetic oil every 3000 miles.

Whether one can live with the run flats is something a test drive should clarify - I'm not bothered by the loss in ride quality, others are.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby otbricki » Mon May 06, 2013 11:06 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:Whether one can live with the run flats is something a test drive should clarify - I'm not bothered by the loss in ride quality, others are.


Run flats have characteristics that are different from other tires besides the ride. I'm just suggesting that potential buyers should research before buying.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby swaption » Tue May 07, 2013 10:22 am

We bought an MDX in 2002 with two small kids and our move to the suburbs. Two years ago, we bought a Mazda CX9 and that was a great call. The rationale is as follows.

Our personal opinion was that paying more for a premium SUV with two small kids is basically money thrown down the drain. It will drive you nuts the first couple of years when you care about how it looks inside, and then you will just stop caring. Having said that, we still wanted a certain quality of vehicle. When it cam to buy again, our kids were older and less prone to make a mess. The MDX was again a consideration. From a value perspective, it is an awesome vehicle. I saw a new version at the auto show I think slated for 2014, so maybe deals will soon be on the horizon. It blows away all others in the premium segment from a value persepctive. But having said that, the CX-9 in the highest trim was only marginally different than the MDX, but the cost savings was substantial. A lot of the underpinnings in the CX-9 are still basically a Ford (the platform, engine, etc). We have had it for a couple of years now and have not looked back. Great car.

The savings on an apples to apples basis between the CX-9 and an MDX came out to roughly $7k - $8K. Relative to the BMW or some other more expensive SUVs, that could get to $15k or higher.

If I were looking today, I would also give some strong consideration to the new Nissan Pathfinder.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby huxbnw » Tue May 07, 2013 10:35 am

What are these BMS run flat tires? First I've heard of them. Right now the top three candidates for us are the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Toyota Highlander (possibly hybrid). We'll also try out many of the other recommended options. Any views on the Lexus GX? We live in Brooklyn but take long day trips most weekends. Thanks to everyone for the very helpful suggestions.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Gemini » Tue May 07, 2013 11:09 am

To the OP, what is your budget?

I was in a similar situation not too long ago, but w/o the need for a flip up third row. I didn't really have a budget and was willing to go as high as 100K (glad I didn't though haha).

I test drove and researched a lot, including x5, x6, cayenne w/ various trims, Rx350, ML, GL, G, MDX, Q5, Q7, Toyotas, Hondas, and all the way down to a Kia/Hyundai.

The ones that really stood out were the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes G Class, Acura MDX and the Toyota 4Runner - the trail edition. After going back and forth and some more research and yada yada yada, I ended up going in for an Acura MDX. It was the best bang for the buck and a perfect blend of luxury, reliability and performance.

If money was an issue, I would have def gone in for the 4Runner trail - that thing is a beast and drives surprisingly well.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby swaption » Tue May 07, 2013 11:13 am

huxbnw wrote:What are these BMS run flat tires? First I've heard of them. Right now the top three candidates for us are the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Toyota Highlander (possibly hybrid). We'll also try out many of the other recommended options. Any views on the Lexus GX? We live in Brooklyn but take long day trips most weekends. Thanks to everyone for the very helpful suggestions.


If you live in Brooklyn and will be used primarily as a weekend car, then my comments above regarding the wisdom of a high end SUV are even stronger. The city is brutal on cars, so you may also go crazy caring about the outside of your car as well as the inside. Further, I'd guess you will be putting on very low mileage, in which case a hybrid would likely be a waste. While used cars are generally no bargain these days, a CPO vehicle may make some sense. Our second car (a BMW) gets very low mileage, so I happily took the discount associated with a high mileage used car. The thought of buying a brand new high end SUV in NYC and putting low mileage on it just pains my inner Boglehead sensibilities (think high depreciation, low mileage = very high cost per mile). It's a lot of depreciation to be sitting in a garage for 5 days a week.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby TheOscarGuy » Tue May 07, 2013 4:00 pm

huxbnw wrote:What are these BMS run flat tires? First I've heard of them. Right now the top three candidates for us are the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Toyota Highlander (possibly hybrid). We'll also try out many of the other recommended options. Any views on the Lexus GX? We live in Brooklyn but take long day trips most weekends. Thanks to everyone for the very helpful suggestions.


If the car tire gets punctured, the run flats will not deflate all the way. Therefore it is possible to drive (and also put air into the tires) the car for a little while. It is a peace of mind that BMW sells with run-flats. It is notoriously unpopular with BMW aficionados.

X5 (due to run flats) does not have spare. Additionally run flat needs to be *replaced* once punctured and can not be "fixed" like normal tires can. Currently its my wife's car. For me, knowing that she will not have to wait for someone to change the tires if they are punctured is worth paying for them. I can live with their less than stellar performance and noise (though I don't think its that high).
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby otbricki » Tue May 07, 2013 4:13 pm

Here is a pretty balanced article on run flat tires:

http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012 ... -them.html
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby bungalow10 » Tue May 07, 2013 4:34 pm

We have a 2006 Highlander that we bought to bridge us until we can get a minivan and like it so much I will probably eventually replace it with another Highlander. We have three in car seats/boosters right now and they fit across the second row. We don't have the third row of seats in ours, but will get it for our next vehicle.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Browser » Wed May 08, 2013 12:23 pm

Since I don't have kids to transport, I don't want (need) 3-row seating and the extra fuel expense of a full sized SUV. Problem is, you have to step down to a small SUV such as the Escape, Rav4, CRV, Forester, and Acura RDX to get 2-row seating and decent mileage. There's nothing "in between" except the Nissan Murano as far as I can tell. Two-row seating, upscale interior, nice ride and quietness, decent cargo space. Murano is a nice vehicle but the mileage is even worse than the Nissan Pathfinder, which is larger and heavier. And the current bodystyle is long in the tooth and due for a redesign probably in 2014 or 2015 at the latest. I'm waiting for that one, but concerned that the redesign is going to be a little out there, as was the original Murano design when it first came out.
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. – Jim Barksdale
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby xGLORYx » Wed May 08, 2013 4:39 pm

I'm a Mopar fan, and love the latest Dodge Durango. It has the flip up 3rd row, but looks to be the same size as a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Once we get past kid #2, we'll be looking to step up.

At the end of the day, just say "No to Minivans!" :D
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby psteinx » Thu May 09, 2013 1:54 pm

xGLORYx wrote:At the end of the day, just say "No to Minivans!" :D

Umm, why?

Because they're a form factor very well suited to typical family life with kids?

Because they're often more fuel efficient than SUVs that can hold similar passenger counts?

Because you might actually drive down a gravel road once a year, and that's SO much more suited to an SUV?

Hey, I understand there's a cool factor to the vehicles we drive. But the widespread disdain for minivans seems rather silly to me.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby tonsofthorns » Thu May 09, 2013 2:09 pm

We had a 2002 Toyota Highlander for ten years. Great car!

We searched last year for a car that had a third row of seats. Liked the MDX, Explorer, Highland and the Pilot.

For overall value and experience we went with the 2012 Honda Pilot. And have been very happy with this purchase. We average about 22-24 miles/gal., lots more room than the other cars we looked at.

I personally really liked the MDX, but could not get over the price of the vehicle, gas mileage & the use of a premium fuel.

Good luck on your search.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Wolkenspiel » Thu May 09, 2013 4:07 pm

psteinx wrote:
xGLORYx wrote:At the end of the day, just say "No to Minivans!" :D

Umm, why?


Maybe because even for the best vans, driving them just isn't any fun:
"Minivans on the road today are all very similar with regard to performance and handling in that they offer solid acceleration, but that's all the credit they'll get from me. The 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE feels completely floaty with little -- if any -- connection to the road."

At least that's what Autoweek had to say, and frankly, compared to my impression of way-too-many business trips in various Dodge etc vans, that's still charitable. In contrast, I smile everytime I borrow my wife's X5. It accelerates, brakes and handles infinitely better than something its size has any right to.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Gnirk » Thu May 09, 2013 4:17 pm

I love my 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited. We bought it instead of the Lexus RX 350 because of the third row of seats. We've also owned a Lexus GX470, and like the Highlander better, even though it doesn't have memory seats. Although I liked the Acura MD X, it turned out the passenger seat became very uncomfortable for me after half an hour of riding in it ( low back pain).

I suggest that you take a test drive for at least half an hour, driving both Freeway and some bumpy side roads to get an accurate feel of both how it drives, and seat comfort.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby momar » Thu May 09, 2013 4:35 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:
psteinx wrote:
xGLORYx wrote:At the end of the day, just say "No to Minivans!" :D

Umm, why?


Maybe because even for the best vans, driving them just isn't any fun:
"Minivans on the road today are all very similar with regard to performance and handling in that they offer solid acceleration, but that's all the credit they'll get from me. The 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE feels completely floaty with little -- if any -- connection to the road."

At least that's what Autoweek had to say, and frankly, compared to my impression of way-too-many business trips in various Dodge etc vans, that's still charitable. In contrast, I smile everytime I borrow my wife's X5. It accelerates, brakes and handles infinitely better than something its size has any right to.

It sounds like you are comparing a Dodge to a BMW, not a minivan to an SUV.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby Go Blue 99 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:40 pm

We are also in the market for a 3rd row SUV, which we want to buy by Spring of '14. We will hold for a long time, and we take a lot of road trips, so I don't mind splurging a bit on the vehicle. I prefer to have a recent redesign, as it makes the car look newer for a long period of time.

The Acura MDX is redesigned for '14 and is getting great reviews. Gas mileage is up as well (28 MPG for highway). I like the Honda quality, as well as the new station wagon design. I think this is one of our top contenders right now.

I really liked the Infiniti JX35 when it first came out. It has some terrific technology features. However, I am reading a lot of complaints about the gas mileage and power. The newly resdesigned Pathfinder is also nice, and provides some luxury features (though oddly, no Xenon headlight option).

The Hyundai Sante Fe (long wheelbase edition) was just redesigned, and it looks sharp. The Toyota Highlander is getting a full redesign next year, and that is always a worthy candidate. I would check out the Honda Pilot, but I don't believe it's due for a redesign until 2015.

The new redesign of the BMW X5 looks terrific, but that is out of our price range. Same goes with the redesign of the Audi Q7 due next year. Lexus also announced a new 3-row model called the TX, but it won't be out next year.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby jdb » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:49 pm

Lease a Highlander for two years and put in refundable order for Tesla Model X for delivery in 2015. Three row seating, available dual motor AWD, falcon wing doors in rear, large touch screen, all electric and goes 0-60 under 5 seconds. Your kids will love it.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby tweeter » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:53 pm

Others have mentioned them but you should consider the Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe. They are more stylish w/ more features than their Japanese counterparts and have reached a level of quality close to them. The problem is the market has not yet realized the reliability gains and resale values are still not comparable to Japanese cars. I have a friend who is an Automotive instructor at a technical college and said he would not have bought Korean a few years ago, but would not hesitate to buy now. Look into these if you are planning on keeping the car for the long run and want to save some $ off purchase price.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby BW1985 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:20 pm

jdb wrote:Lease a Highlander for two years and put in refundable order for Tesla Model X for delivery in 2015. Three row seating, available dual motor AWD, falcon wing doors in rear, large touch screen, all electric and goes 0-60 under 5 seconds. Your kids will love it.


Sounds expensive.
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Re: SUV recommendations

Postby inbox788 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:25 pm

huxbnw wrote:My family (two kids under 5) is looking for an SUV that has a flip up third row. After a series of more budget cars, right now we are thinking of the BMW X5 or an Acura MDX, probably a certified pre-owned model but we could get new. Any other contenders to consider? We'll probably also look at the Toyota Highlander. Thanks.


Since you mentioned third row, here are my suggestions.
1) minivan! Odyssey or sienna. Can't go wrong with either. If you really need the extra passenger carrying capacity, it's really your best choice. Adult sized rear seats!
2) pilot or highlander. Gets the job done, but those rear seats are very small.
3) mdx - get the new one, since they just upped the size of the rear seats, but par for the course, it's only from tiny to small. I predict you'll wind up with this outcome when all is said and done.

Any car will get you through the next 3-5 years, but do you intend to keep the car beyond that timeframe or trade it in for another vehicle at that time? The above choices are keepers or what you'll be considering when the kids are 8-10 years old and grandparents or other adults need the 2nd row.

Don't even bother with the ridiculously expensive stumps BMW calls seats. You'll outgrow the MDX 3rd row as well, and then you'll wonder why you're carrying around those extra pounds burning premium fuel, and only use them occasionally/rarely. Then you'll ask why you can't remove them to use as extra storage, though removing the seat just occupies space in your garage.

If you can do without the 3rd row seat, the RDX is an excellent choice and my top pick. (disclosure: I own Odyssey and RDX-lite, aka CRV)
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