Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

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Dietmar
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Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Dietmar » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm

I’m looking to replace my 14-year old beater car with a newer, nicer, safer car for commuting. I had previously been driving our 2016 Forester (also used for skiing and outdoorsing, 40k miles), but now my wife will be driving that with our new baby. I was thinking about getting a new Forester/Outback/RAV4, but it almost feels like a waste for commuting (as compared to a smaller hatchback). That said, when I look at Edmunds TCO, the compact SUVs are only a few thousand dollars more over a compact hatchback over 5 years, which is worth it to me.

At the same time, we are planning to have another kid in 2 or so years, in which case it might start being nice to have a larger vehicle like a 3-row SUV or minivan. For example, today I was surprised at how much space a stroller + bassinet and some bags took up in the trunk of our Forester.

So, does it make more sense to buy another compact SUV now (with AWD for future outdoors stuff) and eventually replace our current Forester with something bigger? Or does it make more sense to just get that 3-row SUV now? (Also feels like overkill) Or maybe just get something like a Golf or Corolla Hatchback and replace that down the road instead?

Requirements:
- Japanese
- Has the most up to date/best adaptive cruise control for dealing with traffic (likely means new or last couple model years)
- Hatchback (i.e. no sedans)
- CarPlay
- Not necessarily looking to drive this until the wheels fall off
- Flexible on price - we can comfortably afford any option, just looking to do what makes the most sense

Lafder
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Lafder » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:36 pm

Cargo space on the Outback is hard to beat!

And you already know where to service a Subaru.

No need for third row seats til kiddos are big enough for you to drive on field trips , or if you have more than three kids.

We have a Forester, Outback, and Impreza. Each has their strengths.

Congrats on the baby. If wife likes the Outback, get her the 2020 with top of the line eyesight. It will be safer than a not brand new Forester for your most precious cargo.

Lafder

Winston19
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Winston19 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:51 pm

Rav4 hybrid might be a good option.

Financologist
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Financologist » Sat Jan 11, 2020 7:26 pm

We bought a three-row SUV ('12 highlander) when our second kid was on the way. The third row has come in handy when toting kids' friends and cousins around. And the extra cargo space has definitely been useful. If you can swing it, a late model highlander for mom and forester for dad would be great. If you prefer to wait and need a commuter car in the meanwhile... I love my '10 Prius. It remains very reliable, costs to maintain and fuel up are very low and you could probably count on minimal depreciation between now and when you are ready for the next car.

Good luck!

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Sandi_k
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Sandi_k » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:19 pm

Winston19 wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:51 pm
Rav4 hybrid might be a good option.
Ditto - I bought one in October, and am getting 40-42 mpg.

atikovi
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by atikovi » Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:23 am

Dietmar wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm
) Or maybe just get something like a Golf or Corolla Hatchback and replace that down the road instead?

Requirements:
- Japanese
Golf isn't Japanese.

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lthenderson
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:31 am

Dietmar wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm
At the same time, we are planning to have another kid in 2 or so years, in which case it might start being nice to have a larger vehicle like a 3-row SUV or minivan.

So, does it make more sense to buy another compact SUV now (with AWD for future outdoors stuff) and eventually replace our current Forester with something bigger? Or does it make more sense to just get that 3-row SUV now?
I would never recommend buying a vehicle now in anticipation of future events years down the road. Things happen and technology has been changing at a fast clip. By the time you have the kid and they are in a front facing seat, there may be some new technology not yet thought of that you then consider a must have for junior. Buy what you need now. Worry about what you might need in the future when you get there.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:33 am

Toyota: Highlander, 4 Runner, Minivan.
Honda: Passport, Pilot
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flyphotoguy
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by flyphotoguy » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:55 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:33 am
Toyota: Highlander, 4 Runner, Minivan.
Honda: Passport, Pilot
IF you want a bit of lux the lexus and acura counterparts might be good too.

In you growing family Toyota Sienna or the Honda van might be the best. It would also cover future baseball, soccer, basketball, swim, hockey, etc. team practices with gear.

Afty
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Afty » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:08 pm

I was about to advise you to hold off until the second kid arrives, then I realized we did exactly what you are proposing. When our first child turned one, we moved to the suburbs and needed to buy a second car. We planned to have a second child in about 2 years. So we bought a 3-row SUV (a Kia Sorento), and it was a good choice.

The Sorento has been great, by the way. No problems in the 8 years we've owned it. It's smaller than most 3-row SUVs, which we like. The 3rd row comes in handy for occasionally transporting my kids' friends.

delamer
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by delamer » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:09 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:31 am
Dietmar wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm
At the same time, we are planning to have another kid in 2 or so years, in which case it might start being nice to have a larger vehicle like a 3-row SUV or minivan.

So, does it make more sense to buy another compact SUV now (with AWD for future outdoors stuff) and eventually replace our current Forester with something bigger? Or does it make more sense to just get that 3-row SUV now?
I would never recommend buying a vehicle now in anticipation of future events years down the road. Things happen and technology has been changing at a fast clip. By the time you have the kid and they are in a front facing seat, there may be some new technology not yet thought of that you then consider a must have for junior. Buy what you need now. Worry about what you might need in the future when you get there.
I agree. Consider a used hatchback or compact SUV for your commute now, and then reevaluate once the next kid comes along.

Congratulations, BTW!

surfstar
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by surfstar » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:22 pm

Commuter: Prius Prime - check to see if your state and/or utility offer rebates in addition to qualifying for a $4500 federal tax credit. We received $1000 from our electric utility, $1500 from CA, and will be collecting the $4500 soon.

Do it all: 2021 Rav4 Prime (not yet available). This should qualify for an even larger federal tax credit due to increased battery size.

These rebates and tax credits won't be around much longer, so it might be the ideal time to buy one of the above. We purchased the 2020 Prius Prime LE in Oct, and with additional discounts, negotiating, rebates/credits, our OTD net price (after CA sales tax! and TTL) will be ~$18,700, for a vehicle with an MSRP of ~$29k

trevorshhh
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by trevorshhh » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:26 pm

I'm not sure how useful Japanese as a designation is. There is a decent gulf in my mind between say, Toyota and Mitsubishi, while the Korean manufacturers have been catching up very quickly and have some competitive options.
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Andyrunner
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Andyrunner » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:27 pm

Going through this now actually. I have a outback, wife has a Mazda CX5. We are realizing as our kids get older we will want a minivan for traveling and carpooling to sports/etc. We are also realizing that its pointless to have two SUV type cars.

Plan is to get wife a smaller car and then get a minivan. Main reason is garage space. We would struggle to fit a minivan and an SUV in our garage. It is a bit of a struggle now, minivan would be worse. Secondary reason is price, smaller hatchback/sedan will be 10-15k less then a minivan so that gives us time to save.

I have thought about going into a dealership and saying we will buy two at the same time and hopefully get a good discount, but that seems fairly complicated and a lot of moving pieces.

Topic Author
Dietmar
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Dietmar » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:33 pm

Afty wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:08 pm
I was about to advise you to hold off until the second kid arrives, then I realized we did exactly what you are proposing. When our first child turned one, we moved to the suburbs and needed to buy a second car. We planned to have a second child in about 2 years. So we bought a 3-row SUV (a Kia Sorento), and it was a good choice.

The Sorento has been great, by the way. No problems in the 8 years we've owned it. It's smaller than most 3-row SUVs, which we like. The 3rd row comes in handy for occasionally transporting my kids' friends.
At what point did you feel like you started to take advantage of the extra seats/size?

Otherwise, I guess the question is how much the transaction costs would be versus carrying costs of the more expensive vehicle.

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mmmodem
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by mmmodem » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:54 pm

Afty wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:08 pm
I was about to advise you to hold off until the second kid arrives, then I realized we did exactly what you are proposing. When our first child turned one, we moved to the suburbs and needed to buy a second car. We planned to have a second child in about 2 years. So we bought a 3-row SUV (a Kia Sorento), and it was a good choice.

The Sorento has been great, by the way. No problems in the 8 years we've owned it. It's smaller than most 3-row SUVs, which we like. The 3rd row comes in handy for occasionally transporting my kids' friends.
Ditto above. I wanted to wait until our 3rd was born but DW insisted on upgrading now. We ended up in the peculiar in-between in a compact SUV with a 3rd row, Mitsubishi Outlander. It's roughly the same size as a Rav4 or CRV which means the 3rd row is useless except for kids or MIL's. We compared the Outlander to other small 3 row SUVs: Sorento, VW Tiguan and a Nissan Rogue.

Outside of the rare occurrence of needing to transport more than 5 people, the 3rd row was not used until child number 4 arrived. Really happy with our Outlander except that we should've waited one more year for the 2017 which would have apple car play and Android auto. Also love the CVT. No more annoying gear hunting going uphill. It's lower cost to own than a midsize SUV. Mitsubishi doesn't have the same appeal as Honda or Toyota, so it cost less than a CRV or Rav4.

Your point of not necessarily driving until the wheels fall off also applied to us. We're approaching the point where we can have what we want. (Cough, Tesla) This vehicle just needs to last a couple more years.

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lthenderson
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:58 pm

trevorshhh wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:26 pm
I'm not sure how useful Japanese as a designation is.
Especially since one of the vehicles listed, the RAV4, is being made in Kentucky, USA along with the RAV4 Prime when it hits production.

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greg24
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by greg24 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:13 pm

When you read "Japanese", just think Subaru, Honda, or Toyota nameplate.

This list of "American made cars" is half Honda or Toyota:
https://www.cars.com/articles/cars-coms ... ar-404547/

Texanbybirth
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Texanbybirth » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:19 pm

Isn't this just a personal (meaning your family's) finance question? We have three kids, and I still drive a sub-compact. We have our minivan for people-and stuff-moving. I will still drive my sub-compact when we have (God willing) four or five kids. It sounds like you have your people-/stuff-mover already, if I'm reading your post correctly.

My car is used purely as a commuting vehicle. The "few thousand dollars" savings over having a SUV is material to my family's finances, so we would not buy anything more than necessary today. It doesn't sound like it is material to you.
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Watty
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Watty » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:31 pm

Just FYI, we have a 2018 Corolla with two car seats in it for our grandkids and it works just fine for when we need to pick them up and take them somewhere. We have not taken any long trips with them in it but for around town it is just fine. It also has a reasonable amount of trunk space and while kids are small you can put stuff on the floor in the back seat. I bought one cooler just because it was the right size to fit on the floor of the backseat.

Over the years they tend to make cars larger so my Corolla is just slightly smaller than an early 2000's Camry I had.

Having a minivan might be more useful when you need to carpool and pick up a bunch of kids from soccer practice.

When looking at a big car one thing to try out is how hard it is to get kids in and out of the car.

With the Corolla it is easy since it is at the right height and it is easy to slip the kids in and out of the carseats. I have seen people really struggling to get kids in and out of large cars because the car seats are so high and they have to stretch to get into the car. With a minivan you may have to get inside the car to get the kid in the car seat. It is not uncommon for people to take cars eats with them when looking at cars to buy. Bigger is not always better especially if one of you is short.

One other thing to consider is the timing of when you get your cars. If you buy a minivan now then it will likely need to be replaced with another minivan when the kids are in still in grade school. If you can delay the purchase of a minivan for a few years you may be able to make it last until the kids are old enough that a minivan is no longer needed.
Dietmar wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm
For example, today I was surprised at how much space a stroller + bassinet and some bags took up in the trunk of our Forester.
Stuff expands to fit space that is available. Whatever car you get it will be full. :D

One thing you can look at is getting "kid stuff" that is more compact when you have a second kid. It might be more expensive but that could be a lot less than buying a huge car.

If you are doing things like taking the kid to say with the grandparents you can also get some duplicates of things like bassinets and strollers to just leave at the grandparents house if they have the space for it. These can be less expensive or used since they may not be used as much. We have some stuff like that at our house so that when they come over they do not need to bring everything.
Dietmar wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:27 pm
with AWD for future outdoors stuff
There are lots of threads about if AWD is worth it or not. Going off roading in a Jeep is one thing but for normal driving a lot of people think that front wheel drive with snow tires is just fine. For your commuter car I would not put AWD on the must have list.

Afty
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by Afty » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:49 pm

Dietmar wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:33 pm
Afty wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:08 pm
I was about to advise you to hold off until the second kid arrives, then I realized we did exactly what you are proposing. When our first child turned one, we moved to the suburbs and needed to buy a second car. We planned to have a second child in about 2 years. So we bought a 3-row SUV (a Kia Sorento), and it was a good choice.

The Sorento has been great, by the way. No problems in the 8 years we've owned it. It's smaller than most 3-row SUVs, which we like. The 3rd row comes in handy for occasionally transporting my kids' friends.
At what point did you feel like you started to take advantage of the extra seats/size?

Otherwise, I guess the question is how much the transaction costs would be versus carrying costs of the more expensive vehicle.
The size was helpful almost immediately compared to our other car, a compact sedan. You've seen how bulky baby gear is. We liked to travel with our jogging stroller, which is massive and filled nearly the entire trunk of the sedan. It was also very useful on road trips. The argument against this is that you can make do with a smaller car, but on the other hand you can think of having a larger car as a luxury that removes the need for excessive planning, jenga-like arrangements of bags and baby equipment, etc.

The extra seats become useful once our oldest and her friends were in booster seats, so age 5 or 6. Then it's easy to put an additional booster in the back row to transport friends.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:59 pm

Upgrade to larger family car or wait and get smaller commuter car?
I would wait and get the smaller commuter car. And I might even wait on that, until your second child comes along. With two kids the Forrester is plenty big.

If you need more space to haul stuff get a hitch or roof rack. Or rent a trail for $20 or whatever if you're hauling a bunch of stuff.

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