I am a serial monogamist when it comes to cars.
My very first car was a 1988 Acura Legend with 148,000 miles on it. It also featured a DIY purple tint job (thanks, previous owner!) and a few quirks. For example, if you unlocked the car from the driver’s side, the alarm went off. Fun! My parents bought it for me and my brother in 1995, when I was 16 and he was almost 15.
Sharing is not my strong suit, and driving was not my brother’s strong suit. After about a year and several dings, my parents decided he would continue to drive the Acura and I could be upgraded to a 1997 Honda Accord.
I freaking loved that car, and the moment it’s feasible for us to downsize vehicles, I’m getting another Accord.
I drove that car until 2005, when I sold it and bought a new Honda CR-V, which is kind of like an Accord but with all the awesome sucked out. It’s a versatile, reliable car with good cargo space and decent gas mileage, but it’s about as exciting as plain waffles.
Twenty years of driving. Three cars.
When I got pregnant with Kate the Chicken, we realized we’d need a bigger ride. And because I am a T-U-R-B-O N-E-R-D, I exhaustively researched this topic. The verdict was clear: as long as you could stomach the stigma, the minivan is far and away a better choice for a big family. Lucky for the minivan industry, I could not care less what people think about my selection of vehicle.
We started saving our dollars as soon as the stick said baby. We knew we’d be buying a used van, but I had a short-but-important list of critical features: 1) Honda, 2) sunroof, 3) Aux jack for plugging in my iPhone.
Why Honda, you ask? Other than simple brand loyalty, the Odyssey consistently ranks at the top of minivans for interior comfort and features, as well as safety. While the Toyota Sienna offers all-wheel drive as a big selling point, we live in Florida and wouldn’t make much use of that feature. Also, I have a certain level of comfort with Honda’s instrument array – the windshield wiper controls are always in the same place and function the same way, for example – and I like the familiarity. The other two requirements were kind of frivolous – I decided that if I was going to drive a minivan, it would be a nice minivan.
After way too many hours on the internet, and a few test drives, we bought (with cash, Dave Ramsey!) a 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L with 53,000 miles on it.
And, to quote Indiana Jones, I even like the color.
I’ve been driving it for almost 4 weeks now, and I like it a little bit more every time I get in. Two weekends ago we took it on its first road trip, to Atlanta, and it performed admirably. Not only did its gas mileage rival that of my CR-V, it was MUCH quieter on the highway, and far more comfortable. Jason and I are able to independently control the A/C on each side of the vehicle, and we turned off the rear A/C altogether to help fuel economy. And when we decided to adopt two armchairs from the Westside Market, they snuggled up in the back like it was nothing. Jason is a big fan of the sound system. I’m a big fan of the heated seats.
The kids are big fans of ALL THE BUTTONS. Sigh.
I think it was a perfect choice for our expanding family, and I look forward to driving it another 100,000 miles. Now, if only I can find the button for the limo-style divider between the driver’s seat and the passenger compartment….
Incidentally, we are trying to sell the CR-V. Despite its lack of sheer awesomeness, it’s been a very good car and would make a perfect vehicle for a student or small family. I wish we could keep it another few years and let the kids have it, but there’s just not room in our driveway.