Hoon’s challenges of buying a NEW family vehicle

Kamil New cars

“Fine, go ahead – get a new family car…”

-Mrs. Hoonette Kaluski

Yes folks, it’s a household miracle, the wife has approved a new vehicle purchase. It was surprising too, as I didn’t really need to whine for too long or perform any unusual tricks. After all, my current family car, a 2005 Acura MDX, has been superior vehicle for over five years, by far a record longest time of me owning a single vehicle. I cannot say enough good things about it; rock solid reliability, inexpensive maintenance, and at 125,000 miles is still runs and drives as good as some of the new cars that I have been reviewing on this here site.

The MDX is our only vehicle and it is getting old. We do need a vehicle that is reliable, large (I can honestly say that the MDX gets packed up to the roof with stuff and/or people all the time), and safe. Not that the MDX isn’t all those things, but I could improve on it. And, I’ll admit it, I’m just bored with it, too.

The problem with my wife agreeing to a new family vehicle is that it created a situation for me. The situation will kill hours of my time, drive me insane, and in the end I won’t know what I really want. It is not so much as the process of choosing a new car as it is finding the right one for the right amount of money. I decided to look at brand new cars first, specifically leases, which require less money out of pocket and fit us because we do not drive a lot.

2014 jeep grand cherokee front

It should not be a surprise that the Acura dealer was the second place I visited. Second, because I fell in love with the new Jeep Range Rover Grand Cherokee. Advertisements would have you believe that you can lease one for about $300 per month, and perhaps you can, but with a hefty down payment on a stripped down Laredo. The V6 Limited with a luxury package I wanted came in at $2000 down out of pocket and $490 per month for three years and 12,000 miles per year. Not bad, but more than I expected or was willing to pay.

Acura dealer was the next stop. There were 2013 and the all-new-ish 2014 MDXs available. The base, but still nicely equipped, 2014 models were $2500 down and $480 per month, 12,000 miles per year, with the 2013 about $40/month less. Not bad. The real surprise was the bigger-and-V6-equipped-for-2013 Acura RDX at $3000 down and $369 per month. It’s a little smaller than my current MDX, but not much, and while we do occasionally use the third-row seat, it’s not a deal maker/breaker. All three of the Acuras are nice cars, and between my Integra, half a dozen of other Hondas I have owned, and the current MDX, I obviously have a soft spot for these vehicles which most enthusiasts would classify as appliance-like.


Then I stopped by the Land Rover dealership. Because why not? I have wanted a Land Rover forever, I have an unexplainable lust for them and that’s all there is to it. They also happen to make the LR4 which is damn roomy and very comfortable. It’s also a much more expensive than the other cars here, but hey, YOLO, amirite?

No, I am not right. This one does not make any sense at all; it’s oldest and it feels it, least reliable, least efficient, and $700+ per month, most expensive. It was off my list within twenty minutes of me drooling on one in the showroom.  Gawd I love the damn thing, the driver’s sitting position alone is worth the price. Also, I maybe a bit of a snob.

There are a million of other similar SUVs and CUVs out there, certainly much cheaper ones too, but I am not really interested in any of them. Above listed Acuras aside, I think I want something that is more truck-ish, 4×4-ish in nature. It’s just a desire, one that’s similar to people who want a Nissan GT-R even thought they’ll never drive it to 5/10ths of its ability.

To be continued…

[Photos copyright 2012/2013 Hooniverse/Jeff Glucker/Kamil Kaluski]


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79 responses to “Hoon’s challenges of buying a NEW family vehicle”

  1. RegalRegalia Avatar

    Hoons don't let hoons buy new (slightly used will always do.)

    1. Kamil_K Avatar


      1. P161911 Avatar

        Saab 9-7X Aero!

      2. RegalRegalia Avatar

        Excellent, looking forward to those candidates.

    2. Devin Avatar

      Weirdly, I find that it doesn't make sense to buy used if you have to finance – bank rates kind of kill the price advantage. Since I generally have to finance, that means I generally buy new. Also, it's hard to buy anything with a manual in my region without ordering it in, and that's a high priority for me.
      Also, I leased once, because I was young and foolish and kind of mad at what I was driving. Never again.

      1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        I second the not leasing thing, if you really must though, there's some dude Feds something or other, lives in an exotic country somewhere not too far. He could set you up with a 'lease' of something hoonworthy, won't be new, and we'd better not say more lest we incriminate ourselves later, but it'd be awesome and RHD and 4×4…

    3. Vairship Avatar

      Hoons don't let hoons buy a vehicle that requires financing.
      "$640 for a car ought to be enough for anybody", Bill Gates (paraphrased from a mis-attributed quote)

  2. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    Grand Cherokee, though personally I'd go for a Laredo 4×4 with the offroad and towing packages. The leather-clad Laredos are perfectly fine, and while the air suspension on the Limited is awesome to have, that's something that's bound to be costly when it croaks.

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      2014 Laredos do not come with leather. 2013s did. I want the Luxury package because I want ventilated seats, a huge sunroof, and a number of other bitchy little gizmos. 😛
      The 2014 do not come with air suspension unless you order the off-road package.

  3. nataku83 Avatar

    I've been considering this question myself lately, but don't particularly like buying new. While it's incredibly ugly, the conclusion I came to was a RWD previous gen Cadillac SRX with the Northstar V8. I feel like this engine should have been available in the CTS that the SRX was based on, somewhere between the 3.6 V6 and the LS2. This won't meet your reliability, safety or efficiency goals – and like I said, super ugly – but RWD quad-cam V8 3 row crossovery thing.

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      The thing is… the used car market is kind of dead because new car sales over the past three years were shitty.

    2. P161911 Avatar

      My mother has a 2004 or so SRX. It IS a CTS station wagon with just a tall ride height. Overall nice, but it has had a few minor issues.


    Have you thought about the Ford Flex Limited Ecoboost? Super roomy, actually pretty damn fun to wheel around with the boosty engine, fairly capable at softroading due to the AWD. I think they look pretty good as well, but I know it's one of the more polarizing designs out there. And you can get a very nicely equipped on for around $450-$480 a month on lease for a new one, cheaper for a 2013.

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      Don't like it. Hate MyTouch.

      1. frankthecat Avatar

        When my mom was shopping for a new smallish car to replace her last Fit, she looked at a Focus. She actually liked the car a lot during the test drive, but then she tried turning on the radio to listen to NPR. That's when her opinion of the car took a 180.

        1. Devin Avatar

          I looked at a Focus last time I was shopping for something, I found that the all the flash and tech was more distracting than worthwhile. Went with a Hyundai Elantra GT, it had much more subdued tech and I liked driving it just as much.
          I actually like Ford's mood lighting, but you have to set it to pink, and then put the Drive soundtrack or Kavinsky at maximum volume.

        2. calzonegolem Avatar

          It is funny, tuning the radio to NPR makes me take a 180

          1. frankthecat Avatar

            I dunno, my mom listens to Vermont Public Radio, and I find most of the content they air to be at least tolerable. Except for when they do 12 hour long Opera broadcasts, but even my mom shuts the radio off when they do that.

          2. calzonegolem Avatar

            It's not just NPR. It is talk radio. Sports? News? Fuck that.

      2. Devin Avatar

        Show us on the doll where the Ford MyTouched you.

      3. engineerd Avatar

        MyTouch is greatly improved in the latest iteration. In fact, the number of complaints my wife had about it in her '13 Edge has gone from daily to none.

    2. Landon Avatar

      I really like the Ford Flex. I have a family member who owns one and I love it. Roomy, comfortable, stylish and loaded with features. It has the 12 speaker Sony sound system and it sounds good. Only thing it needs is the Ecoboost engine, but it wasn't available in 2009 models.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    For that kind of money you could lease or buy a Tahoe, especially if 4X4 isn't a requirement. They start at just under $40k after rebates. Rock solid trucks and you get a LS-X V-8 (with associated mid teens mpg). 10 year/100k powertrain warranty standard. No worries on hauling or towing ALL your stuff.

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      All new one is coming out in a year. Also, not a huge fan.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Wait about 2 months and the rebates will probably be over $8k on the current ones (once the 2014 models are out), lots of SUV/Truck for the money. They are big though.

    2. salguod Avatar

      The problem with the Tahoe is it's bigger outside and thirstier than the Acadia, but marginally smaller inside. The only things it really does better is tow & go off road. Otherwise the Acadia makes more sense.
      Then again, the Acadias have proven rather trouble prone when past 3 years old. There are indications that the '11 & up are improved, but they aren't 3 yet. Brilliantly designed vehicles though, great combination of comfort, room & economy.
      My Outlook just turned 3 and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        The whole Acadia/Traverse/Enclave/Outlook platform seems good, but they are known for problems. I briefly flirted with the idea of leasing a Volt and the salesman I worked with was a former used car sales manager at another dealership. I mentioned my wife liked the Acadia. He said they would only keep the Buicks. The rest were too trouble prone to sell and would go to auction. I have a friend with an older Outlook, it has be trouble.
        According to Edmunds the Tahoe has about 8 cu ft. more cargo space and has much more hip and shoulder room. Plus RWD body on frame design vs. FWD unibody design. The Traverse was supposed to replace the Trailblazer.

        1. salguod Avatar

          GM nailed the design on the Lambdas, in my view, it's too bad they are so poor in reliability. We moved from an Odyssey, which we loved, to the Outlook for one reason – towing. We tow a large-ish pop up camper and were at the max with the Ody. I really wanted the Pilot to work for us since our Ody was so reliable, but it fell short. Minimal cargo room behind row three, modest max towing (4,500 lbs vs the Outlook's 5,200 and the Odyssey's 3,500) and mandatory AWD to get max towing.
          We're nearing 80K on ours and haven't had major problems – yet (aside from a bad AC line). I hope in a few years I don't regret not buying a Pilot.
          The differences in interior space between the Tahoe & Traverse are surprisingly small. The Tahoe is wider, and I'm surprised by the cargo difference. Everything else favors the Traverse. If you need big & beefy, the Tahoe is the better choice, but he Traverse is plenty beefy for most families.

  6. frankthecat Avatar

    I'll save my answer for tomorrow, then (Buick Roadmaster Estate.)

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      No wagons. I came home with a wagon once. Wife hated it, and remember, she's the primary driver. http://hooniverse.info/2011/11/16/hooniverse-asks-

      1. Alff Avatar

        This is the Hooniverse answer…
        <img src="http://blu.stb.s-msn.com/i/BE/14540FF510A867ABBEFA32CEA6.jpg"&gt;

      2. dukeisduke Avatar

        So I guess this is out?
        Darn, too late, it's gone now.

  7. Nick Avatar

    What about a Caravan R/T? Fast, Jack Baruth-approved, and inexpensive. Put the extra $$ in your kids' college fund. Plus, you are completely invisible to police, so you can actually use its potential and no misguided yob will vandalize your van for harming mother Earth. Same V6 as the Jeep GC and loads more space. Lightly used 2012s seem to be the sweet spot.

    1. eggsalad Avatar

      Even better is the Caravan AVP. In fact, it may be the single best value in the entire market of 2013 New Vehicles.
      MSRP (with rebate) is $19k. $19k doesn't even buy you a decently-equipped compact. $19k doesn't buy you a decent, 3-year-old SUV.

    2. skitter Avatar

      Near as makes no difference 300hp, 26+mpg, 110 feels like 80.*

      1. Nick Avatar

        The Caravan AVP has to be one of the best deals around. Some active outdoorsy friends were considering used, out of warranty Elements until I was able to persuade them to visit their Dodge dealer and they drove away in a new, warrantied Caravan AVP for a hair under $18k. Infinitely more comfortable on their frequent road trips than an Element buzzing along at 4k RPMs for LESS than the Hondas they were looking at. They've already used it to sleep in a few times when the weather was poor and their bikes don't have to go on the roof.
        They're not for everyone, but if you if function is at the top of your list, its impossible to beat.

        1. Kamil_K Avatar

          I don't want a fucking minivan!!!
          I am a secure and confident man but I haven't given up on life yet. No fucking minivans!
          Actually… I don't want any new car suggestions! I went shopping for what wanted.
          Tomorrow is the good conversation…

          1. dukeisduke Avatar

            Whoa. No minivan? Well, how about a Valium?

          2. Nick Avatar

            Or condoms.

          3. frankthecat Avatar

            I'm a secure, confident man who hasn't given up on life.
            And I drive a minivan.
            <img src="http://i.imgur.com/vwrDjFd.jpg&quot; width="600">

          4. Nick Avatar

            Frank, the pictured motor pool is identical to mine, except being a relatively new parent my ChryCo van has a Pentastar.
            I also haven't given up on life – it is better than ever with a vehicle able to haul all the crap two kids under 3 require and grandparents at the same time. Some of my friends may differ, but I'm just waiting for them to have kids…..

          5. frankthecat Avatar

            Also, here's a video of me being a 'responsible professional driver' on a 'closed course' after discovering the effects of hard-as-plastic rear tires and brand new snow tires on the front wheels, when combined with a front wheel drive vehicle and fresh snow: http://youtu.be/YLtrPpuq7Ik?t=1m48s

          6. jeepjeff Avatar

            My parents owned not one, but two (consecutively) red-on-red first gen Dodge Caravans when I was a kid. I blame these two vehicles for killing any early interest in cars. I was a late bloomer as a car guy. I didn't have a car in high school, and I didn't bother getting my license until college. It wasn't until I got my manual transmission college car that driving started to be fun, and it wasn't until I moved to California and got a Real Job that I realized I could own and drive Something Awesome™ (which didn't happen for quite a while after I connected those dots).
            Those K-car minivans were the least exciting vehicles possible (well, with the exception of a friend's Plymouth Voyager rolling on a road trip). The only thing cool about them was the red 80s interior. Otherwise they were a moving box with windows that transported me places.
            My wife knows that if we have kids (I think she would say "when"), there will be no selling the Jeep and no minivans. If you don't want a minivan, I'm totally with you. (And for you guys defending them: Yes, I get that they're useful. It's hard to argue with that kind of carrying capacity, but I've got a long entrenched, probably irrational hatred here. I will also admit that y'all haven't given up on life, and there was no turning in of the man card when you got the title.)

          7. calzonegolem Avatar

            Late bloomer also checking in. I was 22 when I got my license. No one makes you dd if you can't drive.
            I'm not sure what killed it for me. My mom drove Camaros (mostly z28s), my dad built big blocks for racing and had a pull truck that he poured thousands of dollars into.

  8. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    If it has to be new, you can buy for these monthly payments some vans. Mazda5, Caravan, and Kia are the value ones, but for the numbers you threw-out you could buy a well equipped Honda.

  9. marmer01 Avatar

    Wait, what? It's only eight years old, 125,000 miles, reliable, cheap to fix, drives new and you want to replace it? Are you sure you're a Hoon? 😉

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      "I’m just bored with it, too."
      Absolutely valid Hoon-reason for replacing one's ride!

    2. salguod Avatar

      Bingo, it's a Honda, it's just broken in.

  10. racer139 Avatar

    If ya didnt want comments then u shoulda closed the comments section. Or just finished what you had to say today….So you could get the good comments.

  11. marmer01 Avatar

    Add me to the chorus of people who are happy with a Mopar minivan. Slidy doors FTW.

  12. Sjalabais Avatar

    Isn't the answer to all questions "XC90"? (Which is 42×2+4+2 and some letters, close enough.)
    <img src="http://topismag.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Volvo-XC90-Redesign.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Tomorrow I suggest to Kamil a C202, again.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        You never know when the Russians are coming.

    2. joshuman Avatar

      I used to have one. Gas mileage is not fantastic with the V8 but it is a wonderful vehicle in all other respects. The third row is tight for anyone older than 10 and difficult to access if you have car seats in the second row. I kinda want to buy another one…

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        You had the V8? That's a crazy uncommon engine in my country, Norway, because of the high taxes on it. I had a look at our Craigslist and it turns out only one (1!) car is available for sale. But it's quite a thing. As new – delivered in 2006, but locked away at a storage for seven years. So it has only 2256km on the clock:
        <img src="http://finncdn.no/mmo/2013/3/vertical-3/17/3/404/456/83_1699325885_xl.jpg&quot; width="600">
        The price now is 43,000$ for export, but registering it in Norway will add another 141,000$ in taxes. Maybe that's the car to get for Kamil? Wheels with a story.

        1. joshuman Avatar

          New, I think it was around $54k for us in the USA. The way it worked out, we got the sport package also. No bluetooth or media screens and no satnav. Ours was a 2008. The only other engine choice at the time was a V6 that got one or two MPG better than the V8. It was an easy decision to opt for more power. There is a 2010 model at a dealership a few miles away being offered at $37,000. Sales tax is 10% plus some other fees.

  13. Clashtastic Avatar

    BMW x5 lease? I remember them having pretty good lease deals. Or CPO x5 especially if BMW is still offering 0.9% financing…essentially free money…

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      did you miss the part about reliability?
      Every X5 I've seen has been in the shop more than on the road.

      1. Kamil_K Avatar

        Yea, but when it's a lease I don't care… they come pick it up and drop off a loaner.
        Also, $700/mon at the present time. Also… bah, might as well keep the MDX.

  14. Andrew Avatar

    I did a similar project recently, looking for max safety, great reliability and decent price. I ended up with a 2001 land cruiser, and absolutely love it.
    Iihs charts statistics for both driver death rate and injury rates. It takes some time to get them but you can see some really interesting trends. Injury rates correlate pretty well to vehicle mass, with full size pickups being the safest. However, driver seat rate is best in full size SUVs, which are three to six times safer than cars and about eight times safer than pickups.
    Brand also makes a difference, as does newness. Drivers who chose Ford, Jeep, Honda, Toyota, and most European brands were statistically safer than those who chose Chevy, Dodge, or Nissan (when comparing within each segment, i.e. grand caravan vs Odyssey or focus vs Malibu).

  15. Andrew Avatar

    All that to say, a used land rover would be a great choice.

  16. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Miata + whole-body footbinding. The kid'll thank you later. Well, much later.

  17. Mark T. Jordan Avatar
    Mark T. Jordan

    @sjalabais: you're getting warm – actually, what our man Kaluski wants, though he doesn't know it yet, is a Volvo XC-60 (smaller than the XC-90 by a little bit) with the Polestar aftermarket package, which is available through Volvo. Plenty go, Haldex all-wheel-drive system, brilliant Scandinavian ergonomics, AND the best, most comfortable seats in the business. Much cheaper and way more reliable than your British icon. Try it, you might like it.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      But isn't the XC60 a bit too small? The big old 90 offers three rows of seating and certainly good deals, as it is on the way out. It might not be the cheapest or freshest thing out there, but it is a thought-through, well-designed and proven vehicle.
      (I know I still think like a 240-owner: "Never buy something that was new this decade", but, heck, you have to hold on to something.)

  18. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Hi! You don't hear much about me but I'm stout, reliable, affordable and easy to drive. Leasing me is an option (42 mo @$388). I'm not flashy but super dependable.
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2010/03/01-2010-subaru-tribeca-630op.jpg"&gt;
    Subaru Tribeca

  19. calzonegolem Avatar

    We wanted a family car. Came home with a Kia Soul. No regrets. We've put about 20k on it in the year we've had it with no fuss whatsoever.

  20. MLBrown Avatar

    Bought my wife an '11 Grand Cherokee Overland V6 new. We both love it. 45k mikes and zero issues. The refresh has me tempted to get another. I'm ready to replace my '05 Pathfinder (also extremely reliable over 175k miles) but 2 of the same car is lame, right? Right?
    Texas heat make the ventilated seats worth every penny. I was skeptical about the panoramic sunroof – thought it was gimmicky, then I sat in one with the roof and said, "wow, that's cool."

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      ^^^ that!

      1. MLBrown Avatar

        Also, when we bought ours, the price difference between the Limited with luxury package and the Overland was negligible. My wife liked the seats with the contrast piping *facepalm*, so we stepped up to the Overland. Not sure how the packages are priced and contented these days, but we also picked up 20" wheels and xenons in the upgrade.

        1. Kamil_K Avatar

          I'll look into it. I actually don't want the 20″ wheels as the tires are more expensive and there is a greater chance of my wife bending the wheel, which she is very capable of. I was even thinking of getting the 17″ steel rims with BFG A/Ts.

          1. MLBrown Avatar

            Understood. My wife bent 2 wheels on her prior vehicle with 20" wheels. The GC's though have handled the abuse much better.
            You can downgrade back to the 18's and I think you get a $500 credit or something. Probably would be special order.
            For my purposes, the perfect build would be Laredo 4×4 Diesel, but can't get that engine in Laredo trim. Maybe next year…

          2. Kamil_K Avatar

            I doubt it. They make up for the cost of the engine in the inexpensive extras that come on the Limited.

  21. desolit Avatar

    Not a Dodge Nitro/Liberty or the last generation GrandCherokee….. because (not) Racecar.

  22. JAAM Avatar

    Or keep the MDX, use the money not spent on its replacement on something for the weekend. Miata anyone?

  23. Fred Avatar

    Dodge Durango? Same platform and engine as the GC, with a third row seat and more cargo space. The Dodge name has less of a premium than the Jeep name and they sell less of them, so there may be better deals available.

  24. Landon Avatar

    Consider the 2014 Ford Explorer. It looks great, has three rows of seats, and a ton of luxury features / options. The Sport model has 365 horses under the hood too, but it has good fuel economy.

  25. steve Avatar

    WWhat about a Honda Pilot? Same/similar underpinnings as the MDX, and you should be able to get a loaded-out Touring model for less than the MDX. Better styling, too.

  26. srodgers1711 Avatar

    I've never really thought about all the factors that go into picking a family car. This post is extremely insightful. We really lucked out with our new Chrysler. It's a great car and seems to be very safe. The fuel efficiency is extremely good as well. Thanks for the post. I'm gonna keep this in mind when I am picking out a car for my son in a couple of years.

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