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Car Shopping

by Meghann on March 24, 2013

It’s official – we’re car shopping!!

Cue the parade, the fireworks, and the balloons – mama’s in the market for a brand new (to-me) car!


(old photo, but I thought the excitement on my face fit the theme)

Now let me explain why I’m so excited.

Meet my former 1997 Pontiac Sunfire.


She was my first car. A very, very, very generous gift from my parents when I turned sixteen.

There’s actually a funny story on how I got her. You see, my mom had an identical 1997 Red Pontiac Sunfire that she bought brand new years before they bought mine. It was the car she drove while I was in middle school and the car I learned to drive on when I turned fifteen. It was no frills – no cruise control, manual locks, manual windows, and manual transmission. The plan always was that when my twin brother and I turned sixteen, we would share it and my mom would buy a new car.

Eventually my brother and I turned sixteen and inherited my mom’s old Sunfire while she bought the convertible she’d always wanted (and deserved – go mom!). However, a couple of months into sharing the Sunfire it was pretty clear that my twin brother and I needed our own cars. My dad started the car shopping process hoping to find something that was pretty equivalent to the Sunfire to keep it fair. One night he went to a car auction to buy the would-be-mine car and you’ll never guess what he came home with – another 1997 no-frills red Pontiac Sunfire. Twin cars for twin sixteen year olds.


The Sunfire served me well through high school and college. I only had one minor problem with it when the AC went out my senior year (the same thing happened to my brother’s car the year prior), but it was a relatively cheap and easy fix.

I was thankful for the Sunfire and appreciated it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days until I could afford to buy a new car. Not even a month after starting my first real job out of school, I bought a car.

My 2005 Toyota Echo.


(NOT my actual car. Couldn’t find a photo of my baby in iPhoto, so this image (of the wrong color) is courtesy of

This was one of those situations where I decided I wanted a car, did very little research, and bought the first “pretty” car I test drove that was in my price range. That car also happened to belong to a co-worker. I LOVED my blue Echo from the start. I thought the Echo was more “me” than the Sunfire. I loved the color, I loved the way it looked, I loved the low gas mileage (nearly 40 miles to the gallon!) and I loved that I could plug my iPod into it (VERY big for 2007). The price was also right – sold!

My Echo was my baby (still is!), but it’s also about as no frills as you can possibly get. Manual transmission, manual locks, manual windows, and no cruise control. It’s also two doors and very compact. Despite the no-frills, I stood by my Echo (and more than appreciated the $$ I saved on gas – THANK YOU manual transmission!). However, I’ve also slowly been outgrowing it. Derek and I both have tiny two-door cars and have realized that at least one of us needs something a little bigger, especially if we’re planning on expanding our family in the next two-three years.

So you can see why I’m so excited about the prospect of a new car, right?

Well, let me spell out some similarities between the Sunfire and Echo:

  • MANUAL transmissions
  • MANUAL locks
  • MANUAL windows
  • NO cruise control  

In the twelve years I’ve had my driver’s license, I’ve NEVER owned a car with an AUTOMATIC transmission, AUTOMATIC locks, AUTOMATIC windows, or cruise control! I know some people will see these four little features as basics when it comes to having a car, but these are HUGE for me. The idea of being able to roll down my passenger side window without having to stop the car, unbuckle my seatbelt, and reach across the seat to roll it down sounds like absolute heaven to me.

I’m a simple girl. I don’t ask for much. XM radio? Heated seats? Bluetooth? Eh. I could do without. All I ask for is automatic locks and automatic windows. Is that so hard?

Alright. That’s a lie. I kind of do want a little more than that, but you can probably already tell that it won’t take much to impress me.

Here’s what we want:

  • a used compact SUV/ crossover
  • 2009 or newer
  • 60,000 miles or less
  • darker cloth interior
  • automatic windows and locks
  • cruise control
  • a way to plug in my iPod (still very important in 2013)
  • plenty of leg room in the back seat
  • decent cargo space

Again, I’m a simple girl who needs a simple car. At this point anything is pretty much a major upgrade from what I’ve been driving the last twelve years – ANYTHING.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday researching every compact SUV/ crossover out there (which is actually a fun task when you’re really going to buy something, not just window shop) and narrowed it down to a few cars we really liked (Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, and Toyota RAV4).

This afternoon we hit up a couple of local dealerships to test drive and compare. That’s where I immediately ruled out the Toyota Rav4. I really, really wanted to like the Rav4 because it’s a Toyota and we’re big Toyota fans, but it’s a little too sporty for my taste. After seeing some of the newer models in person, I just wasn’t a fan.

Toyota-Rav4-photos (2).jpg

I did test drive the Hyundai Tucson and LOVED it. The Tucson is a great size, with plenty of room in the back and drives like a dream. Too bad the one I test drove was a tad out of our price range, I probably would have signed the dotted line right then and there.

Side Front Pose Of Hyundai Tucson 2010 In Brown.jpg

Then there’s the Honda CR-V, my #1 pick from the beginning.


Unfortunately these babies go like hotcakes and there were no used ones on either property we could look at. I love the look of these, I love the size, and I love how it handles (i have a friend with a 2012 Honda CR-V and I’m pretty obsessed with her car). I’d love to find a 2010 or 2011 in our price range with semi-low mileage. It just comes down to doing our online research and not being afraid to say yes when we find it (or it will be gone the next day).

Of course, we only JUST started officially car shopping this weekend. We could buy a car tomorrow or it can be months from now. I’m just excited about the prospect of getting something in the semi-near future. I’m sorry, Echo, but mama’s ready for an upgrade!

When’s the last time you went car shopping? What were you looking for?

1 Elizabeth- My Neon Running Shoes March 24, 2013 at 9:43 pm

My husband wanted a 4×4 truck… just like every other person in Texas! And that was 2 years ago. Now that we have a baby (and hopefully more soon!) we’re about to start shopping for something bigger. I’m excited to see what you decide on ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!!!
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2 Bridgette March 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hey Meghann,
Let me say this from the kindness of my heart, STAY AWAY from Hyundai’s my mom has a Kia Sorento (same manufacturer), her car looks nice and drives nice. But costs and arm and a leg to fix. I would totally go for the Honda-CRV over the Hyundai. ๐Ÿ™‚
Good Luck in the hunt

3 Regina March 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

I have a Hyundai Sonata that I’ve had for 4 years now and absolutely LOVE. my first car was a Honda Accord and it cost WAY more to fix than my Sonata. I’ve never had a problem with my Hyundai and it’s top of the line for safety (which was huge for us with a 7 month old).
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4 Kelly March 25, 2013 at 9:02 am

Our family has had several Hondas and they are the ONE car that has left us stranded – different cars, different times. We are huge Toyota people, but my brother had a Hyundai and that thing went and went and went (it was an older model, too) – despite how hard he was on it – and the fact that he flooded the engine several times by driving through water. I know they are making the Hyundais better these days, too.

5 Ashley March 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Wow. I am amazed you’ve always done manual! That is awesome. I drove one for one year, and despite all the advantages I opted for an automatic when I bought my car. I don’t ask for much. Have a working radio and a cd player (mine is currently broken) and be able to handle well in the snow. I live in the midwest. Good luck on your hunt!
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6 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs March 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Oooh, how exciting!
Good luck, I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for!
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7 em March 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I have an 07 Tucson and have had ZERO problems since I got it in 2007. You’ll sacrifice the great mileage you’re used to with any SUV, but I couldn’t be happier with my Tucson. Not sure how the newer models compare.

8 Nikki March 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I adore Hondas…I’ve never driven anything other than a Honda and don’t really see myself switching!
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9 Maria March 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I drive a 2010 CRV-EXL and I am obsessed with it. It does reasonably well on gas, has amazing features and the seats fold down in the back, which makes it great for hauling big stuff. Also, Hondas hold their value so well (obviously, since so many people want one!). Good luck on finding one – it’ll be worth the wait!
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10 Mrs. Swan March 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

We got a faboo deal on a Hyundai at Honda of all places. We love our Santa Fe which I believe is the slightly larger version of the Tuscan. No deals from the dealers you scored those test drives from?
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11 Amanda March 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm

So exciting! My car is a 1999 Saturn, and I love it to pieces because it’s my first car. But it has manual locks, manual windows, no cruise control, and I have to plug my iPod in through the cigarette lighter, which can be problematic if I want to use my GPS too. It’s also got some weird quirks just because it’s old and previously owned, but it’s a wonderful little car. I plan on driving it into the ground since they don’t make Saturns anymore! But I totally hear you. I would like cruise control and some more modern things in my next car, haha!
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12 Jill Barnes March 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm

We just had an excellent experience with Carmax. If you find a vehicle that matches your specs within 250mi they will “ship it” to your local lot free of charge. My hubby found his car outside the 250mi radius & he paid $200 to ship. It’s a 2011 with under 4500mi, all other preferred specs and still within budget. Good luck!

13 Ashley March 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

We just bought a 2010 Honda Crv. Definitely hard to find! There are a bunch in Orlando and Del and if you want to make the drive! I love mine
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14 Rebecca@Running.Food.Baby. March 24, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Cruise control?!?! What is that?!?! haha I kid, I kid – I too, have never had a car with cruise control. But I have had auto transmission and auto locks. My actual first car had none of the above (except auto trans) – but now I drive my hubby’s cars.

I wish I had an iPod input!!
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15 lisa fine March 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Living in New England it helps a ton to have all wheel drive (which of course probably wouldn’t affect you, living in Florida). I’m on my second Subaru, and love the brand. They know their customers well, are super safe and get good gas mileage for all wheel drive cars, and drive well. Not sure what I’d get if I didn’t live in a snowy climate.
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16 Emily @ The Swallow Flies March 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Congratulations on starting the search! Two years ago, I bought my very first “research-makes/models-and-compare-prices-and-sign-on-the-dotted-line-all-by-yourself” car, a 2009 Honda Accord. Not only was it super empowering, but it was also SUPER fun. I kind of want to buy another car just to experience the process again. Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚
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17 Karen March 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I bought a new Kia sonata last year and love the car but HATED the shopping process. I found it so stressful. But I now have a big roomie car with lots of cool features so it all worked out in the end ๐Ÿ™‚

18 Jess March 24, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I bought a 2007 RAV4 brand new out of college and it may not be cute but it has been just about the most perfect and reliable car!!

19 Rachel March 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm

When we got my car in 2011, we were also looking for a used smaller SUV/crossover. For the money, we liked the Jeeps the best, and I ended up with the Jeep Compass. The Patriot is also basically the same vehicle, just a slightly different body style. I love my Compass! Very comfortable to drive, nice features (I was excited about the jack to plug my phone into the stereo), decent gas mileage for an SUV (but not nearly as good as my old Accord), and very affordable. We do all of our car shopping at CarMax and find they have the most competitive prices in our area.

20 Christine @ BookishlyB March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

The last time I went car shopping was two years ago, for my new CR-V. I really, really love it- plenty of room, a slightly higher view, but still drives (and parks) like a car. Definitely worth the hunt.
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21 Angela March 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm

We need a new car, not desperately…but one day. My husband’s is junk so we need to trade it in and upgrade. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are thinking some sort of Subaru.
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22 Katie For Life March 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I bought a 2013 Hyundai Tuscon in December, and I LOVE it! Granted, I am have a pretty hefty car payment, but it’s worth it to me. Interestingly, my only previous car was a (2005) red Pontiac Sunfire that I got from my dad for the 16th birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚
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23 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane March 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm

This is almost the exact criteria I will use when I can finally get a new car! Hopefully within the next year once I get a job after my dietetic internship. My 02 civic has been wonderful, but it will be nice to upgrade a bit!
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24 sybil March 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

We bought a new car last May. Had very similar criteria to yours (plus it had to fit my very tall husband). We did drive the CR-V, but decided on a Chevy Equinox and LOVE it! Good luck!
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25 Fancy March 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

You should look at Subaru! I looooove my Forester and its the perfect car with a baby.

26 Caitlin March 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

Yay I just bought my first one and LOVE it!

27 Kim March 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Look at a Jeep Compass

28 Elizabeth March 24, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I just got a CRV (it’s an 08 with about 60K miles on it) and I LOOOOVE her. It’s a great car, easy to park in the city, tons of room, and the gas mileage isn’t horrible. Highly recommended. I had a Civic before and I loved that too, Honda has great service.

29 Liz March 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I LOVE Hondas! I’m on my second Accord and probably won’t buy another brand (although, I will also consider Subaru – love the Outbacks). I love that they last well into the hundreds of thousands of miles. Mine currently has 115,000 (2006 car) and the only thing I’ve done is replace the battery once, the tires once (at 90,000!) and the brakes once. The CR-V is a big favorite of mine, too, but I drive 40 miles each way to work and like that I get almost 35 miles to the gallon on my Accord. Have fun car shopping! ๐Ÿ™‚

30 Nicole@TheKidlessKronicles March 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

The last time I went car shopping (if you can call it that) was when my beloved 2001 VW Golf TDI was totaled. And what did I buy? A new VW Golf TDI. LOVE LOVE LOVE the car and there was no other consideration for me.

The Kidless Kronicles
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31 Jen March 25, 2013 at 12:01 am

I bought a 2012 CR-V last spring and I just took it for it’s first oil change last week. I love the car soooo much! For me it was between the RAV-4 and the CR-V, but once I drove the CR-V the Rav-4 completely went out of my mind. Have fun car shopping!

32 Chelsea March 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

Mark and I actually just bought our new to us truck about a month ago, and we love it! Its a red Nissan Titan and compared to Mark’s old beater truck, it sure does feel like riding in style ๐Ÿ™‚ its also the first “grown up” purchase we made after we got married, which was kinda cool, too
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33 Serena March 25, 2013 at 1:57 am

I’m car shopping also. we don’t have a car that’s fits all of us since Alric joined us in December. Taking two cars everywhere gets old very fast.
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34 Jan @ Sprouts n Squats March 25, 2013 at 5:18 am

Last time I went car shopping was back in 2005, since then we’ve had a hand me down car but we don’t drive that often as we live so close to the city we mainly walk. My bf and I will probably be in the market for another car later in the year.
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35 lorie March 25, 2013 at 6:23 am

My husband and I bought a Honda Fit when we got married two years ago and I LOVE it! Its certainly smaller than an suv,but it is so so spacious inside. Gets good MPG,and consumer reports always rates it highly. I love how easy it is to maneuver into right parking spaces and narrow lanes. If you want something that gets good gas mileage like a compact car,but with more roominess inside,I would check out the Fit!
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36 Jessie March 25, 2013 at 6:29 am

I just got a 2013 CR-V in the beginning of this year and LOVE it. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it because I had my heart set on a Subaru, but after test driving the CR-V it was instant satisfaction. They are great cars. Good luck on your search.

37 Steph March 25, 2013 at 7:39 am

You may want to check economy honda of Chattanooga. I got my car from them for thousands less than others could sell it for. They’re a volume dealership, selling around 500 cars/month, and that’s why they’re so much cheaper. They have so many cars on their lot. Everything can be done by email and you can have the car transferred to you. It sounds scary to do that, but they have a great reputation!

38 Kristen March 25, 2013 at 7:42 am

I just bought a 2009 Honda CR-V last October. I love it!!!

39 Karen March 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

Check out the Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback…. GREAT cars… I’m on my second one… and it runs G R E A T!! Good luck!
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40 Brandy March 25, 2013 at 8:05 am

I just bought a 2010 Honda CR V EX-L with only 27k miles (less than 22k with tax, tag, title). We used an auto broker (he goes to the auctions) and it was a great experience. We live in Sarasota but I’d be happy to give you his number.

41 Caitlin March 25, 2013 at 8:23 am

We car shopped about 2 months ago when the transmission went out in my old car and it just wasn’t worth the money to put into fixing it. We read a lot of online reviews and forums, consumer reports, and did a good amount of test driving. We ended up going with the Subaru Impreza hatchback and LOVE it. I think it’s worth it to research the vehicle- esp. since, like you, my previous car was purchased because it was cute and pretty and ended up being a money pit!

42 Elizabeth @ Positive Change March 25, 2013 at 8:30 am

Last time I went car shopping was in November of 2011. I have inherited my dad philosophy of never buying a car. I will probably have this car until it dies! I also LOATH car shopping, one more reason why I will have the car until it is dead!
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43 Nicole C. March 25, 2013 at 8:44 am

I literally just bought a 2010 Nissan Rogue last Thursday and love it. It is everything you are looking for too… it’s silver, black cloth interior, low mileage, and a good price. It even was roomy enough to fit our black lab all the way in the back and it still handles like a car rather than a huge truck. You should definitely look into it!

44 Dori March 25, 2013 at 9:00 am

My mom is on her second Honda CR-V and LOVES it. It’s a really great car and small for an SUV! Andy and I went car shopping last summer to decide what to lease. We ended up with a Honda Civic (mostly because the price was drastically lower than other brands with similar cars, but we also really liked the car) and are so happy with it.
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45 Brittany March 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

I had a 2006 Honda CR-V and just recently purchased a Kia Sorento. Loved both cars, and can fit my bike in the back of both (that was the major criteria for me!). I did about six months of car shopping and the Hyundai was a close second from the Kia.
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46 Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life March 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

We purchased a Kia sorrento last December and I love it! Definitely check it out, the new models are so cute and I have xm, I pod hook up, and heated sea to for a great price!
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47 Mary @foodandfunontherun March 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hooray for car shopping! I am so excited for you to find something you love! And of course, CRV’s are awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

48 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 25, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’ve actually NEVER gone car shopping! I didn’t get a car until I inherited my brother’s car (he got a used Ford Explorer from my parents in high school) so I used that Junior and Senior year. When I graduated and went to college in Charleston, SC I didn’t bring the car so my parents sold it… I have been car-less ever since! Haha so in other words I’ve only had a car 2 years of the almost 10 I’ve had a drivers license!
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49 Hilary March 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

I’d be wary of Honda — they’ve had so many recalls within the last few years! I recommend Subaru ๐Ÿ™‚ — great gas mileage!

And I totally agree with you about all Manual — I’ve only ever had a car with Manual so I’m more than excited to have automatic windows and locks when I get a new car!
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50 Hillary March 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

My parents were VERY generous when I went off to college and bought me a used Mazda 6. I drove that car for seven years, but finally saved up enough to buy a new car just over a year and a half ago. I did extensive (exhausting!) research beforehand, headed over to the dealership, and walked away with a Honda Fit that afternoon. I absolutely love it…and love that I hopefully won’t need to go car shopping again for at least five years!

Good luck with your search!
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51 Chelsey March 25, 2013 at 9:30 am

I actually just got a GMC Terrain in January. My husband is the best at finding good car deals, so it was in our price range. It worked out well because we found out a few weeks later that we are having twins in September! It’s really roomy!

52 Diane @ DixieJulep March 25, 2013 at 9:39 am

You might want to check out the Mitsubishi Outlander. Our criteria when buying my husband’s latest car were similar to the criteria you listed above, and we found that buying a slightly used Outlander let us get more car for the money than some of the more popular brands like Honda and Toyota. For reference, the back has enough cargo space to hold a bulky jogging stroller and a large dog, and when we go on vacation, it’s big enough to hold luggage and gear for three, including a full-sized pack-and-play. The gas mileage is reasonable too.

Best of luck with your car shopping! I find shopping for big ticket items like cars kind of exciting and a little scary too!
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53 Jen March 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

I have a 2008 CR-V and I LOVE it! It drives well and has plenty of room for storage. A small feature I love about mine is how quickly and easily the seats fold down…plenty of room for the bike in there!

Hope you find the perfect car for you!

54 Natalie @ Free Range Human March 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

It’s probably best that you ruled out the RAV4. That’s what I drive, and we’ve had a few problems with it. I don’t mind it so much, but my husband hates it and he’s so ready to get another one. New car for me!
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55 Tiffany March 25, 2013 at 9:55 am

We just got a new car this weekend, but we were downsizing to save some $$ on gas. We just got rid of a 2007 Nissan Murano, which we had for 3 years and HIGHLY recommend you check them out. We had virtually no problems with our Murano while we had it (2010-2013), it’s a really nice crossover with a super spacious backseat. It also got decent gas mileage, we averaged 21mpg. We drive ~22,000miles/yr so we really needed a “commuter’s car”, otherwise we’d still have our Murano!
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56 Emily N March 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

Good luck. My husband and I are Detroit car born (only owning fords or GMs) so all of your choices are ones that we don’t have experience with. But good luck!
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57 colleen March 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

we’ve always been a Saturn family, until they stopped making them a few years ago. We’ve been switching to Toyota slowly. In December the husband traded in his 2002 saturn vue for a 2013 Toyota Avalon. Next year, we’ll trade my saturn in for either a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander.

58 Lindsay Simone @ The Life Muse March 25, 2013 at 10:46 am

I have a 2007 CRV (first generation of the “new” model) and it has been nothing but trouble… and $$. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe Honda has really stepped up its game since 2007, but the gas milage is horrible (average 16 mpg for normal suburban/some city driving), suspension above 60mph is shaky, and when the wind blows, you can feel the whole car shake. These are just a few of my complaints (on top of the fact that every few months, I am constantly paying the Honda dealership to fix a new part). I actually had one of the older boxier CRV’s and that happened to be a lemon and we had to fight Honda tooth and nail to replace it (leaked oil from day 1), so I’m pretty sure that put a slightly bad taste in my mouth, but, regardless, I can tell you as a driver of the “new” CRV for 6 years, I would NEVER buy this car/model ever again.

Would really consider looking into the Hyundai like you said. I know it’s more now, but once that Honda CRV hits the 4 year mark, it’s money money money down the tubes. Everyone I know who has the Hyundai LOVES it and never has any problems like me and my fellow CRV owners do. Have also heard GREAT things from friends who drive the Kia Sportage. Could be a great option for you!! Hope this helps!
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59 Kelly March 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Wow. I also have a 2007 Honda CRV that I bought new in March 2007 and was actually coming to post how much I love it. I’ve had the exact opposite experience, gas mileage is good and nothing has had to be repaired beyond normal maintenance. I love it so much I honestly would buy another one when it comes time except I’m not a fan of the new body style. So crazy because I’ve always heard good things about Honda and everyone I knew seemed to have similarly good honda stories. Vs. the VW Jetta I owned previously which I loved to death but was recall & issue city.
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60 Sarah @ Yogi in Action March 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

I am SO jealous of your car shopping! I drive a ’97 Honda Civic- also with manual locks and windows (though I do have an automatic engine, since I’m pretty terrible at driving standard). I’d love to upgrade to something newer and nicer- but I have too many other things I want to spend my money on first. Maybe in a couple of years! Good luck with your car search!
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61 Logan @ Mountains and Miles March 25, 2013 at 11:22 am

My sister just got a Subaru Crosstrek and loves it! You probably won’t find one used, though, I think they just came out last year. But they get great gas mileage for an SUV/cross over and has a ton of space (I speak from experience that the backseat is incredibly roomy!).
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62 Christine (The Raw Project) March 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

Yay for the Echo! I drove a 5-speed 2001 Echo sedan for 11.5 years!!! Great car, never any problems and cheap, but no frills. Since we live in CA now and I have a short commute, I sold the Echo for an EV to use as a work commuter and around town car. And use hubby’s gas car for longer weekend trips.
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63 Gwen March 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I bought my first Toyota and first new car I purchased on my own, a 2012 Highlander SE, in September. WE. LOVE. IT.
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64 jena March 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I’m also a manual transmission girl, woot woot! We went car shopping twice – Most recently was for my Husband, 3 days before christmas (merry christmas, babe).. We bought a 2010 F150 FX2.. My Husband is the pickiest person alive when it came to that truck. He had to hav eblack leather/black interior, and those are hard to come by. So when he found one, he bought it.

I bought a 2004 Nissan 350Z on Mothers Day of 2012 – which is not kid or storage friendly at all, but it’s fast and is fun to drive.

Did you check out the Murano? My sister has an 09, that she likes. She’s had it about a year and hasn’t had any issues with it. I think it was around 18k, not sure about the mileage. She bought it in Sanford, at some ginormous dealership up there.

65 Dana March 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I just purchased a car in October. My goal was to buy used but I ended up just going with something new. The numbers were right and it was everything I was lookin for. Since you have time, use it to your advantage. I was in a rush. I loved the CRV too it was my second choice, but I ended up going with somethig else. Happy shopping.
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66 Margaret @ Have a Good Run March 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I drove a Hyundai Tucson for a few years in college (before I moved to New York and no longer needed a car!). I thought I wanted a small SUV, and we literally bought it on the spot as soon as we test drove it. My mom now drives it (and now wishes we’d sprung for leather seats, a sunroof, and iPod connection!), and I love driving it when I go home to visit! Such a great car!
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67 Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily March 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I currently drive a 2003 dodge caravan and it’s definitely time for an upgrade, we are hoping she will last until June or July and then it’s time. I can’t wait!!!
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68 ElleTR13 March 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I just went through this process. The 2002 Honda Accord my parents gave me for high school graduation met its demise in a wreck about a month ago–a lovely (uninsured, of course) Memphis driver flew through a red light, hit the car in front of me and I didn’t have enough time to stop. The insurance company called it a total loss–but it was worth $4500. Proof Hondas hold their value! It was 11 years old with 176,000 miles on it. I loved that car.

We had planned to upgrade to an SUV when kids came in the picture, so we decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I did a lot of research. Hated the Nissan Rogue–I couldn’t even see out the back window. I test drove a 2010 RAV and just wasn’t loving it. I test drove a CRV–loved it. I also tested an Hyundai Tucson and a Mazda CX-7.

After test driving all afternoon (also drove a newer Accord–if I wanted a car, I was going to get one of those, no question), I woke up and decided I wanted the CRV. My requirements were similar to yours–2009 or newer, low mileage. I preferred silver and liked the EX or EX-L trim level. Everything we found online had super high mileage for fairly new cars! I got really lucky and we found a 2009 EX-L with 21,000 miles on it–practically brand new. I’m pretty sure the backseat had never been sat in or the sunroof used. We found it at a Chevy/Buick dealership–the only Honda on the lot. It was about $1500 than we wanted to pay, but in the end we got the monthly payments where we wanted them PLUS a 5 year basic warranty added. If you know for sure that’s what you want, expand your search ( I second the rec. for Economy Honda of Chattanooga–I grew up near there and everyone got their Honda there) and jump on one if you find it. I’ve had mine 2 weeks and love it!

69 Erica March 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I have a hyundai Tucson! Its my second one. I loveeeeeeeeee it
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70 Sonia the Mexigarian March 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Currently have the same car I’ve had since the end of high school. Nissan Maxima. She’s over 10 years old and we have been through a lot together and thousands of miles. I like Nissan. Good cars. toyota is great too. The rest of my family have Toyota cars. My husband has a discontinued Chevy Trailblazer and it’s a pos. Going to run it into the ground before we get a new non Chevy SUV.
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71 Kath March 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Since we just bought an SUV, I read every line of this post with enthusiasm : ) We opted for a bigger mid-size with 3rd row after testing a few of the ones you mentioned above. Let me know if you decide to go any bigger and I can talk through all the specs. I recommend driving the Mazda CX5. I LOVED it – way more than the CR-V, which felt like an Accord on wheels to me and didn’t impress. (I do like Honda though…but now I’m a Toyota fan most of all! LOVE our Highlander so, so, so much!).
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72 Michelle March 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Have you tested the Nissan Rogue or Murano? We have a Murano (they are very similar – Rogue is built of of the Sentra frame while the Murano is built off of the Altima frame) and we went went that over the CRV because the V6 Engine. The CVR is a cute car, but the 4-cylinder would drive me NUTS because the car is on the heavier side (it was fine on our Civic). I really do LOOOOVE our Murano. We’ve had it for 5 years now and the biggest issue we’ve had is with the battery (so very, very minor).

We did break down in November and get a minvan (we went with the Honda Odyssey). I never thought I would be a minivan mom, but 3 kids was my breaking point. Plus, I kinda love it now. Shhh.

Oh – and I know people say to not buy new, but definitely price shop. We were going to get a certified used 2010 when we bought, but when we went to look at financing it actually cost less to get a new 2012 because the rates are so much lower on new cars (and manufacturers have a lot of more discounts on new).
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73 Annette @FitnessPerks March 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I don’t do manual cars–so kudos for you for driving one for so long!!! Congrats on car shopping!
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74 Sara @ Fitcupcaker March 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I have a jeep liberty and it has pretty much cargo space! You should look at them!
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75 Christa March 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

My brother and got our cars the same day. Daddy was tired of paying for repairs to each of the ones we had, so he went to Toyota and did a 2 for 1 deal. Looking at the outside of the cars, you’d think they were identical (except for the color). However, Nick’s has power locks and cruise control…and these are NEWER vehicles! 2005s bought in late 2004! I have manual windows, manual locks, no cruise. I know…cry me a river, but you feel my pain. I have nightly dreams about a Kia Sorento. Good luck on the car hunt!!

76 GM March 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Just sent you a link that shows 225 used within 100 miles of you. Some are within 16 mi (or so it says) Love you, GM

77 Maureen March 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I have a 2002 Toyota Corolla that I plan on driving into the ground, so I have not been car shopping in a LONG time! But I really like the CRVs!
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78 Kelsey March 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Yay! We are semi looking for an SUV (very low priority) we have 2 commuters, a truck and 3 motorcycles. A mid size vehicle is very handy. My mom has a CRV and loves it. Good luck!
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79 Cailyn March 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm

We have a 2010 CRV and LOVE it! It is such a great car, I would highly recommend it. We have had it for over 3 years and no major issues!

80 Kelly March 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I got my 2012 Honda CRV last August and I am still in love with it. I also looked at a few used models – but honestly you should consider buying a new one. You could probably find a 2012, now that the 2013s are out, for not too much more than a used 2010 or 2011. I almost bought a used 2010 CRV but the brand new one was only about $4000-5000 more and was totally worth it – brand new warranty, no mileage, and many features that were standard in the 2012 but not the 2010. Plus, new cars almost always have lower interest rates than used cars!
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81 Margaret March 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Just make sure if you get a CRV it has a 6 cyclinder engine . I have a 2008 CRV with a four cyclinder engine and it struggles getting up a hill of any significant size. It will slow down 10-20mph depending on the grade of the hill/mountain.

82 Ja @Athlete Within Ja March 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Get the the CRV! My sister has one and she loves it! We have Hyundai Tucson, it’s great too! ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s great you’re choosing SUV. I like SUV too more than minivans. ๐Ÿ™‚
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83 Maggie March 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I have a 2007 CRV and absolutely love it! Never had any issues. And it’s very safe…I’ve been rear ended several times and never had any major damage

84 Sara@RunningInPinkProject March 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm

This post made me smile. I JUST paid off my car from my very first “big girl” car purchase of a vehicle with all the bells and whistles. I love my bug!! But, Im looking to start a family in the next 4-5 months so Ill be out shopping for my first mommmy-ride (hopefully) soon! Good luck!
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85 Samantha March 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

We usually try to buy american but it’s hard to do so, living in Japan. The car I’ve owned and loved most (out of MANY!) is the buick rendezvous which is a crossover. I hope when we’re in the US again, to get the enclave. Right now I drive a toyota nadia which is similar to your US toyota venza and its a great little car. Plenty of room for our family of 4, holds all our camping gear, easy to tote our bikes on a rack on the back. The gas mileage is decent although our driving here is much different than yours. (lower speed limits, lots of stop and go as opposed to interstate driving).

The CR-V is a really popular crossover on Guam and in Asia where fewer people drive big SUV’s. They last long and have great re-sale value.

86 Genna March 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I have.a Tucson and love it!! Good luck!
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87 BroccoliHut March 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I haven’t done much car shopping in my life–my current car was a gift from my parents when I graduated from college three years ago. I drive a Mini Cooper and love it for many of the reasons you loved your Echo–great gas mileage, love the look, and it suits my personality. Plus, it’s REALLY easy to park because it’s so tiny ๐Ÿ™‚
That being said, I can see that Seth and I will have to look for a car sometime soon–we’ll need a bigger car, particularly once we start thinking about a family.
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88 The Many Thoughts of a Reader March 25, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Oh how I dream of cruise control and automatic locks and windows.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had them once, but I traded them in for a ‘newer’ car. bahahah.
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89 Carli March 25, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I haven’t been car shopping in years! It is fun though. I actually like the Toyota Rav4 but it’s really not as roomy as you’d think.

I drive a 07 Caliber that I bought in 06 and it still goes strong with over 100K miles on it. We have over 200K on our Neon and it also runs just fine. I’m sure we’ll be buying another Chrysler product when we’re ready. It’s all we’ve bought for the last 14 years.
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90 Caroline March 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

I have owned a CR-V since 2005 (it’s a 2000 I think) and I absolutely LOVE it. I’ve had no real problems with it at all, and the car handles amazing! When I get a new car, I’m planning to get a CRV again!
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91 Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

My stepmom has a CRV and absolutely loves it. It’s what I want too. I’m going to be in the car market this summer/fall and am excited but nervous! It just seems like such a big process.
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92 Lori March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

While this may have been said in the above comments… I don’t have time to read through! You should remember that even if a car doesn’t have an auxiliary plug for your iPod, many new cars now have bluetooth which is just as good! Listen to your music, pandora, audiobook, etc through bluetooth and it plays through the speakers just as clearly as if you plugged it in. You can always charge it through a car charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter thing. Very technical. Good luck! Hooray for automatic everything!

93 Courtney March 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Fun! I’m looking to upgrade from my Honda Civic to the new Mazda 2, so sporty!
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94 Erin @ Loop Looks March 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm

My husband window shops on ALL THE TIME. He is the king of car shopping even if we don’t buy something.
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95 Angie March 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Big Chevy fans here….have you checked out the Chevy Equinox or Traverse? Great vehicles. We have a 2011 Traverse and LOVE it. Great gas mileage, lots of space but is a smaller SUV. Power everything. Dvd player(for the future kids :D), auxiliary plug in for ipod :D. You should go check em out.

Good luck on your search!!
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96 Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep March 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

I’m a Jeep girl through and through. I paid off my Jeep Grand Cherokee last September, and she’s still running really well. She’s a 2006. I went car shopping a few months ago, and I was only a few minutes away from buying a brand new 4-door Jeep Wrangler, but I decided to stick it out with my paid off Cherokee for as long as I can to save money.
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97 Katie March 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

It looks like a lot of people have already expressed their love for the CR-V but I’ll chime in too.

I have a 2000 CR-V (yeah, I’ve had it pretty much since I turned 16) and I am still madly in love with it from the gas mileage, to the height you sit at, to the visibility out the sides/back. And I kid you not: in the entire time I’ve owned it I have NEVER ONCE had to take it in for a repair other than regular oil changes and every once in a while to have tires rotated/changed. I’ve probably just jinxed myself by saying that though…haha.

But yeah, since my car’s so old at this point, I will be driving it as long as possible – but we already know that when the time comes, we’ll be getting me another CR-V. I don’t know if I even would want to try out any other cars, that’s how much I like mine!
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98 Matt March 30, 2013 at 12:44 am

Funny, I have a 2011 Honda crv lx I am selling, 28,000 miles, but I am in va. :(. Good luck

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