Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Women Want

That really opens up a can of worms doesn't it? Fortunately, I'll winnow it down a bit.

Last June, I finally decided that my beloved eleven year old car was due to be replaced. The a/c was going, it wouldn't start after having been driven in the heat (fortunately only a problem for a short time in Chicago!), and the tires needed replacing. I refused to put more money into my car than it was worth.

It had obviously been awhile since I shopped for a car, but I did my homework. Not surprisingly to anyone who knows me, I made both a list and created a model in a spreadsheet. I figured out exactly what I wanted in a car, and then I looked for one that was as close to what I needed as possible.

Safety was key. I have two wee ones who I need to feel comfortable driving around. There are plenty of bad drivers here, and I have heard and seen some real horror stories.

With the wee ones getting slightly older, I also needed to be sure I could fit friends and family in the car. Our carseats are wide, and my old five passenger car meant that any trip with my parents either meant renting a minivan or taking two cars. Even trying to carpool becomes a challenge with multiple booster seats and the like. I'm really glad I thought ahead and bought what will be an eight seat car (with a third row) when we complete the space hogging device usage but in the meantime easily fits four carseats and boosters to drive to and from school each day.

I also want a car that has decent mileage. When I bought it, gas was going up, up, up. My previous car got fifteen miles per gallon. My new one (remember, SUV with a third row seating up to eight) averages around twenty-two. Yes, I'm a conservative driver with regards to fuel and that's above the stated city driving MPG. While I wanted relatively fuel efficient for my needs, I wasn't willing to pay too large a premium for a hybrid of the like.

It's also critical for me to be able to cool everyone in the car from from to all the way in the back. And to be able to see around everyone from front to back so I can avoid those crazy drivers! And to have fabric that won't tear or stain easily. And still be able to have sufficient storage.

I couldn't do a minivan, so the third row became more critical, but I was nervous about the row being so close to the back door of the car in many brands. I was afraid of being rear-ended and injuring people back there. I am happy that I found something that fits my comfort level.

Then there are all the things I didn't think of that I really like from the controls for speed and the radio on my steering wheel (that didn't exist back in 1997) to the XM radio that I really miss when I'm in my husband's car. The super easy method of putting up and down the third row -- and the fact that it lies truly flat -- are things I hadn't thought about either. I can do it with one hand, an even better bonus.

So why am I thinking about this now? Well, on Thursday I'll be at the Ford assembly plant in Chicago getting a really cool tour of the facility. They've invited several mom bloggers in to learn about some of the innovations that they've made -- including the Active Park Assist technology that parks your car for you. Having lived in the city, I can park into just about any spot, but that would be so cool for ohhh say my husband who doesn't quite have that knack.

There will also be a roundtable where we talk through what women want in a car. That's where you come in. Even if you usually just read without commenting, let me know what you car about most when you are looking for a new vehicle. What would you love to see more of, and what turns you away from purchasing a vehicle?

C'mon, help a girl out! And if you're going to be at BlogHer -- I'll see you on Thursday night! I need to get to sleep... and then start figuring out what I'm bringing.


septembermom July 22, 2009 at 6:26 AM  

That's going to be cool visiting the Ford plant. Safety, accessibility, visibility, comfort and reliability are all important to me when purchasing a car. I've been driving the same Ford Windstar Minivan for 10 years. Knock on wood, it's still going strong. My husband drives a Honda Pilot and it's very tight for the kids when we load them all in. As kids get bigger, the "third row" doesn't really work too well for kids with long legs. It's not really a true third seat. Sometimes we wonder if we have to get something as big as a Ford Expedition to fit everyone comfortably, especially when carpooling. I can't imagine driving something that big. I'm lucky that I can park the minivan in the garage every night. Have fun! I wish I was going with you:)

H F W July 22, 2009 at 8:41 AM  

I want everything you mentioned with the ability to do flex fuel or battery charge to aid in improving gas mileage.
We bought a Highlander this past fall because of the third row seating, safety features, reliability and decent gas mileage. I love the Highlander, but I will not buy another car in the future that does not get better gas mileage than 22 mpg highway.

Roxane July 22, 2009 at 10:19 AM  

I dont have very much advice but I did hear from a few people that holidays are the BEST time to purchase a car at a dealership. The showrooms are usually empty and the sales people really want to make the sale. Good luck!

Megryansmom July 22, 2009 at 1:19 PM  

Years ago I had a shaggin wagon with a way way back. In English that's a station wagon with a third row. However, the 3rd row was easily accessible through the hatch and faced the window. Loved it! Put 2 car seats back there easily when we needed the 2nd row for extra passengers. WHY did they stop doing that?

Rick July 22, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

Sounds like you need a great big Nurf Ball on wheels.

Unknown Mami July 22, 2009 at 9:23 PM  

I want a car that is not disposable, that has great mileage, that is safe, not too big, is easy to maintain, doesn't have an overly sensitive check engine light, has minimal blind spots, low emissions, that you can get in and out of easily, has lots of trunk space with seats that go down for added trunk space, and is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Karen July 23, 2009 at 7:16 AM  

How fun! I'd love a tour of the factory. I wonder if they give you a free car at the end? Hershey does. A free candy bar, that is.

Pat July 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM  

It's already a functioning technology, but I like what my son's car has, which is a video on the console of what is behind you.

Michelle July 24, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

septembermom - It was pretty cool. And Ford really addressed the safety and reliatbility among other things. We have the 2009 Pilot that they revamped that fits MUCH better than the 2008 -- why we moved to the new model. Good luck keeping it down to a minivan size!

Hyacynth - Absolutely. I love having that option... but I wasn't willing to pay the super premium for it the last time I bought a car. Ford is improving the fuel mileage by 5% a year over the next few years, which is really impressive.

Roxane - Very true. When they need to sell, definitely the best time to buy!

Rick - Wouldn't that be fun to drive! I can only imagine ;)

Unknown Mami - AH! Ford is doing that, too. They are making the seats, etc not from foam but from soy and are working on making the plastic parts from corn that they're refining that will compost in 90-120 days of being recycled. How cool!

Karen - The tour was pretty cool, although I reaeeeeallly long day. And sadly, no free car. In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive my hotel paid for on Wednesday, a spiral notebook with Ford on it and a USB drive (which I'll actually likely give to the teachers are Mister Man's preschool).

Pat - Yep, that's pretty cool. Ford has gone a step further -- they have a cross traffic warning so if you're backing up and traffic is coming behind you, it gives you a little alarm. Ditto with the blind spot flashing an amber light if someone is in the blind spot. Pretty cool technology!

And yes, full feedback to come. Definitely lots to share!

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