I'm shopping for a car.
This doesn't mean that I'm planning to buy a car any time soon. Shopping for cars is a recreational activity with a practical application -- if I suddenly need a new car, I have a good idea of what I should buy and can get one in the most expeditious manner possible.
My current car is a 2004 Ford Five Hundred with AWD. I am very fond of it. And it only has 90,000 miles on it. However, being a twelve year old car (even if it is a Volvo in drag -- the Volvo engineers had a lot to do with this car's design), it could become an expensive car to maintain at any moment or decide to lose some critical system without which you don't actually have a useful car. And it is a sign of my faith in the car that it has four new tires and a new air conditioning compressor that I paid for within the last year.
But I'm shopping for cars. :)
My original target car was the Ford C-Max hybrid. It has a tall enough roof line to accommodate the length of my torso, which is important and rules out a lot of cars. (Getting in and out of the passenger seat of a Chevy Camaro was a painful experience.) You sit pretty low in it, which is a bit of a disadvantage, but it would get good mileage and be good for driving around town. However, it would be marginal as a family car as the girls get taller and the luggage capacity isn't really sufficient for a long trip with family should I want to use it for that, especially since I tend to carry a guitar with me. So I eventually (and reluctantly) scratched it off my list and moved to larger vehicles.
Well, how about a Ford Escape? It fits the bill everywhere, except that the new Escape will not actually hold my guitar placed lengthwise across the rear cargo area. Huh. This, of course, leads to another drastic reduction in either luggage or passenger capacity, neither of which was on my list of things to do.
Next vehicle up is a Ford Edge. It checks off all of the boxes: plenty of room for the family, plenty of room for cargo, comfortable seating in the back, the guitar fits lengthwise across the back. It is annoyingly expensive, but so is most everything that I'm looking at, partly due to the fact that there's a certain list of comfort features that I'd like to have at this point in my life. There is a small problem with the seating, as some genius decided to put a protruding side bolster into the seats that makes them functionally narrower than they should be. Even Consumer Reports wondered what that thing was doing there. It's correctable at a good automotive upholstery shop, but an annoying additional expense if I decided to get it "fixed".
I have now gone from a small, moderately expensive car to a large, more expensive car. And I start to wonder what I'm doing here.
So, the question becomes "Why don't you just get a second minivan?" The mileage isn't going to be worse than the Edge. It's not going to cost more than the Edge. And it ticks off all the boxes.
It would probably even fit in the garage, given that I was looking at putting an Edge in there. :)
And it turns out that they're about to start selling the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid. This is the "new" Chrysler minivan, but it would actually get decent mileage in town, at the expense of losing the stow-and-go second row seating. Of course, then the mid-row seats become more comfortable, because they don't have to stow. It's annoyingly expensive, but the tax credits drop the price down to something much more reasonable.
That might just be the answer.
If I were buying a car right now.
Which I am not planning to do.
But don't tell Katie, because she wants a Pacifica, having seen one at the dealer when Gretchen was getting the current minivan worked on...
(Ten year old daughter with car lust. *sigh*)