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Car shopping with a kid in mind

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POSTED: March 18, 2014 4:00 p.m.

My husband and I are about to make our first big purchase since Reese joined our family. Don’t get me wrong — with the amount of clothes, food and miscellaneous supplies a baby needs, a trip to the local big-box discount store does, on occasion, makes me feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners. Technically, though, I think our seemingly imminent acquisition of a new vehicle would count as our family’s first major expenditure, post-child.
My husband’s beloved 17-year-old (yes, you read that correctly) Toyota pickup is on its last leg, and we’ll be replacing it soon. I’ve been encouraging him to think about parting with the relic for a few years now, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Now, though, it seems we have little choice in the matter ... unless the transmission decides to suddenly “heal” itself.
My husband and I both have bought cars before, but we definitely didn’t put as much thought into those purchases as we are this one. Admittedly, my first priority in selecting previous vehicles was appearance, followed closely by cost. If it was sleek, shiny and decently priced, I’d happily sign on the dotted line and start forking over monthly payments.
That changed a couple years ago when my husband and I traded in the car I’d been driving since college. We replaced my decade-old Oldsmobile soon after we learned Reese was on the way. Given the coming addition to our family, space, comfort, reliability and safety moved to the forefront of our car-buying criteria. We ended up with a dependable, sharp-looking, four-door sedan that we’ve been quite happy with.
This time around, though, I have a few more requirements for any automobile that might come to live in our driveway.
Of course, it all boils down to protecting my little girl, so I’ve been researching safety ratings, crash-test results and airbag performance. And let’s not forget gas mileage! The aging truck we’ll soon bid farewell isn’t exactly a gas-sipper, so it would be nice to spend less money
and time at the pump.
Those requirements aside, however, I’m really letting my experience as a new mom guide our vehicle search. For example, our new set of wheels must have plenty of backseat cupholders capable of accommodating various-sized sippy cups and snack containers. A hidden or “stow-away” compartment where I can stash blankets and toys would be a big plus. Pockets on the backs of the front seats should be able to hold a couple changes of clothes, spare shoes and, sadly, my travel CD case. Yeah, I’m still not on board with the whole MP3 “trend,” and I need easy access to “Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits.”
The upholstery must be stain-resistant and able to withstand plenty of abuse. Honestly, the ability to select the color of the car’s interior from options such as “fruit-punch maroon,” “Cheerios beige” and “seedless-grape green” would be phenomenal. Why bother cleaning up spills and crumbs when you can just mask them, right?
I wouldn’t mind getting Reese’s opinion on a few prospects, but I’d rather not car shop with a toddler. Besides, she’d probably have unrealistic requirements and visions — something I know nothing about.

 

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