Moms, listen up. You do NOT need to buy an SUV.
Guest blogger Gay Uncle Brett Berk: You may not know this, but in addition to being an expert on kids and parenting, I also know a little something about ... cars. In fact, I know enough to write a weekly online car column for Vanity Fair. It's called Stick Shift and, given its massive popularity, I'm often asked to field questions like: "What kind of car is good for a mom with two kids?" I usually start by boomeranging. "What are you thinking of?" And the answer I often get is "...A Crossover, or SUV?" Imagine that. In this economy. With oil running out, and prices bound to rebound, these ladies want to waste their money (and our resources) pushing around some bulky hulk of steel. Well, here's the T (as in truth), girls: better options exist.
Being inherently stylish, I won't even utter the M-Word (I'll spell it: M-I-N-I-V-A-N). So what do I recommend? Station wagons! A Subaru Forester or Outback will do, but if you want to be even the least bit creative, head elsewhere. Audi and BMW make gorgeous, sporty wagons in two sizes (A4 and A6, and 3 and 5 Series, respectively) and Certified Pre-Owned ones are surprisingly affordable. Cadillac is getting ready to release one (CTS) and it's hot as hell. Volvo is famous for its full-sized wagons like the V70, but the smaller V50 is adorable. VW makes wagons in Jetta and Passat variants. The Toyota Venza is butt-ugly, but is essentially a Camry wagon. The Chevy HHR is wagon-ish in a '40s delivery van kind of way. The Saab SportCombi is a fantastic wagon. Even Honda is preparing to circle its wagons with a new Accord Estate. And while it looks M-Word-ish, the Mazda 5 is actually a tall wagon.
Sadly, when I pitch moms these vehicles, they inevitably counter: "But we have a lot of cargo." To which I say: "If you're carrying more stuff than can fit in a wagon, you're carrying TOO MUCH STUFF. Commence dumping!" (For load-lightening instructions, read my piece about Lifeboating.) Regardless of what you drive, carting around extra junque in your trunque increases wear, clutters your life, and lowers your m.p.g. In these times of change, shift your paradigm: go wagon.
|Brett Berk, M.S. Ed. has worked with young children and their families for over 20 years--as a classroom teacher, preschool director, and research consultant--and is the author of The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting.|