“What SUV should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would online editor Alex Nishimoto drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.
I’ve been putting off buying a new car for more than half my life. I learned to dread the process as a kid after being trapped at a dealership for eight hours while my parents haggled for their new wheels. As a result of that experience, I’ve stuck to private-sale used cars my entire adult life. But as you can imagine, my priorities changed when my first kid was born a year ago.
Prior to my son’s arrival in May 2018, I was your average early-millennial car nerd. If you looked through my Craigslist search history, you’d see an odd mix of old-car keywords: BMW E36 M3 sedan, Jaguar XJ Series I, Triumph Spitfire, Saab 900 Turbo, Nissan 300ZX Z32, etc. To a certain group of enthusiasts, those are all undeniably cool cars, but they have something else in common—they’re all less than ideal for transporting a baby. (OK, maybe the four-door M3 could squeak by in that role.) As a married man in my mid-30s with a house, a reasonable amount of disposable income, and, crucially, access to press cars thanks to this job, I could have made one of the above options work as a second vehicle/ongoing project. But with my son now in the picture and my wife’s 2006 Acura TSX approaching 150,000 miles, any questionable car-buying decisions would have to wait until my midlife crisis.
With my plans to pick up a weekend car foiled, what would I buy now? To accommodate our new addition, it would need to have four doors and a back seat spacious enough to fit an infant car seat (and, eventually, a larger convertible car seat). A large cargo area would be great to have, as we’ll be lugging around bulky items like his stroller and Pack ‘n Play. And because this vehicle will be transporting our most precious cargo, excellent safety ratings are a must. It also needs to be dead reliable, and for my own peace of mind that meant buying new. Realizing that, I knew I had to get over my dealership phobia.
With a budget of about $30,000, we started looking at new cars that met the above criteria. My wife, Courtney, would be the one driving it most, and she preferred something with similar dimensions to her TSX. At 183.3 inches long and 69.4 inches wide, the first-gen TSX is about the same length as most compact crossovers, so going with one of those she would just need to get used to the extra width and, obviously, the increased height. With that, we narrowed our search to the compact crossover class and quickly arrived at a top two: the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.