There is not much that is more stressful than car shopping. Right before I got married, I bought my current car. I was so excited that I was finally able to buy myself a luxury SUV. It was perfect for a young married couple. We were able to go out with friends, transport furniture (and a peloton), and had plenty of space for road trips. When we found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was certain that we would still have plenty of space in my car. Boy, were we wrong. It is amazing how much smaller my SUV got when we added a baby to the mix.
Andrew and I have talked about upgrading to something bigger for a while, but upgrading our house was much higher on the priority list. Now that we have checked that one off the to-do list, we are starting the hunt for the perfect “mommy mobile” for our family.
STEP ONE: THE INITIAL RESEARCH
The hardest part of any task is trying to figure out where to start. Andrew and I are both pretty knowledgeable about cars but neither of us could tell you how much space we would have behind C’s rear-facing car seat or how her stroller was going to fit in the trunk.
Enter THE CAR MOM (also known as Kelly Stumpe and my favorite account to follow right now). Kelly is a mom of two and grew up in the car industry. She created her account last year so she could review cars for moms and families. Most car bloggers will tell you how a car drives, but Kelly brings real life into focus. She climbs into tight third-rows (even eight-months-pregnant). She puts strollers and groceries in the trunk. She installs car seats. This woman is an angel. She saved me from spending quite a few hours at the car dealership with a screaming toddler. Plus, she makes some bomb broccoli!
I thought that Kelly’s account was a great resource for the Initial Research Phase of car shopping. She will go through all of the features on a car, but will also show you how much room you will have sitting in the second row, how much room you will have behind your passenger seat with a rear-facing car seat behind it, and how your stroller will fit with your groceries. After watching Kelly’s reviews and downloading her CAR SHOPPING WORKBOOK, I started getting serious about what car would be fun to drive, and a great fit for our family.
After months of on and off research, I had decided on a few things for sure:
- I wanted a red car this time around. This will be my car for a pretty long time, and this is a color I have always wanted.
- I did not want a dark interior color unless I could get air-conditioned seats. We live in Houston. Just today, our feels like temperature is 108 degrees.
- I would like to have a 360-degree camera, but If the trim package that includes it is ridiculous, I will be okay without it
- The car needed to have the capacity for more than one car seat at a time. We want to have more children eventually, and I didn’t want to feel cramped in this car.
From there, we started researching, watching tours, and looking at our budget. After a few months of trying to narrow it down, I got it down to two that I wanted to test drive.
- 2020 Acura MDX ( SH-AWD with Technology Package)
- 2021 Mazda CX-9 (Grand Touring Package)
STEP TWO: TEST DRIVING
Car # 1 – Acura MDX
Let me give you a bit of a backstory on this one. I have always wanted an MDX. When Andrew and I bought my current car, I was trying to figure out a way to convince him we needed this one over a smaller SUV. I did not win this battle, and we ended up with my FX 37.
I have always loved the look of this body style of MDX, but I didn’t think a brand new one was in our price range. Over the last three years, I have been looking around for good deals on used MDXs from 2018 and up. I still hadn’t found the deal I was looking for. Then 2020 happened. Not only did the microchip shortage work in my favor for this, but so did Acura’s redesign of the 2022 MDX. Acura changed the body style and the interior layout. I think it looks great, but not for the price they are charging for it.
With the redesign of 2022, and the brand new 2020 model was becoming surprisingly affordable, I was able to find brand new MDXs that fell in the price range I was happier with. We went to our local Acura dealer and test drove a SH-AWD with the Tech Package. Andrew and I both loved how it drove. The sales guy also did not have a problem with us installing a car seat. The only problem we had with the car we drove was the colors. They did not have the color combo we wanted with the drivetrain we wanted.
After test-driving the MDX, we decided that was the one to beat. Then, we went over to the Mazda dealer down the road.
Car # 2 – Mazda CX-9
I really wanted the CX-9 to work for our family. It has all of the features I wanted at a price I loved. I had read a lot of reviews and the CX-9, and most of them said that the car felt too small. I wanted to see for myself.
Unfortunately, they were true. We test-drove the 2021 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring with Front-wheel drive. Front he moment we sat in the car, it just felt way too small. Andrew was also not the biggest fan of how it drove. The torque steer and the FWD was very apparent, and we didn’t think it was the car for our growing family. We could tell that with two car seats we were going to feel just as cramped as we already did.
STEP THREE: CAR PURCHASE
As you can probably tell, we fell in love with the Acura that day. Now, we just had to find it. Andrew had a price in mind and we started contacting dealers nationwide. We would ask them about the car, a quote for shipping, and what their best out the door offer would be. We were able to work with an Acura dealer in Colorado Springs.
The process was actually pretty easy (apart from the lack of communication from our sales guy… the rest of the team was perfect!). We had to fill out some of the paperwork and overnight it back to them, but for most of it we were able to e-sign the documents. The shipping took a little bit longer than we wanted, but when it arrived we were able to drive it because we had temporary plates from Colorado.
As for registering the car, we had to get a lighter version of an inspection done on the car for the state of Texas to register it. Once we finished that, it was submitted to the county. They then sent the registration and plates to the dealer in Colorado. The dealer then overnighted them to us. From time of purchase to time of plate, it took a little over 1 1/2 months.
I hope that y’all found this post helpful, and maybe it will make you feel more confident walking into a dealership. Be sure to check out Kelly and team over at The Car Mom, and let her know I sent you!