Woodbury Family: Look Mom! No Minivan!

A friend’s old van conked out. Let’s take a walk through their car-buying experience. What tips do you have?

When the air conditioning crapped out on a local mom’s 8-year-old Honda Odyssey, to the tune of $1,500 for repair, she decided it’s time to shed that mini van like so much baby weight and slip into something more sophisticated.

But what?

With three children ages 4-10, Jennifer Reinhard’s family still needs three rows of seats, enough storage for groceries and sports equipment, manageable gas mileage and a sticker price that says, “Affordable for people who still buy juice boxes by the case.”

Carpooling kiddos through Minnesota winters makes all-wheel drive a plus. But big suburbans can be clunky gas guzzlers while many smaller all-wheel drive vehicles are just that. Small. Glorified station wagons minus the space and amazing wood paneling.

So, this Woodbury family took a hard look at models in between, beginning with the Toyota Highlander. It comes with a third row of seats and 4WD, but our mom says that the cargo space is insufficient when kids are strapped into the third row, which is everyday!

The all-wheel-drive equipped Toyota Sienna also got a look. But, it’s still a mini van, which Reinhard’s oldest son says is embarrassing.

Reihard insists, “New parents who swear they’ll never drive a mini van are missing out. There’s nothing more convenient when carting babies and toddlers around.”

But that was then…

Next was the Ford Explorer, which Reinhard says comes with tons of unique features and gets the best gas mileage. But our mom associates all those fun features with more that can go wrong and potentially need repair.

She says, “We don’t even want a DVD player in our new vehicle. For the price of that added amenity on most new cars, we could buy each of our children their own iPad and not hear anybody argue over what to watch.”

When asked which latest feature she would want, she said onboard navigation systems are extremely useful. The navigation on smart phones is small and hard to follow while driving. Other GPS devices need plugs, cords and storage while newer dashboard navigation systems have large, easy to read screens that make hauling elementary athletes to games all over the Twin Cities much less stressful.

“I really liked the GMC Acadia,” says Reinhard. “It’s the right size. Looks good. Has all the features we want. But the ride felt stiff, too much like a truck.”

That’s when the Reinhards decided the Buick Enclave was going to be their next vehicle. What?! Aren’t Buicks for grandparents and professional golfers in four-year slumps? Nope! The Enclave, also made by General Motors, has basically the same stylish look as the Acadia. But our mom found the ride more car like and the overall aesthetic more luxurious.

But there are no major car dealerships in Woodbury! Where do east side suburbanite car shoppers go for a shiny new crossover? The Reinhards started on Robert Street in St. Paul, where there are lots of dealers in close proximity, all of them, very interested in taking that mini van in on trade.

“I didn’t know how much wiggle room there was to make a deal,” Reinhard says. “When we took a trip to , we were surprised and pleased. They were very nice and gave us the best deal.”

Let’s face it. In these times, luxury and convenience are one thing. But the bottom line is the real thing.

Have you bought a new vehicle lately? Tell us what you bought and why. Woodbury car lovers want to know!


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Informed parent June 26, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Woodbury does have a car dealership. It is owned by a Woodbury family. All vehicles are inside because of Woodbury's restrictions. They would be happy to help you find a vehicle that would fit your lifestyle. If you don't see it online, give them a call. I know a lot of people who have bought through them and get a better price than the standard dealerships. You're also supporting a local small business. Preferred Sales and Leasing (Behind Dorothy Ann Bakery) 690 Commerce Drive 651-578-2502 John or Andy www.preferredsalesandleasing.com
Kris Janisch June 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Thanks Informed!
Angela Johnson June 26, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Good to know! Thank you!
Kris Janisch June 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Anybody out there have a "compact" SUV they swear by?


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