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Comfortable, reliable, easy to get in and out of, room for ladder and photo equipment - dog friendly

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Currently have a Honda Element and Pilot, both 2003. The Element is our occasional backup car, the Pilot our regular go to car. Wife no longer drive and has a bad back so comfort is key. The Pilot seats are a little hardand the transmission is just starting to go (could go alot more miles ...) so now is a good time to replace the Pilot. We are finding ourselves not going on longer trips because we don't want to hurt when we get there. We are looking for the following ...

- Most comfortable seats in front
- Reliable, don't have time or patience for repairs
- Smooth ride, so as to be easy on the back
- I am a photographer, I occasionally carry an eight foot ladder, lights and stands along with bags
- 3rd row seat is preferable but not required
- Dog friendly, needs to be comfortable but tough enough for the dog
- Nuetral / sitting height for getting in and out of (easy on wifes back)
- Budget is 20 to 30K, OK to to find the best fit and dial back the years and up the miles until within budget :)

Would not want anything bigger than the Pilot - although I love the space in it car wise it is almost more size than I like. I owned a Honda Odyssey wagon before they changed the styling to aa minivan and loved it!

I sat in all current Honda's and the seats feel the same as my Pilot so that is out - even though I have been a Honda fan. Seat comfort is a tricky thing, I can sit in a car three times and my first impression each time can be a little different. So in that regard I am taking this slow and carful. :)

Cars that could fit the bill that I have checked out - I only looked at the trim levels with the best seats ...

- Toyota Highlander, love the size inside and visibility
- Acura MDX
- Infinity JX35
- Nissan Pathfinder (Back seats are too low for tall people - knees in chest, all else good)
- Nissan Murano (No 3rd row back back seats are normal)
- Ford Flex (Love the space, not sure about the seats)

Thanks in advance!

Priorities: Front seat support & comfort / Reliability & durability / Cargo capacity

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Wagon / SUV

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips / Client-facing

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 75000
Maximum age: 6 years

Maximum price: US $ 30000

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Response from Jim

4:06 pm April 26, 2016

A (now discontinued, but many available deeply discounted) MAZDA5 is very similar to the first generation Honda Oddysey, and is comfortable, a good seat height, and FUN TO DRIVE! It will not take an 8' ladder inside, but I routinely use it as an electrician with a 6' stepladder inside and all of my junk. Easy to put on a roof rack on the factory mounts, if you want to take an 8' or larger. I have carried 27' extension ladders, and 16' stepladders on the top. If you need more room, unblolt and take out the middle or rear seats. It becomes cavernous. With good (snow) tires, it is great in snow. Also is good on gas (28-30MPG) and it is a Mazda- extremely reliable.


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Response from mkaresh

12:03 pm May 2, 2016

Different people have different impressions of the same seats, so it's hard to make a suggestion based on seat comfort. Well, except that Honda seats do tend to be among the worst for many people.

The 2014 and up Highlander drives better than earlier generations, and is most likely to be reliable among the vehicles you've listed. I don't think an eight-foot ladder will fit, though.

Minivans have much longer load floors than crossovers, and with the Toyota Sienna the floor is 94 inches long when the seat is set for this 5-9 driver. An eight-foot ladder will only fit with the seat set well forward.

The Chrysler minivans are best for cargo versatility, since even the second row folds into the floor. I like their seats as well. Reliability has mostly been good from 2012 on, though problems are probably more likely than with a Sienna. The new Pacifica minivan drives very well and looks much better than the previous generation, but is too new for discounts. Maybe in a few months? Any remaining new 2015s should be deeply discounted, and these minivans tend to be cheap used.

The Flex would also work because, unlike in most crossovers, it's possible to fold the front passenger seat forward. I found its seats comfortable, but again this will vary. Your wife needs to spend time in various seats.


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Toyota Sienna
Chrysler Town & Country
Ford Flex

Response from darkroomdevil

11:37 pm May 4, 2016

Update - out testdriving with the wife and settled on the Acura MDX, won't quite hold the ladder and probably a little over budget - but wife will be happy :0

Now for saving each month and shopping until those two forces meet ... :)

Thanks for all input!


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