This past weekend was semi-exciting. Not only was last week my last week in NJ, but I got to have some family fun this weekend which included going car shopping! The reason for car shopping was to try and downsize from the Honda Odyssey that my wife and I purchased back in the beginning of 2012. Make no mistake, the Odyssey is a beast of a van and has every bell and whistle you could imagine. I personally love the car but since I don’t drive it on a daily basis, my wife wanted to look at other options which would involve trading in the Odyssey for something else. My wife narrowed it down to two different cars, the Honda CR-V and the Nissan Murano. I’ll give my impressions of both below.
Before I start on the vehicles themselves, I’ll give a brief explanation of my testing criteria. Since I have a 2 year old, I really had 2 big requirements personally, my wife had other requirements but since this is my blog I’m only going to state my requirements. One was the storage space in the trunk needed to be adequate. The second was there needed to be enough power to get up to speed on the highway. The only way for us to test this was to load the Bob Stroller in the trunk, put the car seat in the back with my daughter, and take the car for a test drive locally and on the highway. When possible I had my wife do some of the driving to make sure she was comfortable with the car.
The first car that we decided to test drive was the Honda CR-V. This was my wife’s first choice since it met most of the basic requirements that we had on paper. We bought the van in Hollywood but thats just way to far to go to just do a simple test drive so we ended up going to Rick Case Honda which is where I get the van serviced. They have one of the biggest dealerships in the area so we knew they would have plenty of cars for us to look at.
Being the person that I am, I wanted the totally pimped out CR-V. I would have to drive it too on long trips to Disney and I enjoy my creature comforts. The one in the show room was pretty decent, it wasn’t the top of the line but it gave us a good idea of what to expect. My wife liked the car in the showroom and of course we would change the color and add little things here and there. The fun part was that my daughter kept on gravitating towards the Honda Pilot which was close by. While we were waiting for a sales person to get a loaner vehicle for us to try out, we checked out the Pilot too. The Pilot is basically our van but in SUV form so we immediately ruled it out for now since the idea was to downsize in both car and cost and that just wouldn’t fit the bill.
OK back to the CR-V. All CR-V’s have the same 4 cylinder 185HP engine but we wanted one that was decently equipped so we would know how everything was if we actually bought the car. I had my wife take it out at first and we stopped by to get the car seat and the stroller. What amazed me is that the sales guy let us drive it by ourselves instead of coming along for the ride. I’m guessing he thought we would never try and steal the CR-V when our van is worth more used than a CR-V is new. Anyway, after struggling a bit, I got the car seat in and I tossed in the stroller. First thing we noticed was that the stroller pretty much took up all the cargo room in the back. Well that won’t do since we use the Bob Stroller for when we’re at Disney since its easier to push around. Ignoring that for now, we went out for our little test run. My wife went ahead and did the local road test and it went pretty well. She decided to pull over and have me try it out on the highway since I have a lead foot and this was my major concern. I went on I-75 and decided to go one exit since that should be sufficient. The CR-V performed like most small cross overs I’ve driven as rentals: not well at all. I was almost flooring it and the CR-V was just sputtering along. Even at almost twice the weight, the van had more pick up and go than the CR-V. After some discussion, my wife agreed that the lack of engine power was kind of a deal breaker for us. South Florida people drive fast and not being able to get enough power to enter the highway or pass someone while doing over 70 just isn’t safe. While slightly disappointed, at least we knew definitively that we couldn’t get the CR-V at this time.
The next car we decided to try out was the Nissan Murano. My wife and I are partial to Nissan’s because we both owned new Nissan’s after we got out of college and only recently added the van to our vehicle mix. The Murano had some appeal to us because it had a V6 engine with just over 200HP. We went up the road to the Nissan dealership and decided to go for a test run with the Murano. Per the tests we wanted to do, I loaded up the car seat in the Murano and shoved the Bob Stroller in the trunk. While we were looking at the Murano, I should note that we took a look at the brand new Nissan Pathfinders that just came out. My sister-in-law owned a Pathfinder maybe 3-4 years ago and it was a boxy piece of crap. The new one was definitely much more pleasing to the eye but the price point was the same as the Honda Pilot and the gas mileage was no better than the van. Anyway, off we went in the Murano. The difference was that I did all the driving with my wife in the back. The great part was that the Murano had plenty of pep when hitting the highway compared to the CR-V. The issue we had was that the trunk was again taken up by the Bob with nothing left over for anything else. One thing we did notice as well after doing a little more research was that the price of the Murano and the Pathfinder were really close so getting a Murano at that price wouldn’t have made much sense really. While we liked the features and the power of the car, the cargo and cost is not what we were looking for.
The overall decision, for now, is to keep our van. I like it because it has the sliding doors and there is so much space to pack stuff when we decided to go on driving trips somewhere. There are a few other things of note but then again, I wanted the van loaded to the gills with features. I can put my Xbox360 in there and play games if I wanted to but I’ve held off for now. While crossovers are nice and all, I think for the price paid and unless you really need an SUV, the van is the way to go for hauling people, stuff, and for comfort. Well if you’re going to get a van, get a Honda Odyssey.