The Family Car Blog

A Dad’s quest to find the perfect family car

Is there a family-sized car for the eco-conscious?

We started this blog because we really want a vehicle that will accommodate three car seats. As an environmentally conscious bunch, minivans really don’t have the fuel efficiency we want. Sedans and station wagons are often too small, as are many smaller SUVs.

In our past posts, we’ve explored the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as our best option, but having learned that this vehicle is not manufactured in North America (yet) means that a great deal of energy and effort must go into shipping it overseas for sale here. We’re also in a unique circumstance where whichever car we purchase while living in the U.S. will eventually move back with us to Canada. This adds some considerations.

When a car is imported to and registered in Canada, owners must pay tax (PST and GST) on the value of the car, and duty (6.1% of the value) on any car manufactured outside of North America. So ideally we’d purchase a North American manufactured vehicle. This rules out the Highlander Hybrid if we want to save the duty fees. We’ll see.

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October 13, 2008 Posted by | Candidates, Research | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still a major price difference between Canadian and US car dealers

My father-in-law keeps encouraging us to buy a car in the U.S. because the prices are so much better. He’s right. I just priced out the Highlander Hybrid Limited in Canada (through a friend’s dealership) to compare against the U.S. version I posted yesterday. The price difference is about $10,000. That’s substantial. Here’s a screen shot from the Toyota Canada site.

Highlander cost estimate from Toyota Canada

Highlander cost estimate from Toyota Canada

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Candidates, Research | , , , , | Leave a comment

Toyota Highlander Hybrid on “severe back order”

Building our black and tan 2009 Toyota Higlander Hybrid

Building our "black and tan" 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

A couple of days ago, I built a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid online and decided, “What the heck, I’ll request a quote.” Our local dealership was quick to respond via email and telephone.

Allen contacted me to see if we could get out for a test drive. The hybrids are in such demand that there aren’t any on the lot and there’s a “severe back order”, so we probably won’t be able to get behind the wheel of a hybrid. That’s too bad. We’ll aim to get out there at the end of the month to see what we can test. I was informed that there is a 4-6 month delayin receiving a vehicle once it is ordered. This is actually a good time frame for us since we won’t need the car until Spring 2009. We’d need to put 10% down.

Allen also indicated that there is a four cylinder Highlanderin the works but he wasn’t sure if the Hybrid would be available with this more efficient engine. The Highlander Hybrid is currently a V6. I can’t imagine this would be the case, but you never know. It’s amazing how fast all of this changes.

We’re also going to visit the VW dealershipclose by on our test drive day to check out the Passat Wagon and the new Routan minivan. We’re not as keep on the Routan since it’s actually made by Chrysler and simply tricked out with VW aesthetics. Chrysler is the master of the minivan though so it could be a decent marriage. What’s that saying though, “You can put lipstick on a pig…”?

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Candidates, Research | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The cars in consideration so far

Here are some of the cars we’re considering. There are five so far. What do you think? Any comments? Others we should add to the mix for research and test drives?

Volkswagen Passat Wagon

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Volkswagen Routan

Volvo XC90

Toyota Sienna

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Candidates | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments