I am sitting here playing with car manufacturer web sites as I figure out what car to buy for my wife - a major purchase, so not a small decision. After visiting three dealerships (Volvo, Acura, Infiniti), I have a good idea of what she wants. As far as driving the cars, she liked driving the Infiniti the best, but Acura was a close second. I think Volvo is out of the running, especially because the salesman was an idiot who could not answer any questions about the car.

Here are the things that are important to her:

Technology packages - she wants things like lane assist, blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, intelligent braking, and the like. Lots of airbags, etc.

Third row of seats - despite initially thinking otherwise, she realized that she does not want to lose the third row of seats, so a fold down row is a necessity. In particular, she wants to be able to put Toby in one of these when we travel:

Comfort - she commutes about 20-30 minutes each way every day to the next town over (she is a special education kindergarten teacher), so she wants to be comfortable. She doesn’t need max luxury, but she wants something well appointed.

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Rear bucket seats - when I said “bucket seats” to the Acura salesman (who was about 28), he said “those are CAPTAIN’S CHAIRS.” We used to call them bucket seats, but whatever. 2 rear seats with a console between them (with 2 USB ports for power) is essential if we are to travel with 2 teenage brothers who are generally homicidal to each other on their best days.

Size - she does not want to go full size SUV. Does not care about a V8 engine, wants something that feels smaller than her Sienna, but still gives her that fold down third row.

This morning I have been playing with building cars on manufacturer websites.

Infiniti QX60 - Packaged with exactly the options she wants, MSRP comes out to about $53,000.

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Acura MDX - Packaged with exactly what she wants, MSRP comes out to $57,000.

There will obviously be some variance at the dealer.

I have been looking at the Toyota site this morning, and we are hoping to make it to the dealer after work today. The Sequoia is too big, and only comes in a V8 that she doesn’t need.

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But the Highlander ticks a lot of the right boxes, and at the kind of prices we are talking about, we could afford the AWD Hybrid. We are not off-roaders. She will be using the car for a commute that is about 60% highway driving, and for family road trips. So the hybrid might make sense. If not, we could load up a Highlander for what we are talking about spending for these other cars.

Throw your thoughts this way, Oppo. I’m a-waitin’