Finding Mom a New Toyota SUV to Love


Shop an auto show for convenient vehicle shopping
An auto show is the ideal place for vehicle shopping with all the major manufacturers steps away.

I just wrapped up a day at the DFW Auto Show and after I propped up my feet, I started to think. With tears in my eyes, I was actually thinking about finding a new SUV to love. It seemed so wrong but I had to admit I was in the market to replace the trusty, reliable, super fun-to-drive Toyota 4Runner.

Why attend an Auto Show

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, the local Auto Show should be your first stop. And here’s why:

  • Get an overview what’s new in the industry–from safety to style.
  • Shop brands efficiently and effectively without the pressure of salespeople.
  • Sit in different types of vehicles. Try on that convertible, sit in the luxury SUV.
  • Have some fun. I test drove a stick shift convertible and took a spin on a truck obstacle track.
  • Find a new car crush. A totally out-of-your-league dream.

I attended the DFW Auto Show to see what’s new with my go-to manufacturer, Toyota. I’ve got a teen itching to get behind the wheel coupled with an aging (sniff, sniff) family SUV.

My Toyota History

My relationship with Toyota began in 1990 with a light blue Corolla 4-door with a manual transmission and air-conditioning. It didn’t even have intermittent wipers or a rear window defogger. But hey, I was a kid and who needed that stuff anyway.

Vehicles are like family members.
Our Toyota 4Runner is a member of the family and the kids love her too.

Next I moved on to my current Toyota, a 2002 4Runner 4WD. A hard-working member of the family that’s hard to replace.

Then a red 2007 Toyota Matrix, nicknamed Britni, came and went. My husband (and the primary driver) said she was a girl car.

Then came the first crossover, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 that was allegedly stolen by a Russian international car theft ring in Montreal, Canada, and shipped to West Africa. Then a 2013 Toyota RAV4 AWD that replaced the stolen RAV4 after our insurance check came through.

My Girl

She’s a trusted friend, always reliably waiting for me and my three kids. Never left me stranded or failed to start, and always ready for an adventure.

I installed my first car seat in her. I strapped my last baby in her. I struggled with mushing three kids into a combination of boosters and carseats in her.

I can’t spill water on the back seat, or I’ll rehydrate a childhood of chocolate milk. I don’t know if she dreamed of being a Mom SUV, but she adapted and became a Mom SUV extraordinaire.

Finding a new SUV to love? I need to replace my beloved 2002 Toyota 4Runner in a few months so the research and the test drives start here.

Moms that drive 4Runners are fun, the guy’s girl that grew up and had a family. As a Mom driving an older 4Runner, I get a tiny thrill when a 20-something guy asks me about my 4Runner. Makes me feel younger, (I know he just wants to buy her but still…).

She’s still looks good on the outside with timeless styling and a paint job that’s held up but I demoted her to short-haul trips. I don’t take her on the long road trips I’ve made into a career.

So the time has come to think about replacing her and passing her down to my kids climbing into the driver’s seat. Though the thought makes me so sad, like putting down a pet. I guess that’s when you know you’ve owned a great vehicle.

The New 2018 C-HR

Toyota CHR, a Toyota Crossover, is a new this year.
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a compact crossover new to the Toyota line up. Courtesy Photo

As the newest to crossover Toyota line-up, the C-HR offers a compact option to the popular RAV4 and Highlander crossovers.

The new 2018 C-HR offers a distinctive athletic build at an affordable price point, starting at $22K with a premium option at $24K. The rear spoiler and the sport alloy wheels, standard on the XLE, add to its sporty personality.

The estimated MPG is an impressive 27/31. The cargo space offered by the 2018 C-HR is 36.4 cubic feet with folded-down seats and 19.0 cubic feet behind the second row.

With ground clearance coming in at 5.9” along with the lack of AWD, keeps this crossover on the paved roads. A consideration for me, and drivers in rugged locales or snow-prone areas, since I need more control and traction. The seating for five accommodates my three kids.

Though I love the styling, the C-HR doesn’t fit my needs for AWD or cargo space. A sporty option for the younger, less entangled drivers. I’ve got too many things to haul in my life and my SUV.

The RAV4

The Toyota RAV4, Toyota Crossover, hauls 73.4 cubic feet of gear.
After five years of ownership, I’m still amazed by how much the RAV4 hauls and the stability of the AWD.

The RAV4 offers proven performance and versatility that I’ve come to rely on for the last five years. As my husband’s primary car, I drive it on extended trips throughout the seasons. The starting price point of $24K entices many families into the mid-point Toyota crossover.

The estimated MPG is an expected 23/30. The cargo space offered by the RAV4 is impressive 73.4 cubic feet with folded-down seats and 38.4 behind the second row. I am amazed by how much luggage I can haul in the RAV4 during our trips. Coupled with a soft-sided roof carrier, I spent nine weeks on the road in our RAV4.

The Toyota RAV4, a Toyota Crossover, is loaded for a trip.
My RAV4 packed and ready to go on a multi-week long road trip.

The ground clearance is a comfortable 6.1” and easy on the knees for climbing in. The optional AWD has me driving with stability and security to the ski resort. With seating for five, it accommodates my three kids.

Though I love our RAV4, I don’t think we need another.

The Highlander

The Toyota Highlander, a Toyota Crossover, offers 3 rows of seating.
The Toyota Highlander is the largest of the crossovers and offers three rows of seating. Courtesy Photo

As the largest crossover in the Toyota lineup, the Highlander offers Moms lots of versatility. With refined styling and more space, the Highlander finds its way into many garages at a starting price point of $30K.

The estimated MPG at 20/23 is a little lower than I expected. The Highlander offers 83.7 cubic feet of space with the second and third row of seats stowed. With the second row down, it offers 42.3 cubic feet. And 13.8 cubic feet behind the third row, so no road trips will all the seats up.

The ground clearance is a generous 8.0” so a primitive camping spot with the best view isn’t a problem. The optional AWD has me driving with stability and security on the annual ski trip. With seating for eight, it accommodates my three kids and a couple of friends.

The Highlander intrigues me with its style and performance. Sounds like I need an extended test drive to help me make a decision.

The 4Runner

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner offers rugged style.
The Toyota 4Runner offers off road abilities with city sensibilities. Courtesy Photo

This SUV is an icon. It offers rugged performance that’s a breeze in the city with its tight turning radius. Its starting price point of $34K is manageable too.

With a 4×4 option and the TRD Pro option, the 4Runner wants to get dirty, in my case in a national park. I’ve used the 4WD option lots over the years and realistically never pushed my 4Runner to its limits.

The estimated MPG is a 17/21 that hasn’t changed much over the years. The 4Runner offers 89.7 cubic feet of space with all the seats down. With the second row down, it offers 47.2 cubic feet. And if you opt for the third row of seats, it offers 9.0 cubic feet of storage. Ouch.

The ground clearance in the 2×4 is 9” and the 4×4 option is a generous 9.6”. Though climbing behind the driver’s seat requires grabbing the bar to yank myself up. With seating for five, it accommodates my family.

A newer 4Runner is a contender. Though I love the rugged styling now, will I love it in a few years?

As in most major decisions, more research needs to happen. Stay tuned.


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