Urban DINK: Car Shopping List Update


If you read the earliest Urban DINK posts, you know that the wife and I are in the market for a new vehicle, probably a compact SUV. Today I snuck the new 2008 Ford Escape out of the office parking lot for a test drive, and to give the better half a look since it’s on our shopping list.

Bottom line, my wife, Courtney, liked it. It reminded her of her old Honda CR-V and felt more solid than her current Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s also the right size for Chicago driving and parking.

She thought it handled a lot better than the 2004 Escape we tested before buying the Jeep. I still remember that test drive; you could almost hear the road in the backseat and the engine screaming for dear life. Obviously, we didn’t buy it. 

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I also like the upgraded interior. If you get a Ford interior in black it can usually hold up to the competition, and this is the first Ford to feature the company’s new lighting scheme, gauges and button materials. All much better than in past models. 

What I don’t like are the two-step folding rear seats that require removing the headrests, just like our Jeep. What a pain. At least the cargo area is really flat and seems to be pretty big considering the smaller overall size of the Escape.

We’d probably opt for the new hybrid version, not the V-6 we’re testing. I’m still not sure if I’d choose either one over the Mazda CX-7, though, especially if we want to keep things under $30K. Here’s the shopping list, in order of what we’re thinking, after a few more vehicles are under our test-drive belt. Our lease is up in June, so the clock is ticking. One must is all- or four-wheel drive.

  • 2007 Mazda CX-7: Need a refresher, but the price is right and we both love the look now that we see more of them on the street. I priced out a black-on-black with leather and moonroof for less than $30K.
  • 2007 Acura RDX: This would top the list if it weren’t more than the magic $30K mark, our self-enforced ceiling. It could still win if we splurge a little.
  • 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid: Can get out the door under $30K, and Courtney has already given a thumbs-up to the non-hybrid version.
  • 2007 Ford Edge: After pricing and driving it I just don’t like it any better (and for more money) than the CX-7.
  • 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander: Rear seats fold forward and interior materials are a bit cheap, but the price is right and it’s fun to drive.
  • 2007 Subaru Outback: Still waiting on a test drive in this, but the price might be right with incentives.
  • 2007 Dodge Magnum R/T AWD: Too long — 16 inches longer than our Jeep Grand Cherokee — for the city.
  • 2007 BMW 328xi wagon: Way over our $30K mark.
  • 2007 Audi A4 Avant: Same problem as the BMW.
  • 2007 Toyota RAV4: Courtney was uncomfortable driving it.
  • 2007 Honda CR-V: Rear seats fold forward and need a latch, but it’s not dog-friendly.

We’re not done yet, folks. A Dodge Nitro is in our hands right now, and a Kia Rondo, FWD only, unfortunately, is coming up.

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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