Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Q & A with Car Mama: Three Rows of Luxury

Car Mama answers your questions! A reader recently sent this: 

Infiniti QX56
Q. Dear Car Mama: I live on Long Island with my three kids, husband, and our nanny. My husband and I both work full-time and like to fill our weekends with adventure, as well as soccer games and trips to the park. I would like a luxury SUV with All Wheel Drive (or 4 Wheel Drive) that has captains chairs in the 2nd row and an easy-to-access 3rd row. My husband already has a GMC Denali, so I don't want another one of those. And I really don't want a minivan. Suggestions?

Buick Enclave Interior
A. I do have a few suggestions, but it can be difficult to find an SUV that satisfies all the criteria, so I added a few minivans at the end of my list. Here's why: I have a friend who lives in California so only encounters snow when she wants to, but she has great taste and three kids. She started out with a Lincoln Navigator, then moved to a Mercedes-Benz GL, and now drives a Toyota Sienna minivan and loves it. So you may be thinking this way but end up going that way. Go in with an open mind and find what you love. Good luck!

  1. Infiniti QX56 (very luxurious with bold design, but large console between captain's chairs limits access to 3rd row)
  2. New Ford Explorer (satisfies all criteria if you get a Limited edition with captains chairs in 2nd row)
  3. Buick Enclave (same platform as the Chevrolet Traverse; with captain's chairs in 2nd row you can have a walk thru to 3rd row)
  4. Audi Q7 (no captain's chairs in 2nd row, but it's great in the snow)
  5. Lexus LX (3rd row seats in new LX are jump seats that fold up on side, so cargo space is limited when 3rd row is not deployed; but very luxurious)
  6. Mercedes-Benz GL (standard Mercedes-Benz luxury; not much leg room in 3rd row, but OK for kids; no walk-thru option in 2nd row)
  7. Lincoln Navigator (big, high off the ground, boring design, but nice inside; console in 2nd row limits access to 3rd tow)
  8. Ford Flex (perfect if you want minivan capabilities without an actual minivan; new model year has Eco-boost engine & updated styling)
  9. Toyota Sienna minivan (AWD available)
  10. Nissan Quest minivan (doesn't have AWD, but it's nice, easy to drive, easy access to all rows, easy cargo space, and just makes sense for a family of 5+)
Nissan Quest
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