Choosing the Family Car

Monday, May 11, 2009

This is meant to be a survey of sorts.
A manly discussion of the finer things in life.


For the last 8 years I have driven a small Chevy pickup truck with a smallish back seat that in no way can comfortably fit an adult, or safely transport a child. My cab-and-a-half only includes a small, sideways mounted jump seat that cannot accept a child booster. This is fine while I have a family of three, because wherever the three-year-old goes, so goes the four-door sedan normally driven by the wife…er Mrs. Bob.

The Bob household current only includes the three of us, but times are a changin’. We should expect Bob family member #4 by years end, so if the kids go in separate directions, I will need to safely transport a child in my vehicle.

My auto choices in this day and age are vast. I could go to a four-door pickup to not lose the utility I currently enjoy. I could go sedan. I could go for a cross-over. Mrs. Bob wants a van, which may be fine when her vehicle gets replaced.

Here is where the fine readers of ATK come in.

Considering my current vehicle doesn’t have any child-carrying capacity, wouldn’t just about anything with a back seat be considered child-friendly?

Is it possible to consider a Camaro a “family car”?


For those who are uninitiated, the new Chevy Camaro just stared production. It is a huge bright spot in the otherwise crappiest year ever for General Motors. The Camaro plant is the one GM plant (or the one auto plant on the planet) that is actually running overtime to keep up with the demand.

This is not your father’s muscle car. The new Camaro can be had with either a 304 horsepower V-6 or a fire-breathing 426 HP 6.2 L V-8 mated to a 6 speed manual and running through an independent rear suspension. This is tied together with all the high tech goodies to keep the rubber down, along with all the air bags to keep everyone alive. It gets pretty good mileage too. The V-6 gets 29 on the highway, the V-8 gets a not-so-bad 24 mpg. Jay Leno does a great video review of the car here.

A V-8-powered SS stickers for around $31k. Dealers are currently asking for $1,000 over sticker. In a year, I am sure it will drop.

I grew up crawling into the back seat of a 67 Impala 2-door as the family vehicle, which was followed by a 2-door Chevette.

Knowing this and knowing what I drive now, could I consider the Chevy Camaro a “family car”?

18 comments:

steves 6:34 AM  

I think 2 doors are a pain to get in and out of, but a kid probably won't mind. I am probably the wrong person to ask because I have long since veered away from performance cars. I hate paying out the nose for gas, insurance, and speeding tickets. I also think that car is kind of ugly and kind of reminds me of the new Charger. I am also leery of buying a car just when it comes out. It may be better to let GM work some of the kinks out and see how other people like it.

That being said, I don't see why you shouldn't get it if you want it. If you have another car, such as a van or a larger sedan, that one could be used for trips and the Camaro could be used for you to go to work and to take shorter trips.

Mike 6:49 AM  

Congrats on the coming family addition.

(That's the kid, not the car.)

And this no-car-owning NYC boy has nothing to offer on the latter.

Smitty 7:49 AM  

Congrats Bob!

Anything but the 2-seater sports cars can be considered a family car, in my mind.

I own a minivan. I wish I instead owned an SUV of sorts, as we thought we had to get the van to fit all the seats, but then discovered that all 3 seats fit across the back of a 2nd-generation Saturn Vue, so I feel like I stiffed myself.

Knowing you and what you want out of a vehicle, I'd pick the truck with the full back seat. Leave the Town and Country for Mrs. Bob. This, from the guy who now hates to drive.

Bob 10:34 AM  

"I hate paying out the nose for gas, insurance, and speeding tickets."The insurance could be the deciding factor...well, really my wife will be the deciding factor, unless ATK can provide me list of compelling reasons to go for the Camaro. A Mustang is an option too, but its a bit smaller.

The gas is a non-issue as my little truck gets worse mileage than this car and my second choice - a new truck will get worse than the car too. I also only live 10 minutes from work.

"I have long since veered away from performance cars.""This, from the guy who now hates to drive.I drove a 1966 Mustang for several years and have always wanted to go back to something with power and rear wheel drive. Generally I hate to drive, which is why a have a short commute, but a car like this makes it worth it.

Bob 10:35 AM  

f'in line breaks...damn you blogger!

steves 5:52 PM  

I own a minivan. I wish I instead owned an SUV of sorts, as we thought we had to get the van to fit all the seats, but then discovered that all 3 seats fit across the back of a 2nd-generation Saturn Vue, so I feel like I stiffed myself.Not that vans are all that cool, but when did SUV's become cool. I'll have to tell my mom and the old ladies at church that they have cool rides. ; )

I drove a 1966 Mustang for several years and have always wanted to go back to something with power and rear wheel drive. Yeah, that would be fun. Maybe when I go through my mid-life crisis, but rear wheel drive sucks in the winter.

Sopor 6:58 PM  

Sports Sedans all the way.

I don't like two-door cars, period. I don't like getting into other peoples two door cars, and I would hate to make people get into the back of mine.

If I needed to buy a "family" car right now... well a Subaru WRX is ALWAYS on my list, even though it's kind of small... but I would probably be lookin' at Jetta TDIs and maybe Audi A6s... but I'm not taking price into consideration here, just what I "like".

Smitty 7:29 AM  

Sopor:

Bob only buys American. You may incur his wrath in a moment.

Bob 8:03 AM  

”If I needed to buy a "family" car right now... well a Subaru WRX is ALWAYS on my list, even though it's kind of small... but I would probably be lookin' at Jetta TDIs and maybe Audi A6s... but I'm not taking price into consideration here, just what I "like".Smitty is correct, but even if I did not only buy American, the three cars listed above are crap, or look like crap. (Sorry, I have seen your avitar)

The Subaru is the only reliable one on the list, but to drive a WRX, I would look like a punk whose mommy bought him a "cool" car.

As for all VW products, including Audi, they are some of the least reliable, yet more expensive cars on the market. The torque and mileage of the TDI would be pretty neat, but no thanks.

Anyway a lame-ass turbo 4-banger-powered front wheel drive bias POS just doesn't compare to the performance of naturally aspirated V-8 with over 400 HP with rear wheel drive.

That said, a sport sedan would be cool, but like an A6, a Caddy CTS is out of my price range. A Caddy CTS Wagon, which will soon be out would rock.

Bob 8:07 AM  

You know, you guys were suppose to say:


"Yes, Bob, what a splendid choice you made in a car. I am sure your wife will come around and your kids will know they have the coolest dad. It will be completely practical."

Sopor 10:38 AM  

You may incur his wrath in a moment.Ouch.

Bob, 5 years ago I would counter-argue that while you 400HP rear wheel drive monster would certainly beat my Turbo-4 AWD in a quarter mile, you would have no chance as soon as we hit the first curve... however, that's really not the case anymore. Detroit muscle designers have learned how to make a car that can handle with the best of them, so I can't really argue with your performance point, and it's gas mileage isn't a huge improvement over the Camaro either.

That being said... I would still rather have a car bred from and designed for Rally racing than drag and stock racing any day.

Figure out a way to buy a CTS-V, then I will nothing but praise =)

Also... I really like my Dad's Dodge Charger, nice car. Only complaint is that I have to duck more than normal to get into it, and I'm NOT tall, and the ride in the backseat is not the most comfortable... haven't figured out if that's a seat or suspension issue though.

Sopor 10:59 AM  

And another thing... ;-)

The reliability of the VW Jetta (and possibly the Audi... didn't look into that) may need a bit more research. Consumers Reports (I know... just take it with a grain of salt and indication that things may be different, not the definitive point) seems to think that VW has cleaned up their reliability problems. I'm not 100% sure what they changed... are they not being built in Mexico anymore?

Consumer Reports VW Jetta TDI 2009 report, printed to PDF today and hosted on my companies web-server, guaranteed safe (if you'd like any other subscriber-only info from CR, just let me know.)

As you said... the torque and gas mileage of the TDI are very compelling, just don't expect to be wowed by speed...

Bob 11:27 AM  

While most reports of relibility of Audi's and VW's puts them pretty low, everyone must realize that the "worst" cars of today are more reliable than the best of five or ten years ago.

As far as the discussion about handling, I would agree that the muscle cars of today can out handle the best of them. That said, the handling of fwd Europian cars is way over-rated. At the end of the day, I will take a rwd car of any stripe against a fwd car in the handling department.

My brother-in-law made a great career move when he got out of school as a mechanic. He chose, the most expensive, least reliable cars to work on. He repairs Audi's, VW's and Porches and makes a great living. He has VW he leased for communting, but owns a Chevy.

Rickey Henderson 3:13 PM  

Congrats sir!

Get the Chevy. Bonus points for coolness if it transforms into an Autobot.

Bob 3:47 PM  

Bonus points for coolness if it transforms into an Autobot.That's part of an option package that cannot be broken apart. Since it requires the purchase of the moonroof, yellow color, and upgraded computer system, the $14.4billion "Bumblebee" option is just out of my pricepoint. If they offer 0% financing over 10,000 months, I may swing it, but the dealership just ain't negotiating on those.

I am hoping to have Megan Fox give them a call on my behalf and hope she can talk the car itself or the dealship into cutting me a deal. So far, she hasn't returned my calls. Snob.

Joel 9:05 AM  

Get the Camero. What you'll find, is probably along the same lines as what my wife and I found when we had the same choice, the kids (at that age) are rarely split up, and we always took her "family" vehicle, and they never (or rarely if ever) set foot in my car. When they get older, and one needs to be at soccer while the other has to go to dance class, or whatever, then it might work differently. But with a 4 year old and a 1 year old, we virtually never have to transport one somewhere and the other somewhere else at the same time.

Rickey Henderson 3:23 PM  

Yeah, true, and the insurance coverage on an autobot is probably somewhere in the realm of $576,798 per month...

Bob 3:40 PM  

Yeah, true, and the insurance coverage on an autobot is probably somewhere in the realm of $576,798 per month...Actually insurance is cheap. The damn thing defends itself, cannot be stolen and can only be damaged by incendiary rounds.

That said, the insurance policy has an exemption for incidents involving Decepticons. AAA just don't cover that shit.

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