Finding Just the Right Car For My Family

My family has been in need of a new car for awhile now, but I’ve been in denial. We have lived in and loved our car so well I’m genuinely having a hard time letting it go.  I talked about this a few weeks ago, this feeling of losing a family member who is a central character in our family history. Do you feel this way about your car, or have you ever?  I don’t want to say goodbye, I really don’t, but the truth is that our car isn’t as reliable as it used to be, and I just can’t take the chance of driving around in a car that breaks down here and there.
the right car for my family
A few weeks ago the car wouldn’t start after I’d gone to see the doctor, and I was trapped in a parking lot for several hours while I waited for a tow truck.  I had planned to get home from the appointment before my kids returned from school, and had to call my neighbor to go check on my kids when I didn’t show up on time.  It wasn’t a great situation, and it’s happening more and more often, so it’s definitely time to move on.
car for my family
We also need to upgrade in size because of how much my kids have grown in the decade since we bought the car.  In the beginning, neither of my kids’ feet even touched the floor. There was plenty of room to keep the little car kits I made for each of my kids, (which held books and toys) at the foot of each seat.  Now the kids are teens who slump sideways when they sit in the back, or prop their feet up on the center console in-between the two front seats. It drives me bananas.
car kits for kids
But the car has been an amazing fit for my family. It’s a station wagon with all-wheel drive and a roof rack which means it’s perfect for our super busy, active, outdoorsy family lifestyle in snowy Utah.
Here are all the ways we’ve used the features in this car, including the roof rack and room in the back of the wagon:
  • to stow loads of groceries (from two grocery stores, including a big box store)
  • to stow swim gear for daily practice (fins, swim backpacks, swim parkas, food bag)
  • to stow swim gear for a weekend meet (folding chairs, coolers, etc.)
  • to maneuver on snowy roads in the winter
  • to carpool kids to and from swim/choir/orchestra/soccer/gymnastics practice
  • to stow camping gear (we’ve even slept in the back with the seats folded down)
  • to stow ski gear (in the back of the wagon) and skis (on the roof rack)
  • to stow luggage and coolers (in the back of the wagon) for long driving trips


family car
As we’re looking at potential new cars to it’s super important to me that we have all the features my family has loved, plus enough legroom for my tall kids to sit comfortably in the back. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned how much I want good gas mileage.
Whew.  It’s quite a wish list, but it’s totally doable, and made easier with Capital One’s Auto Navigator®. My life is so crazy busy that actually finding time to get to a dealership, with my husband and both kids in tow, no less, to test out the above mentioned legroom, is massively tricky.  Do you have time for this?  Me either. The features of Capital One’s Auto Navigator® make it possible to pre-qualify for auto financing (which is a huge stress in and of itself), play around with different lengths of financing, and check out the auto inventory of more than 12,000 dealerships in one swoop. So cool.  It’s time saving, smart, and the future of shopping all at the same time, and it’s actually making car shopping a little bit fun for my family.
// This post was written in partnership with Capital One. All children, photos, and crumb-filled seats of the car are my own.  As always, thank you for your kindness to the sponsors who keep Petit Elefant going. //
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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Hatton :

    I rarely comment but had to on this post! We had a navy blue Outback like that, until it’s side was pulverized by a teen running a red light (no one was hurt, thankfully). I think Subarus unlike any other car have that nostalgia and love associated with them – reliable, practical, and so many memories… I completely relate to your feeling that it’s a part of your family! For that reason… we keep buying (and loving!) Subarus! Good luck with your search.

  2. Sarah :

    It’s never easy to say goodbye to a car. It’s lot like letting a pet go. Hope you find the perfect new one!