Screw rational thought. At least that's what my thought process is now.
I've spent much of our time in New York thinking about cars. As much as I am content with my Mazda5.....I'm not happy with it. So I began mentally going through what I want in a car that I could seriously keep for 7 years.
Style, power, gas mileage and roominess.
The previous GMC Terrain that was on my short list was taken off.....too small a cargo area.
Now it's the Toyota Venza or Toyota Prius. The Venza is a crossover SUVish wagon vehicle. It's based off the Toyota Highlander. A loaded Venza with a very powerful V6, leather, 20 in wheels (standard on V6 models) and panoramic sunroofs (plural!!!) can be had for around $30K....which is my absolute hard limit for a car.
I've seen a few Venzas on the roads here.....very stylish....semi SUV looking and even with a V6 averages 23MPG...which is my low point. I won't buy a car with anything lower than 23MPG average. A 4-cylinder Venza gets better gas mileage...might be enough power. All Wheel Drive isn't terribly expensive, but I could live without it.
If I totally hate the Venza (not likely as I've been reading about it for 4 days) then I will likely head to a Prius. The new one's are smaller than our 2004 model. We're only having one kid and likely won't be driving more than 2 hours at a time, but having extra space for bulky objects is nice.