Tu-Duh! We went with the Forester. As always, after months of debate, we went with our first instinct. This also happened when we decided to get married, have kids one and two and to some extent in picking baby names (Cait has a post on that subject which she hasn't published yet). We've (by we I mean mainly Cait with a little help from me) been researching, contemplating and test driving cars for weeks to months now. We were close to buying a Honda CRV and a Hyundai Tucson, but in the end we went with the car with the much better name. Actually, while we liked both of those cars, we did not like them $4500-$6000 more than we liked a beat up Forester. Sure, it might break down and need some repairs, but more than $4500 of repairs is very unlikely. If we do a lot of repairs, we might end up losing down the road if/when we trade in this car, but by then, $4000 hopefully won't seem as monumental as it does now. I don't even want to guess how many months of my past few jobs' salary $4000 is.
The Forester is a 2004 with around 140000 miles on it, which is less on a Forester than it is on a lot of other cars. We went to Utah Family Motors in Pleasant Grove and we highly recommend them. We did most of our other shopping in big dealerships and the lack of stress in the smaller dealer was SUPER nice. We got the price down to $6800 with taxes and everything, and they gave us $5000 for our old Civic, which was way more than any other dealer was offering. Since the Civic was a very kind gift from Cait's parents, we ended up spending (or will end up spending) $1800 dollars on a car we like much better and will work so much better for our growing family than the Civic. We had the $1800 to pay upfront, but we decided to finance it to build up credit. If we make only the minimum payments we will only pay $86 extra, and we figured that will be worth it if we want to buy a house in Wisconsin (which we want to do). I won't gush over details but we love the extra space, decent gas mileage, and hippie street cred.
Special thanks to Cait's brother Devin who helped convince us that buying this car and financing it was a good move. His was a reassuring voice of reason.