This week I learned more than I ever thought I'd know about cars. The library's copy of Consumer Reports filled my brain with information about makes and models, revision years, and reliability reports (and some good dish about SmartCars). With models and years narrowed (Honda Odyssey 2006+ or Toyota Sienna 2005+), Google helped me explore the "pre-owned" inventory for 6ish dealers within reasonable driving distance. Finally CarFax and Edmunds spelled out details and pricing for the vehicles I was interested in. I love the internet.
Today the family (plus Grandma) did some test driving, trying out the Odyssey vs the Sienna. The Honda won, reasons differing for each family member. After a rest at home, Bill and I moved past our used-car buying anxiety and actually identified a vehicle online. A few phone calls later, we drove to the dealership. By 7pm, we'd signed the deal with a good price on a silver 2006 Odyssey and a great trade-in price on Bill's pain-in-the neck X5. Not bad for a day's work.
I've been opposed to a minivan for years. However, I find myself happily anticipating the extra space, plenty of child-friendly features and doors that don't swing open into other people's cars.
Last car-related decision to be made: finding a good name.