by Honolulu Mother

Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice what our unspoken customs and expectations are, as noted in this Atlantic article:

Welcome to America, Please Be On Time: What Guide Books Tell Foreign Visitors to the U.S.

If you’re an adult with an etiquette question or even just trying to figure out the basics, there are places you can turn, like this forum (if you’ve never seen it before, set a timer before you start poking around!), or of course Miss Manners and whoever is the new Emily Post, plus more up-to-date versions of the advice column.

But with our kids, we have a responsibility to teach them this stuff before they head out into the world, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that raising them to be considerate and empathetic will necessarily lead them to just intuit how table settings work, or what the standard phrases are for congratulating or commiserating on life events, or the different expectations on arriving by the appointed time for a party versus a job interview.

Do you have a conscious program for teaching manners, or do you just try to work it in as you go along? Have you ever considered a class? And, at what point is it time for you to bite your tongue and figure that your kids are now beyond your jurisdiction — at 18, or later, or earlier?


189 thoughts on “Manners

  1. “The palpable sense of newness here creates an odd sort of optimism, where anything seems possible and fortune can strike at any moment.”

    When people here are asked how they are doing, the answer is usually “good”. Shallow answer or not, it is different from the sort of answer you might get elsewhere.

  2. “The palpable sense of newness here creates an odd sort of optimism, where anything seems possible and fortune can strike at any moment.”

    I think this is also related to what Rhett incredulously observed about the recent House Hunters couple who were anxious that real estate prices would keep increasing, and soon surpass the point that they’d ever be able to afford a house.

  3. We teach manners pretty regularly. I very much admire Lark’s formal dinners but have not adopted that with enough regularity. My husband came from a home where they did not bother with table manners and it bothered him to feel uncomfortable when he was first going to professional lunches, eating with other people’s families, etc. He is more strict with table manners than I am, for this reason.

    Manners are what make it possible for 330 million people to share this space. So being on time is respectful, and holding the door for someone behind you is courteous. I sometimes think of you, SM, if you’re reading, when someone does not hold the door for me and I instantly think “rude!!” You have made me aware that rude is in the eye of the beholder, and you prefer to get the door yourself.

    I have probably told this story, but my college roommate invited her boyfriend along for a nice dinner when her parents came to town. He stabbed his steak with a fork the held it up like a lollipop and took bites off of it. Her mom almost fell over. When my kids get annoyed by table manner corrections, I remind them I am saving them from humiliating themselves in front of other people.

  4. I also think, in public we put on a cheery face. I don’t know if this stems from training in customer service at the various customer facing jobs people have held way back when (this is just my guess).

  5. I have sort of become famous in my moms group for being perpetually late to play dates. Its frustrating and I blame it entirely on my kid. My kid is a person who does not want any change at all from status quo. Even when going out and playing or meeting friends is exciting, there is huge amount of reluctance and dragging of feet. Something-anything will suddenly become interesting and so we spend about an half hour to an hour just getting ready. – Let me just play with this toy for two more minutes- said every two minutes! Let’s play hide n seek at home for two minutes and then get ready and so on. If we are eating breakfast before we leave, it takes about 30 minutes do do that.
    I tried starting to get ready earlier and earlier, but between doing all the other chores on the list, I don’t have an extra hour to dedicate to getting ready.

  6. “Lonely Planet says that solo women travelers in “rural” areas can sometimes attract raised eyebrows.”

    All travelers in “rural” area attract raised eyebrows. When you know everyone in town, outsiders are viewed with curiosity and a mix of excitement and suspicion. Especially true outsiders (people from other places/cultures/not of a race with a large local presence). I experience this even when I go to visit my parents.

    @MBT – that is a funny, but cautionary story about the steak!

  7. Milo,

    People do say Americans tend to have less a sense of history that other older countries. But, I get the sense the couple was just ignorant, not that they knew the history of real estate as an asset class and felt it didn’t apply. Or, maybe it’s just 6 of 1 half dozen of another.

  8. Especially true outsiders (people from other places/cultures/not of a race with a large local presence). I experience this even when I go to visit my parents.

    How are you an outsider when you visit your parents?

  9. My BIL loves BBQ ribs. We were shocked that he ordered that for a lunch interview. This was early on, when he had been here only maybe a year or two.

  10. When I was in England at age 18, I had picked up this college student who was showing me around. He took me to a pizza place, and I ate the pizza with my hands, because it’s pizza. He noticed the people at the another table looking at me and said, “She can’t help it — she’s American”. Ah, they nodded. I felt like an idiot, and used my knife and fork (also “incorrectly”!) but seriously, c’mon…pizza.

  11. “How are you an outsider when you visit your parents?”

    I haven’t lived there for over 20 years, only visit once or twice a year, and a lot of people don’t know who I am when I am not with my parents or my youngest brother (who was actually born there & has lived there all his life). They also don’t know my husband or son. We get a lot of strange looks and strange comments. Mostly friendly, so I’m not saying we get harassed or anything. I lived there long enough to understand though. It is NOT a tourist destination!

  12. We’ve had an awkward conversation with each Au Pair (from Latin America) about putting the toilet paper in the toilet. They are incredulous that it really is ‘okay’. We had to have it more than once with one, because she apparently still wanted to do the polite thing and not flush it. And began teaching the children to not flush their paper.

  13. Lonely Planet says that solo women travelers in “rural” areas can sometimes attract raised eyebrows.

    I have never had this happen. Has anyone else seen this?

  14. At least in my part of the country, we never honk at each other – that is another thing that some drivers from elsewhere need to get used to.

  15. @Rocky, after that I would have totally double fisted that pizza! Just to give them something more to talk about. I think people who have disdain for those who eat with their hands are idiots. I love eating with my hands.

  16. Dell, well, it was their country after all. Not mine. And if it had been something like fried chicken, even, I would have looked around and noted how the locals were eating it. It just didn’t occur to my 18-year-old American brain that anyone would eat pizza (and it wasn’t sloppy pizza!) with silverware.

    MBT, I have been to a number of small rural towns, especially in North Carolina, and I think I got the occasional quizzical look. But I’m white, and I look pretty harmless, and I’d usually make an effort to smile or say something cheerful and never had any problems. If I’d been of another race or if I had had multiple piercings and tattoos and purple hair it might have gone down differently.

  17. RMS – reminds me of the FDR story when the King and Queen of England were invited to eat hot dogs.

  18. MBT – Yes. I took a solo vacation to Scotland and got lots of strange looks while hiking, at restaurants, on tours. Mostly friendly, but one waiter couldn’t believe I was eating alone and that I did want dessert!

    I’ve traveled cross country with two male friends, one an Indian American and one a Chinese American. We got a lot of strange looks. The most persistent and uncomfortable were from folks in a small diner in a very rural part of Colorado.

  19. Fred – yes, he did. Later the interviewer told him that he was surprised but my BIL pulled it off so naturally and was neat enough.

  20. RMS and Kerri, you both make good points that I’m viewing this from my own standpoint. I’ve been to plenty of small towns alone, both for work and while traveling, and never got any weird vibe except in southeast Oklahoma where they wanted to know if I was with the government. I sensed that was not a good thing. But I do readily agree that many of the places I’ve been are homogenous, so someone who looks differently might be greeted with curiosity (not necessarily negatively, but made to feel different whether intentional or not)

  21. My kids are still learning table manners because at home it is a mix of eating with silverware and using your fingers for certain foods. Eating with your fingers has an etiquette as well that they haven’t mastered.

  22. We still seem to have a way to go with table manners. We attended a wedding last week, and it was clear that DD intended to use her fingers, or certain pieces of silverware when it was convenient. She actually learned more in Family and Consumer Sciences about table manners than we shared with her at home. She knows how to set a table, and she knows what each piece is intended to be used for when she is seated at a table like the one at the wedding. She is able to create some dance cloth napkin arrangements too.

    There were some young cousins there from the south, and I think that kids front he south have better manners. I know it is a big generalization, but they just seem to have more respect for adults. We’ve talked about this on some other posts, but kids seem to be more casual in certain regions with their elders, and I don’t think this happens in the south.

  23. We do still talk about manners with our youngest, since he still lives at home. The other two, pretty much they’re on their own (we’re available for consulting).

  24. I think the gift of effortlessly good manners is one of the most important things parents can give their kids. It makes it so much easier to be comfortable in any situation. We emphasize it a lot, with a focus on the fact that manners are meant to make those around you comfortable and at ease, and keep attention where it should be (on the conversation & fellowship, not on your wrestling match with your steak).

    My sassy kid is extraordinarily well mannered. You could drop him at Buckingham Palace and he’d be fine. My sweet but absent-minded-professor kid is the one that ends up wearing his food and forgetting his pants. I’m still working on him.

  25. With my DS, we have to ask him to slow down. He tends to be in a rush to finish off his food. Dining with my parents is good practice because they tend to go at a slower pace than he is used to.

  26. Someone is doing something very right with the current college-age crowd. I’ve been doing hot yoga at a place that is swarming w/ students from the U, and I’ve been blown away by how polite they are. Firm handshakes, repeating my name when they say, “Nice to meet you, ____,” making a point to greet me by name the next time they see me, etc. Not only nice manners but incredibly mature and gracious behavior, and not only with me but with others at the studio. Impressive.

    My dad was a stickler for manners and I was the same w/ my kids. They occasionally appall me at home (most common offense = an elbow on the table while eating – I can’t stand that) but they assure me they never engage in such slips when they’re with other people. Right.

  27. DS is pretty well-mannered for his age. I think school gets a lot of the credit for that as it has been emphasized since preschool. We do sit down at the table and eat dinner together even when one family member is absent, so he gets a lot of practice. But we tend to overlook his squirming or using his hands rather than a fork more than school does. He does alright when the situation calls for it – like a restaurant or eating at someone else’s house. We’ll see.

  28. “I think the gift of effortlessly good manners is one of the most important things parents can give their kids. It makes it so much easier to be comfortable in any situation.”

    Totally agree Lark. Sometimes it is the difference between getting a job or not or keeping a friendship or not. A big part of it is building the ability to think about how your actions affect the people around you. I explain to my driving son that you use your blinker for your safety and as a courtesy to the drivers around you. Being aware of those around you is what makes you able to hold the door for the people behind you. You are not to just barrel thought this world like a bull in a china shop.

    When we go out of the country we’ve learned to pay close attention to what those around us are doing. In England and Australia you walk on the other side of the street. In France you speak more quietly than you do in the US. If you stop and watch you can see exactly what you are to do.

    I am personally passionate about being on time. Unless something really big happens (massive blood loss) it is unacceptable to waste someone else’s time in a professional or personal situation but especially in a professional situation. I will not be friends with someone who is chronically late.

  29. Manners right now are very basic- chew with your mouth closed, don’t touch your brother, use your fork/spoon and not your fingers. It’s all I can do to enforce this level, and they have no interest in not embarrassing themselves. Someday maybe they’ll be ready to listen.

    Part of manners is paying to what other people do/what makes them comfortable and doing it. This is something that my mother never understood/agreed with and we had arguments when I was in college and would change my behavior/choices in some way to “go with the flow”. I want my children to think about other people’s feelings/limitations and to be kind and that’s not any of our natural gift, so we have to work on it.

    Honking is frowned on in my part of the country. I honked at someone once when we were at the fruitstand and she was heading toward my car at a rate that suggested she didn’t see me and would back into me. Driving is another area where expectations/manners vary hugely depending on where you are from. I quit taking my boys by downtown/university when they were little because too many people had their sense of “appropriate space for a pedestrian” set in Bangalore.

  30. WCE – agree on honking. Honk much more here than in Midwest – then only for saftey or a light tap to let someone know the light has changed with a smiling wave at them too.

  31. “Mayor De Blasio took a lot of heat locally for eating pizza with a fork and knife.”

    My God. And he hasn’t been impeached yet?

    (Remember, my DH is from Brooklyn).

    I really like Lark and Moxie’s focus that manners = focusing on how your actions affect others (which is why the guy driving in the left lane with 80 cars lined up behind him drives me bonkers). The version of “manners” that I have consistently focused the most on with my kids is “stuff that affects other people” — just this weekend, DS required a “refresher” in “airport walking” (e.g., put the phone away while walking, don’t swerve to the side in case someone is coming up behind you, remember that your roller bag takes up space behind you, etc.).

    My kids have decent table manners. We have routinely taken them to “nicer” restaurants as treats since they were little, but with clear discussions ahead of time about how the rules are different than at home, etc. The benefit to that was that, since it was a huge treat, they were *very* eager to prove that they belonged and generally behaved very well; even when I correct them about the littler stuff, like elbows on table, they take it much, much better than at home.

  32. One place where people have gotten very lax with manners is at church. I am by no means a very picky person but most Sundays it is hard to pay attention especially if you are seated in the back pews. There is too much distraction among families even with older kids. The people with infants and toddlers are constantly going in and out of the pews. The mid morning service we go for is like this, the other services are quieter.

  33. One of the nice notable things about my university is how insanely POLITE the kids are. They all run to hold doors for me, endlessly offer to carry my computer bag up the stairs for me, and THANK ME when I hand out exams. All of the faculty, male and female, old and young, comment on this.

  34. There is a huge emphasis on manners here versus South Florida and it is one of the main reasons I like living here. Life is just nicer when people say please and thank you, let you merge lanes in traffic and don’t walk around like they are irritated and impatient all the time. Our kids get manners reinforced in their public school, in scouting, and at home. The boys have also done two years of cotillion to learn basics of social interaction and table manners. We could really encourage more manners at home but aren’t really too picky about it.

  35. “The United States is the second greatest tourist draw in the world, with 60-million-plus visitors in 2010 alone”

    I wonder how that’s counted. We get a lot of tourists here, mostly from within the US, and my experience suggests that’s the case for much of the rest of the country as well.

  36. My guess would be incoming international immigration/customs clearing forms for determining that number.

  37. Is it rude to never, ever, ever eat the crust of your bread? Because my sunshine will not and IT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. Why haven’t they learned to make bread without crust yet?

  38. Anon – we cut the crusts off and then DS still leaves the outer rim of the bread untouched. He also takes the cooked outside off all protein, even when it is skinless and unbreaded. Bagels are hollowed out with no exterior eaten. Inexplicable.

  39. Anon, you can actually buy crustless bread now. And until fairly recently my younger child would not eat crust on anything – even things that don’t have crusts. Pancakes (no syrup) and chocolate chip cookies come to mind that get broken in half and only the center is eaten. I agree that it’s weird, but am not going to force him to eat more cookie or pancake, do let it go. He has mostly broken the habit, but still does it sometimes. My other will not drink the bottom 1/3 of a drink. Ever.

  40. I find one place that manners seem to be lacking is in the grocery store. One time a little boy of about 4 sat on packaged rolls – he was little and tired – problem was his mother just stood there and didn’t take him off the rolls and explain that you don’t sit on food. I gave her the mom death stare and she finally grabbed the kid and huffed away. Just Monday I was waiting in line to pay and the six year old girl ahead of me in line starting squeezing my bag of chips and putting her hands on everything in my cart. I had been looking at a display and when I realized what she was doing told her to take her hands off my food. Her mother was looking at her, never said a word to her and when I asked her to take her hands off my food, gave me a look, told the girl to come to her. She never apologized or admonished the child that you don’t touch other people’s food. This is an upscale market. The mother and daughter just came from riding lessons as evidenced from their clothes and not too clean boots (really should have changed the boots before coming into a store).

  41. “She never apologized or admonished the child that you don’t touch other people’s food. This is an upscale market.”

    I’ll tell you what, you wouldn’t see that at my Super Walmart.

  42. Thoughts about basic manners remind me of Mr WCE’s outburst as we watched Barron Trump next to his father during the ~3 AM acceptance speech. He saw Barron reaching toward his nose and said, “Don’t pick your nose!” [on national TV] before realizing that a) Barron couldn’t hear him and b) he’s not our son.

  43. Rocky, your pizza story reminds me of a time when I was eating dinner with a family in their home after I had interviewed the parents for my master’s thesis. Everything went swimmingly until desert was served–watermelon, very small, thinnish slices with rind on. I picked one up to eat it and their three year old child did the same. They nearly bit his head off. I’m sure some of the vehemence was really intended for me.

  44. “we cut the crusts off and then DS still leaves the outer rim of the bread untouched. He also takes the cooked outside off all protein, even when it is skinless and unbreaded. Bagels are hollowed out with no exterior eaten. Inexplicable.”

    I would like to share brownies with him.

  45. “She actually learned more in Family and Consumer Sciences about table manners than we shared with her at home. ”

    Is that a class at school?

    Is it possible that kids can have better manners as young teenagers and then slack off as they get older? Maybe their “rough” environment has rubbed off on them as they have gone about in their adult world?

    One pet peeve that seems never to have stuck with one kid is unfolding a dinner napkin as soon as you sit down. I think that’s appropriate. Maybe it’s just me. I’ll look it up.

    It’s nice to hear about college kids having such good manners.

  46. Milo, I agree. I have never seen this type of behavior in any other market and have been amazed that it happens here or any other store. I don’t understand the parents.
    Money is never an indicator of manners.

  47. Over the years there have been times when I’ve been unsure whether to eat with utensils or with my hands. Some families and situations are more formal than others. Fruit is a good example. Also fried chicken or similar food. I usually wait until the host or someone else starts, and then go with the flow.

  48. My husband eats pizza with a knife and fork, and the rest of us like to make fun of him. :)

  49. On New Yorkers and pizza:

    Sorry for the very long link. At least you can see who’s in it, in case you’re avoiding either of them.

    I am sure my child does not know how to set a place setting. So many restaurants roll the utensils in the napkins, and at home I tend to stick a utensil in when I plate the food. The best thing that’s happened for his manners is the preschool class he’s teaching 3 hrs/week as part of his early childhood ed class at school. Today he told me about the boy who only spoke Spanish at the start of the semester being proud of himself for saying “please” and “thank you”, and I thought “thank YOU, little one, for reminding my son”. I’ve been promised by parents of older kids, including some on this board, that the nice kid I used to know will come back at the end of the teen years. He’s still finishing up puberty and I see some of that already. So nice to have him back!

    I agree with a couple of the commenters above: the best part about good manners is having them automated so they come fluidly with no brain power when you’re in some important situation. And manners are generally about making others feel comfortable. Except for when they aren’t, and you’re being exceedingly polite and chill in response to some obvious offense, to show them up. That’s important to be able to pull off too. Right now I’m afraid my boy would just pull into his tortoise shell to avoid acting out. He is usually considerate to a flaw, as in telling me he likes something, so I buy more, and it turns out he won’t eat/wear/use it. I’ve lost 30 pounds, and frequently ask him if he thinks I can wear a garment yet. At first he always said “looks great!” but he is learning that it is not helpful to send me out with my pooch showing, so he’s working on ways to pad the truth so it’s not so painful (and honestly, it doesn’t hurt anyway–I’m usually thrilled to just be able to zip the dang thing.) I plan to work on bringing this tact to other situations that involve him more directly.

  50. “Pancakes (no syrup) and chocolate chip cookies come to mind that get broken in half and only the center is eaten.”

    Oh, I would *totally* do this if I could get away with it. AND scoop out the middle of the bagel, AND eat only the brownies from the middle of the pan, AND toss all of the evil crusts from bread, etc. etc. etc. I like soft and gooey infinitely better than firm and dried out (note: crispy is fine — is good! — but these are not things designed to be crispy. These are things designed to be soft but that get overly dry/firm because they are on the outside). If I could make a pan of brownies, undercook it slightly, and cut out a perfect 4″x4″ square from the middle, I would be happy happy happy.

    Now, eating the outside of meat, that’s another story — that’s where all the flavor is.

  51. Money is never an indicator of manners.


    CoC, in restaurants, I always figured the napkin would fall on the floor anyway, so we put them in our laps when the food arrives “napkin in your lapkin”. He still responds and sometimes even says it. At home of course we don’t sit down until the food’s ready anyway. I just wish he could see the reason why it’d be nice to keep our napkins straight if we use them a few times before laundering them.

  52. Flavor on the outside of the meat? I would’ve thought it’d be more dry than the center. So more spice rub or whatever, but less meat taste. But what do I know. Been a veghead for 30 years now.

  53. I notice manners a lot but I make a big distinction between “not knowing the proper customs” and just being inconsiderate and rude. When living in Latin America I really didn’t like the constant kissing for arrivals and departures and all the time that entailed. Women have to kiss men and women and that can be very time consuming. But I always did it- it would be VERY rude not to. When I lived in Japan I loved the quick bow – so clean and efficient, but I had a bad feeling every time the men would jump in front of me at a door, leaving an elevator or taking a seat on the train. After a few years I got used to it. When I returned to the US for the first few weeks letting women go first seemed very arbitrary.

  54. “Money is never an indicator of manners.”

    Absolutely. I agree that manners can be divided into politeness (e.g., please & thank you), knowing the proper customs (adjusting to environment), and being generally considerate of others. All are important, IMHO.

  55. “East coast people kiss hello.”
    Only a few very pretentious people. I rarely see it done. There is one guy, though, who is the dad of one of my kids firends, who thinks he should greet me by rubbing my back. I ran into him in the grocery store yesterday, and even there, I got the quickie back rub. He is Mexican heritage – is it something to do with that?

  56. Latin people kiss hello, European people kiss hello. There is a higher preponderance of these groups on the East Coast. It is cultural, not pretentious…it would be considered very rude not to kiss someone hello on the cheek in South Florida, even in a business context. Now take that same group of people to a meeting in Dallas and I am not so sure that would occur. Texans often greet each other with the side hug (at least men do to me – they sometimes do the handshake with a pat on the shoulder to other men or a pat on the back that sort of looks like a hug).

  57. I hate the kissing and hugging thing. I had a cold when I went to the wedding. I couldn’t skip because it was a wedding. I wanted to skip because I knew that two of the guests have regular chemo treatments, and they always make it clear that we shouldn’t come if we are sick.

    It was just a cold, but people treated me strangely all day because I was trying to protect them by trying to keep my germs to myself.

  58. Men kiss the ladies around here at a social function – a side hug and a cheek kiss all in one fell swoop. It’s hard to explain but requires much coordination all around. I admire the men who pull it off seamlessly.

  59. Yes! The side hug and cheek kiss. Omg. I cannot stand it. It creeps me out. We don’t know each other that well. Always men. Always socially. Usually at a party and I do my best to stand back but they are sneaky things and get me when my guard is down. Stop!

  60. Kate, I actually like it because unlike a regular hug, it has a firm end point. When the kiss is over, the hug is over. No lingering!

  61. I hate the hug, too! But that least that leaves my face out of it. I really don’t like when people touch me. Not even a big fan of hand shaking but I can deal with that if I can excuse myself and wash my hands.

  62. There was some show about teenagers at a fat camp (a reality show, not a scripted show) and the kids were allowed a “three-second side hug” and that was it for physical contact. (Yeah, good luck with that, with a camp full of teenagers. But I digress). Anyway, now when I’m greeted with a side hug I silently count three seconds and then release.

  63. I do absolutely none of this shit, except for a firm handshake. Some extended family women on DW’s side are huggers, and sometimes even FIL and BIL, but that’s on their initiation.

  64. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a side hug.

    Speaking of side hugs are Jim and Michelle Duggar getting divorced or not? I assume he wants to trade her in for someone still fertile?

  65. I once fumbled the hug….that’s how I learned to watch for the nuance of this interaction in Texas. The kiss on the cheek in South Florida is also followed by a minute of small talk in spanglish about the kids, the family, and the general current status of all.

  66. Lauren, this is why I expect that the wearing-a-surgical-mask thing will be spreading in the US within 5 years. (To protect other people from your cold.) It seems like it’s spread beyond just the Japanese / Chinese / Korean expat community here in the last year, though it’s nothing like a majority practice. I’m sure it’s getting a foothold in NY and LA too.

  67. I barely see the face mask thing here, but it didn’t even catch on during the swine flu. I see it a few masks when I travel, but it is very rare to see it in NY metro. The problem is that germs are on hands too. That’s why kids are so gross when they’re sick because they don’t understand that they shouldn’t touch everything. I was at the supermarket this week, and the clerk was licking his fingers to get the bags to separate, and then he was bagging my stuff. There is no self checkout, so I was trapped with this nasty situation.

  68. Well, crappity-do-dah. Possibility that DH’s Enclave just blew up (other possibility is that the dealer F’d with it and things are fixable, in which case DH may ditch it anyway, he’s so mad right now). So, if you were looking for an SUV with a usable third-row seat that can actually fit teenagers, but still fits in a garage, what would you look at? His criteria: (1) nice finishes (very much per yesterday’s discussion, he ain’t going back) and (2) no Chevy/Buick/GMC (sigh. I still love the Buick). My criteria: (1) Not butt-ugly — I detest the big-square-macho look, and (2) AWD/4WD. And (3) please, not some blingy $75k thing.

    Sigh. Dammitdammitdammit, I had better things to do with that money.

  69. LfB – Highlander. We recently were in the market for an SUV with 3 useable rows and it was the way of the mid-sized ones. Especially if you get the captains chairs.

  70. I think the new Pilot is cute too (hadn’t realized it had a usable third row seat now and same with the Highlander until a friend was looking at it a few weeks ago). DH wants to get an SUV although his sedan is only 8 years old with 40K miles on it. My good friend had a 2010 Enclave and it had a ton of problems over the years so she finally traded it in two years ago for a Toyota minivan.

  71. LfB,

    I had an Infinity QX80 as a rental recently. OmFG what a car!!!

    It’s pure heaven. Effortlessly powerful, eerily quiet,silky smooth waftability.

  72. We have a few couple friends where the husband does the kiss on the cheek and side hug. I’m used to it. My oldest has a friend whose mother is Italian and she often does the kiss thing which I am terribly ungraceful at receiving.

  73. Lfb–another vote for the Highlander. It’s DH’s car, but I love it too. Enough cargo space to move kids back and forth to college as well. We have the hybrid, top of the line model, and even my family can’t manage to use all the cup holders.

  74. Was anyone in the QX80 with you? I think it’s really nice, but the passengers in the third are far away. A couple of mom friends drive it, and I think it’s too large for me to feel comfortable driving and parking.

  75. Lauren,

    Only 3 passengers. I assume all 3rd row passengers are far away?

    It had the 360 degree rooftop camera for parking and it was a rental so it didn’t have the drivers assistance package. But, I can’t imagine it being an issue with the parking sensors, drivers assistance package and 360 degree cameras.

  76. We test drove that Infiniti. It is big. And ugly on the outside. But the interior was really nice. Not cheap, either.

  77. Yes, that redisigned infinity is not as good looking as the older model! Oh but they are so good on the inside. Definitely a step up from Enclave. I do like the macho car look unlike you LfB, but check out the ford Suv. It is spacious with second row captains chairs and third row seats. Not as luxurious though.

  78. Most everyone around here does one or two cheek kisses – man and woman alike but only at social gatherings not at the grocery.

  79. Women colleagues who I haven’t seen in a while do the hug. Others both men and women do the handshake but there are quite a few people who will greet me very cordially but omit the handshake. Maybe they are unsure whether the handshake is appropriate because of religious/cultural reasons.
    Not shaking hands solves the germy hands issue for many people.

  80. Aside from the issue with the hatch last year we’ve been very satisfied with our Highlander.

  81. I just checked and the Infiniti QX80 is a foot longer than the MDX. It makes a difference, but that’s why it’s more comfortable for the third row passengers vs some of the other models.

    I really like the MDX, but teens might feel squashed in the third row. We used to have the Highlander. It is a similar length to MDX and I think the third row is a little tight.

    Any of the cars with a third row and captain’s chairs seem to be more comfortable for tweens and teens.

  82. I was really disappointed in the MDX with captains chairs. The third row was super tight and there is a non-removeable console in the middle of the captains chairs, which made it even worse. We had an old MDX (maybe a 2005?), and it felt much more spacious. The third row in the Highlander was much more comfortable. I swear that we test drove practically every SUV with a third row.

  83. “So, if you were looking for an SUV with a usable third-row seat that can actually fit teenagers,”

    How tall are they and would they have to sit in the third row for more than an hour or so?

    My six-footers tolerated but complained about sitting in the third row of our Toyota Sienna (with AWD, just FYI), but there is no way they would have fit in my sister’s Highlander for more than a quick trip to the store. Those seats seemed best suited for younger children or petite young ladies.

  84. Thanks, all. DD is 5’5″, DS has just passed 5′ but is growing out of pants on it seems a monthly basis, so we are planning for basically full-sized adults. On the flip side, we really only use it for transporting groups, which is like 30 mins out to dinner or something.

  85. At dinner tonight, Twin2 noted that he just tooted in the dog’s face. I informed he did not need to share that. We are not ready for Buckingham Palace.

  86. “an SUV with a usable third-row seat that can actually fit teenagers, but still fits in a garage”

    It simply doesn’t exist. At least not until you get up to Suburban/Expedition territory, but that’s not what you want, and it won’t likely fit in the garage, anyway.

    There. I’ve said my piece. Not going to say it any more. ;) (That’s how my late grandmother sometimes closed out her bombshell statements.)

  87. WCE – very funny.

    As for the hug and kiss hello – the double cheek kiss hello is even worse, imho. And then there’s that weirdness I mentioned once before about the couple we see pretty often, the wife of which has started kissing my DH on the lips. Um….????? DH and I joke about it but at some point I suppose I should challenge her to a duel or something. ?

    LfB – Escalade. Super swanky inside and fit all kinds of teens. The new models are pretty sweet looking, imho. I’ve never driven one — not sure how hard they are to park. The Ford Flex is another option, though the 3d row has limited leg room for teens. The Flex is built on a car chassis vs truck, which was always a requirement of mine back when I was driving an urban assault vehicle. Not sure which chassis the Escalade is on. Both would be great deals in a CPO (certified pre-owned) program, especially up here, but likely anywhere in the country.

    The Duggars are getting divorced? I hadn’t heard. I confess DD and I have let our Counting On watching slip miserably. DD decided we should watch the entire Gilmore Girls series as a bit of a last hoorah before she leaves for college next year. It’s a commitment, and it’s eclipsed all else. (FWIW, fellow moms, GG actually grew on me [though I’d never have suffered through it without DD], and man, are there ever some great gift opportunities for a mom and daughter pair who are into that show. I’ve got the kid set up for Christmas and dorm room after one visit to Etsy).

  88. LfB-We have a 2016 Pilot and love it. I’m close to 6′ and I can sit in the 3rd row. I wouldn’t want to for really long trips, but trips under an hour, it is fine. To have a conversation with the driver, it would have to be in a loud voice, but it was like that in our old minivan, too. It is slightly shorter in length than our minivan, so it fits in the garage just fine.

  89. @Risley: Well, the problem is that he’s not allowed to have a Cadillac, because there’s a history in his family of people buying a Cadillac and dying within the year. Not that I’m superstitious or anything. :-) (Actual conversation last night: Me: “Well, there’s always the Escalade, that seems suitably blingy for you.” DH: [grunt]. Me: “Of course, then you’ll keel over.”)

    @Milo: Does it help that the garage is 24′ instead of 20′ or 22′? :-) But you’re right, I really do not want something that big, although he may. [Oh, and I thought of you on the way to work this AM, as the Garth channel was playing “Fist City,” which you so kindly introduced me to]

    @Rhett: That thing is so ugly it’s almost beautiful in its own way. It’s an option. But, man the price and the size. . . .

    I’m just crossing my fingers that it’s repairable at a reasonable cost. It sounds like it was the AC, not the engine (the “smoke” billowing from the dash was apparently some version of coolant that dumped all over the engine and into the car). So there’s a chance this may just be a temporary royally-pissed-off thing and cooler heads will prevail in the end (he had literally just picked up his car from the dealer: they admitted they screwed up the last AC repair and told him to bring it back in and they’d fix it; and then after he dropped it off, they called him back to tell him, no, the problem was something else that would of course cost a lot more money to fix. So he said screw it, put the car back together and give it back and I’ll take it somewhere else — and within less than five miles, the cooling system basically blew up. Awesome.).

    So I am hoping the new place is competent and not evil and will fix the car at a reasonable price and this is all moot. It was very, very depressing looking at cars last night; they’re just ridiculously expensive, and not one of the options excites me. At one point, I told him to just get a freaking Tesla already (seats 7, after all), because I’d rather spend $100K on a totally awesome car than $50K on something that I don’t like. I really, really do love the Buick, except when it is exploding.

  90. PS — thanks for the Pilot and Highlander recs — we had tried all of those @5 years ago when we got the Buick and found the third row really uncomfortable, but we will definitely try them again if needed, as I try to “encourage” DH towards vehicles that list for less than $80K. . . . I swear, for someone who prides himself on being logical and unemotional, that man sure does like some bling in his cars.

  91. The Escalade, I believe, is based on the Yukon/Tahoe/Suburban, which is all part of GM full-size V8 truck.

    I was thinking over my criticism, and I can endorse the three-row crossover in this case, since you have just two kids, they’re long past stroller/Pack-‘n-Play/car seat ages, and the third row is only for occasional tagalongs who are getting a free dinner, anyway, and there’s no need for a third row and luggage simultaneously.

    An early review I read a couple years ago of Rhett’s Infiniti described it as having something of a tugboat look to it:

    I think it’s the tall stature, vertical surfaces, and the little “portholes” on the front fenders:

  92. @Rhett: That thing is so ugly it’s almost beautiful in its own way.

    I actually think it’s attractive in its own over the top anti-totebag way. A Range Rover is stately and dignified in comparison:


  93. Laura – if your garage is 24 feet, you’ll be fine. Ours is 22 feet and they fit in ours. The bigger issue is the width and the car that you park next to it. We have a small car next to it and it is ok. A larger one would be a problem (and at least for me, having 2 garage doors instead of one large one would also be a problem). You should really bring one home from the dealership and test it out.

  94. @Rhett — I don’t like those other two, either. :-) I like curvy and swoopy (which is why I like the Buick so much). Like this — (possibly the most beautiful car out there now). I almost don’t mind the Infiniti, because it has some curvy to it. And, yeah, the anti-Totebag OTT is like the pushme-pullyou — reminds me of when I first looked at the Mustang, parts of me find that in-your-face styling attractive and repulsive at the same time. If the back end weren’t so squared off, it might even be almost good-looking.

    @Kate — width is ok (garage is 24×24), but we do have two garage doors. We got the bigger ones, knowing he likes bigger vehicles, but I am definitely concerned (we have a fairly limited turning radius as well).

  95. “At one point, I told him to just get a freaking Tesla already (seats 7, after all), because I’d rather spend $100K on a totally awesome car”

    FWIW (and it might not be worth very much any more), Consumer Reports has recently panned the Model X for poor reliability. They can’t even keep the electric doors on a brand new car working properly — something that the Dodge Caravan perfected decades ago.

  96. “Oooh I want that white Range Rover for my next car.”

    My uncle and his partner just bought that one. Same color.

  97. Laura – if you have 24×24, you’re golden. Go forth and purchase giant SUV. Fwiw, I was against buying one (I had a sedan and shoved 3 kids in that but my husband was complaining every time we went somewhere, so I agreed to test drive them), but they are so nice! And I have no problem driving one because it has so many cameras, sensors, alarms, etc. I don’t think I could have driven the version from 20 years ago.

  98. @Rhett — Ooooh, pretty!! Those wheels are bad-ass. I can’t tell, does it have a third row?

    @Milo — I was thinking about the original Model S (with its jump seats), not the crossover (which looks too much like a Citation on steroids).

  99. @Kate: Yeah, we can’t give up the third-row seats, because honestly, just being able to tell both kids they can each bring a friend avoids *so* many unnecessary arguments. That is a level of hedonic adaptation that I am unwilling to retreat from. Especially since DH is the one who has to drive the dang thing. :-)

  100. I like the Range Rover and that black Mercedes. I don’t like too boxy or too curvy. In addition to the practical aspects, design is important to me. Also whatever nice vehicle I get can’t be too high, as seniors have to be able to get in and out easily.

  101. I forgot about the Volvo XC90. I sat I tbe third row because my friend insisted I see how roomy it was back there. She was driving an Audi, and this was nice for a third row. I could fit.
    I’m not a huge fan of Volvo, but the interior and features were really nice.

  102. LFB – I bought a 3 yr-old low mileage MDX (now 3 years ago – it is not the current remodel) and I really like it. The third row is not big enough for anyone but my 10 year old. I plan to keep this one until older DS is a driver. My commute isn’t long and it will be 10 years old at that point and not yet at 80,000 miles. I have also had the Mercedes station wagon (third row suitable only for kids under 8), a Sienna minivan (please never again) and prior to that another MDX I wish I had not traded in for the minivan. I hate the infiniti exterior – it is enormous. Too bad they no longer have the big station wagons with front row bench seat – that’s how big families shoved people into cars BITD.

  103. I love the Audi with third row. So pretty. However, I am too cheap to buy it. I am kind of over cars lately after driving a porsche 911 as a daily driver for the last year.

  104. Someday we should talk about retirement cars. Since I don’t have any kids to schlep around, I go back and forth about what kind of car to get. I’ll probably just get another Camry.

  105. Someday we should talk about retirement cars.

    A friend’s dad bought this as a retirement present to himself. It would do nicely.

  106. RMS. If they keep making Camry like they are now, I may never have to shop for another car. I’ll just go to the dealership and pick the color I want.

  107. Ha, Rhett, I think your retirement plans are a little more luxurious than mine. Cordelia, I know! Perfectly nice car, has all the stuff I want, comfortable, etc. Mom jeans.

  108. On greetings confusion: Most of my awkwardness is just not realizing that some German person expects a handshake. Germans always shake hands, even in situations when Americans wouldn’t do anything but say “how are you”. Except with friends, who they kiss on the cheek, or both cheeks, depending on where they are /where they’re from. My biggest confused greeting was when I visited a German friend (who for a night had once been more than a friend) for a few days. When he picked me up, he had his hand extended. I noticed too late, was already going for a hug. He saw that and said “Oh, so you’re going that way” and kissed my on the face three times. Very awkward because I thought after the first and second that we were done, but he was just switching sides.

    Laura, good luck with the vehicle selection. I saw your post and thought at first that the place where your husband hangs out had been revealed, or maybe there was a falling out of his work group, or some other kind of enclave…? Not that you expected any help from me in this area anyway.

  109. Rocky, “mom jeans car” haha! I think my Sentra is the Target mom jeans car. If you want a slightly fancier mom jeans, you could get an Acura TSX.

  110. Laura, my kid wants one! When we see them here, usually as “retirement cars”, he often comments that it’s such a waste that they are being driven by someone too old to get the best out of them, that he hopes he can get one while he’s young enough to enjoy it. BTW, he’s now taller than your daughter. Weird!

  111. S&M, I think “fun” cars are usually both for young people with no kids AND for retirees who haven’t lost their licenses yet. So saac doesn’t have to wait til he’s 65.

  112. RMS, I see tons of empty-nesters and others with no kids to schlep driving around in minivans. I was torn between the Highlander and Sienna for my post-schlepping vehicle, but so glad I went with the Sienna. I really wanted to move on from the minivan and embrace the SUV, but I just did not like the way the Highlander drove, and the minivan has more people and cargo space. My dad reports that it is MUCH easier for him to get in and out of the back seat of the minivan with the sliding doors that get out of his way. Bonus is that a wheelchair or walker fits nicely in the rear compartment if you’re planning in advance. :)

  113. As a retirement car I want a big, fancy old lady car where you feel absolutely nothing when you go over a bump in the road, and you can hit a pole and just dent the giant front fender. A big ol’ Caddy or maybe one of those giant boat-like Mercedes. Total opposite of those sports cars above. It doesn’t need to go fast to get me to the coffee shop, the tennis club, and the early bird special for happy hour. If it has to take up two parking spaces, uh, too bad for the young’ns.

    Right now, I am with you though. Sometimes I think about replacing our old car (it would be nice to have some of the newer features). Then I look, and I hate everything except the ridiculously expensive and hard to maintain cars. I think about the vacations that I would have to give up to buy one, and my reliable old car that I don’t even drive that much doesn’t seem too bad.

  114. “RMS, I see tons of empty-nesters and others with no kids to schlep driving around in minivans. ”

    FIL has one. He uses it to haul around stuff for his hobbies. It comes in handy when we are all going somewhere together too. Especially now that DS is old/big enough to ride without a car seat. (what an unexpected revelation that is!)

    @Milo – With a boat that size, would you be hauling it around to different lakes?

  115. “I was torn between the Highlander and Sienna for my post-schlepping vehicle, but so glad I went with the Sienna.”

    This is what I am wondering as well. I do want an SUV though and want to move on from the minivan.

  116. Retirement vehicle – how about being chauffeured around? Good dream right? Nice luxury car, and pay someone else to drive me around…

    In practicality land, I will probably buy something zippy with light doors (those coupe doors can get mighty heavy).

    Though, in the 30+ years I have til retirement, cars will be self-driving, run on solar/electric power, and have seats that slide in and out of the car so you don’t have to worry about opening/closing doors or breaking a hip getting into cars. I’ll spring for the stocked bar in the glove box so I can have a cocktail while my driver-less car takes me to my destimation. My car will also have the blue-flame getaway package for dramatic exits.

  117. “I do want an SUV though and want to move on from the minivan.”

    See, the thing I am looking forward to when the kids move out is *not* having to drive a compromise vehicle any more, because I no longer need to transport multiple people + stuff. So we can get a lovely 2-seater sportscar for people transport (because there will only be 2 of us), and a nice F-150 for “stuff” transport (given that my “stuff” will likely not include Milo’s boat, I don’t need the dualie).

    And, you know, if DH ends up driving the truck more, because he likes big vehicles that fit his big shoulders, well, you know, I guess I’ll just have to take the hit and drive the Porsche. . . .

    Yeah, ok, so back in the real world, I am never actually going to drop the coin for a Porsche or Maserati — more like a WRX and the Mustang. But, boy, I like to dream about all those awesome sexy things I’ll do when I can just get rid of those dang kids. :-)

  118. “My car will also have the blue-flame getaway package for dramatic exits.”


  119. Right now, I do not want a minivan. They feel like buses to me. I know I know… I’ve driven one, been driven in one, and tried to just sit and get comfy in one, I just don’t like the feel but I like the SUV feel. I was spoiled with my truck. And in all honesty, I work hard to no schlep a lot of gear anywhere we go. I purchased our pack n’ play, booster seat, stroller, etc. with smallness in mind. Even our double stroller is small by double stroller standards (it’s actually not much larger than our single stroller).

    I did ask DH for a quad cab Silverado as our next vehicle – it has everything: storage, 4WD (shift on the fly no less), and plenty of room for 3 people in the back. My FIL has one and I sat in the middle seat with oodles of room. Seriously – 2 car seats and a human could fit comfortably back there. He said no… :(

    I do like the Traverse, and have scooted into the back with plenty of room. My mom (who most likely would be back there) is 5″ shorter than me and would have oodles of room. I also like the 2/3/3 or 2/2/3 set up in the GM SUVs than the 2/3/2 in the Ford/Hyundai/Toyota set up. Plus, the cargo room behind the 3rd row in the GM models is on par with my small SUV (24 cu. ft.) The others don’t come close (more like 18 cu. ft).

  120. My car when kids go off to college will be a mercedes station wagon. I love them – drive sporty with plenty of grocery/cargo space. Nice but not too nice and slightly rare. I will probably stalk the people in my neighborhood who have them and just buy their car used when they want to upgrade. People tend to only drive within a 5 mile radius, keep them in garage, have low miles overall and service them at the lovely dealership 2 miles away.

    My issue on the really big cars like the infiniti, expedition and yukon is that I am short and my arms are short. I can’t reach all of the controls. Not an issue with acura or european cars (which instrument panels are better oriented towards the driver IMO).

  121. We did get our (Very) used suburban and I love it far more than my hippie-self should allow. We often have 6+ people in it, so it’s not the most wasteful thing ever. I’m short and have no difficulty reaching controls – but maybe because it’s older and has few fancy things? I love being up high and seeing over everyone.

    Rhode- we drive a quad cab when we visit my parents, and put all three in the back. I miss our bigger cars when we do – the kids are so close! to me, to each other. I would never choose that for a primary kid hauling car.

  122. “@Milo – With a boat that size, would you be hauling it around to different lakes?”

    That’s one possibility. And if it were for a lake tour, it would be a bigger lake, like Powell. More commonly, it’s to shuttle it between the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast, assuming you don’t want to take it through the Panama Canal.

    The boat we want (at this point, things change) is the one in the picture, the Ranger 31. The 31 (and the 29) are both 10′ wide, whereas their 27 and below are 8′ wide. 10′ width means you need a special towing permit in every state you’ll be driving through, which probably sounds like a bigger deal than it is, but it’s still a beast to tow. Unless you’re doing it all the time, it likely makes more sense to hire it out to one of the many shipping services that will do it for a couple grand. So I probably will never actually need to own the full-on F-350 dually.

  123. Milo,

    I assume with a boat that size you just pull it into a boat lift to be lowered into the water. You can’t pull it up a boat ramp or anything, can you?

  124. “More commonly, it’s to shuttle it between the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast, assuming you don’t want to take it through the Panama Canal.”

    OK, I don’t get it — then how do you get the truck home after?

  125. “You can’t pull it up a boat ramp or anything, can you?”

    As a matter of fact, you can. The keel isn’t terribly deep. This one’s a bit smaller, but…

  126. ” then how do you get the truck home after?”

    Drive it? Fly one way.

    It’s not a weekend thing. You’re going for months/year/whatever.

  127. Finn – the sienna was kind of all over the road for me and drove like a whale on wheels. This may sound weird but its like I had too much space around me. I also was really freaked out by the extent that it is intended to shuttle you through fast food drive thrus with each person drinking 2 20-oz drinks. It’s me – I would rather have a cottage over a 4,000+sf house, would rather travel with a backpack then check a bag (ever, even with kids) and would rather have a smaller, tigher-handling car that I can nimbly parallel park.

  128. There are lots of snowbirds who have their cars (packed with clothes, etc for the season) shipped to Florida while they fly. Do the same companies do boats?

  129. S&M – probably cheaper to hire a captain to make the trip. Most boats would be a wide load for the road and would have height clearance issues to be moved on a flatbed. You do see it for cross-ocean boat deliveries frequently. If you sit in the Miami port for a day, you will probably see a huge cargo ship with multiple 60+-ft yachts cradled on top. My understanding is the sailboats are usually delivered by being sailed across the ocean by someone that you hire or that was hired by the factory/distributor. I know more than I should about boat deliveries. We are in the market currently for a boat for a year+ adventure.

  130. Snowbirds tend to haul out the boat and leave it “on the hard” in a boatyard in their southern coastal destination. Much less to worry about for hurricane season.

  131. “It’s me – I would rather have a smaller, tigher-handling car that I can nimbly parallel park.”

    It’s not just you. My mom’s retirement car was a Tercel, in large part because it was so easy to park.

  132. ” then how do you get the truck home after?”

    Drive it back, with the boat in tow, after parking it long-term while boating? The it you dock before returning to the other coast, you have a vehicle at your disposal.

  133. @Finn — right. But Milo’s reference to the “one-way” tow led me to think he was talking about, say, setting off from Seattle and winding up in VA, so you’d presumably want to get the truck back to VA before you arrive there. I guess I’m just surprised that it’s so expensive to transport the boat via a third-party company that it’s cheaper to either pay someone to sail it for you or drive yourself back cross-country and then fly back one-way.

  134. LfB, since you apparently value the driving experience (although I don’t know if that’s true of your DH), you might want to check out the Mazda CX-9 and BMW X5. I don’t know how roomy their back seats are, although we have friends with an X5 who often carted 4 or 5 middle schoolers to and from softball practice.

    I believe SSM has a CX-9.

  135. Thanks, Finn — the Mazda was my first choice last time, but was insufficiently large/tricked out for DH. And alas, I will never again buy a BMW on pain of death after the way they treated me with the 325xi.

  136. LfB – when I said hire a delivery service, I meant a company that would deliver it by truck and trailer over highway. The boat that I pictured is about as big as you can get and still do that, more or less. If you look at that blog post up above, that’s what the couple did: hired two guys with an F-350 (or equivalent) to drive it from Washington state to Florida.

    Although I suppose you can get into those special deliveries where the tractor trailer is escorted by several cars with flashing amber lights, etc.

  137. “Retirement vehicle – how about being chauffeured around? Good dream right? Nice luxury car, and pay someone else to drive me around…”

    This is exactly the reason our kids weren’t eager to get their driver’s licenses. Why drive when you can be driven?

  138. “See, the thing I am looking forward to when the kids move out is *not* having to drive a compromise vehicle any more, because I no longer need to transport multiple people + stuff.”

    My brother *hates* minivans and urged me to get something else when I replaced our Odyssey. And I was tempted, but have found that I am still transporting multiple people and stuff. Not to school and swim practice, but we can comfortably fit 5 adults on 2-hour trips to visit DS and family, or 6-hour trips to see MIL. We still have to haul college DS back and forth twice a year. When DS2 moved to the big city, we were able to haul his stuff and help him transport new furniture. We made multiple trips to see DS1 and drop off hand-me-down furniture. And it’s no problem to fit new rugs or large houseplants in the back. I can’t imagine *not* having all of that cargo and people space.

  139. Scarlett, my 74 year old, 6′ 4″ uncle is still driving a minivan for those reasons, along with the fact that the height is optimal for his arthritic frame. I’m enjoying our minivan because no one is immediately adjacent to anyone else.

  140. My in laws and my brother’s in laws both have minivans, and they’re the first minivans they’ve owned, purchased well after their kids were grown. And my brother’s in laws prefer it on long trips over their 7-Series.

  141. @Scarlett — the things you mentioned are what the F-150 is for. :-) Add in the crew cab, and you have room to transport people when necessary, too.

  142. “the things you mentioned are what the F-150 is for. :-) Add in the crew cab, and you have room to transport people when necessary, too.”

    If you’re not towing anything significant, then you’ll be much happier with the Ridgeline. The independent rear suspension makes it much better to drive. It also allows you to have an additional GINORMOUS storage space under the bed (where the rear axle would be in a traditional pickup).

  143. For years, my mom was thrilled not to have a station wagon any more. I can think of 3 colors of Accord that she owned, for four years each, so it was at least 12 years, and probably longer. Then they bought an MDX. Mystified me, but when one of my sisters & husband & 2 kids come to visit, it’s useful. It is also the vehicle they drive back and forth on their annual migration, full of stuff. Not my thing at all, but coorborates Scarlett’s thinking re usefulness of a big thing even after the kids have officially flown.

  144. You can also ice it down and make that space into a giant cooler, and there’s a little plug at the bottom to drain it afterward:

  145. I’m enjoying our minivan because no one is immediately adjacent to anyone else.

    This is why people with little kids should be nonononono on the quad cab pick-up. Yeah, it fits 5 or 6 with standard legroom, but you’re all on top of each other.

  146. Wow — ok, Ridgeline it is. I am disproportionately excited by the idea of the built-in tailgate cooler. Do they make a variety with a swing-out grill, like I have seen on some RVs? :-)

    Actually, what I’d really like is something like this — — but then I’d likely never actually use it to haul stuff, so not much point.

  147. “This is why people with little kids should be nonononono on the quad cab pick-up. Yeah, it fits 5 or 6 with standard legroom, but you’re all on top of each other.”

    Exactly. Which is why it is the retirement vehicle. For now, it’s captain’s chairs ’till the end of time. Talk about great inventions!

  148. No, I want the swinging chair one! I have those chairs hanging in my back pergola (with separate dangling cupholder, no less), and they are WAY more comfortable than the ones that sit on the ground.

  149. “And how does it not have a rear axle?”

    You know what’s sad? Both the judge and the prosecutor are now deceased.

  150. @S&M — on Milo’s first link, in the collection of pics of the grill attachments.

  151. BTW, there’s all kinds of bike racks available for trailer hitches and, unlike other types of racks, are not car-specific.

  152. Finn – we have one for the van — a five-bike Thule. The advantage is that you never feel like you’re putting too much weight on the back door/trunk.

    But with a Ridgeline, you add a permanent rack in the bed, and the bikes clip in almost instantly, with no rack installation. As you can tell, I’ve become very intrigued.

  153. The advantage I was alluding to is that a hitch rack can be used with any vehicle with a compatible hitch.

    I have a roof rack that worked great on a previous car. But it relied on gutters for its mounting, and I don’t think anybody makes cars with gutters any more, not to mention that it wouldn’t fit a car of a different width.

    Also, I’ve found that rear racks are better than roof racks. Roof racks really cut into gas mileage, especially at freeway speeds, and leave the bikes covered with dead bugs, problems which rear racks largely avoid.

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