Athletics Magazine

Mama Needs a New Set of Wheels: Best Cars for Recreational Athletes

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I’m always paralyzed by decision making, especially when it comes to large, costly purchases.

Never mind, who am I kidding? I’m paralyzed by every decision from what to order at Chipotle (Black or pinto? Mild or medium? Brown or white rice? Just shoot me now) to what underwear to wear (leopard print? cotton hipsters? granny panties?) to purchasing a new home. Luckily I haven’t had to purchase a new home in 10 years and I will probably never move again just to avoid making a decision. Unless I go bankrupt, in which case I will debate over which cardboard box to live in and under what bridge to put it.

You can imagine that when it comes to car buying, I am ridiculous. I have had my current car, a 2003 Ford Explorer, for almost 10 years. It’s got about 150,000 miles on it. There are more vomit, sweat, and anonymous stains in there to count. Yes, I could do some repairs and keep it for longer, but the gas mileage is killing me (I drive a lot for my job. Yes, blogging hasn’t made me rich…yet). So, I’m thinking it’s time for a change - for a new set of wheels.

My son Sam is a car nerd. He knows everything about every car. And, I mean everything. When I first started looking, he said he found the perfect car for me. Good gas mileage, sleek, roomy, powerful. What was it?

Mama Needs a New Set of Wheels: Best Cars for Recreational Athletes

Yes, the Dodge Charger. Does he know me at all? I mean, from what you know of me, can you see me driving that thing? I feel like I would need to first get a boob job and acrylic nails. Cougar city! (No offense if you drive one. It’s just not my style).

Recently, I posted a question on my Shut Up and Run Facebook page about which car is the best for recreational athletes in terms of hauling stuff, being family friendly, good gas mileage, affordability and all wheel drive capability. I said I was open to pre-owned options. 150 comments later, I was more confused than ever. 

Yes, I know I am experiencing a FWP - First World Problem. In my defense, I do live in the First World and we drive cars. Just because people are in foreclosure and there are a lack of mosquito nets in Uganda, doesn’t mean I can’t buy a car if I need one.

From your comments and the research I’ve done, here are what appear to be the top 8 cars for athletes (in no particular order, although the Subaru was the most popular choice). Compact/smaller SUVs seemed to be the favorites!:

1. Subaru Outback – Deemed the “Official Car of Colorado,” this auto is affordable, has good gas mileage (21/28),  sports good safety ratings and has decent off road capability. The only reason I don’t like it (and it’s stupid) is that everyone else has it. Lame on my part.

2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Wagon F3-4 Normal

2. Honda Element- This unique looking SUV has removable rear seats, a roomy cabin and a “dog friendly” package (must include poop bags and privacy glass for licking oneself ). Gas mileage is not great at 20/25. I love the design, but HATE the rear half doors. Ken has those in his Chevy truck and it  makes getting kids in and out of the car a pain. They stopped making these in 2011.

2011 Honda Element EX SUV

3. Nissan Rogue – With it’s good gas mileage (23/28), sleek look and decent price, I could find very little wrong with this choice. Until my car-nerd son convinced me I would hate not having a V6 (not available in the Rogue) especially for mountain driving. I have not ruled this car out, however.

2012 Nissan Rogue SV SUV

4. Jeep Patriot – For some reason, I’ve never been a Jeep person. Not sure why. I know people love these cars. Pros include good off road capability and a low base price. Fuel economy is good  (23/29). Acceleration is not supposed to be good and the car has limited cargo space.

2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude SUV

5. Toyota RAV4 – This one could be a winner with a good amount of cargo space, decent fuel economy (22/28) and responsive handling. I don’t like the right side hinge for the tailgate (makes it hard to curb-load and the spare tire on the back would make it tough to attach a trailer hitch for bike rack, etc).

2012 Toyota RAV4 4dr SUV Exterior

6. Nissan XterraAt first I thought this was the car I would get. I love the look of it – very sporty and outdoorsy. But, I was very bummed about the gas mileage (16/22). I just don’t want to go that low.

2011 Nissan Xterra X SUV Shown

7. Ford Edge – This one is  real contender. With lots of features and a comfortable cabin, I like the appearance of this car. Keeping the kids in mind, I like that it has a roomy backseat (reportedly more so than the Explorer) with reclining rear seats (the less complaining, the better). The gas mileage could be better (19/27) and it is kind of pricey. But, I think I might be able to get a good deal on a used one.

2013 Ford Edge 4dr SUV Limited Exterior

8. Mazda CX-5 – I was really excited when I heard about this car because it has everything I want: 26/35 gas mileage, stylish design, cargo space. But I do have two concerns. First, no V6 option. Second, 2013 will be the first model year for this car. In the past when I have bought cars making their debut, I’ve ended up taking them in numerous times for recalls, etc. PITA.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 4dr SUV Exterior

People also like the Hyundai Sonata, the Toyota 4-Runner, the Subaru Forester, the Honda Fit and the Honda Pilot.

Bottom line: Yes, I’m being picky. But, if this car and I are going to have a relationship for the next ten years or so, I want to love it and not cheat on it after three months (not that I would do that). So, what do I get??

Do you drive any of the above? Pros/cons?

What do you drive? Would you buy it again if you could?

Any tips on cars to completely avoid?



The winners of the Everyday Endurance giveaway are:

Jen. T.
Swyers ([email protected])
Running for the Reason
Kristin from Cooking in the Moment 

Email me at [email protected] and I’ll tell you how to claim your prize. A special bonus: the 15% off sale will go until Friday. Enter “shutup15” at checkout.

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