State Farm totaled my Highlander. I was a bit heart broken until they gave me a check for $15,800!!!! Say Wha??
It took a few weeks and a lot of research. It originally took me a year to figure out I wanted to replace my Ranger with a Highlander and a couple months of keeping my eye out for a great deal. Oh, I paid $17,700 for my Highlander back in October 2008. So that was quite a deal!
I knew that in another 3-4 years I would want to upgrade my Highlander to a larger SUV. After looking at the budget, Jason and I decided we could do it. (Even without a second income.) So I started looking. First I asked my friends what they drove. Some drove smaller SUVs then what I wanted. Some drove what I considered "beasts". I read a lot of ocnsumer report reviews for their top rated picks and the pros and cons. I narrowed it down to a GMC Acadia, Chevy Traverse, and Mazda CX9. And then I used autotrader to look for the best deal.
Uncle Pat laughed when I told him I wanted a 7-seater SUV, remote start, and with All Wheel Drive for under $35k. He said I would never find it. With the help of some Black Friday deals and a lot of research, I found Traverses and Acadias that met my criteria. The cheapest I found was a 2013 Traverse for $32,300 and next was a 2014 Acadia for $32,900. We wound up paying a wee bit more than $35k for an upgraded Acadia. Leather seats, tow package (boat buy is next!), navigation, dual sunroofs, and some other features that I can't describe because I haven't discovered them yet or figured out how to work it. (Today Jason and I had to figure out how to put gas in it.)
The *only* reason we would really afford this SUV is because I had the $16k for my highlander. Otherwise we never would have considered an expensive vehicle. If I was going to have a car payment, I wanted it to fit in my budget.
So without further ado, here is Em-V, my new SUV. She's called Em-V because Jason wants to call her my minivan. Because honestly, the interior is very similar to a mini-van.