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I'm Trading a Manual Accord For a Big SUV! What Car Should I Buy?

This week's reader is swapping out three pedals for three rows.

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Image for article titled I'm Trading a Manual Accord For a Big SUV! What Car Should I Buy?
Image: Honda

Clint loves his manual Accord but it’s no longer the ideal transportation for three growing kids. He thinks it’s time to upgrade to a big family hauler that can comfortably seat the kids and some gear. He is working with a healthy budget but doesn’t want to go overboard. What car should he buy?


(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.)

Here is the scenario:

I’m 35, married, with 3 kids (6, 5, and 3 months old). I currently drive a 2018 Honda Accord Sport 1.5t with 6 spd manual transmission with 40k miles. I LOVE THIS CAR! I’m happy that I finally convinced my wife to let me buy a manual transmission car again, but she won’t let me teach her how to drive it. This occasionally causes logistics issues, but not often. My wife has a minivan (Odyssey) that we also love because of the sliding bucket seats that provide easy access to the third row.

While my Accord is fun to drive and does in fact fit a pumpkin seat and two booster seats it is a tight fit, and my big kids struggle to reach between the booster seats to buckle themselves in.

This combined with the fact that my wife can’t drive a stick has me thinking it’s about time to trade in for a full-size SUV. Historically I haven’t been a fan of Chevy and Ford, but I know their dependability has improved especially with their trucks. The 2023 Pilot has me excited with it’s rumored more boxy look and I was excited about the 2023 Sequoia although the early reviews are quite disappointing. The 3 row Rivian looked intriguing, but I’m not sure if I trust the brand yet.

What should I buy to haul around my family of 5 to school, sporting events, and short trips? The 80k price tag on some of these Tahoes, Yukons, and Suburbans is hard to stomach and I would like to stay closer to 70k OTD.


Quick Facts:

Budget: $70,000

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Daily Driver: Yes

Wants: 3 rows, luxury feel, reliability

Doesn’t want: Something crazy expensive

Expert 1: Tom McParland - Save Some Cash For Some Nice Vacations

Image for article titled I'm Trading a Manual Accord For a Big SUV! What Car Should I Buy?
Image: Kia

Clint, I’m going to warn you now that a number of the commenters are going to insist you don’t really need to give up your manual Accord since you have an Odyssey in the fleet. But I understand the logistical hassles you are facing, and if an upgrade is what you are looking for, so be it. That being said, I don’t think you need to go with the giant SUV like a Tahoe or something, and you even mentioned that the more reasonably sized all-new Pilot seemed appealing.

I suggest you have a look at the Kia Telluride, it’s one of the hottest SUVs for a reason. I’ve even spoken to buyers who were considering similar-sized Volvo and Mercedes 3-r0w SUVs but opted for the Kia because they thought it was “Almost as nice for a lot less.” The Telluride is on the larger side of the spectrum for mid-sizers and won’t be quite as thirsty as something like a Tahoe. A top-of-the-line SX Prestige X-Line Pro maxes out around $54,000, but I bet you would be very happy with all the features in the standard SX with an MSRP of around $49k when equipped with AWD.


Given the popularity, it can be challenging to find a Telluride at MSRP, but it is possible as long as you are patient enough to wait for an order.

Expert 2: Collin Woodard - No, Get the Other Telluride

2023 Hyundai Palisade
Photo: Hyundai

Tom is right here, Clint. Sure, you could probably make the Accord work, but it sounds like you don’t really want to. And that’s OK. You’re not a teen who needs Mom and Dad’s approval when you buy a car anymore. You’re an adult with a wife and kids. If you want to replace your manual sedan with a big SUV, do it. Living your life trying to keep all the keyboard warriors happy is a recipe for misery.

The Telluride sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, but since Tom already recommended that one, I have to come up with something different. So what about its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade? It’s a completely different choice and definitely isn’t the Telluride. After all, it has completely different sheet metal, a different name, and a different badge on the hood. How’s that for differentiation?


Jokes aside, the Palisade does have some advantages over the Telluride. If you like the styling better, that’s definitely one. Adding all-wheel drive is also slightly less expensive on the Palisade, and the Telluride doesn’t offer power-folding third-row seats. And finally, the Palisade is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, while the Telluride is only a Top Safety Pick.

Either one will probably make you happy, and there’s a good chance dealer markup will be the biggest differentiator between the two, but I still say go for the Palisade. It’s a fantastic family-friendly crossover, and the Telluride was already taken.


Expert 3: Andy Kalmowitz - No, Get The American Telluride

Image for article titled I'm Trading a Manual Accord For a Big SUV! What Car Should I Buy?
Photo: Andy Kalmowitz

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Stellantis guy, but do not let my affinity for the wildest American automaker stop you from making the correct choice on your next vehicle. The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the exact car you’re looking for.

I’ve spent many hundreds of miles in this rig, and the only thing you will never run out of on a long trip is space. Your kids won’t even be able to talk amongst themselves in the back of a Grand Cherokee L because they are so far away from one another.


With adjustable air suspension and Jeep famous four-wheel drive system, you can take your family anywhere they need to go while being swaddled in the finest American luxury interior outside of things that cost over $100,000. In fact, you can get any number of different GC L models in your price range. You’ll be able to find the right one for you!

It’s got a real presence on the road (and lots of chrome) that the Korean twin offerings just don’t have, if you ask me.While it may not be fast in a straight line, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 can get up and go when you need to. As an added bonus, the GC L has just about the best lane keep and radar cruise control systems I’ve used to date.


Do the right thing, Clint. Mopar, or no car.

Expert 4: Erik Shilling - No, Get the Telluride

Image for article titled I'm Trading a Manual Accord For a Big SUV! What Car Should I Buy?
Photo: Kia

I was informed earlier this morning that a portion of our readership believes that we are in the bag for Kia, which is an incredible concept, since we’re constantly writing about how perfectly made Kias are.

In any case, Tom is plainly right that this Cincinnatian needs a Telluride, which many readers will view as giving up on life. The problem with that is that life is about love and acceptance, which in this case means accepting the fact that one has a family to care for, and needs a proper car equipped to do that.


The Telluride is that car. It is big, comfy, safe, and, importantly, not a minivan, since having a second minivan in the family is pretty cursed. It’s also well under the $70,000 budget; you can spend the rest at Kings Island. I drove the Telluride when it debuted, concluding that Kia was going to sell a shit-ton of Tellurides, which is exactly what happened.

Good luck finding one in the current market, but, as Tom says, stay patient. The Telluride is worth the wait.