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Mom's Taxis: Picking a Ride for Mother’s Day

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This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and my thoughts naturally turn to…cars. No, I’m not buying her one, because she isn’t driving anymore. But she has an interesting automotive history. I remember a Scion xA that was her last ride, a red Volkswagen Beetle that got wrecked at a highway entrance, a Toyota Corona wagon with engine trouble she sold to my twin brother, and a Chevy Nova that rolled down our driveway, denting in the tailgate but hardly disabling that veteran campaigner. Before that we were a one-car family and she used the Ford Falcon when she could get it.

My parents in our Connecticut driveway, with a 1962 Chevy Nova convertible that was like a member of the family. (Jim Motavalli photo)One of my most vivid memories is of riding in the back of mom’s Dodge Dart in a supermarket parking lot, and having her back right into a cab-less tractor trailer. Glass from the shattering rear window rained down, but we were fine. Mom didn’t let it slow her down. She didn’t let anything slow her down—in the early years, she drove like a bat out of hell, with cigarette ash flicked out the window.

Edmunds.com published an interesting “10 Vehicles for Mom” list  that avoids the usual clichés. But, yes, there are sizable SUV/wagon things, including the Volvo XC60 (a top safety pick), the GMC Acadia (for those runs to Sam’s Club) and the Ford Escape (“for the hard-working mom who’s constantly multitasking”). In my family anyway, there’s both a “Mom’s taxi” and a “Dad’s taxi” driving the kids around. Also for Mom, Edmunds says, is the BMW X3 (a compact crossover), the Ford Flex (a boxy vehicle for “hipster moms who still like to rock out,” it says), the Kia Optima (“genuine sex appeal”), and the Toyota Prius V (lots of space for “hypermiling moms”).

Edmunds also liked the cubist Kia Soul (“youthful and spunky”), the Porsche Cayenne (if Mom is loaded), and the Subaru Outback. That last one is eminently practical—my wife had two of them, and they’re the car of choice for eco-friendly moms in cities like Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

I think the idea is that Mom should buy these rides herself, but if she has celebrity offspring a brand-new car can be a gift. For instance, the NBA’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gave his mother a Mercedes, and Kanye West bought his a $200,000 Bentley. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson handed over a white Cadillac Escalade, but she got it for Christmas. The tweet: “At 14 I saw my mom crying about our only car being repossessed. This felt good. #MerryXmasMom.” Elvis gave his much doted-upon mom a pink Cadillac. But then, he gave Cadillacs to total strangers who just happened to be walking by the local dealership.

Mom's taxi never goes off duty, apparently. (Courtesy of Retroplanet.com, which sells this image as a tin sign)As car writers, we’re often asked for car advice, so if Mom was driving, what would I hand her keys to? Hmmm. I think I see her in a Hyundai Altima. Not hugely fancy, but a wonderful car that’s also a great value—and Mom is all about great values.

Matt Phenix, the editor of BBC Autos, would hand his mother the keys to a Maserati Quattroporte, a four-door Italian super machine. That’s a lot of car for Mom, but he has his reasons. “Driving the Quattroporte would’ve been her Italian-American reconciliation. Big and sumptuous and sonorous, it is as proudly, glamorously, unabashedly Italian as I wish she could’ve been,” Phenix said.

Ed Loh, editor of Motor Trend, also has high-performance aspirations for his late mom, but he would also want her to go green—with a Tesla Model S. “My tiger mother, rest her soul, shuttled my two sibs and me to piano, art, dance and kung-fu lessons in a who’s what of multi-purpose vehicles: a Chevy Caprice wagon, a VW Vanagon, and a Toyota Previa and Honda Odyssey minivan,” he said. “She hated all of them for their size and sloth, so I’d love to be able to go back to the future and gift her this slick, state-of-the-art, all-electric seven-passenger people-mover.” It helps that Loh and his team named the Model S the “2013 Car of the Year.” Did you see what Consumer Reports just said about it?

When it comes right down to it, moms as car buyers aren’t any different from anyone else. We all want economy, space, a good ride, reliability. We don’t need good mom cars in the final analysis, just good cars. OK, you folks ready for a bizarre but funny taxi mom video?

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