Re: Advice on small SUVs / first car purchase
I'll continue on to what was said above.
You're planning on having kids in another year or two. Have you looked into the cost of daycare? or perhaps you or your wife will quite work for a few years, or have schedules that afford either one or both of you to be at home at all times? If you're going the daycare route (like we did), be prepared for the cost. Depending on where you live, and what kind of daycare you go to, you might be spending $1000 a month. Sure you can save money taking your kid to a "sitter" who watches him at their house if you trust them (we love ours, I've heard several agrevating stories about sitters changing their mind and giving parents a 2 week notice that they need to find another option) and you can definently go a lot higher, but I'd target an even $1000 right now. That will eat a bunch into your wallet, its something not many people think about until they're pregnant and start shopping around.
After that, I've never driven or owned any of the cars you mentioned, but we had a toyota highlander up until somebody hit me on the highway a few months back and totaled it. Prior to that car, my wife drove a Camry, until somebody turned right in front of me, leaving me no time to stop and totaled the car (funny how people keep wrecking her car while I'm driving it) Prior to that, she had a toyota paseo that she got like 200,000 miles out of. Other than the AC not working, it still ran like a champ, I want to say it was a 93 or something, we got 1st camry in like 2001 to replace that car. I currently drive a camry as well. We've been more than happy with each of our toyotas (which is I guess why we keep going back), so I'd go w/ the Rav4 off of that list if it were me.
I'd also recommend buying a used car, kids are rough on cars and you're going to eat up a ton in depreciation the second you drive a new car off the lot. You can get a 2010 Rav4, with 40-50000 miles on it for 20k or less. A 3 year loan at 1.9% interest (I think you can get that now, perhaps even better) w/ no money down is like $550+ a month. If you start out at 50,000 miles and drive around 15,000 a year, you might be able to get 10 years of life out of that car (200k total)