OP, good post . . . you did not beat around the bush, just asked it the way you saw it!
My approach - I admit I am very very conservative financially speaking . . . and probably doesn't fit the norm.
I never buy things I cannot afford to pay cash for. I then finance it - hate to leave money on the table. We even applied this rule to our Bay Area house.
All monthly cash needs should be met by one person's income . . . i.e. ~half family take-home income.
I have never bought used cars - for "me" the factory warranty is worth a lot of peace of mind. I HATE unexpected repair expenses. During the warranty period I watch the car like a hawk. Even as a student I had a new car - I admit a very very small one!
I typically keep our cars for ~10 years, 200K+ miles, so lease never made sense for us.
Regarding SUVs - I always liked the way the driver sits on these vehicles, so had one even when I was single.
Current 2011 X5d is my first BMW - absolutely love it . . . only regrets (as mentioned in my various posts) - did not get AD.