Which Family Car?
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Which Family Car?
Cars that fit 3 car seats COMFORTABLY
We have a 7 year old son and are expecting a baby in
February. My car is a car with only 2 seat belts in the
back because the seats fold on the side so once we have
the baby we couldn't transport anyone else.
My husband is gone all day, i work part-time and have come
to rely on my village of moms. We help each other out a
lot with pick up and drop off and i need to be able to
continue. Plus with the age difference, i need to be able
to transport friends for playdates ect.
We are about ready to buy a car and are looking at the
Honda Pilot. However, i wanted to see if anyone had other
suggestions or ideas.
It is important to me that the seats not be crammed
against each other and that it not be overly complicated
to buckle everyone.
We like our Mazda5. We are also a family of four that needs to be able to
accommodate carpools, etc. Third row seats easily fold up or down. It's
economical, has the same footprint as a sedan for parking, and gets good
Get a minivan. You won't be sorry.
Love my Toyota minivan
get a van. cars or SUVs trying to vans, are just that. they are never going to be
as comfortable for kids getting in and out, than a van. BIL and SIL have a
mazda 5 with the mini third row, and basically they envy our minivan. buy used
and it shouldn't be too bad.
Get a Minivan!
I considered a Honda Pilot and a Highlander Hybrid, but in
the end got a Honda Odyssey. I have never regretted it,
and even my husband (who was too cool for a minivan)
agrees it is comfortable, practical and a nice ride. It is
the best for carpooling and carting stuff around.
In love with my minivan
We are hoping to sell our two cars to get a new or used
wagon/minivan/SUV that will fit two adults, a baby (on the
way!), a large dog who loves to stick her head out the
window, and an average amount of stuff (mostly groceries and
We don't drive very much (maybe 600 miles a month) and that
is about 1/3 very short drives on local roads and 2/3 longer
work related trips on highways.
We care mostly about mileage, reliability, and low
maintenance costs (no fancy luxury cars for us) and are the
type that keep our cars until they die, so eventually it
will probably need to hold 2 or 3 kids total. Ideally, we'd
like something with all wheel drive, but we only go to Tahoe
1-2 times a year, so it's not essential.
We have no idea where to start and know lots of you out
there have gone through this process and will have great
advice. Thanks in advance!
- In need of car advice
My husband was a tow truck driver for years, so I value his
opinion on vehicles. For mileage, go with a station wagon or
minivan (SUVs are pathetic in this regard). I have a 1996
Corolla that regularly gets 40+mpg highway; if you can find
this as a station wagon, I'd be jealous. I'd also recommend
toyota or honda, though I know some of their newer models
haven't been getting as good reviews. Kia and Nissan have
some good stuff too. So something a few years old, from a
dealer or something you can find out the history on is your
best bet. Euro and American cars often make it difficult to
do any maintenance yourself (particularly Euro cars) so if
you like to be able to jump your battery, or perhaps change
your oil, stay clear of those. As far as going to Tahoe, no
one NEEDS all wheel drive to do that, and all it will do is
suck away your mileage to have it. Get some chains and drive
intelligently, you'll be fine. LD
Do you love your car?
Can you recommend a car that:
-will seat 6 or 7 people (for school carpooling),
-has a somewhat separate area for our two 45& 65 lb dogs
-and has a space for several bags of groceries, without the
bags being at kids' feet or with the dogs (bags stored in a
compartment under the dogs, perhaps?) ?
Does such a car exist with all three items on my list?
Style-wise, I'm crossing my fingers for something closer to
a crossover than a minivan or an SUV. We currently have a
Subaru Outback wagon, which is 2/3 of the way to my wish
Yes. It's called a mini-van. Seats 7. Don't know how we'd have
gotten by without ours.
We love our Mazda5 but I don't think it would work for you.
When you are using the third row seats, the amount of room
left for cargo is very small (2-3 grocery bags or a few
backpacks), too small for two large dogs. You'd have to
choose the dogs OR the carpool kids, which would be a pain.
I am writing because it sounded like the Mazda5 might be the
type of crossover you're hoping would work, but I much as I
like it, I don't think it would. Anon
The best fit for you is a minivan - low floors, lots of
room. Not what you really wanted to hear, I suppose.
I've identified the Ford Flex as being a good car for my
needs because it hits all the same points you identified.
Seats 7, has ample room for dogs + people + stuff, good
mileage, and it's built on the fairly reliable shared
platform with Volvo that all of the classic volvo wagons
have been built on. Also comes with AWD (essential for me,
since I don't drive much except to the mountains). Jeremy
We just went through this very same process and looked at a
ton of different cars that would seat at least 6, room for
our two big dogs (both over 70 lbs) and have room for
storage, etc. We looked at the Nissan Murano (too small for
the dogs), Chrysler Pacifica, Mercedes R350, Saturn Vue
(with the 3rd seat), Buick Rendevous and Enclave, Ford Edge
and many others too numerous to mention. We were looking at
USED cars since all the new ones were $40K or more and that
was outside our budget of $25K. We ended up focusing on the
Chrysler Pacifica and the Mercedes R350 and in the end,
found a GREAT R350 that is a 2006, one owner, less than 40K
miles on it and in great shape. We paid $23K for it. What
a steal! It seats 6 (all bucket seats, so tons of room) and
the back folds down and is roomy enough for our huge dogs to
lay down in the back). It's very luxurious and I love the
ride and feel of the car. It replaced a very aging Chrysler
Town and Country mini van. We specifically didn't want to
get another mini-van, so the cross-over look of the Pacifica
and R350 were more appealing to us. The Pacifica is a
slightly lower version of the R350, with bucket seats and
lots of room, but we found all the used ones seemed to be
really beaten up.
If we are using all 6 seats, there is still room on the
floor for the dogs to lay down and room in the back for
groceries, but we are trying to not take the dogs with us
everywhere like we did in our van, so that the car doesn't
smell like dogs all the time .
Good luck in your choice. I highly recommend you use a car
broker. I can recommend one to you if you don't know any.
It will save you at least $2K. Sue Lehman
Minivan vs. SUV for 3 kids and lots of camping
We are expecting our third child this winter, and are
looking for advice. My husband's car will not fit three
carseats in the back, so we need to get a new car for him.
Mine will fit three across, but without leaving room for
other passengers. We have family members in town who often
ride with us as well as playdates with other kids, so we're
thinking we need to get something else. We are both
reluctant to buy an SUV unless it is a hybrid, which is more
than we can afford. Minivans have the space, but we camp a
lot and go to the snow several times a year, and are
wondering about minivans handling the snow and rougher
terrain. Seems like the Odyssey and Sienna are very popular,
but does anyone know much about the Kia Sedona? Any advice
would be appreciated, included those of you who ended up
with an SUV and pros and cons of that as well. Thanks.
We bought an Odyssey Minivan in 2000 and it has worked great
for camping. We only have two kids but the current model has
an extra seat in the 2nd row so three people/car seats can
sit there. You lower the 3rd row seat into the floor and you
have a huge area for cargo. You can also put a bag/box on
the top if needed if you buy the roof rails and cross bars.
With the 3rd seat up, you can transport 8 people.
The only SUVs with comparable cargo space are the super huge
For snow, you have to put chains on, but Thule makes some
easy to put on chains that work great.
Sure it would be better to have four wheel drive, but we
only go to the snow 1-2 times per year. The Toyota Sienna
has an all-wheel drive model that we would have considered
if we went to the snow more often.
We are going to buy a 2011 Odyssey next year.
We have two kids and like camping, too. We have a 2005 AWD
Sienna and have been happy with it. The two captains chairs
can be removed and the back seat (which holds 3) can be put
down flat to open the whole back for sleeping, if necessary.
We travel to the Sierras a lot and the AWD is critical. The
downside is that the AWD means the Sienna doesn't have a
spare tire and has run-flat tires instead. Which are pricey
to replace. But I still wouldn't trade the AWD.
Congrats on your 3rd and good luck.
I never thought I'd own a minivan, but I'm actually much
happier with it than I expected!
We have extended family visit us quite a bit and now that we
have a HUGE car seat for our toddler, we just couldn't fit
everyone in our Jeep. We considered a crossover, but those
back seats are not meant for adults! We wanted our guests to
feel comfortable back there, so we opted for the minivan.
I now appreciate all the room even when we don't have family
visiting because I have plenty of room for my kid's stuff
(stroller, etc.) AND because we have a Dodge with stow-away
seats, I keep one of the seats folded into the floor, which
leaves room for me to do diaper changes, etc.
I can't speak to driving it in the mountains, but our Dodge
was great for our summer roadtrips! Comfortable for 6 adults
and one toddler and all of our stuff for 10 days!
So anyway, I'm happy with a minivan for now, although we
probably won't get another one once we no longer need
convertible car seats and diaper changes! minivan-convert
I had an SUV that I had loved and three kids in car seats.
After a year of that crap, I got a minivan. I had SWORN I
would NEVER get a minivan. Well, I am a total convert.
Minivan Mamma. Loving it. And so is my husband. With the
SUV, unless you have a Suburban or whatever the biggest
Tahoe-ish thing is now called, there is NO cargo space once
you put that third row up. I believe the Siena comes with
or has the option of AWD but I got the Odyssey. Go test
drive 'em. I have heard not such good things about the Kia.
Go for quality. You have three kids, you want this sucker
to last! minivan convert
We have a 15 month old and a newborn (1 week old). Our current car
(Toyota Camry) fits both rear facing car seats in the back seat with
barely enough room for an adult to sit between. Any recommendations on
a good car or SUV that is child friendly and can offer the kind of space
needed for two little ones with an adult in the middle, plus
storage/trunk space for all the equipment required when going on a road
trip? Also, keeping in mind that eventually they will be forward
facing, etc. Would specifically love to hear from those who have 2+
kids and any additional advice you might have in general.
I was very concerned with this same issue when my kids were between the
ages of 0-4. But after that, we used boosters, which are much slimmer than
the baby carseats. So you may be talking about a 3.5-4 yr period where
there's little room in the back. If this issue is not terribly important
to you and you want to save your $, you might want to stick with what
you've got. We did not change our cars. We had a Volvo wagon and a Passat.
Do you really need that room in the back for an adult? How often will you
be doing road trips? I'm a 5'4'' petite and was able to squeeze between
two Britax carseats in the back of a Volvo V70 on occasion if the trip was
extra long. (Now they're making such big carseats, like the Marathon, it's
crazy. Not sure if I would fit and those carseats are intended to be used
longer, until 60 lbs, which is about 8 yrs old, far beyond when the kids
no longer want to be seen in a ''baby'' carseat.) The Volvo has that usual
wagon space in the back, which is great. Also makes for a nice, flat platform if you need to change a diaper
or two. Once in a while, we had wished for a mini-van for convenience-sake
(or imagined conveniences) such as when you want to go in back to retrieve
something during a trip. But we resisted the urge and, now that we're out
of the woods, are very glad we did. But our kids now get very excited if
they ever have to ride in a mini-van. Being in the back row is very cool.
Mother of two
Car question: 5-person car for 6-person family?
My aging car is due for replacement, and I'm wondering about what
size car to get to replace it. I have a blended family and an
''accordion household'' that goes from 2 to 6 people depending on
which day of the week it is. Right now it's fairly uncommon for
all 6 of us to go someplace together, and when we do we take 2 cars.
I would like to get a car that's as fuel-efficient as possible,
but I also like the idea of being able to put the whole family
into one car, even though that only happens 2-3 times a month.
Has anybody else been in the situation of having more people in
your household than seats in your car? How did it work?
Any insights into the environmental side of all this? (For the
record, my idea of a larger car is a Mazda5, which averages about
25 mpg, so it's not like I'm trying to choose between a Suburban
and a Yaris. And my partner's car is a Civic Hybrid, so we
already score some environmental brownie points.)
On the Fence
We had a similar problem. We have 2 kids but when anyone came to visit
always had to use 2 cars. We bought the Mazda 5 and love it, it is
like having the
benefits of a mini van (without all the unnecessary features and cost)
and so much
smaller. I couldn't wait to go to the berkeley bowl and the parking
was so much
easier. The gas milage is great and it has good pick up. I love my car
and it is
for company and play dates. Not to mention it is at a low price.
Mazda 5 fan
I love your term "accordion family." Our family accordion'd first
from 2 to 5 for a number
of years, and then 3 to 6, during which period neither my husband nor
I had a car that could
accommodate more than 4. It was totally fine. For the 2-3 times a
month that all
of us were going somewhere at once, taking 2 cars was no problem.
Actually, if you
are talking about a 'blended family' situation, I thought it was a
plus - even
20 minutes of one-on-one time driving a couple of my stepkids while my
the others was a good new dimension to our relationship. All too
quickly they were driving
themselves! Now on those increasingly rare occasions when we are all
six going to the
same place at once, taking two cars means one of them driving me while
the others drive
with dad. And it is still fun - deciding whether we will have a 'boy
car' and a 'girl
car' or dividing up by music tastes, or whatever.
It depends on how old your kids are. If any of them are in carseats,
squeeze in more people. With two carseats in the backseat, we can
barely get a
person in the middle.
If you're looking for space and ''environmental brownie points'',
check out the
Highlander Hybrid. We get about 30 mph and it seats 7. Back seat
goes down when
we don't need all the seats and gives us room for bikes, groceries,
In planning for the arrival of baby #2, we had to get rid of
our truck for something that could comfortably house 2 carseats
and lots of cargo so we went with the Pontiac Vibe. I know GM
is phasing this out, but it's a really good little ''big'' car
and after 2 yrs of ownership, we've had NO problems with it and
are really happy with it. Check out the specks on Edmunds.com
and the consumer ratings - pretty high. Fuel economy is pretty
good, have taken it to Reno, LA, and lots of local day trips
and it's been great for hauling, comfortable for passengers and
lots of cargo space. There is about a 1 ft difference between
my husband and my height and we're both able to adjust the seat
perfectly to accomodate our driving needs, also, the sliding
visors (for the front seat) is also a fantastic idea..all cars
should have this! You really do get a lot of bang for your
buck with this one, just test drive one and see how it feels.
Happy with our hatchback
I am very envious of our friend's new-ish KIA Rondo. It has an
extra seat fold down seat in the back, so it can seat up to 7,
it was pretty cheap for a newer car, and it gets decent
mileage. It's way more more convenient than our Subaru wagon
and abt the same size.
You don't say how old all the family members are. If some of them are
might consider a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It has a pop up third seat
that has two
seats for the 10 and under crowd. I use this car for carpool (seats
7). I get
MPG and it's great in the snow too.
Like my hybrid
With another kid on the way, we need a new vehicle. Since we also transport my
nephew, it will need to fit at least 4 carseats. Do we have a choice other than a
minivan? What is a good, energy-efficient option for us?
We were in a similar situation, but I just couldn't face buying (or driving!)
either a mini-van or SUV. We ended up with a Mazda 5 -- what my friends call
my ''mini mini-van.''
It's about 6 inches longer than our Prius, but has a third row of seats that
fold out of the way when not needed to give you a bigger trunk. The car seats 6
comfortably in individual bucket seats, although I have to admit that the back
two seats are best for kids, and probably shorter-legged kids under 12.
The Mazda 5 -- while not an exciting car -- is extremely affordable (about
$22K), especially for what you get (good design, seat warmers, GPS option). It
also gets pretty good mileage (mid-to-high 20s for city driving).
You might be able to find a non-minivan that 4 car seats will fit in to,
but you should also consider how hard it is to get the four kids into their carseats!
The nice thing about a minivan is the side doors slide open, and the floor
is lower (than an SUV type vehicle) so it's easier to put a heavy baby
into the carseat. Access into
the third row is also much easier. You don't want to be crawling over
the babies in
the middle row to get the kids into the way back! I really think you should
go with the minivan. We love ours!
Our car won't hold everyone - keep anyway?
We have a 3-year old, a 1-year old, and a baby on the way. We
also have a Honda Civic. Originally we were thinking of getting
a minivan to tote everyone around (plus company when we have
it), but now we are starting to think that we should just keep
our car, even if we can't transport everyone at once. Is this
nuts? Does anyone have a car that doesn't fit anyone? Does it
work? Is it a huge pain?
We just think it is wasteful to have a car with worse gas
mileage and to get rid of a car that works perfectly well. I'd
rather wait a few years until EVs or at least better hybrids
For safety reasons alone, you should have a car that holds all of your
if you're home with your kids and one of them needs to get to the doctor
or there is some other type of emergency? Practically and logistically
cannot imagine our day to day existence without our minivan (or some
that would hold three carseats). Sorry to say, but unless you have A LOT
and friends around at all times to help out, I think you are in denial
about what your
life is going to be like. And what about all the equipment you will
to haul around as well?
Mom of three under 5
I would stick with the car you have. It's a great car. If you
have company, and you don't want to take two cars or walk, you
could always rent a mini-van just for the time you need it.
We went through the same decision (I was driving an Accord and my
husband the Civic) and wound up buying the Odyssey. Even though
we only have 2 kids, once my older child started preschool, we
were doing carpools, etc which is just not possible with the two
big carseats (unless your 3rd passenger is a kid no longer in a
booster - I'm pretty small and I have to sit uncomfortably
sideways to fit in the back)! Long story short, I rationalized
it by realizing that we are saving gas, emissions, etc if you
consider that I'm carpooling whenever possible and the city is
less one car on the road. I have to say we've been very happy
with our decision and will be taking a trip to LA soon with 5
kids and 3 adults in the Odyssey!
Did I get this right? You are thinking of making 2 trips to
places rather than getting a car that can fit everybody? Think
of the environmental damage with the 2 trips! With the size of
the car seats I don't think you can get them all in (you're
talking about 3 car seats with backs because of the ages of the
kids). I would look into wider cars possibly if you don't want
to go the minivan route. Are there any station wagons these
days that have a 3rd row? The emissions from those are similar
to sedans (vs SUVs). The reality is that you need a larger car.
We've got a Honda Civic and a Subaru wagon, with two kids now
both in elementary school... we can fit both kids in either, but
only the wagon would take three (and that's a bit tight... really
can't with three infant/kid car seats). I'd suggest you go for a
larger car, including for the reason that you're going to want to
fit *other* people's kids, e.g., when two of yours want to go
with two others on some outing. Our friends with a minivan can
take their two and our two, and it's vastly easier than a
caravan. We've also got a soft cartop carrier for the Subaru...
look for a car that can handle everything when, say, the five of
you head somewhere for an overnight. Maybe not in the next few
years, but it's coming fast...
We just bought a Mazda 5, which is a mini-mini van. It's length
and width is the same as our Honda Accord, but the hatchback has
two seats in it so it seats 6. Adults couldn't sit in the third
row, but it does work great for kids. Gas mileage isn't stellar
but better than the regular minivans (Sienna and Odyssey). If
you have three kids and only one car, it might be a little tricky
for you. But if you do think you need a car to hold all 5 family
memebers, its worth taking a look at the Mazda 5.
There are many ways to do this!
First, make sure that you really won't all fit. I have found
that I can fit three carseats even in ''compact'' cars as long as
there is 48'' across the backseat. Use your tape measure and go
buy new 16'' wide carseats. I had good luck with Graco seats at
Second, we've been without a car that will fit everyone for
about 9 months now. We rent a car when everyone will be driving
somewhere together. It is a bit of a pain sometimes and it does
cut down on spontaneous full-family activities, but it has saved
us a TON of money.
You DO have options!
Maybe you are looking at the question wrong...I am sure that
someone on BPN has figured out which three car seats will fit
across the back bench of a Honda Civic (it does have three seat
belts back there, right?) Maybe just have to buy three new car
seats. Or maybe you two year old is gong to be three when the
baby is born and will be able to graduate to a booster (always
That said, you are probably not too many years away from having
children with friends. I have three or four kids aged five and
under in my car at some point during the day most days of the
week. That may be the sort of person that I am (hey, we are
headed to the zoo...do your kids want to come along? You can
have a few hours to yourself.) or I may be normal. So factor
that into your car buying decision if in fact there is not combo
of car seats that will fit across your back bench.
You don't need a mini van! There are many ''wagon type'' cars
that are plenty big enough. Try a Subaru, a CRV, a Scion XD or
just stick with what you have. You only need to have your
immediate family fit. You can always rent a larger vehicle for
no mini vans in my life
You'll certainly want a car that can fit all three of your kids
and their car seats and boosters comfortably and safely. I'm
assuming you weren't asking whether you need a car that fits all
your kids. Of course you need to be able to transport them all at
once. I wouldn't worry about extra passengers, but all three kids
might not fit in the backseat of your Civic, given current car
seat and booster laws. You don't have to make the big jump to
minivan. Maybe a small wagon or even a Highlander Hybrid.
When my second was born, we decided to buy a mini van because with the
carseats and us in our mazda protege, my tall husband was very cramped
all post hormonal, I insisted we buy a van. I found a used one and it
Then, the gas prices skyrocketed. I hate having a big gas guzzling
thing. But, I will
say there are great advantages to the van. Our oldest has play dates and
pick up a neighbor's kid from school once in a while. We use it for
trips. A few times a baby was having a fit and I was able to pull over
and deal with it
without exiting the van.
My advice is to see if it works and try not to buy the bigger car for a
relatives are in town, you can easily rent a van, which we did a few
times when we
just had one kid.
then, if it really is a pain, go ahead and buy it. Ours gets decent
mileage. We didn't
go lux and opted for a used dodge caravan. We trash it. We don't worry
about it and
we don't use it unless we absolutely have to. We still have our mazda.
reluctant van mama
We have sort of lived your dilemna as we had a small Honda 4
cylinder, transitioned to a larger 6 cylinder sedan after a
child was born, and then got an SUV for carpooling with other
families. The child grew, carpooling ended, and now my wife
drives around alone in the guzzler SUV, I use the guzzler
sedan, and the small Honda 4 cylinder sits. We kept all 3 and
pay for alot of gas, insurance, and license fees. I am planning
to transition back to the 4 cylinder Honda for daily 1-2 person
driving. If you have the space for parking and can afford the
license fees and insurance you can have both vehicles and use
them according as needed. You can also suspend licensing and
keep a vehicle in non-op status while reducing insurance to
comprehensive only when not driving. You are correct that the
electric vehicles and/or hybrids are not yet environmentally
friendly or cost effective. I too am waiting for a plug in
electric car like those EVs of years ago people loved. I hear
they are selling the few still around for around $50,000. It
might be wise to hang on to the small car for a couple more
years until a suitable electric or diesel or ? vehicle becomes
available. I am able to turn on and off my insurance pretty
easily so that when I need the big vehicles for visitors or
hauling I just make a phone call and upgrade to full insurance
or basic liability as needed and can drive the same day as long
as I keep the registration current. I feel guilty driving
around in bigger vehicles than we need but I also consider the
safety aspect of collision(with some giant SUV or worse)and
like the idea of being surrounded by more metal-(preferrably
steel not plastic). If only everybody would drive the same size
economical cars things might be different but these days a
collision is likely to involve a large vehicle. Compared to all
the huge SUV folks on the road we are already being much more
conservative, but I want to do better. You are on the right
track thinking this through.
It seems like you are asking two different questions, one about
one about environmentalism.
For the first, I think you should consider questions such as:
How often do you go out now with your whole family/one parent and kids?
a stay-at-home parent, or do you need to take your kids to daycare and
then go to
work? What about your partner? What will you do when your third child
is born and
you need to take the other two out, and your partner is at work, or even
there family nearby that you often/sometimes take your children to see?
without the other parent in the car, it is physically impossible to fit
three car seats
in the back seat, as you probably know. How often do you take public
transportation now? Are you prepared to do that with three children,
when (not if)
the situation presents itself? I may be paranoid, but I would be very
worried if there
were an emergency and I was not able to keep all of my children with me.
talking about a tsunami or earthquake, even, but a medical emergency,
emergency, good friend emergency, etc.) How would you manage that?
I would say that you are really putting yourself into a bind by not
having a car that
fits everyone. Life can be so challenging without adding this other
stressor to it.
As for the environmentalism part of the question, you did not mention
how old your
Civic is. Is it new (past two years), or more than five years old? No
car keeps the
same fuel efficiency that it did when it was brand new. You may want to
couple of web sites to see what its CURRENT fuel efficiency is. I
wouldn't call a
Honda dealer, as they may not know/may make something up. (Maybe
Reports or similar has something about this, but I don't know.) You may
there are SUV hybrids that get similar/same fuel economy to that of your
Diesel engines get excellent mpg, as well. You did not say if your
Civic is paid off,
so there may be that financial consideration for your family as well.
You also said that you had considered getting a larger car for company.
your Civic and have your company drive their car is wasteful. I only
point this out
because you say that you do not want to buy a larger car because worse
economy is wasteful, so that seems to be important to you.
We are in the same situation as you--#3 coming in October and
driving a Honda Civic. We will be getting a larger vehicle. I
can't imagine our only car not being able to accommodate our
immediate family. Do you really think there will never be a
time when all five of you will need to travel together? What
about attending a family function? A school function? A
family road trip? It seems vaguely dangerous to have a too-
small car also--what if you all need to evacuate in case of
earthquake or fire?
Get a bigger car!
Unless you have weekly visitors it would work to use your Civic
day to day, and either join a car share program or rent a mini-
van when you have visitors. I used the car share/rental/Muni
plan for over a year, and generally thought it was much cheaper
and less hassle than owning a car.
Check the mazda 5. It will fit everybody but it is still a
compact car with the price and gas millage of a civic
oh i wish i had seen this last week!!!
try the RADIAN 65 or 80 CAR SEATS!!!!!!!
here's the spec's page:
it is only 17'' wide, and so you may be able to fit 3 across the
back. it is also tied with britex for safest seat, as it has a
steel frame (which allows for it's strentgh without bulkiness).
this site might also help you choose seats to fit your car:
if you are checking for the radian, it's listed under ''sunshine
signed: squeezed in
We're expecting twins and we need to upgrade at least 1 of our two cars
to something that will hold 3 car seats - we have a toddler - in their
various forms for the foreseable feature, and various equipment
stroller(s), bike etc. etc. etc. You get the picture. Anyway, I'd like to
stay away from the SUV category if I can. However, my research, so far
has not yielded a car capacious enough (sitting all 3 kids on a back seat
I'd need at least 58'' in width), with enough restraints and anchors, or
a boot capable enough to carry a double stroller and 4 bags of groceries
for example. How have other families of multiples+toddler coped with the
whole multiple car seat situation? It seams like there may not be any
other alternatives but an SUV (yuk!!!!!).
All suggestions welcome
Looking for transportation
You have a lot more options than you think! We drove with our three car
seats in the back seat of a Ford Focus for almost 2 years with no
problems. You really only need 48'' in the back seat if you buy thin,
16'' car seats (Graco seats worked well for us). Buying three brand new
car seats is a lot cheaper than either buying a more expensive car or
spending $80 to fill up the gas tank. Smaller cars will only have 2 LATCH
connections, but you can hook up the third car seat with the seat belt.
We also rent cars a lot and I was recently pleased to discover that both
the Pontiac G6 and the Dodge Charger had LATCH connections for 3 car seats
in the back seat. Both of these cars had plenty of passenger room and
trunk space and would meet your needs just fine.
The SUV is not your only option!
Check out the Mazda 5 (so called because it seats six--great name, huh?).
You can find many recommendations for it on BPN. It is no longer than a
station wagon and the back seats can be folded down (individually) for
extra cargo space when not needed for passengers. We love ours.
Mazda 5 carpooler
I have quite a bit of experience in this category! I have twins and an
older child and my brother has twins and an older child (lucky us, huh?!).
I have driven various combinations of us around in an SUV and in a
minivan. I know you didn't ask about a minivan but bear with me! The
problem with lining them all up in the back seat of a regular car, even
supposing you can fit all the seats, is the problem of having to lift and
reach across to the middle. Infant seats take up a surprising amount of
space and if you put you toddler on the outside then you will have to
reach right into the the middle seat with one of the bulky, heavy carseats
and if you put him/her in the middle then the poor child is jammed in
between them, with much opportunity to mess with the two babies!
The reason I would recommend a minivan over an SUV is a) they get better
gas milage b) they handle more like a car c) SUVs are so high you have to
lift your child/carseat up into them and believe me, you will get a sore
back with multiples and a toddler! d) if you buy an SUV without a third
row then you have the same crowding problem as I described above with a
regular car and if you do go with the third row option then you lose quite
a bit of boot space for the double stroller, groceries etc, plus it is a
trickier to access that back row because you have to fold the middle seat
forward (impossible with a carseat installed). e)The whole sliding door
thing is sooo convenient with multiple kids as is being able to walk back
into the car to sort 'em out .
We were initially reluctant to go the minivan route but it turned out to
be the best purchase we have made. Life can be tough with twins and a
toddler and you need every little convenience you can get! Feel free to
If you haven't done so already, I recommend joining Twins By the Bay. They
have an excellent email forum where you can get loads of great advice
about this kind of stuff!
Honda Odyssey. We love ours (though we don't have twins, just 2 under the
age of 2)...but there are 2 families at our daycare that have twins + and
older sibling (all in car seats still) that have the Odyssey and
recommended it to us. Having the rear seat way in the back do a 2/3 vs
1/3 split makes it big enough back there that you can put in a double
stroller WITHOUT having to fold it down. Amazing. If you fold it, there
is still tons of room for groceries and whatnot.
Happy Honda Owner
We have two old volvos, and want to buy a new car. We recently
rented a small SUV Chevy Trailblazer on a trip and loved it,
because it was higher off the ground than the volvos, and of
course everything worked. We would love some advice about a
SAFE car to buy, that also is good mechanically, and not
outrageously expensive. Safety of the vehicle is a key issue
in need of auto advise
If safety is your first consideration, buy a minivan. They have the overall highest
safety ratings. SUVs are unsafe because they have higher center of gravity and don't
handle well. After minivans the safest cars are big sedans. Of course, that's short-
run safety. If you're concerned about the world your children will inherit and you
therefore care about global warming, you'll want a car with low carbon emissions,
which means high fuel efficiency. The Toyota Prius gets excellent mileage and has
very low emissions (carbon and otherwise) and has airbags all the way around, with
excellent safety ratings as well. However, rear visibility is not so great on the Prius,
so you have to be very careful merging and backing up. Note that the SUV hybrids
don't actually get good gas mileage at all; they get slightly better mileage than their
horribly-inefficient gas-only cousins and are slightly more powerful. (Same is true
of Honda Accord Hybrid, which apart from being outrageously-priced is a great car
with decent, though not great, fuel efficiency.) The Honda Civic Hybrid gets great
gas mileage, has wonderful Honda handling and excellent safety ratings.
We had a Volvo wagon for awhile, and it was an expensive
mistake. About 18 months ago, we purchased a new Toyota
Highlander. It's been great - the Highlander is built on a
Camry chassis, so it handles more like a car than a truck.
It's higher than a wagon, so you have good visability, but the
interior room is comprable or a bit larger than a full size
wagon. It has an excellent safety record, especially if you
get side airbags. The maintenance has been inexpensive ($100-
200 for a service, vs. the $800 + we spent every time we took
our Volvo in), even when we take it to the dealer for our
scheduled services. There is a third row seat, so you can get
5 kids in the back if need be. We've been super happy with it,
and would highly reccomend this car. Gas mileage has been
good, and Toyota now sells a hybrid Highlander. Good luck in
Happy Highlander Owner
We faced the same decision you are, and we bought a Honda CRV.
1) it's a real Japanese-made Honda, which to us means reliable
2) it's a certified low emissions vehicle
3) the EX model has side airbags
4) it's not a huge gas guzzler - MPG about the same as my Volvo
5) comfortable for a road trip
Hope this helps. We've been very happy with ours. I just wish
it came with leather seats.
i need a new car, which cars are easiest to put infants and
toddlers in and out of back seat/car seat? I have a geo prism
4 door and it kills my back and is very awkward to get infant
seat in and out.
I hate to say it, but we just love our new (used) minivan and
its great for the carseat lifestyle
It isn't a ''car'', but a minivan would solve your problem. We
bought a used one when we had our 2nd baby 3 years ago, and now,
as mom of 3, I can't say enough good things about it. Height is
perfect for getting kids in & out easily, and the space is so
convenient, both for storage of strollers & such, and for moving
around inside, (great for safety and privacy) when changing
diapers & clothes, nursing, etc.
I need to purchase a new car, which I would prefer to do in
January. However, I notice that many dealers are trying to sell
their 2004 models now (I want to purchase a 2004). Does anyone
know if 1) it is cheaper to purchase in October or January and
2) if there will be anything to choose from in January?
whatever you do, you should do yourself a favor and check out fightingchance.com
before you buy a new car. I bought their 40-dollar package and followed the
instructions and bought a brand new Honda Element for under invoice over the
internet and then walked into the dealer and drove home with it in less than 1/2
hour. Also good is carbuyingtips.com
Fighting chance will give you ALL the research you need on the models you are
interested in, and if there are specific times to buy that are better than others. (it
varies by model)
Our 10-year-old Honda Civic now needs alot of work (probably a
new transmission and timing belt), and we are considering getting
a new car instead. We are a family of four (two kids in car
seats) and have only one car. We drive about 7500 miles a year,
mainly in the city.
Of course, we could read Consumer Reports, etc., but the problem
is that we have so many conflicting ideas, ideals and prejudices
concerning cars, we can't even begin. Also Consumer Reports
doesn't seem to compare cars between their narrow categories.
I'm hoping for some advice. I list our legitimate criteria
* We want a fuel efficient car.
* We want a car that uses regular (not premium) gas.
* We want a car with four doors.
* We want a ''safe'' car (meaning side air bags, and anti-lock
* We want a car that will be reliable for at least 10 years.
* We don't want to spend more than say $25,000.
* We don't want anything that even resembles an SUV.
* We would like a hybrid, but we worry that they are more
expensive and less road tested than conventional cars. Also they
generally have less cargo space.
* We would like air-conditioning and a CD player.
We find that with our roof rack, we can fit almost anything we
need onto our present Honda Civic. We carry 10-foot long pipes,
our tandem, lumber, suitcases, and boxes of Cost Co diapers up
there. We use the trunk for smaller loads (like groceries.)
Other people seem to need minivans the instant they become
parents. Is there something we're missing? Are there other
criteria we should add? Are there criteria we should drop?
In Need of Car Counseling
I just saw a friend's new Mazda Protege wagon, a model I've been
admiring for a couple of months. It is great looking, a small
station wagon size, under $20k, gets good gas mileage (she says
25 - 30 mpg) and has a roof rack that can hold 100 lbs. I'm
guessing it would be reliable, too. I'd buy one in a second.
If you've liked your Honda Civic, I would seriously consider
looking into the new Civic hybrid. We are currently
considering getting one and I was also concerned that it
hadn't been around very long but the Honda Insight has
been around for awhile and my cousins have one that they
love. My assumption is that the technology in the new hybrid
Civic is pretty dead-on the Insight's technology. Worth a look
If you're willing to spend $25,000, try the Honda CR-V. The EX
model has all the features you want (including side air bags and
ABS). It's classified as a ''wagon'' and gets 20-25 miles per
gallon. It has TONS of trunk space and lots of cool features. I
just bought one and I love it. If you're already a Honda fan,
you'll appreciate this car. It's supposed to last at least 10
years, or so the salesman said! Good luck.
we bought a saturn station wagon 6 years ago and we just love
it. it gets great gas mileage about 45 mpg on the freeway, we
had one repair that costs about $100 and the car has about 120k
miles on it. another thing, you can custom order it. we got
the cheaper version with the not so nice fabic because we have 2
dogs, with air, a cd player(at the time only available in more
expensive models) and cruise control. it's been a great car for
us and i don't think they do the cult thing any more. that was
a little creepy. oh and if we have had problems (loose wire),
the service department has been so helpful.
Take a look at the Subaru Outback or Forester. It meets all
your requirements listed. We have been so satisfied with
our Outback that we purchased another Subaru this past
There are lots of great cars out there. My only advice on the
mini-van/SUV thing is that if you think you will want to do alot
of carpooling when your kids are older (and with 2 kids you
probably will), then you need the bigger car. Given that
children should not ride in the front seat of a car, you need to
fit all kids in the back - thus the mini-van. I am restricted
in carpooling with a Ford Explorer (with a passenger side air
bag) because it has just 5 seats, and I have two kids. I am
considering a larger car (maybe a station wagon, that's as far
as I will go!).
How about another Honda Civic? The one you have sounds like it
served you well, and for under $25,000 you can probably get an
EX or LX, which would have the upgrades you desire.
I have a 1997 Saturn, and I think it serves me well. I do home
health visits in SF, so I city drive and stuff tons of stuff in
it all the time. It is certainly not a fancy car, but very fuel
efficient and economically priced. I haven't had any problems
with it except for problems associated with beating the heck out
of it by mostly hilly city driving and a stop and go commute...
overall a decent car.
Hope this helps.
The reason I got a minivan is that both my kids wanted to bring
friends along on family outings, so we needed 6 seats. This
situation may arise in your family too in a couple years and
you probably won't want to buy another new car!
I too would like a hybrid car, but I was told that anything electric
would be much too expensive for my budget.
I don't know about side airbags. The newer cars probably have them.
Everyone I talked to said get a Honda or Toyota for least maintenance.
I prefer the Toyota Camry to the Honda Accord for seat comfort.
I've been looking for something under $8,000, hence about 1995,
(hence also, no side airbags).
We just bought a Toyota Prius, the hybrid which averaged 58.25 mpg our
first trip! It is small but saves the earth, air and money. There were
several previosly rented Prius available at Toyota Walnut Creek at around
17,500 which is almost three thousand less than anywhere else. You also get
about $2000. deduction for your taxes from the feds.We also didn't want to
spend a lotof money but in the long run, this will be a less expensive car
any other compact. Call us at 848-2674 if you want more info.
Here's my take on fuel efficiency, hybrids and a small budget:
Your car does 7500 miles of driving per year, 30 miles per
gallon, and regular gas priced at $1.50 per gallon. That works
out to $375 in gas per year.
Hybrid cars price $4000 more than their equivalent gas cars
(that's 10 years of gas for your current car), and consumes
50 miles per gallon, which works out to $225 in gas per year.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems you can expect to break
even in about 26 years! Top that with higher maintenance for
hybrids (i.e., replacing the batteries). Note: if your current
car gets better than 30 mpg average, the breakeven will take
even longer than 26 years, but if gas prices go up, the
breakeven will be sooner.
Here's the math: $375/year (gas) for 26 years = $9750 versus
hybrid's $225/year (gas) for 26 years = $5850 and add to that
the $4000 additional price tag for $9850.
If you have concerns about the environment, I respectfully
suggest that all the raw materials and energy that go into a new
car is more wasteful than ''reduce, REUSE, ...'' your old car.
Keep in mind that your current Civic is already fuel efficient.
Maybe that new transmission and timing belt isn't such a bad
idea. Try Steve's Auto Care (Acura/Honda) at 1057 East Shore Hwy
north of Gilman, in Albany. In general, if you want your Honda
Civic to last more than 10 years, change your motor oil and
filter (every 3,750 miles) religiously as well as regularly
scheduled maintenance. They have high resale value because they
are built to last. But you have to treat it well for all the
hard work it's doing.
A very good reason for a new car would be for safety's sake.
Checkout the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's ratings:
or the gov't's own ratings: http://www.nhtsa.org/NCAP/Cars.cfm
In short, you're looking at a Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta or
Subaru Imprezza. 2003 models are due in November. So it's
this page was last updated: Sep 13, 2012
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