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Could we start a car discussion?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

DH and I are in total disagreement, and my "pregnancy rage" is back full force....... seriously, it wakes me up at night, the anger and the "how could he not see it the same way without me even mentioning"..... I know, I should know better, and I am sure we will agree on something soon... (I am just half-kidding, it's not that bad, really.... ).

But I am very curious about what other families have in a similar situation-

 

come September, we will be a family of 5. My 10-year-old is a tall boy, out of a booster. my 7-year-old is in a backless-booster, and then the infant seat. We are in need, anyway, of a new car. I mean, it could have waited two more years, but given that we currently drive a (9-year-old) Toyota Matrix, there is just no way (in MY mind) we can comfortably manage. I should also add that my 10-year-old plays the bass, and it is a BIG instrument, that currently takes the front passenger seat when we need to drive him to his lessons and rehearsals. 

 

We live in a town that goes through 6-months-long cold and snowy winter (Upstate NY), so we need something that does well in the snow (I always wanted an all-wheel-drive, and so far never had one, and, honestly, never had a problem with a good set of snow tires, but still...). So in MY mind, our options are an SUV with an extra row, or a mini-van. my thinking is that I want us/me to be comfortable- driving three kids around, getting baby in and out of the car, plus a potential stroller, and maybe sometimes the huge bass. I get it that a nice station-wagon could do it too, but in MY mind three kids will get very crowded in the back seat with two car-seats. 

We haven't started actually LOOKING, as in going to the dealer and trying out cars. My DH believes "all we need" is a nice station-wagon, such as a VW Jetta or Passat (they come in 4-motion, same as AWD). true, these do have large trunks. but still.......

 

he says "I will not drive a mini-van". yeah, well, do YOU want to sit next to a baby while *I* drive? (DH is 6' 2....:). 

 

my top wishes right now (without having test-driven any, though) is the Toyota Highlander (hybrid or not), or a mini-van. The VW Toureg looks amazing, but it is a different price-range..... unfortunately. Those of you who have a car with an extra row, I heard that sometimes, in some cars, it's not comfortable to actually get to that extra third row. is that true?

 

so here is my question (sorry it got long...:)- those of you who have three kids already- what do you drive, and how would you rate your car, mostly in terms of space/comfort? gas-mileage also matters to us, but for me it's not on the top of the priority list, as we don't drive much. Who thinks that three-across is totally, comfortably doable, and who swears but an extra-row or a mini-van? could you list pros and cons?

 

thanks SO MUCH ladies. I am totally wasting way too much energy and nerves on this. I should also add that "how we spend money" is a huge issue between DH and I, and always has been. But in recent years we have totally come towards each other, and it almost became a non-issue. now that I am pregnant, of course, all the "defenses" are off, and it's a huge trigger for me. of course, most of this car-issue is money-based.

 

I really appreciate all input and opinions.

 

mymaya.

post #2 of 19
My kids are a bit younger then yours but I'd have to agrre with you.

Recently I had to borrow an Aveo (little 4door car) because my van was in the shop. Not fun! Three carseats in back was a nightmare. Kids fighting and getting into eachothers spaces. I was so glad when my van got back to me.

The only good thing about the car was the gas milage (34mpg compared to my van at 28mpg)
post #3 of 19

We have a 2010 Highlander.  We bought it when our last car died and we bought it "just in case" we ever had a third.  Well, now that we actually have a third on the way, I wish we had bought a little different.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my car.  But the 3rd row is not very easy to get in/out of (probably okay for a smaller kid - your 10 year old might be uncomfortable).  Also, I worry about the crumple zone on any vehicle where the very back of it is used for people instead of cargo.  Even mini-vans don't have a super safe crumple zone.  So, we're going to do our best, at least for now, to find a way to fit all three in the 2nd row.  Easier for us (my oldest will be 6 when baby is born) than you, though, unfortunately.  

post #4 of 19

We have a Kia Sedona and I love it. So does my husband. We only have one toddler and one on the way but we also have 2 big dogs and an amazing amount of hockey, ski, music, camping etc equipment we haul around with us.

 

We did check out 3 row station wagons and SUVs but in our price range none of them even came close to the minivan. They were awkward to load anything in the 3rd row (and I'm honestly not sure if you could even use the 3rd row with a car seat in the 2nd for most of them) and for the most part they weren't nearly as nice to drive. There was also usually a trade off between using the 3rd row and having enough storage space for anything other than a couple grocery bags. The van also has the option of stowing the seats which means it can actually carry as much as a full sized truck if need be, but even with the 3rd row down, you can fit a hockey bag behind it.

 

Our van does not have AWD but it does have stability control and we've never had a problem through 3 Alberta winters. We regularly drive through the mountains too and have hit some pretty nasty road conditions a few times. It's handled it well. 

 

My SIL drives a highlander and her 6'4" husband loves it, but loading the car seat or kids is a problem because it's so high, so that's something else to think about.

 

So basically, I'm on your side on this one. I think minivans are totally underrated. Get your DH out to test drive a couple (We liked the Sedona, the Toyota Sienna, and the Honda Odyssey, my husband has a Grand Caravan as a work vehicle and thinks it's crap compared to the the others.) He might be pleasantly surprised.

post #5 of 19
Well, we are moving up to a family of four, but we've been at three for a while now. We actually got the mini-van after child #2. Although I don't really adore MY minivan, I pink sparkly heart LOOOOOVE having a mini-van. I have a few friends who have switched for SUV's or cross-overs and miss theirs too. The space inside is great! Most now have at least some seats that stow, so you can fit in a TON of stuff. But with seats up, you can fit in a bunch of kids too. Loading kids into the third row of SUV's and crossovers can be hard too.

My car is not for looking cool in, it's for hauling my kids and their stuff, I couldn't care less if a mini-van isn't cool. I'm a Mom, and I'm looking for function and safety, and I get both in spades in my mini-van. Plus better gas mileage than a SUV.

We had a Vibe, same as the Matrix, and three across is rough. It's a tiny back seat. Your big kids would need the head restraint in the outboard positions, so baby would be in the middle. It is tight and your big kids will have trouble buckling. We did it in DH's car, when necessary, like to pick the kids up a couple times a week, but we only did when necessary.

We have a 2004 Ford Freestar that we will be replacing when we can. No huge rush, it's just been a PITA with repairs. We've been plagued with big expensive repairs, like the transmission (twice) and the radiator. They did finally recall the transmission, so we are working on a refund and replacement. I will not give up my mini-van for love nor money until I don't have little kids in the house anymore!!
post #6 of 19
Three kids in the backseat of a car is doable, but a total PITA. We used to have a minivan (2003 Dodge Grand Caravan) and it served us well for nearly 200,000 miles and 6.5 Years. When it finally started falling apart (about 15 months So), we got a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban XLT.

Here's my pro/con list comparing the two:

Suburban Pros:
-- 4-wheel drive. Love this for WY winters and traveling through the mountains.
-- space. Plenty of space for all seven passengers. We have two captains chairs then a bench in back.
-- storage space. Sooooo much more storage space than a minivan. Even when fully loaded.
-- high road clearance. I love traveling higher. In winters it makes lots of snow a non-issue. And for highway driving@, hitting a deer isn't as scary (not being worried about it flying through the windshield).

Suburban Cons
-- Frickin gas HOG. I knew it would take a lot to keep it going, but never really anticipated THIS MUCH of an increase in our fuel spending. It hurts. In WY, things are spread out, so we do a decent amount of driving.
-- Expensive. Even getting ours used and six years old with 59k miles, it was far more than we paid for our one-year-old, 14k-miles minivan. Insurance as comparable for the two though.
-- expensive again. If something goeas wrong everything costs more (tires especially).

Minivan pros:
-- purchase cost. Minivans really are reasonably priced for their hauling capabilities.
-- fuel costs. Better had mileage than most SUVs.
-- room. My dh (6'5") actually had a bit more headroom in our minivan.

Minivan cons
-- passenger room. I think there is more room in the Suburban backseats than our minivan had.
-- storage space. When all seats are occupied and you have luggage, it seems quite packed.
-- 4-wheel drive -- or rather, a lack of it. Our minivan handled our winters well, but now comparing it to the Suburban, it lacked some control and lots of power.
-- low clearance to the ground. This is harder in winters. And for all the reasons I love the Suburban.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you all. Your input is very helpful. I appreciate it!

 

mymaya.

post #8 of 19

I'm in upstate NY too!  I currently drive a honda odyssey and a hyundai elantra station wagon. I love the van, with 4 kids I can't get around without it. That said, I didn't buy the van until I was pregnant with #4. I got by with 3 across the station wagon for 3 years. It wasn't that bad. Now that we are expecting #5 - and the van only seats  7 - I'll have 5 in some form of child seat - I have to put three across the back seat.

 

The van has a lot of great features we love - BUT the gas mileage is killer. We live rurally and it can cost a lot to fill up that van. I drive the station wagon anytime I have 2 or less kids. Sometimes I'll take it with 3, depends on which kids.

 

I like the station wagon, but I would LOVE a subaru outback. I've lived in upstate ny my whole life, I can get by without AWD or 4 wheel drive. Nice to have though. We also had a mild winter and I SAH, so I don't have to go out when the weather is awful.

post #9 of 19

I have a Ford Freestyle.  Its fine, but I wish that we would have gotten one with a 2nd row bench instead of the captains chairs.  When the baby is born I will have to put two kids in the third row because I have to be able to tumble one of the 2nd row seats to access the 3rd row.  My tentative plan is to keep DS 2nd row because he is rearfacing still and its a pain in the butt to load a rearfacer in the third row. Then I will put the baby in the infant seat and DD in the third row. Once baby is out of the infant seat I will probably have to turn DS  foreward facing and booster DD in the third row because there is only one top tether anchor back there. This setup also totally complicates school pickup and drop off I don't know what we are going to do about that.

 

DH drives a Nissan Versa and I am not even sure that we are going to be able to fit three across in there in.  Now that the weather is getting nicer I need to start looking at seats and seeing what is going to fit.  If we can't fit three across I don't think its going to be that big of a deal since DH very rarely has both kids now so I doubt that he will have all three often.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cryswilkins View Post

I have a Ford Freestyle.  Its fine, but I wish that we would have gotten one with a 2nd row bench instead of the captains chairs.  When the baby is born I will have to put two kids in the third row because I have to be able to tumble one of the 2nd row seats to access the 3rd row.  My tentative plan is to keep DS 2nd row because he is rearfacing still and its a pain in the butt to load a rearfacer in the third row. Then I will put the baby in the infant seat and DD in the third row. Once baby is out of the infant seat I will probably have to turn DS  foreward facing and booster DD in the third row because there is only one top tether anchor back there. This setup also totally complicates school pickup and drop off I don't know what we are going to do about that.

 

DH drives a Nissan Versa and I am not even sure that we are going to be able to fit three across in there in.  Now that the weather is getting nicer I need to start looking at seats and seeing what is going to fit.  If we can't fit three across I don't think its going to be that big of a deal since DH very rarely has both kids now so I doubt that he will have all three often.


 

Have you considered putting both RF seats in the back row? Instead of loading them in through the doors, you can load them through the trunk/hatch area. Then you could keep DS RF longer, and DD could be in the middle row for school pick up and drop off. I know it sounds kinda weird, but it's totally doable! I had two RF babies when I was watching a little girl while her mom worked. I had a van with two captains chairs and with the RF seats in the 2nd row I couldn't get to the 3rd row to buckle the toddler. So, the babies went in the 3rd row and I loaded and unloaded through the trunk area. I bet it looked weird to some, but it was easier for me. Plus...way easier to buckle them in when you can look at the seat head on.

post #11 of 19


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtsyMomma View Post


 

Have you considered putting both RF seats in the back row? Instead of loading them in through the doors, you can load them through the trunk/hatch area. Then you could keep DS RF longer, and DD could be in the middle row for school pick up and drop off. I know it sounds kinda weird, but it's totally doable! I had two RF babies when I was watching a little girl while her mom worked. I had a van with two captains chairs and with the RF seats in the 2nd row I couldn't get to the 3rd row to buckle the toddler. So, the babies went in the 3rd row and I loaded and unloaded through the trunk area. I bet it looked weird to some, but it was easier for me. Plus...way easier to buckle them in when you can look at the seat head on.


I am only 5 ft tall.  Not doable at all.  I have done it for the short term, but I am not doing it everyday at least 4x a day.  I am OK with DS going FFing at 3, plus I want to be able to hand his convertibles down to the baby.  It wouldn't make any sense for me to buy another set of convertibles when I can just buy boosters and then pass the convertibles to the baby and the FFing only seats down to DS.  DD has just about outgrown the Nautilus and the Frontier 85 so its time.

 

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cryswilkins View Post

I have a Ford Freestyle.  Its fine, but I wish that we would have gotten one with a 2nd row bench instead of the captains chairs.  When the baby is born I will have to put two kids in the third row because I have to be able to tumble one of the 2nd row seats to access the 3rd row.  

You need a mini-van! Problem solved! orngtongue.gif

I'm helpful, I know!
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacKinnon View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by cryswilkins View Post

I have a Ford Freestyle. Its fine, but I wish that we would have gotten one with a 2nd row bench instead of the captains chairs. When the baby is born I will have to put two kids in the third row because I have to be able to tumble one of the 2nd row seats to access the 3rd row.

You need a mini-van! Problem solved! orngtongue.gif

I'm helpful, I know!

It's not really in the cards right now. I don't want to change our car payment situation right now.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

Does any of you know anything about the Mazda5? it seems like a perfect solution of "in-between" a wagon and a minivan. got very good reviews from consumer's report; much more affordable than a good minivan, seats 6 and fun to drive. we are seriously considering it.

 

mymaya.

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymaya View Post

Does any of you know anything about the Mazda5? it seems like a perfect solution of "in-between" a wagon and a minivan. got very good reviews from consumer's report; much more affordable than a good minivan, seats 6 and fun to drive. we are seriously considering it.

mymaya.

That is what my DH is planning to get eventually. I don't think I would want it for our family van, because we need the extra space of a full sized van, but we are going to have four kids and a golden retriever to fit in. DH won't need the bigger car all the time, but having him able to take all the kids would be excellent. I've heard mostly good things, the only downside is that with the back bench up there is almost no room behind it, for groceries or anything.
post #16 of 19

We currently have an Audi A6 wagon with AWD -- similar to your DH's picks. And we're definitely getting a minivan before our new LO arrives. The A6 is very roomy and drives great and I love so many things about it, but there is NO extra room in the backseat when my 5-year-old stepdaughter and 10-month-old DS are back there. When DS was still in his infant seat, the front passenger seat had to be moved forward so far that it left hardly any leg room for whoever was sitting there (usually me!). And DH (6'2") couldn't sit there at all, which meant that he had to do 100% of the driving on our annual beach trip last summer!

 

It just simply isn't a good car for 3 kids. I have done sooo much research on minivans vs. third-row SUVs, and the general consensus I've found seems to be that minivans are just much more user-friendly and easier for everyone to get in and out of. I also don't like the fact that third-row SUVs basically have NO room for anything else when the rear sit is up. I used to always say that I would get a huge SUV before I ever got a minivan, but now I've finally admitted that minivans are the way to go. I can have a cool car again when I'm 50. :)

post #17 of 19

I'm expecting a 3rd too..so I hear ya all on the ponderings of what to do! We have a sienna w/ 2 captain chairs (I knew I should have gotten the bench!). So in that car babe and 2.5 yr old will be in the captain and my 5 yr will be in the back (hopefully still in her 5 pt harness for a few yrs..she's only on the second slot of the froteir now). We either need to get a larger car or I will get radians to fit three across. I've been sitting b/w two car seats for a long time (partially b/c grandma rides w/ us and partially b/c my kids at various stages have done better with me back there). I can do it better in our hyundai elantra than our very very old honda accords...both are tolerable but one I have to sorta wedge into. But...my husband is from a family of 3 kids and he definitely remembers feeling cramped 3 across and much preferred when they had a van. So..since we tend to keep our cars 10+ years...probably we'll buck it up and get a larger car that is as fuel efficient as possible being that size. I do agree that the wagons and SUVs don't get any better gas milage than a minivan.

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymaya View Post

Does any of you know anything about the Mazda5? it seems like a perfect solution of "in-between" a wagon and a minivan. got very good reviews from consumer's report; much more affordable than a good minivan, seats 6 and fun to drive. we are seriously considering it.

 

mymaya.


We test drove a Mazda5 before we got our van. I think it was an '09 so there might have been some slight changes since then but probably not many. We liked how it drove and it was a nice little vehicle but it was small! The 3rd row was almost impossible to get to without climbing over the 2nd row seats and I don't think it would be accessable if you had car seats in there. I'm also not sure if you could even fit a carseat in the back seat. It was pretty tight. There was also next to no storage room when the 3rd row was up. Seriously, I don't think anything more than a grocery bag would fit back there. I think it would be a great vehicle if you were only planning to transport 2 kids and use the back seat very occassionally but not if you actually needed a 3rd row on a regular basis.
 

 

post #19 of 19
dh bought a sienna before dd was born. i never saw myself as a minivan mom and was adament on putting two kids in our corolla lol. what was i thinking. anyway the sienna is great. ds will move to the back, and baby is going on the seat behind me.
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