I’m in search of a reliable, economical car, SUV or minivan that will comfortably fit two carseats and 2 tall adults (DH 6’6 and me 6’). MPG is important since I will be commuting in it. I really don’t care about style, amenities, etc. Basically, both seats need to be able to go all the way back and still fit a rear facing carseat behind it. Right now I have a Pontiac Grand Prix. When DS was rear facing I could NOT sit in the front seat. I always sat in the back. So I know that it won’t work with all four of us in there. I’d love to hear your rave’s/rants on what works for your family.
cars and car seats
No real advice here, but we just started the identical search (well, we only have one tall adult--at 5'2'' I'm pretty sure I don't qualify--but since my husband needs to be able to sit in both the driver and passenger seat, it amounts to the same thing). One car we are looking at is the Prius V. I'm actually not convinced we can't stay with our '97 Camry, but my husband doesn't think it will work well enough for him once we get two rear facing convertible seats in it. I really hate the idea of an SUV or mini-van, though. I'm trying to keep an open mind . . . Looking foward to hear what people have to say.
My hubby is 6'5" and big, and I have long legs, so we have a similar problem. Right now we drive a '98 RAV4, which is one of the few cars in our price range that hubby can fit in comfortably and drive. My preschooler is ff in a Boulevard, which has to go behind whatever seat I'm in, because hubby has to have his seat all the way back, leaving no room for Badger's feet. I've tried a couple different infant buckets, and none of them will fit in the car even behind my seat, let alone the husband's. I think we're probably going to go with a MyRide 65, which has gotten good reviews online for fitting into tight spaces. I need to go try it out at BrU, but I'm hopeful that it'll fit. Upgrading to a new car isn't an option right now.
Lari, see if you can try someone's Honda Fit. It might not be what you're looking for in other ways, but I've been really really surprised by how much room there is in mine. It's bigger inside (both headroom and leg room) than my mom's SUV. It's a compact hatchback and gets great gas mileage and the other benefit is that the seats in the back move in a variety of configurations (so they could flop down around a car seat if you needed more trunk space, for example). I've had tall people in my car and they're pretty comfortable, but I'm pretty small so I don't know what it would be like for two 6-footers on a day-to-day basis. Just a thought though. They really are surprisingly roomy.
Keep in mind with any small car that if it's newer (usually after 2006 or so) it may have advanced airbags. If that's the case the car's manufacturer will prohibit carseats touching the backs of the front passenger and sometimes driver seats. If you need the seats all the way back that could be a safety concern if it's a very small car.
I just found this product: http://us.diono.com/en/car-seat-accessories/angle-adjuster . We use radians (formerly by Sunshine Kids now Diono) and this product looks great. It gives a couple more inches leeway for the front seats.
Edited by thenaturefreak - 4/27/12 at 8:39pm
Generally, the year is the best way to tell. If it's over 2006 I would bet on it. You can also look in your manual. Some are clear enough to actually say no child restraints can touch the front seats. But most have a warning in a box in the airbag section that warns against kicking, pressing, or hanging anything off the back of the front seats. That's all you get sometimes. Some cars, Toyotas, I believe, restrict touching on both front seats, others only have the warning for the passenger seat. I'll try to find out more about your car, boots.
Just for anyone who might be lurking, the angle adjuster posted above is only to be used with the Sunshine Kids/Diono Radian seat. It's not approved for any other seats.
Ninetales, thanks for all your help! We are lucky to have you.
What are your thoughts on the snuzzler or similar carseat infant positioners? Are they necessary with infant seats or just with convertibles, or not at all?
Edited: I just read on amazon that most hospitals/car seat techs will tell you these items are not tested and should not be used in the carseat. We have a stroller frame for our carseat we plan to use as our main stroller for awhile, I wonder if it would be worth having it for just that?
Rule of thumb is, don't use anything in the carseat that didn't come with it. The manufacturers make a few exceptions for modifications - a rolled towel or pool noodles at the seat bight to increase recline, a rolled washcloth between newborn and crotch buckle to keep baby from scootching down, etc. But pretty much all those aftermarket products are no-nos. For head flop side to side, I find two small receiving blankets rolled up and placed on either side of the head work better than a snuzzler item anyway, plus this is an approved modification. Head slump to the front is avoided by reclining the seat. Nothing should ever go between the baby and the harness, or the harness and the seat. Aftermarket products are fine for strollers.
To keep a seat from touching, you put it more upright - most allow you to do this. There are a variety of indicators on the seat that can help you tell what angle the seat is at (make sure the car is on level ground when checking), or if you're good at that sort of thing, you can eyeball the angle. Newborns must be at 45 degrees. Once the baby has good head control and can move the neck on his/her own (usually 4 months and up), most seats are allowed to go more upright. Most allow them to go up to 30 degrees at that point. The True Fit only allows up to 35 degrees, and all the Safety 1st seats specify that the line molded into the plastic must be level to the ground on their seats. Some people choose to disregard this on their seats, but that's something I can't tell you to do. Some of their newer seats have dual lines, one for newborns, one for older babies, and the seat can be any angle between them. The Diono Radian has no restriction on how upright it can be, but it's very hard to get upright and tends to overrecline anyway.
For every seat but the Radian, you put it more upright by pushing down on the seat near where baby's feet go while you install. The Radian generally requires the separately sold angle adjuster to go upright.
For small cars I recommend first putting the front seats as upright as you are comfortable with. This will give you more front to back room, and most people recline the front seats too far anyway, which isn't as safe as sitting more upright. You may even be able to move the seats back further if they're sitting more upright. And then it's a question of having a seat that takes up less space front to back. For infant seats, I know the Cybex Aton is the shortest front to back, but I'm not sure offhand what others are good for that. For convertibles, the Britax seats are usually very good for small backseat spaces. The Graco Myride is also good because the natural recline of it means that the seat itself can be more upright than you'd think. Sometimes putting the seat in the middle so the head goes between the front seats helps too. What's he riding in now, tchochkes, and what year is your car?
We have a 2006 Saturn Vue. We CANNOT get a new car. ~ We just paid the booger off, and to add insult to karmic injury our 2nd car? is gone, dead... engine's blown up and we have $3500 still to pay on the loan. (YOWZA!!)
We're probably not having any more kids as I flat out refuse to drive a mini-van. I have a hard enough time parking the Vue, and I hate how big the Vue is ~ I miss my little white car! I have a hard time with it spacially. Mini-vans are bigger, and just parallell parking one of those boogers, I'd probably have a heart attack.
Ok, boots, after reading your car's manual, I'm going to say it looks like your car doesn't have any restrictions on light touching. The only information I can find about the occupant detection system is that your side curtain airbag sensor is in near the floor of the back seat. So it's "probably" ok, but I would probably give Kia a call and speak to someone there about to make very sure.
I looked at Vue manuals from 2004 to 2010 and only the 2010 made any mention of seat mounted airbag sensors. So again, call Saturn to verify but it sounds like light touching would be acceptable in models earlier than 2010.
ETA: I know what you mean about a new car not being an option. Sometimes we have to make choices based on what we have available. Since you have a 2006 touching is probably fine, and even the 2010 manual I read specified that the sensors were only in the front passenger seat, so I'd have no problem with a seat lightly touching the driver's side in that model year. What seat does your little guy have? If it's a Radian and your car has no restrictions it can actually be pushed pretty hard against the front, but they're the only seat that allows that.
Thanks for doing that research for us!
So we went and tried out both the Graco Snugride 30 and the Snugride 35 today. Both fit in our car (Kia Rio) no problem, but we were both skeptical of the way the 30's base didn't seem nearly as secure as the 35, finally know what you mean about the lockoffs, ninetales. We think we are going to get the 35. If we were to go with the 30, I think we'd feel better if we had 2 of the 35 bases, and that's starting to get expensive. We'll just go with the 35 even though it weighs a little more.
Now we're starting to look for an affordable convertible that we can put on our registry just in case anyone feels generous. :) I am going to go back to the other thread and read what you have said about convertibles. I am thinking of looking at the My ride.
We're both tall and we currently have one child forward-facing and one child rear-facing in a 2005 Prius. We LOVE our Prius and I am not ready to move up to a larger vehicle with poorer fuel economy, so we are going to try to fit 3 in the back (with Radians) and see how long we can make it that way. I am not really a car person but I sure love this car. It's not fancy, but it's exactly what we need. It pains me to think of moving to a third-row vehicle eventually. I am so used to awesome gas mileage and the mpgs pretty much go in the toilet when you move on past a sedan. Some of the smaller SUVs get not-awful mileage, but their backseats are no wider than the Prius's (I am finding that most SUVs do not offer much more backseat room than we currently have). We will consider the Prius V for the future, but considering the fact that it's brand spanking new and we are used car people, plus it is fairly similar inside to our current Prius (the advantage is cargo room), I'm not sure if it would be a good move for us.
I said I would update when we found a vehicle that worked for us and we have! We are the new owners of a Chevy equinox. It has the most rear legroom of any sedan, SUV or crossover vehicle and we can have our front seats all the way back and still have plenty of room for rear facing car seats. Cargo space is decent even with the rear seats pushed back and we can fit our dog and K's trike in there with no problem. It's supposed to get 32 mpg on the highway but we haven't had it long enough to confirm. It was a good compromise without having to upgrade all the way to a minivan which honestly some of them did not have loads of room up front for the driver. DH was having issues with some of the consule's in the minivan's and the equinox is a lot cheaper. The Ford Edge was almost an identical option and would work really well for tall families too, but it's base price was 3 or 4k more than the equinox. Something like the Prius would NEVER have fit us we are way too tall for that.
Thanks for all of the car information. We're on the lookout for something new, too. Right now we have my 2 door Chevy Cavalier with 250K miles, his Nissan Sentra with 180K miles, a 2000 Jeep that is for carting around dogs and beach driving. We're looking at either the Pruis V or the Mazda 5, but we haven't actually tested anything yet.
The more important part? The kids love it too. The only down side is that when the third row seats are up..there is barely any trunk spance..maybe enough for the stroller. But the back seats split so I decided that I coud put half of it down and still have enough room for everyone and everything...easily overlooked though because I love the way it rides so much and I did. Not. Want a minivan. I had one before and it always felt like I was driving a bus..lol. I don't want to drive a bus.. :-)