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A fuel-efficient 7-seater car?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello,

I thought the good women of frugality/finances might be a good group to ask...

 

We've always been a small-car family, but are looking into possibly buying a car down the road that can fit more folks.  With two kids and an almost constant need to shuttle additional people around, we are often in need of more seats.  And yet it's not an every day need.  Those fold-down seats seem like a great solution for us because when we don't need the extra seats, it would be nice to have the extra cargo space.    Do they still make wagons with the rear-facing seats in the back?  I'm guessing they're not the safest, but for older kids and for an every-once-in-a-while and for-short-trips-only kind of thing (we're talking small town driving here- no highways), it might be a good option.

 

I'd love to avoid an SUV, and want to avoid a minivan even more (just seems like way more than we need day-to-day).  Any thoughts on what would be the most fuel-efficient option here?  I realize an SUV may be our best bet, and if that's the case, what is the most fuel efficient option?

 

Would love to hear anyone's thoughts, especially those who have cars like this.

 

Thank you!

post #2 of 10

We're in the same exact position, so I will be anxious to hear suggestions. We've looked up 7 seaters and fuel efficieny (which is super important to us). Unfortunately, the most fuel efficient 7 seaters still aren't as fuel efficient as we'd like and they are newer - we tend to buy used as we don't want car payments.

 

Anyway, they don't make the station wagons with the RF seats in the "way back" anymore. My dad had one growing up :). Just thought it noteworthy to mention, though, that it is actually safer to be RF like that - maybe not safe to be SO close to the bumper that you'd get smashed in a rear-end collision, but in a front impact collision, sitting back there would be the safest place in the car! RF is safer for everyone, not just babies - we just don't do it for older kids/aduts because it "feels weird". And it makes many of us car sick :)

post #3 of 10

Look at the Ford Flex, its a 7 seater but more fuel efficient and thankfully not a minivan.

post #4 of 10

We are going to have a third kid soon and let me tell you, moving from a Prius as our primary car to something bigger/heavier/gas guzzling is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. An SUV is out of the question for environmental reasons. So we are looking at the minivans which bother us both, not because of ego but because of the terrible mpg and the sheer monstrous size of them.

 

Maybe a Mazda 5?

post #5 of 10

No, no one makes rear-facing seats anymore because of the all important crash ratings.  You can get aftermarket rear-facing ones for things like a Subaru though, but then they don't come out easily, they're in, and you're done (no folding down of things).  You could probably find an old 1980's station wagon if you look hard, but the very few I've seen on the road up here are pretty roughed up. 

If you find the holy grail, please let me know.  We have four kids, 3 of which are still in carseats.  Not an easy prospect.  I had people tell us to get a Mazda 6 back when we were searching almost three years ago, but none of those folks were willing to come live in my garage and go with me to buckle in my then-all-four-in-5-pt-harness-carseats brood (well, or we would've had to pull out carseats from the middle seats to buckle the kids in the far back seats every. single. time, not gonna happen).

 

We ended up with a 7-passenger Honda Odyssey.  If we'd ended up living in the boonies (40 miles from a 3000pop town), we would've gotten a Suburban like vehicle.  I don't exactly love the 18-22mpg it gets, but it's better than a Sprinter van, and much less expensive.  We could also easier afford the used Odyssey than a new Subaru Tribeca (no leg room in the back two rows, we have 3 boys, not gonna happen) or whatnot.  For a while there we did have a 2008 Honda CRV that we fit three in carseats into, but it still only fit 5 people.  I had looked up and drooled over the Little Passenger Seating (after market 3rd or 4th rows), but we never got to that since I still need cargo room for trips, Costco shopping, whathaveyou.  So, until kids start moving out of the house, it's the minivan or some other giant thing.  :(

Oh, the CRV got decent enough mileage for us, 20-26mpg, and had 4WD (was fairly useless 4WD for me to boot, I grew up driving in the snow, and the 4WD wasn't reliable enough in situations that we had it turned off 99.9% of the time).  Hard to find those used though, folks really love 'em and don't want to let them go.

post #6 of 10
We have a Mazda 5 with two kids. It works really well for us. If I know other people are going to be riding with us, I put one or both kids in the third row, flip one of the captains chairs to buckle them and then load passengers. I can get and buckle some combo of four (RFing and FFing) carseats in it but I wouldn't want to have to do it everyday.
post #7 of 10

We drive a VW Golf, which can carry our two children plus two friends (and myself behind the wheel), even with a cello in the back.  I only occasionally wish I had more seats.  Then again, I'm doing 38/45 mpg (city/highway) so I remind myself of that whenever I'm wishing for an extra seat.  There are somehow always enough other moms around to offer a ride to everybody.

 

Take heart, there _are_ 7-seaters out there that do better than 30mpg.  Some do a whole lot better.  Includes a 7-seat Prius V.  The only catch is that they're not selling them in the US yet, they keep saying because we "Americans" want our cars large and guzzling.  I'm not sure what they're talking about, plenty of "Americans" I know want our cars sippier, thanks very much.  Anyway, I have a few listed in my blog (look up the 25 June 2012 post).  I hope you join me in badgering dealers all over the country to start selling the 7-seat sippers to moms like us.

post #8 of 10

if you learn/know how to drive stick and do it WELL.....you can easily get more than the rated MPG on a car.

i've been driving sticks only for the last er....14 years?

 

my sephia was rated for like 37 I think HWY and i'd get 42-45.

my soul is rated for like 32 I believe and i usually get around 38+ depending on if using cruise.

if i'm not accelerating, i've got my clutch IN which helps with fuel econ.

 

Bad part about that is it's REALLY hard to find cars that are stick, esp bigger ones.....and they have lower resale value.

I personally just prefer to drive it....helps with my ADD :)

 

my parents had a highlander hybrid and I know that got good gas, but it was pricey and didn't have a third row. Dunno if it does now.

 

The kia sorento has a third row, but the fuel isn't great....around 28-32 highway depending on the model. I've had great luck with my kias tho. my sephia was when they had only 3yr warrentys and i did almost NO work to it during the 11yrs i owned it.

 

I think 30 is the best you are going to get with a traditional 7seater, and you'll have to cough up a LOT to get a hybrid to buy you a little better fuel econ.

 

I think you'd need to decide how many years you'll keep the car, and what your average milage is for use....and figure out how much you'd save with a car that made X number MPG and see if it'll really save you any money to buy a hybrid. may not be cheaper because the cost of the car is a bigger delta than MPG savings.

 

and I don't know how old your kids are, but I think my parents were caught unaware when we started fleeing the house. there was NO cars back then that were 8 seaters and we had 6 kids. Our options were either a station wagon which with 4 teenagers is pretty close for comfort, or a huge pass van. At first we crammed into different station wagons....2 oldest in rear facing (incl me, and I get terribly car sick), next two oldest and baby in middle, and 2nd youngest stuck between parents in front seat. no fun. Then we bought 15 pass econoline van which was horribly $$ for gas even when gas was under a dollar......and we got that er, when I was 15?

my stepsister and I were same age, and next two girls were 3 and 4yrs younger. within a few years they had ONE kid at home.

 

Overnight they went from not being able to find a large enough car to WTH....we have giant car and 2 people....lol

post #9 of 10

We love our Toyota Sienna. I can get 30 mpg on the highway, 20+ in town. The back seats fold down for hauling stuff (which we do a lot), or up for hauling kids (which we also do a lot).

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

We love our Toyota Sienna. I can get 30 mpg on the highway, 20+ in town. The back seats fold down for hauling stuff (which we do a lot), or up for hauling kids (which we also do a lot).


Ditto. They are heavenly on road trips. Very comfortable. And ours is an old beater, but still ticking w/ well over 140,000 miles on it.

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