Vehicles for larger families - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have three boys (4yo, 2yo, and 1yo), and we plan to double our family size in the next four years. We currently drive a Chevy Tahoe with three car seats, but we have to get something bigger for when we have 4, 5, and 6 kids. (our goal is the 12-13 range, but we hope to trade in again after this next "set"). That means we could need room for up to six carseats at one time.

I want something that gets great gas milage, DH wants something SAFE and tough enough to handle our winters (4WD was a necessity this past winter, and is very likely to be necessary again). I'm concerned because with the car manufacturers restructuring and all, I'm wondering if they will even continue to make vehicles for large families in the future .

Anyway, I'm looking for suggestions!

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#2 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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We have a Suburban and think that it's fine for up to 6 kids (we have 4 in ours). We have 2 Regents in the 3rd row and a Marathon and Graco bucket in the 2nd row (will be changing out the bucket for a Radian in the next few weeks). We've already looked at what we'd have to do for more kiddos and we can DEFINITELY fit 2 more seats if need be, you just need to choose the right seats.

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#3 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We had been looking at Suburbans. I'm curious how it would work to get them into the back row with six seats all in. Do you have two benches? Will your olders be able to climb over the seats and buckle up that way?

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#4 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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Yes, we have 2 benches. I think how you get everyone in the car would really depend on what seats you have. You could put a high back booster in the fold up seat so that you still have access to the 3rd row easily (as long as the kiddo is booster ready) The kids could climb from the back into the 3rd row, or over the 2nd row seat. I've heard of mamas having RF carseats in the 3rd row and buckling from the cargo area. Again, it all depends on which seats are where. You can definitely get 3 across on both benches if you choose the right seats. I've even heard you can do 1 Regent per row and STILL get 3 across.

Does your Tahoe not have 2 benches? We looked at Tahoes, but we need the cargo space. We're semi-rural and lug some big stuff around, and we also travel a few times a year. The Tahoe just didn't have enough cargo space for us.

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#5 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:04 AM
 
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My 6y can climb into the 3rd row from the cargo area so you can load some children up that way. Children scampering over rows isn't really an issue unless they have wet/muddy shoes. I parked next to one of those larger Chevy vans this afternoon, the suburban and it were very similar in size, only I had more cargo room then she did. The cargo room was the main reason we upgraded to a "burb", we also live rurally and needed the room.

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#6 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Our Tahoe only has one bench. We bought it as newlyweds at college and we needed the space for hauling furniture, etc. home and back. We picked it over a pickup so we would have room for kids. We get three large carseats across the bench easily. The third rows in the suburbans look tiny by comparison!

We're looking at needing room for a 5yo who is tall and skinny, a 3.5 yo who is average size, but more dense (he can't weigh that much to look at him, but oh boy...), a 2yo who will probably be more on the thin side, and a newborn (hopefully!) by July of next year. The 5yo will not be booster-ready by then, so I would need to put two in the back and two in the middle, or three in the back and the baby in the middle.

The following baby would give us (approximately) a 6.5yo, a 5yo, a 3.5 yo, a 1.5yo, and a newborn, again with nobody booster-ready.

And baby #6 will give us (again, guessing based on prior experience ) a 8yo who might be booster ready based on height, a 6.5yo who might be booster ready based on weight, a 5yo, a 3yo, a 1.5yo, and a newborn.

I saw something about Dodge Sprinters.... those look interesting too.

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#7 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post
Children scampering over rows isn't really an issue unless they have wet/muddy shoes.
Too true... but after this last winter, I figure we have an average of about 9 months of wet/muddy shoes: DH freaked about that this last year with kids wanting to climb in/out HIS door, so I'm having a hard time imagining making it routine. 'Course, I supose I could have them remove their shoes in the back if that's an issue...

Thanks for the idea!

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#8 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:58 AM
 
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Honestly - I'd just buy a small bus.

Here's why:

More space
Seats easier and MUCH easier car seat installation
about the same gas millage as a full size van or SUV
room for muddy shoes, etc.
Easy to keep clean {we own one and just mop it down every month or so}
Insurance is often very cheap since they insure as RV {Ours is $150 a year}



We bought a used shuttle bus for $9k 2 years ago, and it's the best thing we ever did. I constantly have large families ask to look at it and then ask where we bought it because they LOVE the room to breathe!

And while ours was $9k, that was due to needing a wheelchair lift. Without a lift {which comes in really handy for bulk grocery runs} I've seen them for as little as $3k in good condition. Be sure you get either diesel or Gas - some are natural gas or propane and it can be hard to travel with those due to not too many fill up stations.
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#9 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by fedupmama View Post
Honestly - I'd just buy a small bus.
That's a great idea! Tell me, did you get the first one you saw? Do they usually have seatbelts, or do I need to keep my eyes open for one with them? Do you have any issues with drive thrus? (like the bank? How often do big families really consider a McD's run....)

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#10 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 02:45 AM
 
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That's a great idea! Tell me, did you get the first one you saw? Do they usually have seatbelts, or do I need to keep my eyes open for one with them? Do you have any issues with drive thrus? (like the bank? How often do big families really consider a McD's run....)
We didn't get the 1st one we saw - we looked online for a while then found a business nearby with one for sale. We would have looked longer but we needed it for a family trip out of state.

Most that were used for transit will have seat belts, but ask prior to getting serious on it. If you do go through a company that deals in used buses {and there are many} they can often configure a bus EXACTLY how you want it set up. Ours for instance we left a large open area in the back for groceries since I buy in bulk. I'd even put an wanted ad on craigslist for the bus - you'd be surprised who might have one to sell. I'm selling ours on craigslist, but only because I don't have anyone to drive it now {I'm a single mom & can't drive and my mother who drove had a stroke & lost vision}.

Drive-thrus are pretty much out in a bus though - and sometimes parking is interesting. We've had to park next door to where we planned a few times {but ours is a 28ft bus - they do come shorter} because we didn't fit with how the small lot was configured.

But over all the pluses are more than enough to get a bus - we love our bus. :
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#11 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 11:57 AM
 
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Definitely a small bus or a full-sized van. I have an Aunt & Uncle with 8 and another with 7 kids and they loved their vans.

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#12 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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I saw something about Dodge Sprinters.... those look interesting too.
We only have 4 and my DH is convinced that we need one of these. He has been drooling over them on cars.com for the last couple of weeks. There are some good deals out there for the used ones. We ran into a family at a gas station the other day that has 6 kids and they have one. They love it and the dad said that they have one with the newer clean diesel technology and they get around 20 MPG. That's what my minivan gets!

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#13 of 15 Old 06-20-2009, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I finally got Dh hooked on the idea of a van. He found out that the Chevy Express van can come with AWD - his #1 request. I like that buses would be roomier, but between no drive thrus and fighting for seatbelts, LATCH, and teather, it might not be worth it. Those Dodge Sprinters are cool, but $$$$$.... Maybe someday?

Andrea, daughter of the King, wife of Neil, Mama to Jackson 7/4/05 Nicholas 12/21/06 Ezekiel 5/9/08 and due June 14!
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#14 of 15 Old 06-20-2009, 01:11 PM
 
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We're going to be getting a tahoe soon. I have a daycare....and I went to the dealership and measured. I should be able to fit 3 sunshine radians across each back seat in the tahoe for a total of 6 carseats. They have a new Tahoe hybrid too

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#15 of 15 Old 06-20-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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The newer (and some older) full-sized vans can come with AWD. A friend of mine has a 10 passenger van and it looks pretty appealing to me! It doesn't seem HUGE to drive around in, it would fit through a drive-thru, it drives and parks like a pickup truck and has good traction in the winter. Plus the kids don't have to climb over seats.
Oh and one of the seats folds out to be a bed which comes in handy sometimes

DH and I - totally winging life with our four children, DS1 (6.5yrs), DS2 (5yrs), DD (3yrs) and DS3 (1)!

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