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asoduk
asoduk HalfDork
2/20/24 2:30 p.m.

We went with a Lexus LS430. Its been great for 2 kids. Every once in a while we wished that we had a van or 3rd row SUV, but for those few times its just not worth it. 430s are pretty pricey for such an old car at this point though. We also looked at Avalons and the Lexus ES, which would be at the top of my list if I had to shop again tomorrow. 

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/20/24 2:47 p.m.

I'd go minivan.  Our first two were 19 months apart, and we sold our '00 Saab 9-3 and bought a 3 year old, CPO '05 Odyssey.  The power sliding doors eliminate a lot of worries of kids just flinging doors open and hitting things. You have room for when you need to take grandparents or other kids.  And minivans have a lot of utility.  I've had 3 kids in car seats and a drum to drum Ford 8.8" axle in our '05 Odyssey!  With the rooftop carrier, you really have a ton of room.  And with old (read non-hybrid) technology, we can still average 26+ MPG on a trip with 6 of us, our gear, and a rooftop carrier.  Newer minivans have hybrid and AWD options (unfortunately Honda has neither).  I've driven the Sienna hybrid and liked it, and we rented a Pacifica for a week with the regular V6 and I love how that drove/handled/braked. To me, the Pacifica has the best driving experience I've ever had in a minivan.

We have an '06 Rav4 that I love, it has a ton of room in the (sliding) 2nd row and in the cargo area. (I'd say it has more room behind the 2nd row than our Pilot because of the lower floor level).  It's easier to park than the minivan and has AWD, but that's really where the advantages end.

My wife has a '16 Pilot that drives better than our '17 Odyssey, but has a fraction of the interior room.  The 2nd row is comfortable, and the 3rd row has a decent amount of room, but will become less practical for longer trips as your kids get older. With essentially 4 adults now, the 6 of us are a tight fit in my wife's Pilot.  The biggest disadvantage of the Pilot is the lack of a well behind the 3rd row when the 3rd row is in use. Basically, there's very little room left for stuff when you're using the 3rd row. With the minivan, I can have 3 rows in use and still store an impressive amount of cargo behind the 3rd row.

We had a 2010 Dodge Ram Quad Cab, but the rear seats didn't have a ton of room as the kids got older. Think of it as an extended cab with rear doors.  The newer trucks with the true crew cabs have a ton more room, better mileage, and a better driving experience than that truck, but at the expense of being more difficult to park/maneuver than a minivan or mid-size SUV.

Dean2
Dean2 New Reader
2/20/24 2:53 p.m.

You can get a LOT of stuff in a hatchback, just steer the kiddos toward violin instead of double bass.  They worked wonderfully for me, my wife, and two kids.  A hatchback is a road tripmobile, truck, race car, and grocery getter all in one fuel efficient package.

Our most recent is a 2018 Fiesta ST.  I've autocrossed it regularly and the only issue in over 70k miles was a tie rod end wearing out.  It gets 36 mpg on the highway, is a blast to drive, and can haul a kid and her junk to college with the best of them.

 

Driven5
Driven5 PowerDork
2/20/24 3:16 p.m.

Sliding doors don't just prevent older kids from winging the door into other cars, but make it far easier for parents with babies to get things like baby buckets in and out and access the buckle to secure a 5-point harness on not always cooperative babies and toddlers in tight spaces. The sliding door accessibility plus large interior space makes jumping in back with the kids to keep dry while doing that in any weather possible, as well as making the back a weatherproof mobile changing station, discrete feeding (or calming) room, or even an occasional 'indoor picnic' spot in a pinch. When needed, one parent can hop in back to calm a screaming rear facing baby while the other continued with the drive.

As they got a little older, it was not uncommon for the kids to have a 'dance party' in the back or play hide and seek with me while waiting in the car for some reason or other. School drop off and pickup couldn't have been easier, regardless of whether it was me hitting my slider button or them proudly hitting theirs before me, with zero waiting (holding up the line) for the kids struggling to shove doors open or closed with all their diminutive might.

The immense versatility of the space was insanely useful. We could carry the bulky stuff like baby-bucket strollers and diaper bagpacks with us all the time, and still not have to worry about bringing grandpa and grandma out with us too, or running out of space when stocking up at Costco or Ikea. Packing the full compliment of overnight 'travel' baby gear for road trips to visit extended family was a breeze. And the cavernous volume made getting out camping with very young kids more enjoyable... Or at least less maddening.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/20/24 3:45 p.m.
Driven5 said:

Sliding doors don't just prevent older kids from winging the door into other cars, but make it far easier for parents with babies to get things like baby buckets in and out.

Agreed.  Car seats are a PITA to install, the straps on them need to be tight.  There's no pretensioner on the harnesses in there, so any slack in either set of straps is just extra space for the vehicle to decelerate before it starts transmitting that force to the occupant, meaning higher gee loads and more potential for injuries.  It's much easier to apply the necessary force to tighten the straps holding the car seat down when you have enough room inside the vehicle to put your weight on it.

 

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
2/20/24 4:34 p.m.

Don't forget that you can easily get S-Plan pricing on a Mazda. If not through using your sCCA membership then I'm sure someone on this forum can get it for you (me included). 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver MegaDork
2/20/24 4:47 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Driven5 said:

Sliding doors don't just prevent older kids from winging the door into other cars, but make it far easier for parents with babies to get things like baby buckets in and out.

Agreed.  Car seats are a PITA to install, the straps on them need to be tight.  There's no pretensioner on the harnesses in there, so any slack in either set of straps is just extra space for the vehicle to decelerate before it starts transmitting that force to the occupant, meaning higher gee loads and more potential for injuries.  It's much easier to apply the necessary force to tighten the straps holding the car seat down when you have enough room inside the vehicle to put your weight on it.

 

That is one thing, on the mazda5, you can recline the back seat and then bring it upright after clicking it in to tension the LATCH connection for car seats.  I can get the seats in and out of that car in a few minutes, the maverick is a bit more of a struggle to get it tight.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/20/24 5:13 p.m.

I am very biased here, but the last gen Toyota Sienna SE is the only vehicle you should even be considering. They were made essentially unchanged for about 10 years, so you can can find one in your budget pretty easily. They were FWD or AWD, so if you are in the snowbelt, you are covered. They were 7 or 8 passenger, so you will always have room for the kids, their friends, and their friends. Or take the seats out and haul 4x8 sheets of whatever.  Want a sunroof? That's an option. Want handing that doesn't feel like a Buick Roadmaster? Its standard. Want to look as cool as you can in a minivan? Check. Want to tow things, 295 hp. Want to haul stuff? 295hp. Want to haul ass? 295 hp. Want reliiability? Its a Toyota.

My wife's primary requirement was that she wanted leather and power everything and phone connectivity and lots of options. She was lukewarm on the minivan idea, but after living with it for a while, I will have to pry the keys from her cold dead hands before she gives it up.
 

 

And as much as I am a fan of the Sienna SE, the advantages of space, seats, power sliding doors, a grunty V6, and decent handling apply to many vans from Chrysler, Honda, and Kia.  The 2025 Kia Carnival comes out soon, so you might get a good deal on a leftover 2024. Actually, the 2025 looks so good I may go shopping...

 

Dneikirk
Dneikirk New Reader
2/20/24 8:23 p.m.

Love my minivan, and the outbacks we had were good for kids/big dogs/sports life  let me be the devil on your should and let you know that once the kids are old enough to get into their own seats, an E46 coupe works great! I don't kid, they have latch; the back seat is actually spacious for a car, and those big coupe doors don't need to open wide for small humans!

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/20/24 9:14 p.m.
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) said:

I am very biased here, but the last gen Toyota Sienna SE is the only vehicle you should even be considering.

IME, the Honda drives better (just like a base Civic drives better than a base Corolla -- it's a company philosophy thing).

Also, perhaps I'm too tall, but I found the driver's seat on the Sienna really uncomfortable.  With everything positioned properly there wasn't a good dead pedal space for my left foot, so I had to move it back which made my knee rest against the door.  And the door had all these uncomfortable bumpy things on it, so after 15 minutes of driving my left leg hurt.

No AWD on the Honda though (at least, not the last time I checked)

 

nakmuayfarang
nakmuayfarang New Reader
2/21/24 3:54 a.m.

When the kids were little I rented a minivan for a family road trip and fell in love with the power sliding doors and the perfectness of it for the task.  I would have one for your use case for sure. 

 

However, SWMBO was having none of it.  She flat out refused to even consider it.

 

So, a 2013 Cadillac cts-v wagon and after that a 2017 a4 allroad fit the bill and garnered SWMBO's stamp of approval.  Both fit the family and their gear well and were fun to drive.

 

kids are grown and out of the house so nowadays I just daily my truck.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
2/21/24 8:44 a.m.

+1 more for van life. We got ours when our older ones were 2 and 4. Coming from a Jetta and B5 S4 it was a huge jump in ease of use as we could carry every combination of stroller we had in the back (umbrella, single, double, jogger) and still have more room back in the 3rd row area if needed. Little kids have a lot of support equipment and it's a little hard to remember as these same kids take up about 1/2 of the room they used to.

BA5
BA5 HalfDork
2/21/24 10:16 a.m.

The Honda Odyssey (and admittedly it's fellow minivan competitors as well, but the Odyssey is my personal favorite) is objectively (but not subjectively) the greatest vehicle ever made. Large interior capacity, better gas mileage than anything else that will carry as much as it can, versatile (entire interior can be seating or cargo or combination, plus it's all covered/locked), easy to use, surprisingly quick/agile, and so on.

And I think they're actually kinda cool looking.  Sure, not F40 cool looking, but they're sleek and functional looking in their own way.

Both my Odysseys have been on Road Atlanta.  Give them some good brakes and tires and they're weirdly capable.  Supposedly Honda benchmarks whatever the current 7 series is for the ride/handling of the Odysseys.

Aaron_King
Aaron_King UltimaDork
2/22/24 8:36 a.m.

When our third was born we were back to two big car seats and a sedan was not going to cut it anymore.  My wife was very anti mini van so we ended up with a Merc R350.  The sliding doors would be nice, though a guy here at work just had a dealer replace the cable that runs the door on his Odyssey to the tune of $1500, but the Merc has been a nicer place to be with plenty of room.  It gets mid to high 20's on the HW, ours has the air ride on all 4 corners and in Sport moves way better than it has any right to, gave a GT Mustang fits during "parade" laps at Mid Ohio once, the trans is the best auto I have ever driven.

Other than regular maintenance stuff I have had to replace the intake due to the plastic of the variable parts crapping out it has been surprisingly solid.  

Apexcarver
Apexcarver MegaDork
2/22/24 9:04 a.m.

In reply to Aaron_King :

That looks like a way better version of an overall concept than the Mazda5. I'd trade the sliding doors for more power and AWD in a heartbeat, even at a higher cost. 

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman UltraDork
2/22/24 9:26 a.m.

Minivan life is the way to go, everything is just better in a minivan with kids and hauling stuff.  Sliding doors, and rear seats that adjust to keep the kids from kicking the back of your seat while driving. 

Traded our 19 Caravan for a new Sienna, 30k miles so far at 36mpg has been a fantastic addition to our family. My wife hated the idea of the minivan but I'll never get to drive it again at this point. 

Aaron_King
Aaron_King UltimaDork
2/22/24 10:42 a.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

I also liked the fact it was easy to spot in the sea of Honda Odyssey's, there are 5 on my street alone. 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/23/24 8:04 a.m.

The real complication is going to be rear facing child seats, particularly if you're like me and have to jam the front seats all the way back - or in the case of my Kia, redrill the seat tracks to give another inch of travel. So you'll want to be sure there's enough room for your car seats of choice. Medium to large sedans have worked pretty well for my family.

Once the kids have outgrown those, you're got a lot more options. The kids really liked the jump seats in the back of an extended cab Ranger, maybe because they're different.

That said, my wife has been wanting a minivan lately.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
2/23/24 8:15 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

The real complication is going to be rear facing child seats, particularly if you're like me and have to jam the front seats all the way back - or in the case of my Kia, redrill the seat tracks to give another inch of travel. So you'll want to be sure there's enough room for your car seats of choice. Medium to large sedans have worked pretty well for my family.

Once the kids have outgrown those, you're got a lot more options. The kids really liked the jump seats in the back of an extended cab Ranger, maybe because they're different.

That said, my wife has been wanting a minivan lately.

Holy crap how tall are you? If I put the seat back in ANY of ours I can't even touch the pedals and I'm 6' with a 32" inseam.

πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†
πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† MegaDork
2/23/24 8:19 a.m.
bobzilla said:
MadScientistMatt said:

The real complication is going to be rear facing child seats, particularly if you're like me and have to jam the front seats all the way back - or in the case of my Kia, redrill the seat tracks to give another inch of travel. So you'll want to be sure there's enough room for your car seats of choice. Medium to large sedans have worked pretty well for my family.

Once the kids have outgrown those, you're got a lot more options. The kids really liked the jump seats in the back of an extended cab Ranger, maybe because they're different.

That said, my wife has been wanting a minivan lately.

Holy crap how tall are you? If I put the seat back in ANY of ours I can't even touch the pedals and I'm 6' with a 32" inseam.

I dont understand this either.  I'm 6ft also and I have the exact same car as Matt.  I think I have quite a bit of travel left in the seat, and the only way it would be comfortable all the way back is if I were 7ft tall.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
2/23/24 8:30 a.m.

In reply to πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† :

What car? Even the Rio's we've had (3rd gen and 4th gen) seats all the way back are useless. 

πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†
πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† MegaDork
2/23/24 8:32 a.m.

^We both have a gray 2013 Soul 2.0 6spd

(Matt I pray for you every day)

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
2/23/24 8:34 a.m.

In reply to πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† :

Which is the cuter version of the Seltos the wife has. If I put those all the way back I can't touch the steering wheel nor pedals lol. 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/23/24 12:52 p.m.

6'2", but a lot of that is legs. The Passat is the only car I've owned that I don't set the front seat all the way back. 

I'd put the Kia down as a car that can haul the family or haul stuff, but not both at once; there's only a foot or so behind the back seat.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
2/23/24 1:33 p.m.

Our car purchases didn't always coincide with the arrivals of our kids, but here's what we've had in our fleet over the years:

One Kid: sedan + roadster
Our E39 530i was a classy and practical family hauler, the Miata was my daily driver. This arrangement was perfectly fine 99% of the time.

Two Kids: crossover + roadster
After the radiator failed, the car overheated, and soon after the engine seized, the E39 was replaced by a Kia Sorento.  Compared to the BMW, the Sorento was awesome for hauling groceries, furniture or even cousins (seating for 7).  This arrangement was perfectly fine 99% of the time.

Three Kids: crossover + sedan
An E36 M3 replaced my Miata, which gave us a back-up option for hauling the kids. This arrangement was perfectly fine 100% of the time.

Four Kids: minivan + grand tourer / roadster
Traded the Sorento for a Kia Sedona while kid #4 was on the way.  The minivan is just the gold standard for a larger family.  It's such a versatile, comfortable solution for road trips, moving, daily chores, home depot runs, bringing along extra friends and family, etc.  It's hard to imagine our life without one.  With a solid family vehicle, I was free to drive a fun car--first a Jaguar XK and now a Boxster.  This arrangement is perfectly fine 99% of the time.

Coming soon: teen driver
Pray for me yall!

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