Author Topic: Family Vehicle Recommendations  (Read 1186 times)

MinnieAG

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Family Vehicle Recommendations
« on: September 27, 2018, 01:45:22 PM »
I currently have a 2016 Ford Edge through my company (a lease, vehicle chosen through my employer, all expenses paid). There is a chance that I will become a SAHM once our DS is born in a few months. DH and I have started a savings account in case we need to buy a family vehicle. God willing, we would like to have multiple children one day, so I think eventually having a vehicle with the option for third-row seating is a good idea. Additionally, we live in Minnesota, so AWD is a must. We are currently trying to decide between the following two options:

1. Purchase a low-mileage used vehicle with the option for third-row seating to drive for 10+ years (more upfront cost)
2. Purchase a higher-mileage used vehicle without third-row seating to drive for a few years until we "need" third-row seating (lower upfront cost)

Which option do you think would be best? And do you have any recommendations for a solid family vehicle?

CindyBS

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2018, 01:56:35 PM »
Skip the 3rd row seating for now, your mind could completely change on number of kids. Or your kids could be spaced out far enough that you can put 3 in the back seat for a while (kids over age 8 don't need car seats). 

I'd recommend a Subaru Outback.  Great in snow.  We have one and 2 kids that are older.  We don't deal with strollers and the like anymore, but one of my son's has a wheelchair that is super easy to load/unload out of the car.  It is awesome on camping trips, has a roof rack, you could easily add a hitch for a bike rack.  Mileage is mid20's.

fatcow240

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 02:04:37 PM »
Skip the 3rd row seating for now, your mind could completely change on number of kids.

We went the route of buying a third row vehicle when our #2 was on the way. It was not worth it.  This year will be the first year we actually *need the third row (2nd row has two buckets & #3 is on the way).  We have gotten volunteered to drive more often, since we have more room.  In the 3.5 years we have had it, it has benefited us <0%.

Only buy a third row vehicle when you need it, not when you think you will need it in the future sometime, maybe.

MinnieAG

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2018, 02:09:32 PM »
Skip the 3rd row seating for now, your mind could completely change on number of kids.

We went the route of buying a third row vehicle when our #2 was on the way. It was not worth it.  This year will be the first year we actually *need the third row (2nd row has two buckets & #3 is on the way).  We have gotten volunteered to drive more often, since we have more room.  In the 3.5 years we have had it, it has benefited us <0%.

Only buy a third row vehicle when you need it, not when you think you will need it in the future sometime, maybe.

This is the direction I've been leaning lately. Worst case scenario, we "need" third-row seating in a few years and have to buy another vehicle. We can always re-assess then!

MinnieAG

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2018, 02:12:58 PM »
I'd recommend a Subaru Outback.  Great in snow.  We have one and 2 kids that are older.  We don't deal with strollers and the like anymore, but one of my son's has a wheelchair that is super easy to load/unload out of the car.  It is awesome on camping trips, has a roof rack, you could easily add a hitch for a bike rack.  Mileage is mid20's.

Thanks so much for the recommendation! Did you purchase your Outback used? Friends of ours recently purchased a brand new Outback for $35k and my head spins thinking about spending even half that on a family vehicle!! How much should we expect to pay for a *GOOD* used Outback?

rubybeth

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2018, 02:13:38 PM »
I'd wait until it snows and then test drive a few options in actual snow so you can feel how they handle. Parents seem to love mini vans for the door factor. I'm also in Minnesota and neither of our vehicles have AWD, we just drive appropriately for the weather conditions. If you're in a more rural area, I could maybe see getting AWD.

onemorebike

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2018, 01:17:26 AM »
I'm a Minnesotan who agrees with rubybeth. We live without awd, family of four. We have a 2002 Honda Odyssey that handles fine in the snow (but we live in the city) with 2 wheel drive. I like the extra space because I do a decent amount of home projects and my wife likes to pop out the extra row to carry friends of the family, etc, it also is nice when we camp or when I want to run out for a quick mountain bike ride. I think in the next 3-5 we will move to a more fuel efficient vehicle but with a 6 and 8 year old the van has been a good choice.

I'd reexamine the notion that you need awd and/or an extra row.
I'd wait until it snows and then test drive a few options in actual snow so you can feel how they handle. Parents seem to love mini vans for the door factor. I'm also in Minnesota and neither of our vehicles have AWD, we just drive appropriately for the weather conditions. If you're in a more rural area, I could maybe see getting AWD.

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CindyBS

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 06:47:49 AM »
I'd recommend a Subaru Outback.  Great in snow.  We have one and 2 kids that are older.  We don't deal with strollers and the like anymore, but one of my son's has a wheelchair that is super easy to load/unload out of the car.  It is awesome on camping trips, has a roof rack, you could easily add a hitch for a bike rack.  Mileage is mid20's.

Thanks so much for the recommendation! Did you purchase your Outback used? Friends of ours recently purchased a brand new Outback for $35k and my head spins thinking about spending even half that on a family vehicle!! How much should we expect to pay for a *GOOD* used Outback?

In 2016 we bought a 2009 Outback with about 115K miles.  It was around $9K

mm1970

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2018, 09:32:26 AM »
Skip the 3rd row seating for now, your mind could completely change on number of kids.

We went the route of buying a third row vehicle when our #2 was on the way. It was not worth it.  This year will be the first year we actually *need the third row (2nd row has two buckets & #3 is on the way).  We have gotten volunteered to drive more often, since we have more room.  In the 3.5 years we have had it, it has benefited us <0%.

Only buy a third row vehicle when you need it, not when you think you will need it in the future sometime, maybe.

I agree with this.

We are going strong with a Matrix and 2 kids (though I admit, long car trips kind of suck.  And we are lucky that our kids are small - my 12 yo is the size of a typical 9 yo I think).

Funny story.  My bestie and her husband had 1 kid and 2 cars.  He had a jeep, she had a RAV4.  She loved that RAV4 - it was pretty new because she'd driven her 1993 Civic for >20 years.

Then she got pregnant.  With twins!  I said "time to get the minivan!!"  She said no.  In fact, as it was "her husband's turn to buy a car", he got to pick.  And he didn't want a minivan.  I just shook my head at her - because all the googling I did noted that the RAV4 (and in fact, many Toyotas) aren't really set up well for 3 carseats in the back.

He bought an Explorer.  So I went to deliver lunch to my friend after the babies were born, a couple months later.  I see a minivan in the driveway!  What's up??

"Oh, mm1970 you were SO RIGHT.  We bought the explorer.  Had the babies.  WE CANNOT GET OUR TODDLER into the 3rd row of the Explorer through the front - we have to put him in through the trunk - we cannot fit past the two infant seats."

That was years ago, but they still have the Explorer and the minivan.  At least now the big kid is in a booster.

Civex

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2018, 06:59:19 PM »
I'd recommend a Subaru Outback.  Great in snow.  We have one and 2 kids that are older.  We don't deal with strollers and the like anymore, but one of my son's has a wheelchair that is super easy to load/unload out of the car.  It is awesome on camping trips, has a roof rack, you could easily add a hitch for a bike rack.  Mileage is mid20's.

Thanks so much for the recommendation! Did you purchase your Outback used? Friends of ours recently purchased a brand new Outback for $35k and my head spins thinking about spending even half that on a family vehicle!! How much should we expect to pay for a *GOOD* used Outback?

Live in MN, and I think if I were to buy a used Outback, I would make a trip to ND to find one that hasn't had the salt exposure.

My wife and I went through a similar thought process when I was car shopping for a newer Soob. I ended up buying a brand new Outback through Muscatell-they were cheaper than Walser, St. Cloud, and the other 2-3 dealers we stopped at in the cities. When I was researching it didn't seem like Outbacks dropped below $20k until you hit over 60k miles. From my perspective, I decided to take a 1% APR and a brand new Outback at just under $30k instead of a 5 year old model with 75k miles at $19k and 4%.

We bought our Outback prior to having our son-we like it.

As far as the AWD-the tires make or break it. My old Forester had great, dedicated winter tires and was a unstoppable in snow (had a 100 mile northern MN commute at one point and it performed flawlessly), but the stock tires on our new Outback are not impressive. I've lost traction at low speeds in a parking lot.

chemistk

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2018, 06:06:27 AM »
I'd absolutely go with the higher mileage used vehicle. You don't know when you're going to have more and there's more residual value as a % of your original purchase price in a higher mileage used vehicle than a lower mileage one.

My wife and I are really starting to get ready to look for minivans, because our CUV is getting cramped (we have BIG kids, and the narrow 3-across seats aren't comfortable for them :( ) and we'd like to have at least one more kid in the near future. When it's just one kid, the minivan (or 3 row vehicle) is totally unnecessary.

This is going to contravene typical wisdom, but for a snow-capable vehicle, I cannot recommend a used Prius enough (with a set of dedicated winter tires). I live in a hilly region of PA, my FIL has a Prius with a set of Blizzaks - I once drove it in a snowstorm with ~6" on the road in various places - I passed stuck trucks on hills with it and never once worried about being stuck. The visibility is excellent because of how many windows there are and the secret to its snow dominance is the weight of the batteries and the torque from the electric motors.

If that's too scary or hardcore for you, or you believe that AWD is the be-all-end-all, then absolutely get a used Subaru. 

radram

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2018, 07:11:29 AM »
12 years ago we added a second child to our family(family of 4). At the time, we had a Ford Ranger that seated 3.

If we still wanted a truck, we figured it MUST have a back seat so it can seat 4. We decided to wait a while before upgrading. 12 years later, we ran that Ranger till it died, got another used one that seated 3 and blew out its engine(only 95,000 miles :( ), and are now looking for another Ranger-like truck to replace it. We are fine with it if it seats 3. In fact, we prefer it.

We live in WI, and NEVER had anything other than 2wd vehicles. 4wd is great to get started. It does jack shit for STOPPING. If I can't stop, why would I want to get started in the first place. I have only had 1 vehicle I did not trust in a few inches of snow/slush. Any more snow that that, and I just plan to be off the damn road.

RelaxedGal

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2018, 01:15:15 PM »
12 years ago we added a second child to our family(family of 4). At the time, we had a Ford Ranger that seated 3.

If we still wanted a truck, we figured it MUST have a back seat so it can seat 4. We decided to wait a while before upgrading. 12 years later, we ran that Ranger till it died, got another used one that seated 3 and blew out its engine(only 95,000 miles :( ), and are now looking for another Ranger-like truck to replace it. We are fine with it if it seats 3. In fact, we prefer it.

So.. how did you fit 4 people in a 3 seat truck?

When I was a kid my brother and I shared the middle lap belt in my Dad's 3 across bench seat truck when the 4 of us went out, but I think that's frowned upon these days.

radram

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2018, 10:56:43 PM »
12 years ago we added a second child to our family(family of 4). At the time, we had a Ford Ranger that seated 3.

If we still wanted a truck, we figured it MUST have a back seat so it can seat 4. We decided to wait a while before upgrading. 12 years later, we ran that Ranger till it died, got another used one that seated 3 and blew out its engine(only 95,000 miles :( ), and are now looking for another Ranger-like truck to replace it. We are fine with it if it seats 3. In fact, we prefer it.

So.. how did you fit 4 people in a 3 seat truck?

When I was a kid my brother and I shared the middle lap belt in my Dad's 3 across bench seat truck when the 4 of us went out, but I think that's frowned upon these days.

That was the beauty of it, we never did. It was our 2nd vehicle. We had 1 car that seated 5, and we thought ALL our cars needed to seat 4. They didn't, and they still don't.


ManyMountains

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2018, 11:45:11 PM »
We have three young children and have been really happy keeping our old car, a 2008 manual-transmission Honda Fit. When the third child was born, I had to get different car seat to fit three-in-a-row. We spent about $200 to get a Chico KeyFit and two metal-framed Dionos, all slightly used from Craiglists or Nextdoor. We get great gas mileage, insurance is low, and can fit everything we need for all five of us for all of our adventures, such as all the gear needed for multi-day backpacking trips. The front wheel drive and manual shift would suffice for most snow driving. If the roads are much worse, do you really want to be driving anyway?

We have a bolt-on hitch that can hold a bike rack or tow a small trailer. I installed myself and probably cost $100 on Craigslist.

The Fit is also our only car, so we don't have options of driving two cars when family or friends need a ride. We bike a lot instead of driving. I think we'll make do with this setup for as long as we can, and then at some point get a used 8-seater van.

Remember, the more expensive, bigger car now isn't simply the purchase price, but also the higher costs for fuel, insurance and maintenance (esp. things like tires are much more expensive on SUVs and vans compared to a sub-compact like the Fit).

onemorebike

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2018, 02:28:23 AM »
A fit with 5 people and stuff for adventures? That seems crazy. Do you have pics of how you've made that work? Also, what climate do you live in? I'd love to make some thing small and fuel efficient like that our next vehicle but it would be hard to convince my so.

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radram

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2018, 07:08:04 AM »
.... have been really happy keeping our old car, a 2008 manual-transmission Honda Fit.

This struck me as hilarious.  We just bought a 2008 manual transmission Fit 6 months ago. It is our NEW car :)

73,000 miles, $5,500, and we absolutely LOVE it so far.

RelaxedGal

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2018, 08:34:44 AM »
On small cars and babies:

When my daughter was born I was certain I needed to replace my Scion xA with something bigger.  Maybe a minivan.  I was planning to have 2 kids, and soccer and everything was coming.  More pressingly: the newborn car seat rear-facing in the center of the back seat touched the front seats.  Once she moved up from the removable infant seat to a toddler convertible seat that MUST be bigger, my wee little car wouldn't fit our needs.

In a shocking twist, the convertible seats are more upright and didn't touch the front seat at all.

We decided that one child was enough, but two in the back seat with convertible seats would probably have been fine. 

@radram sorry about the confusion earlier.  The original poster asked about family car suggestions and so many here are one car families that I assumed you were too.  Thank you for explaining!

mntnmn117

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2018, 02:30:26 PM »
We went high-mileage with 3rd row. Toyota Landcruiser.  With narrower carseats we fit 3 kids across the 2nd row. 3rd row is removable and we didn't really use it regularly until the 4th child came along.

3rd rows are generally not that usable and will replace too much cargo space when actually deployed.  We have to use a roof box and hitch basket/trailer for long camping trips with all 6 of us now.

chouchouu

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2018, 04:12:20 PM »
Have you seen the MMM posts about cars and awd?  I suggest having a look at those. I have two kids and don't have a car as the math didn't work out for us since its cheaper to hire one the occasional time we need one. I did look into buying one and remember sitting in the back seat of the volkswagen Polo.  The salesman was telling me I'd need a bigger car since my two year olds would grow. This made zero sense for two reasons, one being that I as a grown women of average size found the seat to be spacious and secondly, my kids were two at the time, they wouldn't be teens for more than a decade and most people buy a new car at least every 6 years, even if I didn't replace for a decade my kids would still fit comfortably in the back being preteens. If you're onlyou going to need a large vehicle once or twice a year for a big trip it might make more sense to buy a economical every day car and rent one for those occasionall needs. In my experience a compact sedan meets most people's needs, there are attachments you can add for carrying bikes and with one seat down even a big Costco shop. Also consider that an expensive compact car seat is more economical than a larger car.

twig21

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2018, 07:22:42 PM »
We have 2 kids (1 and 5).  Bought a used Pilot 3 years ago expecting we need the bigger car and 3rd row.  Have used the 3rd row 2 or 3 times, not worth it imo.

We are currently considering a smaller SUV because mpg is pretty bad on it compared to a CRV or the like.

GreenGrapes

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2018, 04:34:40 PM »
We went with a CRV, and have been happy with it.  If you buy the right carseats, you can get 3 across the back.

scottydog

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2018, 05:14:16 PM »
We went with a CRV, and have been happy with it.  If you buy the right carseats, you can get 3 across the back.

We have a similar car, a 2009 RAV4, and also fit 3 car seats across the back. We chose expensive narrow car seats (Radian XT) but they were orders of magnitude cheaper than upgrading our paid-off car.

For us, in urban-but-still-snowy Montreal, AWD has had practically zero benefit but significant expenses both in terms of worse everyday mileage and additional repairs.

kimmarg

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2018, 11:49:31 AM »
We went with a CRV, and have been happy with it.  If you buy the right carseats, you can get 3 across the back.

How's the mileage? I'm in a similar position to OP. 1 kid now, 1 on the way. Currently have a Honda Fit and a Suzuki Sx4 (which, incredibly is *smaller* than the Fit).  Looking to replace the SX4 with something bigger. While I can get 2 car seats in the back (although I can only rear face behind passenger as I'm tall and need to shift when I drive) We currently often use the backseat folded down for canoe/camping/biking trips. With 2 in back can no longer fold down the seat and thus need more space. (or a better way to put gear + canoe on the roof???)  Would like AWD for snow storms, although I dislike the lower mileage. Currently CRV is topping the list of options.

Milizard

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2018, 03:37:16 PM »
Here in the land of lake effect snow, I have never had a vehicle with AWD, and have done just fine winter after winter.  Brought my Sienna in for some recall work, and the loaner Sienna was much newer with AWD and I hated it!  It felt sluggish.  Oh, when I had to pick up a barn door for a room remodel, it fit right in between my Sienna's back seats. So there's that ;-p

kimmarg

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2018, 07:38:16 AM »
Here in the land of lake effect snow, I have never had a vehicle with AWD, and have done just fine winter after winter.  Brought my Sienna in for some recall work, and the loaner Sienna was much newer with AWD and I hated it!  It felt sluggish.  Oh, when I had to pick up a barn door for a room remodel, it fit right in between my Sienna's back seats. So there's that ;-p

Yea I'm torn. I am a big fan of snow tires and the FWD and snow tires does most of the traction control. I will say the AWD is better for turning in slippery conditions. There's probably only a few days a year when I'm really glad to have it (driving to work in big snowstorms). Even with AWD I want snow tires.

FrugalToque

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2018, 07:45:43 AM »
I live in Ottawa, Ontario, which gets its fair share of snow.

Having driven an all wheel drive car and several non-AWD, I don't see the improvement.  The big deal is getting a good set of snow tires and changing them every 3 years (max).  AWD is great for doing doughnuts and other car tricks, but not practical and leads to severely reduced fuel economy and higher maintenance costs.

That said, I currently have a Mazda 5.  All the benefits of a van, but the efficiency of a really good hatchback.  With two kids, it enables us to go camping, packing all our extra stuff on the roof racks.  And on the occasion where we have friends along, we can carry 6, but the people in the back row have to be pretty small.

Toque.


jezebel

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Re: Family Vehicle Recommendations
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2018, 08:42:16 AM »

That said, I currently have a Mazda 5.  All the benefits of a van, but the efficiency of a really good hatchback.  With two kids, it enables us to go camping, packing all our extra stuff on the roof racks.  And on the occasion where we have friends along, we can carry 6, but the people in the back row have to be pretty small.

Toque.

We usually have gear plus dogs.  I've sat in the third row and didn't notice it to be any smaller than the back seat of a sedan.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 03:56:06 AM by jezebel »