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Cars for Moms - comments, concerns and wants!



  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    Another option is a Ford Freestyle. I have 12,000 miles on it and it's great. About 25mpg HWY, seats 6 or 7, quiet and roomy inside, and it drives like a car, not a minivan or SUV. It's basically the wagon version of the Ford 500. I paid $24K. And it's a safe 5 star rating for everything and has side curtain airbags. The transmission is continuous variable tranny CVT used on Volvo.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    It's a CVT all right, but no Volvo uses it. The platform is a modified Volvo S80 platform, with Ford's own drivetrain.
  • "So far the Mazda5 came close but the engine is a bit high-strung. There doesn't seem to be anything that meets all of that criteria but an Element meets most and is fairly inexpensive."

    And the Element's isn't? On paper, at least, they look quite similar. Plus the Mazda5 get's better mileage and is roomier (however, if you drive aggressively, fuel economy is moot). The only concern would be your husband's size. I have heard some complaints from drivers with longer legs.

    PS - in the spirit of full disclosure, I am the proud owner of a Mazda5 Touring Edition with a 5-speed.
  • has the Accord's 2.4L engine which, IMO, is a better engine than the 2.3L used in the Mazda5. The torque is more evenly distributed and it's a smoother engine. The Element puts out more HP and more torque at lower RPM. Gas mileage is not significantly better in the Mazda5 considering it's more of a car than the Element. The 2WD Element 5-speed gets 21/26 and the Mazda5 Touring gets 22/27.

    The Mazda5 may be roomier in the sense that it has seating for 6 but the Element has a much roomier feel inside. It is wider and taller and the second row is livable for adults. It also has more total passenger volume than the Mazda5. No third row of seating but we have used the third row in our Odyssey a total of maybe 5 times since we bought it in May of last year.

    As you said, my husband can not drive the Mazda5 unless he lowers the seat to it's lowest setting. At that point he can drive it but he likes a higher driving position.

    Last but not least, Mazda uses Sirius and we like XM.
  • Check out this three-part series:

    What Are Automakers Doing for Women?

    Part I: GM

    Part II:Toyota

    Part III:Volvo
  • 4under54under5 Posts: 3
    I will definitely check out the Freestyle. Thank you.
  • Don't know if any of you caught the controversy a month or so ago, but the economist who wrote "Freakonomics" is saying that booster seats don't protect kids better than seat belts. I think them's fightin' words! :mad: Check it out and tell me what you think!

    Do Safety Seats Protect All Kids? New Research, New Debate
  • We are expecting our 4th child in 6+ months... that will be 3 kids in car seats and one in a we have to upgrade. There is plenty of data out there about all the SUVs/minivans/crossovers/Suburbans/vans, but not too much data for someone with what will be 4 under 5.

    We currently have a Honda Accord which has been perfect for three car seats. We still marvel at the folks that felt they had no other choice than to buy big with one child or two (now if it's a choice, that's fine...but it is a choice, not a requirement). We can reach all three car seats while standing outside. No stepping in or traversing between or over captains chairs.

    So what are our options for 4 kids? It seems to boil down to a traditional minivan or maybe a Mazda5. There are some SUVs and of course the ubiquitous Suburban, but I'd like to get a bit better gas mileage and don’t want to force my wife to master a huge vehicle in the city.

    Any thoughts? Any hybrid versions coming down the pike for the 07 models? Does the Mazda5 have enough room for all seats occupied, a stroller and some groceries? Doesn’t seem like it from photos.

    Thanks all!
  • felt kind of small for the 3 of us. For 6 people I can't see it being comfortable. The best choice for you really depends on your price range. The Pilot is much larger and only gets a couple MPG less than the Mazda5.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I can't recall which site, but the Chrysler Pacifica was rated highly by one Mom testing website.

    There were latches for THREE car seats in the back seat, and they all fit in there. That was a big plus.

    I can't recall what else she liked, but you can Google and find the review I'm sure.

    Lars SS
    (single dad raising two youngsters)
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    FYI the Pacific has three rows of 2 seats, so if you get that you'll have car seats or the booster in each seat, and the space behind row three is to tiny for much of anything. I'm surprised that the Accord was big enough for three across car seats. I guess you didn't take many vacations or if you did I don't know how you managed to fit all of the luggage, strollers, diaper bags, etc into the trunk. You must be a better packer than us!

    You could look at the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander as they're more car-like SUVs with three rows. I have a Ford Freestyle that seats seven. Row 2 has space for three, so you'd need to put the booster seat on the seat the you'd flip up to gain access to row 3, and then if you had to carry a lot of stuff you could fold half of the split row 3. Or you could go for the row 2 captain chairs. You'd only have a six seater, but you'd have easier access to row 3, and the Freestyle has pretty good space behind the third row. Or you could go for one of the smaller minivans (Kia Sedona, Mazda MPV) if you didn't want a big minivan.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    The Mom reviewer loved the Pacifica:

    I admit my theory is a stretch, but one thing is for certain: The 2005 Chrysler Pacifica flawlessly blends the practicality of a minivan with the sporty appearance of an SUV.

    With roomy seating for six, the second row of the Pacifica has captain’s chairs and the third row is a 50/50 split folding seat. Installing car seats in the second row is a piece of cake (quite literally considering that I found a big piece of a Madeline cookie stuck to the bottom of one of them when taking it out of my last test car). These second row seats slide front and back independently from each other to make a huge amount of legroom or shorten the distance between driver and child (very helpful when reaching back to rescue the systematically “dropped” stuffed animal). They also fold and tumble flat if extra space is needed or lift up and rotate on front hinges allowing easy access to the third row.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    Lists all of the crossover reviews here. Pretty good reviews because they look at things not normally examined in a car magazine review.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,759
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  • I have a Highlander, and I can tell you it's definitely not the car for you. The second row seat is really too tight for three across, particularly with car seats. Even if you decided to only put two kids in the second row, the middle seat is narrow and is not conducive to car seats. Any minivan should do, but the Sienna will be coming out in hybrid form, I think, for 2007. That will be too long to wait. Look seriously at the Pilot as well as the Pacifica, but I think you'll find the Pacifica more spacious. The Freestyle is also a good choice, but bear in mind that Ford may be discontinuing it, and that could affect resale value. If you've got tons of money, look at the new Mercedes R-class, which is similar in layout to a Pacifica and has third row seats that are incredibly easy to access.

    Honestly, however, I think it's time to bite the bullet and get a large minivan. I don't think you'll regret it because they are the most practical vehicle for the job; they're safe; and often they're cheaper than the SUVs. Add to that the automatic sliding doors (a true gift from Heaven when trying to get kids in and out.) The Odyssey seats 8 now and would be a great choice. (Don't doubt that as your children grow that you will have to include even more kids in the car for playdates, etc.) Any car where the third row seat is optional is, almost by definition, not built for the kind of roominess you're going to need.

    One more word of advice. Some cars have a 60/40 split in the second row seat that favors the curb side of the car, but others split the seat differently and favor the street side. Since you wouldn't want you kids loading from the street side, be sure of this when you're looking.

    Would love to know what you decide!
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  • Great thoughts rqueen! Thank you. And thanks to all for the input.

    Over the last couple of weeks of researching and peeking in cars, I came to the conclusion that a large minivan was the way to go. None of the crossovers or SUVs were ideal for a large family…close but not quite. And by close, I mean by approx 3 inches.

    The Pilot third row has a hip width of 49 inches. That’s 3 inches too short for my current 52-inch 3-car-seat Accord configuration. I don’t expect to have three car seats all in the third row any time soon, but it just seems odd to get a “big” car that has less width in the back than the current sedan. I have yet to check out a Pilot, and still will…when I go look at an Odyssey.

    By comparison, the Sienna, which I checked out at a dealership today, has exactly 52 inches in the third row… the same as my Accord. (Still feels odd – seems a “van” should be wider.)

    I am planning on at looking at the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Honda Pilot. I may check out the Kia Sedona as a more economical choice as well.

    General thoughts are that minis get better gas mileage, provide for have cheaper insurance, easier ingress and egress, easier loading and unloading, more storage room (especially with the big holes in the floor of some models), and they are cheaper. Beyond the cool factor, I can find no reason not to get a minivan over an SUV/crossover, and it would be too uncool to let “cool” alone dictate an big and important purchase like this.

    If anyone suggests any other vehicle to check out…please let me know.

    From reading the brochure of most of all the above mentioned rides, it’s clear that the marketing departments and/or the people that ask the questions don’t have many kids-- few pictures with car seats, few layouts or set pics with the full 8 seats.

    I have rented two Grand Caravans for family road trips, and liked them both. Built in car seats are simply incredible! I only wish they’d offer the built-ins in the third row as well. Again…no one seems to be designing for a big family. I am a bit surprised that only Chrysler offers this great feature.

    For this one reason, the Grand Caravan is in the early lead. And the Caravan has the big holes in the floor to accommodate the Stow & Go seating. I’d be getting the bench second row which doesn’t stow, but the holes are still there for choice storage. Third and finally, the Dodge is cheaper than the Japanese cousins and the amenities advantage of the Honda/Toyota are extras I don’t need or want…or think my kids will have fun destroying. OK…that’s three reasons instead of one.

    After seeing the Toyota today, the Front and Center added middle seat in the second row is great! Still allows for bucket seats/no bench and it will slide up so that a baby is closer to the driver. That is a great feature.

    I will definitely check out the 60/40 driver side issue…never would have thought of that…thank you again.

    Current thoughts and remaining questions which are all easily answered at the dealerships at some point:

    Does anyone else have built in car seats?

    Can I get a built in DVD player with the low model of these makers. The Toyota brochure seems like I cannot. That’s really the only upgrade that seems worthwhile based on the brochures. (I can be convinced the automatic door is key, but I’m not quite there yet.)

    In the Caravan, can a third kid or adult fit in the seat/space between the two built in car seats in the second row bench? I should be able to answer this myself, as I have driven two, but I can’t recall.

    In the Honda, is the skinny little stick-in-the-middle seat for the second row functional? Seems a bit smallish.

    Can Mom reach the third row seat of an SUV (Pilot) easier than a mini? Is a skinner but closer third row more convenient for loading little ones?

    Does 3M make a super-dooper-teflon-titanium-heavy-duty-4-kid-proof Scotch Guard?
  • stmssstmss Posts: 206
    You don't mention looking at the Ford Freestyle. Don't over look this for a Pilot or Pacifica. It is likely the largest of the crossovers and rivals mini van in size. Can get second row bench. More room in back than Pilot. Depending on the level you can probably get every feature the other offer including DVD, Nav, AWD, leather, power everything, side curtains to third row, good fuel economy.

    Check the consumer reviews here on this car - owners are very happy with it.
  • you had better hurry. Rumor is that it will be significantly redesigned or cancelled for the 07 model year.
  • Does anyone know of an infant seat that fits properly (doesn't hit against the front seat) in a compact car?

    Thanks so much for any info!

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Check out the Advice - Child Car Seats That Fit discussion too.

    Steve, Host
  • nelsoncmnelsoncm Posts: 103
    Shame they might continue the Freestyle. I drove it earlier this year and loved it but for it's underpowered, noisy engine. If they gave it 250 horsepower and backed any of their products up with better quality, I'd have bought it.
    Chrysler, as you'll read on the forums, does not seem to have a great rep for quality or customer service. I would love, love , love to buy a Pacifica! Quiet, roomy and powerful and clean, simple interior. Drove one over a weekend as a rental and loved it, but Chrysler doesn't have a good rep. One guy on the Pacifica forum called his a "Pacificrap!" ; )
    So I'm looking at a Pilot or a Highlander and I have a feeling the Pilot is going to win out. NowI only have one kid, but a big dog, a hubby, lots of road trips in So Cal.
    If I had two kids, hands down I would be driving a Honda Oddessey -- drove one last year when the 2005 came out and loved it. But can't justify a mini with one kid but station wagon options are so limited. (I have a Saab wagon now, used to have a Merc Sable wagon.)
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I think you need to reevaluate the Chrysler/Dodge minivans. Their quality has gone way up in the last several years. There is very little complaints on the 2002-2006 models. Even the 2001 has been pretty good. With the stow-n-go seats or just having a bench seat and having those two large storage bins, make it a great family van. You can load them down with toys, diaper bag or what ever and still keep your van neat and clean. Plus it still carries the extended engine and power train warrantee. It's a perfect van for a family with kids.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Both the current Odyssey and Sienna earn Good ratings in the frontal offset and side impact tests from the IIHS. Both have standard side airbags for the 2006 model year.

    The Chrysler vans score only an Acceptable in the frontal test and haven't yet been tested in the side.
  • Also consider resale/residual value. The Japanese cars are a more practical buy if you think you'll keep your car for a while. But if you want a Pacifica, don't let one dodo from Chrysler turn you off. The car is really pretty awesome in terms of its spaciousness and amenities. You'll outgrow it a lot less quickly than you would a Highlander, though the Pilot is somewhat more roomy.
  • If you've seen any of the Los Angeles or Detroit Auto Show coverage, you've seen a lot of interesting new cars that appeal to families. The new Dodge Durango, the first Audi SUV, new cars from Jeep, Lincoln, and more. CUV -- Crossover Utility Vehicle -- is the watchword this year. Anybody have opinions?
  • I was wondering if anyone else has had this problem .. I have a 2003 Mustang gt.. I cannot find a rear facing infant seat that will fit in the car allowing the driver and passenger to be in the car also.. If anyone has found a seat that fits please post it model # brand and all... The car has all the locking things for all different kinds of car seats. I have even called ford motor company.. We do have another car and suv but the mustang is more fun :( and gets great gas mileage!!
  • Mustangmommy,were you able to find anything? This raises concerns for me. My husband really has his heart set on getting a 2006 Mustang, but we are planning for a baby within the year and as much as I'd love a mustang, I want something more Mommy friendly. --darn nesting instincts!! Have you found it to be terribly impractical?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Get a minivan but get one of these for the kiddos (and let hubby wash and wax it weekly :D )

    Ford Mustang Reaches Out to the Whole Family (Inside Line)


    You may want to ask over in Advice - Child Car Seats That Fit too.

    Steve, Host
  • I don't care what they say, the Mustang is not a family car. Let it be your husband's car if necessary, but you'll get pretty frustrated after a while if this is your main mode of family transport. Those back seats are mighty tight and it won't be easy to strap a baby into a car seat -- let alone a thrashing toddler. Let us know what you decide!
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