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Cars for Moms - comments, concerns and wants!



  • njmom91njmom91 Posts: 20
    I went with the freestyle because with three kids I wanted to have the option of have all three sit in the middle row. Cars with three seats in the middle are limited, esp. at an under 25K price point.

    If I didn't have that requirement I would have JUMPED on the chance to get a Mazda. The mazda's we've had we've LOVED, drive nicely, good/reasonable gas milage. Actually planning to get the five when this lease is done and my oldest is large/old enough to sit up front.

    My only concern for you is space. If you frequently travel with kid and dogs AND all the kid accesories - esp a stroller which can take up quite a chunk of cargo space - the 5 might be small. I'd suggest snagging a stroller from a friend (or if you have one, use it) and go see how it fits in the car and then figure if you'll have enough space. If it is not that frequently, probably not an issue.

    Good luck and congratulations.

    p.s. be sure the stroller you 'size' is the kind you can attach the car seat to - not the typical umbrella stroller you see older babies (toddlers, really0 in. Trust me, there will be many times it'll be easier to keep the baby in the pumpkin/rear facing car seat to get to and from the car, than transfer it out of that seat!
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    You sound perfect for the Freestyle. We went one more kid than that and suddenly options limit in a hurry! Put us in minivan territory.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • We have 2 children in car seats and want a mid-sized SUV or crossover that has a third row seat that can be accessed without having to move the car seats. We want to basically treat the car seats as permanent fixtures in the second row. Any recommendations? We are trying to avoid monster SUVs like the Expedition, etc., and of course the very un-hip minivans (please keep your opinions to yourself if you like minivans).

    The best 3rd row seat arrangement we have seen to suit this purpose is in the old Land Rovers, where you could just walk around the back and step up through the back door by a hydraulic step. Those vehicles were a little too tall for us, however, and the second row doors didn't have much room to get kids in and out.

    We are about to purchase a car (preferably used), so we need to know all the possible options in order to decide upon the one we like best. Therefore, your thoroughness in responding would be greatly appreciated.
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    The Chrysler Pacifica has 3 rows and seating for 6, the middle row of seats are fixed. The Ford Taurus X(formerly known as the Freestyle) and Mazda5 have similar arrangements.

    All three of these are relatively cheap on the used market, with the Pacifica being the most plentiful.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    Those are good choices. The Ford and Chrysler should be pretty easy to find at a reasonable price.

    Am biting my tongue on the minivan comment which is tough because they are the only class of vehicle where they almost all fit your criteria.

    The Freestyle has the added bonus as a used vehicle - it's price should be lower because of the name change. Yeah, it's the same basic vehicle but the market does funny things to defunct names.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    The new LR3s have third row access from either driver or passenger side. The outboard seats flip down and out of the way with two lever pulls.

    You could put one child seat in one outboard 2nd row seat and one child seat in the center 2nd row seat.

    Not sure what your price range is but you can find Land Rover certified LR3s with a third row in the low to mid 30 range now. They are thirsty trucks though even with the V6 which I don't recommend as it just doesn't have enough power.


    I have never done this but I just checked and I think you could...

    Since every seat in the LR3 goes up and down independently you could unbolt the center 2nd row seat and just pull out out of the vehicle. Then you can simply walk between the two outboard seats like they were captain's chairs.
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    The 2008 Dodge minivan has room for seven, with a bench middle seat that you can get with intergrated child seats built in.
  • I was wondering if you got any other answers to your question. My wife and I are looking for a similar feature. We have two young children, and we would like to be able to install two car seats in the second row, but be able to access the third row without having to remove the carseats.

    The obvious solution is to get a car with captain's chairs in the second row so that someone can use the space between the chairs to access the third row. However, we would prefer to get something that had a second row bench seat. Also, many vehicles stick an annoying console in between the second row seats, which precludes this.

    Another solution is to put one carseat in the center position and the other in the outboard position. However, putting two carseats next to each other isn't always feasible due to LATCH positions, etc. Also this assumes that each seatback of the second row can be folded independently.

    Yet another solution is to find something that allows you to access the third row without folding the seatback of the middle seat. Either the second row can be moved forward enough to reach the third row, or by some other means.

    A final solution, if all else fails, is to put one carseat in the second row and the other in the third row. This is a last resort since then we would lose the ability to fold down the third row for cargo space when we don't have more than one adult passenger.

    Somebody mentioned Taurus X and Pacifica but the person said that the seat was fixed, which I assume means that the seatback has to fold in order to access the third row which is exactly the OPPOSITE of what I am looking for.

    Land Rovers were mentioned as one option, but are there any others?
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    You can get the new Dodge/Chrysler minivan with a second row bench seat with at least one built in booster seat. It would also give you good access to the third row. Not sure if you can get it with two booster seats.
  • Thanks, marine2. I just wanted to give you some additional info about the new Chrysler minivan...

    If you get the LX version, you can get the 2 passenger bench seat with two toddler carseats built-in. However, on the Touring and Limited versions, you cannot get that option. Instead you have an option to get two booster seats built into the second row captain's chairs. You only have this option, though, if you get the "Swivel N Go" seating configuration. Not sure if the Dodge has the same seating options, but my guess it that it would, since the two models are very similar. You are right, though, that having the built-in seats would make it a lot easier to access the third row. Even without them, the space between the captain's chairs allows access to the third row.

    I also did look at the Buick Enclave's seating. With the captain's chairs, there is enough room for someone to squeeze between the seats and into the third row, but only if you don't have the center console. However, if you have a carseat in the captain's chair, you won't be able to fold down the seat, due to the way that the folding mechanism works. It has something called "Smart Slide" where the seat bottom angles up while the seat back angles down. It is hard to describe unless you see it, but suffice to say that with a carseat attached, you ain't moving the thing!
  • maryh3maryh3 Posts: 263
    Rented a Chevy Uplander recently while on vacation. This SUV/minivan has a different setup. It has full sized captains chairs up front. But it has 2 smaller, almost childsized captains chairs in the second row. The aisle therefore to access the third seat was wider than on any other vehicle I've encountered. Just to check it out I tried the second row captains chairs to see if an adult would be comfortable in these smaller sized seats, and I was comfortable.

    Though it was not necessary for my older family, I thought that if my kids were young again, and I was fooling around with multiple car seats again, this would be a nice choice.
  • maryh3maryh3 Posts: 263
    Ford is coming out with a new Crossover/SUV in 2009 called the "Ford Flex". You can see it on their website. Looks interesting. Fords safety has really gone up since they bought Volvo.
  • What about a Kia Rondo? We have been considering that. We also require a small car (live in an urban area with small parking lots) and good gas mileage.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I'm just throwing this out there because it only has 2 (comfortable) middle seats and is only a 6 passenger vehicle, however on a trip to Chicago over the 4th of July, my small car rental was upgraded to a Mazda 5, and I was most impressed with the amount of small van for the money.

    I think they can be had in upscale trim for about $19,000. It was really small outside (like I prefer) for the amount of room and useful cargo handling features. On a day trip up to Wisconsin, we had 5 good-sized people and cargo in it, and everyone said it was comfortable. I'm the driver, and important to me was the impressive handling for a car of this type and the excellent moonroof.

    Then on a long trip back from Michigan, we went through a huge rain storm that caused massive problems in the area of the north Chicagoland that we were in. The "5" swam right through with confidence and comfort on the unfamiliar and crowded "freeway" and toll roads through all the wind and downpours.

    The standard 6-speaker sound system in the upscale model (might be GT) was weak on power but worked well enough. I'd add a power amp and subwoofer. On the other hand, the frugal (large 4 cylinder) engine seemed powerful (but unrefined - and I prefer a 5 speed to the 4 speed auto trans) pulling from a stop beating the traffic and had ample performance with several adults on board in July air-conditioned comfort. I prefer sportier cars, but the package was great for a family hauler on a budget. And the "5" handled great. It was not at all top-heavy feeling, but had the vast glass greenhouse expanses that folks like about mini-vans.

    All in all, I think many folks could benefit from smaller, more nimble vehicles that can do 95% of what larger 2 1/2-ton "mini" vans can do. I don't have a large family, so this car was oversized for me. But if you only need room for 6, the "5" seemed to hit the mark aimed at "sporty" and you also don't have to give up a cool sunroof or break the bank. ;)
  • I always thought that the more children you had and the younger they were, the bigger the vehicle you would need. Then, as they all got older, and you weren't bringing pack'n'plays to grandma's house, constantly toting a stroller, and having the need for vehicle seats that accomodate multiple car seats/booster seats, you would require a smaller vehicle. But when I speak with other moms who have children older than mine, their concerns become about legroom in the 3rd row, etc, and feeling like a bigger vehicle is needed, anyway.

    I wonder if it's just that I am at the "pinnacle" of complexity right now? At the moment I have a 10yo girl, a 7yo boy who rides in backless booster, and a 3yo girl who rides in a latch-installed car seat. We have two suv's -- a Honda Pilot and an Acura MDX. I drive the MDX, with my children either riding together in the 2nd row (if we have a lot of stuff in the back, or if they just want to be together), or the 7yo riding in the 3rd row (so he can have more room for this "stuff", lol).

    When I replace my MDX next winter, I would like to consider the XC90 and the X5, but I realize they are slightly smaller on the inside. Of course I will also consider the MDX again & will probably check out the Mazda CX-9 since everyone raves about it here. :)

    As a mom, I like the versatility of my suv, being able to fold seats up and down as needed, especially when carpooling, shopping, etc. Just the other day I unexpectedly bought a desk chair and a 40" mirror at HomeGoods, but had forgotten about all the other stuff I'd already bought at Target. :P But I was still able to get it all in, even with the car seat & booster seat. :)

    Anyone have older children (10+) that ride in the 3rd row of an suv? Any thoughts on any of this?
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,638
    When my boys were little, we had an s-10 blazer that worked ok for us. As they grew, that vehicle grew smaller and smaller.

    Now in their teens, we went with a Hyundai Sante Fe. Which gives my boys the leg room they need on long drives.
  • mattandimattandi Posts: 588
    Sorry I'm not a mom. Hope it is ok for a dad to seek feedback here. ;)

    Currently driving a Saturn LW2. Car has served it's purpose well. Especially like the cargo capacity. It is getting a little long in the tooth, however, at 102k miles. The drive train seems to be holding up well, but have had many issues recently with other components. Have put about $3500 in repairs over the last 10 months or so, and got stuck out of town once recently (EGR valve broke). So, we're looking for another vehicle. We bought the Saturn used with 49k miles on it four years ago. For a short while had another vehicle, so we average 13-14k miles per year. Not sure if we will hold on to the Saturn or not.

    We are a family of four with a 3 and 5 year old (there is an outside chance we may add another). Routinely have another 6 year old in tow. Currently have two boosters and a full size car seat in the second row. My wife and I are decidedly average size folks. We frequently travel around NC to visit family. Many more kids/cousins that often pile into cars, usually not ours since we can only add one more. Have been warned that as kids age they often have a playmate tagging along. Travel between NC and MD four to six times a year to visit grandparents, an 800+ mile round trip. We go tent camping 2 to 3 times a year hauling a full compliment of equipment and supplies..

    Issues for consideration.
    Seating flexibility
    Road trip comfort
    Cargo capacity

    Here is our current short list of possibilities.

    Chrysler T&C / Dodge GC
    Toyota Sienna
    Honda Oddy
    Kia Sedona / Hyundai Entourage
    GMC Acadia
    Ford Taurus X
    Toyota Highlander

    Definitely NOT selling points for us. (just won't be part of the decision, but ok if included)
    Navigation systems - we both can read a map. Rented an Explorer last year with NAV. Think the novelty would wear off in about a week, and can only honestly see using it maybe twice in the life of the car. I don't begrudge anyone who needs/wants it, just not for me.
    DVD/Entertainment options - We have a portable DVD system that gets used on long trips. Usually only listen to talk radio. Extended trip time is often used for family interaction. Play lots of games. Maybe I'm just old school that way.

    So, is there anything not on our list that anyone would suggest? Thx.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Those are all great cars, but they are big, perhaps a little clumsy compared to what you are used to, and use a lot of fuel. How do you feel about giving up the wagon, which is not a "tall" vehicle?

    Have you considered other wagons, or do you need the size increase because wagons like the SW2 have been phased out in favor of less nimble, taller vehicles?

    Also, see message number 141 in this forum. The Mazda 5 is roomy and versatile on the inside, small on the outside, inexpensive, sporty in comparison, and good on fuel. It's just not as stylish as a crossover SUV, nor as lux-laden as a full size "mini"-van.

    I'm not a mom, either. But I've been impressed with Mazda designs (function, not styling) recently. Something to add to your list to consider, if cost is a factor, and you want to retain nimble handling, and don't mind the "funky" styling.
  • mattandimattandi Posts: 588
    Thanks! We are taking our time to make a careful and informed decision. I was initially concerned a bit about the "bigness" of these. We borrowed my dad's Excursion for a camping trip this passed summer (sister also borrowed it for another camping trip). We drove it for 2 weeks. I liked it, but my wife found it just clumsy and never got comfortable driving it. Now, that is a monstrous vehicle, and I really would not want to feed it on a regular basis. As a result she is turned off to full sized SUV's, which we do not really need anyway (nothing to tow and 4WD not much of a concern around here). My dad suggested a Tahoe for us which we quickly dismissed.

    So, I was worried about how she would take to a larger buggy. Upon driving both a Dodge GC and a Kia Sedona though, she was quite comfortable with how they handled. I was pleasantly surprised. She remarked how they felt very different from the Excursion, not too surprising. We have not driven the other vehicles on the list, but we will.

    On numerous occasions the Saturn has been packed to overflowing, including shoving smaller items into the second row floor space. We use all five seats daily. My mom rides with us frequently, so my wife often rides in the back with the girls, uncomfortably squeezed between 2 car seats. So, we are not considering anything smaller in terms of cargo capacity and seat room. Other than my father, no one in the family currently owns a vehicle with more than five seats. Vans and SUV's have been around before, but now just a few wagons and sedans. Another vehicle in the mix with a couple more seats would be beneficial.

    We'll take another look at the Mazda5. Our initial impression was that it just might be a little too small. The price and MPG are enticing though, especially if its 4 banger will hold up for 100k+ under occasional hard work. Yeah, I am disappointed in the MPG of the others, but it might have to accepted as a trade-off. A friend has a Sienna and reports better MPG on average than the group.

    Have not completely written off other wagons yet. Concerned a bit about reliability and maintenance costs of some of the offerings. The german stuff and Volvos can get pricey. We have a local car show coming up in a couple of weeks, so we'll get a chance to see lots in one convenient location.

    Sorry about the long post. Helps me think through some of this though.
  • lnagerlnager Posts: 1
    I currently have a Chrysler Pacifica and love the front load DVD that came with the vehicle but otherwise I haven't been that happy with the 3rd row and actual style. My lease is up next year and I like the Toyota Highlander but I don't like the DVD systems that comes with the car. I would like to know what SUV/crossover has the same in-dash features.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    A Women’s Health magazine reporter is interested in speaking with women on the appeal of SUV’s and Minivans. If you previously owned a minivan and currently own an SUV or other crossover utility vehicle and are interested in speaking with this reporter about why you chose it and what you like about it, please respond to with your name, email address and day time phone number by Wednesday, August 3, 2011.
This discussion has been closed.