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Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: dan steinberg
Date: December 02, 2014 08:47PM
Hi there everyone! I was hoping to seek some off topic assistance as my wife and I make our first new vehicle purchase in 10 years.

We are very fortunate to have a "new" 10 month old baby boy, no plans for any more kids (we are both 41 years old and "snuck this one in at the buzzer" smiling smiley

We currently own a 2004 Acura TSX sedan as our sole car, but would like to get a 2nd car (we moved and getting away with one vehicle does not work as well as it did in Washington DC). We were thinking of an SUV to have some more room for baby's car seats, his stuff, and more people in the vehicle (in-laws visit a lot to help with the baby)

I did do a search and carefully read through this post

[forums.macresource.com]

but were wondering if there were any other recommendations when these specific use cases are kept in mind

-We just moved to the island of Oahu in Hawaii, so wouldn't mind something with decent wheel clearance so we have the option of driving on wackier, smaller roads without stressing it (I am not opposed to minivans on principle but have heard they have lower clearances than many SUVs?) .

-We often have the grandparents fly in and stay with us for a few weeks at a time, with no car, so the passenger use case is wife and I in the front, both in-laws in the back AND the baby in a car seat between the two people AND then still room in the back for groceries, beach stuff, stroller, etc.

That's why I was thinking mid-size SUV, I had always heard that mini-subs do not have enough width to fit 2 adults plus baby seat in the 2nd row, and then not a lot of cargo storage behind the 2nd row if its actually got people sitting in it. In general I was thinking we would need the 3 row versions of any mid-size vehicle, so we could fold down the back row with everyone in the first 2 rows, and still have room for all of our materialistic goods smiling smiley

-Gas is very expensive here, and we are OK with paying more up front if a hybrid vehicle would provide fuel savings over the coming years. I also like the idea of having the car at least partially powered by methods that are not just fossil fuels.

-Reliability is very important to me, and any possible "design defects" really bother me on principle. I used to own a 1997 Ford Taurus whose transmission died at only 70,000 miles, and later found out (at least anecdotally) this issue was very common in my model/year. By contrast, the Acura we own has never had a single issue in the 10 years we have owned it. If there is a 2014 or 2015 model that people feel has some fundamental "issue" that was a bad design, I'd like to know about it.

-I am happy to buy a slightly used model (1 year or so) if it saves some money. On the other thread it was interesting to me that if you can find a slightly used Ford Flex you can save a lot of the higher trim levels (like many here I am a gadget freak, have a very large digital music library, and I know myself well enough to know I would want the upgraded stereo package, built in navigation, etc)

-In terms of handling, the more nimble and car-like the better. My in-laws car back home is a Honda Pilot from a few years ago and I am always impressed when I drive it how comfy and quiet a ride it is. I don't see us ever owning a boat or a trailer to tow so am happy to give up some pull capacity for a more comfy drive.

Thanks in advance to any advice folks can give me, and hopefully I am not asking for the Homer Simpson car smiling smiley I am in the position of being able to take a lot of test drives over the next couple of weeks while the grandparents help take care of the baby, and I know you guys can help me hit the ground running on which ones to try out smiling smiley



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2014 08:48PM by dan steinberg.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents and single 1 year old child
Posted by: Speedy
Date: December 02, 2014 08:51PM
New SUV! Well:

[www.motortrend.com]



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: December 02, 2014 09:05PM
Honda Pilot? My niece has one, about 170,000 miles and it still drives like new. Subaru has great reputation, but smaller. I don't know, many makes seem to be very good nowadays.



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
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"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Ammo
Date: December 02, 2014 09:12PM
The Honda Pilot will be completely redesigned this spring. CR prefers the Toyota Highlander at this point.



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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 09:17PM
M/T? Did C/D go out of business?? Eh never mind.

Hi Dan! Your enthusiasm is certainly palpable. Father of 2 here. Had small cars, vans, SUVs.

This is the relevant nugget:

Quote
Dan
We were thinking of an SUV to have some more room for baby's car seats, his stuff, and more people in the vehicle (in-laws visit a lot to help with the baby)

Get a minivan.

They aren't cool enough. They are too big. They are ... whatever.

You'll thank me later. I realize it's only 1 kid. Doesn't matter.

Your wildcard choice here remains the Mazda5. It's not big enough, for the money, to compete with most used minivans but could satisfy your desire to not have a van while still having a van's advantages with the side doors and rear door.

Let me put it to you this way. Don't show up to any dealer without the kid. And then see how much fun it is repeatedly opening rear doors.

OK my work here is done.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Carnos Jax
Date: December 02, 2014 09:55PM
I whole heartedly recommend deckeda's suggestion. If I had kids, I would insist on at least one minivan and let it be my vehicle, even if the spouse didn't want one.

Despite it's looks/stereotypes, it's practicality more than makes up for it in my opinion.

Even if you don't have kids, the vertical room tends to mean you have a more comfortable sitting posture than any other vehicle, which translates to much more comfortable long distance driving without the 'aches' of getting out of other sedans and SUV's.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: December 02, 2014 09:55PM
You know, old deck has it right I think. A minivan would actually work great. Image schmimage, get wha' works for ye.



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: jdc
Date: December 02, 2014 09:57PM
Mazda5 is too small. I know I have one.

Totally fine for slightly bigger kids that don't need a lot of space, but can get in and out on their own. Mine kids are 10 and 8. Most of the small SUVs with a 3rd row, much like out Mazda5, have little to no space behind the 3rd seat if its up. Forget about it. Maybe a small carryon at best.

If you had more kids I would say a Honda/Toyota/Kia minivan too. heck, I would say get one anyway.

No one ever regrets having the extra storage. No one. We should have bought one of the larger ones rather than our Mazda5, but we didnt want used. We have had too many issues with used...



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: wurm
Date: December 02, 2014 10:06PM
Too bad Mazda doesn't still make the MPV. We loved ours.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: jh
Date: December 02, 2014 10:19PM
As mentioned by others: get a minivan. If you are not sure you owe it to yourself to look, drive, sit in, etc. one. Even with one kid the grandparents will appreciate being able to get in and out, deal with a car seat, and all the baggage that goes with having a small child. It is just easier.

We would rent one when we would go on trips and it was more confortable all the way around.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: December 02, 2014 10:26PM
we have two kids and still don't own a minivan. mullet smiley

but, if grandparents are in the mix, I guess we would reconsider.


Honday Odyssey Touring is pretty much the shiznit, IMO.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: December 02, 2014 10:28PM
I have a Highlander, and a kid, and while you can put two adults in the back on either side of the child's car seat, they'd have to be pretty skinny adults.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: December 02, 2014 10:29PM
You're basically looking for a car that can handle five adult passengers... a baby seat takes as much room as another adult. In fact, a bit more than that. As a result, the mid range SUV's are pretty much too small. We've had three adults in the back seat of our CRV. They were not comfortable.

A minivan is a good idea. Yes, road clearance is an issue, but if you need to go offroading, then trading in your TSX for an honest to gosh Jeep may be a better choice. Any full on SUV will be an even greater gas piggie.

Minivans are not only useful as people haulers, they work quite nicely as limited use pickup trucks. I've hauled lots of sheets of plywood and lumber and bags of whatnot in our Chryslers over the years.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 10:31PM
And we still like our '04 MPV a lot, despite a few glaring design flaws.

Bought a brand new Odyssey in '03. Honda offered 0% financing, wow! To this day that doesn't really happen much with Hondas. We literally heard the ad on the radio and went right over, spent the rest of the day at the dealership. Great salesperson. Then again, it was $30K how we wanted it and no discount. But it had the room for the new kid. And after a year the $600 payments got to be um, a little tight--not our best financial decision.

Traded it in on an '04 Element. Those wide openings were the key---the MPV was too small, couldn't easily accommodate a baby carrier because in the recommend position of having the handle down/forward, the passenger seat had to be fully forward. "Fuller sized" minivans would work but I didn't like any of them except Honda's ... but by then I'd learned of the tranny problems they had and got scared.

So anyway, for other reasons we got became dissatisfied with the Element and got a used MPV, after the kid was out of the baby carrier.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 10:40PM
cbelt3 I could have written ALL of that.

a baby seat takes as much room as another adult. In fact, a bit more than that. As a result, the mid range SUV's are pretty much too small.

At the dealer, I remember looking at the Pilot and then over at the Odyssey and laughing. It wasn't even remotely close. The van was like having a luxury suite at your disposal vs a trendy box for people who never looked inside a van. Same overall cost.

After the kids grow up a little you find ... other uses. Like boys' or girls' night out party wagen. Just saying.

Just got done last week carting off old decking material to the recycling transfer station. I packed more inside the MPV than I could have with my neighbor's F-150.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: December 02, 2014 10:41PM
I have always wanted one of these... :0



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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Speedy
Date: December 02, 2014 10:51PM
Vista Cruiser!

thumbsup smiley



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: December 02, 2014 10:54PM
I'm in pretty much the same boat, except not in HI. Frozen tundra here....complete opposite. 2 parents, 18 month old and we occasionally take the inlaws with us on trips. I'm curious what you end up with. We have a 4 door Dodge Ram that I drive and that we use for trips. Fits all 5, toddler is in the middle in the back. Tons of space in the bed for anything. Still plenty of room inside. Great for trails, or snow and dirt roads in our case. Downsides would be poor gas mileage and that if you are not tall and have long arms it is hard to get a toddler into the middle. I have no problem with it but my wife hates it. Other car is an Impala, typical sedan.

We have been looking for a new vehicle to replace the Impala. Pretty much settled on either a Subaru Outback or a Legacy. The Outback seems to have a bit more room. I'm never buying a Minivan, So we didn't look at those at all. The smaller SUVs don't seem to really give you anymore usable space than a sedan. We already have a truck so no need for a large suv.



C(-)ris
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2014 10:55PM by C(-)ris.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: wowzer
Date: December 02, 2014 11:03PM
I have a 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. It's a great minivan (so far). Awesome thing has a little mini-refrig (a compartment where the AC keeps the chamber cool) so that drinks wont heat up so quickly. Very handy in the summer months.



All I ever really needed to know, I learned from watching Star Trek.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 11:20PM
Quote
C(-)ris
... I'm never buying a Minivan, So we didn't look at those at all....

Of course, do as you like, but read the rest of what you also shared: the alternatives you mentioned, you cited as lacking. There's something you don't like about minivans. Appearance?
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: jdc
Date: December 02, 2014 11:20PM
I've never been a fan of slowbaroos myself, I see the appeal of the 4wd if I lived in the frozen tundra.

Before the mazda5 I drove an XC70. It was a fine car, but it was just a car with an open trunk.

Those that have never really been in or used a minivan just don't know what the are missing. Pfft to the whole "masculinity" thing.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 11:25PM
Quote
jdc
I've never been a fan of slowbaroos myself, ...

Careful there, a Forester 2.0XT can reach 60mph in about 6.5 seconds. That's "muscle car" territory.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: davester
Date: December 02, 2014 11:30PM
.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2014 11:48PM by davester.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: dan steinberg
Date: December 02, 2014 11:39PM
Thanks so much for all the amazing feedback so far (and so quickly too). You guys are an amazing resource.

I am actually open to the idea of a minivan as well, and with so many enthusiastic recommendations I will make sure to test drive some of those as well. The Honda Odyssey seems to be coming up a lot. Any other recommendations for minivans that people are fans of?

I don't actually have any problem with the minivan "image" as I am one of those people who has never cared much what people think. I am not a cool person and what car I drive will never change that smiling smiley

The two concerns I do have about the minivan are wheel clearance compared to an SUV, as well as the possibility it may not be as "fun" a drive in its handling when doing scenic drives, etc. But, maybe the other benefits would outweigh that.

Thanks!
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 11:45PM
And this is gonna sound trite but here's something worth considering beyond the boring practice aspects.

When everyone's in the van, you're all social in a way that's not quite possible in a sedan or SUV with all that sheet metal so close. There's something about that open cavernous space that allows a togetherness. Maybe it's because you're perched on chairs and not sunk down into them. Maybe it's that open middle area. I don't know.

That said, the van's wayback 3rd row is its own environment, sometimes a very good thing.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: deckeda
Date: December 02, 2014 11:55PM
I can't speak much about wheel clearance. I mean, it should be fine for most any road, right? True wheel clearance, in terms of entry and exit angles, remains the purview of the Jeep brand and very little else. Most SUVs sit low and have shallow entry/exit angles because they are built on car frames, er, unibody structures. But even the Jeeps that are like that at least pay more attention to entry/exit angles.

Vans drive like large cars. My 10 yr old MPV has tighter, quicker steering than my older Accord, and that's saying something. SUVs are historically clunkier, actually, although unibody SUVs are better.

If you want a small SUV look not much beyond the Mazda CX-5. They don't drive like cars, they drive like really good cars. My Dad has one and I have some experience behind the wheel. No chance of kid + grandparents of course.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: jdc
Date: December 03, 2014 12:12AM
Quote
deckeda
Quote
jdc
I've never been a fan of slowbaroos myself, ...

Careful there, a Forester 2.0XT can reach 60mph in about 6.5 seconds. That's "muscle car" territory.

Then why are they always in the fast lane blocking traffic? Same with those silly blue boy racer sti's. Aways rolling road blocks. With thier silly coffe can exhaust noise.

Maybe its more of a "slowbaroo driver" rant?



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Rolando
Date: December 03, 2014 12:22AM
Agree on the Mazda MPV. Largest vehicle I ever enjoyed driving. I think the Mazda5 will be too small for basically 5 adults (since the carseat takes up a lot of space) and stuff. The CX9 is getting a little dated, but I remember it beat all other SUVs in contest in 2012!
[www.motortrend.com]



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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: davemchine
Date: December 03, 2014 01:02AM
I agree with deckeda that a minivan is the way to go. I try to visit Kauai every year and a minivan is by far preferable on the island to a jeep or mini suv. Much easier to park, seats and hauls more, and is easier on the gas.

If a mini-ute is preferable you might look at the Toyota RAV4 which can be had with four wheel drive. I'm not sure if it offers the width you need though. You'd have to try it.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: thermarest
Date: December 03, 2014 01:02AM
Quote
jh
As mentioned by others: get a minivan.

I would get one of these hands down, in the 'weekender' version rather than the full camper. Excellent clearance. Room for everybody.

Mileage shmileage. The island isn't that big.

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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Cary
Date: December 03, 2014 06:00AM
I've owned 2 Mazda MPVs, a Pontiac TranSport, and 4 Chrysler Town & Country(s) over the last 25 or so years. The current crop of T&C is a really nice van. Very comfortable, handles well, finally got bigger brakes, uses Garmin for the OEM nav, engine is both stronger and more fuel efficient. With seats folded down, you could play a game of football inside (jk). I really like it.

I've never understood why an SUV is cool... They make little sense to me - worse gas mileage, less cargo/people space, worse ride and handling (except the newer, car based ones, that give up the offroad capabilities).
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: vicrock
Date: December 03, 2014 07:49AM
I love my Nissan Murano - this is the second one that I've owned and both have been great cars.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 03, 2014 08:59AM
Motor Trend (that Speedy linked) likes the Honda CRV. Personally, I much preferred the older, boxy CRV style to the current jelly-bean design.

A very useful source is the US News auto roundup site:

[usnews.rankingsandreviews.com]

It's basically rankings of most vehicles (current and previous) based on reviews in other publications, which it sums up and then scores the vehicles in a given category.

We had three kids and dogs. After fitting everyone into a little 1981 Toyota Corolla wagon, I bought a used GMC full-size van and never looked back: had three of them over the years. Nothing beats a full-size van for trips: you can spread out, sit between the kids and read to them, let the dogs lie on the floor, and carry tons of stuff. But then, how far can you go on a little island in the middle of the Pacific?

Now we have a nice, big Ford Expedition (full-size SUV, like Chevrolet Suburban), because we occasionally need to carry kids' families, and I like trucks; it's 4WD, too. My wife has an '07 Subaru Outback; nice handling/driving car, with high ground clearance, but not as large as you'll need, though the new ones may have enough room for a car seat and two adults in back.

There's a whole raft of 'mid-size' SUVs that bear looking at. GM makes a trio of them: Chevy Traverse, CMC Arcadia, Buick Enclave. They are all built on passenger car frames, V6 AWD, and have an optional third row of seats, which you can fold down for cargo, or open up for extra people. USNews scores the Buick third after the Toyota Highlander and the Hyundai Santa Fe: [usnews.rankingsandreviews.com] I mention them because we looked at them when replacing our big van (frame rusted out after 16 years of New England winters), before I went after the used (2013) Expy. Personally, I don't care for the high-waist, bubbly styling of any of the mid-sized SUVs. With the Expy I can roll down the window and rest my arm outside. I wish it had vent windows, though. . .

Yes, buying 1-3 years used can save a good deal of early depreciation money.

My daughter's family, with three young boys, have a 4-door Toyota Tundra pickup, which they use for trips; you can get three car seats on the back row. They also have an older Chrysler Town and Country minivan, which my brother gave them, for local use. Number Two Son has a (boxy) CRV and a Toyota Sienna minivan. They are expecting a fourth child this winter, but the Toyota will still hold them (but not the CRV). To me the Sienna feels mushy to drive (my wife's Subie feels like a sports car by comparison). My son got the Siennna (used) in part because of safety reviews, and because it has AWD (an option).

Speaking of which, I saw a TV report on partial front-end collisions on minivans, and the Honda Odyssey came in best. If I were getting a minivan, I'd look there first.

If you want more off-road capability, take a look at the Toyota 4Runner. Pricey, though; but what isn't?

Good luck, congrats on your new son, and let us know what you decide.

/Mr Lynn



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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: Schpark
Date: December 03, 2014 12:35PM
Ford Flex. Roomier than the Explorer and drives nicer. Seating for 6 or 7. If you get the 6 seat version the middle row seats slide forward to make the rear seats more usable.



"Without death, life would lose much of its meaning. My goal is to live in such a manner that I alter world in some fundamental way before I'm gone. As I get older and watch my son grow I realize I've already achieved my goal." - Ztirffritz
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: smacks
Date: December 03, 2014 01:21PM
4runner. Excellent vehicle.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: December 03, 2014 01:42PM
Quote
deckeda
Quote
C(-)ris
... I'm never buying a Minivan, So we didn't look at those at all....

Of course, do as you like, but read the rest of what you also shared: the alternatives you mentioned, you cited as lacking. There's something you don't like about minivans. Appearance?

Well, for me a minivan would have to replace the truck. I don't need 2 vehicles that large. I would have to give up almost everything and would gain only gas mileage and interior space/easy of entry and exit.

Lack of ground clearance, even in the AWD models. Lack of power for a vehicle that large. Everything is mushy as far as driving feel goes. Non durable and non utility. Big plastic bumpers crack if you look at them wrong in the sub zero cold, those huge panels dent and ding so easily when someone runs a bike into them. Very poor winter handling characteristics.

While I would never consider a Minivan, I had considered the GMC Savana full size vans. AWD, loads of power, ground clearance, you can feel the road. Can tow, haul, and carry 8+ people. Can get it in a 2500 series and tow even more, or get a conversion van model to get all the creature comforts. If I was ever going to do a van it would be one of those.



C(-)ris
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 03, 2014 03:08PM
Quote
C(-)ris
. . . While I would never consider a Minivan, I had considered the GMC Savana full size vans. AWD, loads of power, ground clearance, you can feel the road. Can tow, haul, and carry 8+ people. Can get it in a 2500 series and tow even more, or get a conversion van model to get all the creature comforts. If I was ever going to do a van it would be one of those.

Add another $12k to the price of a Savana (or other Ford, GMC, or Nissan) van, and you can get a full 4x4 drive train (not 'AWD'):

[www.quigley4x4.com] gears smiley

/Mr Lynn
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: December 03, 2014 03:41PM
If you're going to buy a new minivan and safety is important, the only one to buy right now is the Honda. The Nissan did very poorly in the frontal offset crash test. The Chrysler/Dodge minivan only did slightly better. The Toyota did rated marginal.

That being said, how often does family come to visit? It might be more practical to rent a vehicle when you need it. Just something to consider.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: dk62
Date: December 04, 2014 06:38AM
With two kids and needing to drive their friends once they were a bit bigger, we were very happy with Subaru Tribeca, on our third one now (first two were leases). The main reason we did not go with minivan was safety, but slippery roads would be less relevant in Hawaii and I doubt there is a great real difference in safety, more for our piece of mind. Or maybe there is, based on the post above.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/04/2014 06:39AM by dk62.
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: dan steinberg
Date: December 08, 2014 04:58AM
Thanks again to everyone for all the amazing information and feedback so far, this has been wonderful. Here's an update of where I am at so far:

-I visited some different dealers to try both their SUVs and, for brands that make them, their minivan offerings. At this point I think I am leaning towards a minivan, but have not 100% decided yet. The more car-like handling, the convenience of sliding doors, and the small amount of even more cargo space do seem to make sense to me, many other things being equal.

Did not do test drives yet, just went to the dealers with my car seat, had the salesmen show me the models and their features, and tried out the car seat in the middle seat of the 2nd row, then sat next to it to see how close my legs got to the side of it (taking into account the mount would add some extra width in the middle).

Here's some things I found trying out different SUVs and minivans from Chrysler, Dodge, Mazda, Ford, Toyota, and Honda (have not yet visited Subaru, Hyundai, or Nissan).

1-In many of the SUVs, even the "mid-size" model did not have enough width, to solve the situation of keeping the baby seat from intruding into the two side seats in the 2nd row, where the grandparents will be sitting (and they will indeed be with us often, they stay with us for about two months at a time, several times a year, and are a tremendous help with the baby).

For example, the Ford Explorer, as big as it was, did not solve this issue. The expedition did have more width and kept the baby seat in its own space enough, but at that point I would be in a truly huge-ass vehicle, way bigger than I would want. Same with the Dodge Durango, it had enough width (and had a beautiful interior fit and finish, which I didn't know GM knew how to do smiling smiley but it was just such a big vehicle.

2-For the minivans, I ran into an issue I did not expect to. Most of them (like the Dodge Grand Caravan and its upscale twin the Chrysler Town and Country) give you two bucket seats in the 2nd row, which means the baby seat would have to be in the side of the car, not in the middle, which is considered less safe. To put the baby seat in the middle, you'd have to put it in the 3rd two in the back, creating three specific compromises:

-for the baby to be in a center seat, anyone keeping an eye on the baby and playing with him would have to sit on one of those 3rd row seats which are never comfortable

-at least one of the 5 people would ALWAYS have to sit in one of those 3rd row seats since there are only 4 "real seats" in the first two rows

-you would need to keep at least part of the third row seats up, cutting into the amount of rear storage we will often need

The Toyota Sienna, I was told, does come with 2nd row bench seats as an option, but since it is not a popular option, none of the three dealers had one on the lot like that, for me to actually test the seat with. I would be very uncomfortable ordering a Sienna from the factory with the bench seat option since I would never have gotten to actually test its width.

So, the one minivan I found (and tell em if I missed others) that DOES come with a 2nd row bench seat standard, and DID pass my anal retentive "width test", was the Honda Odyssey (which is well reviewed and as one poster mentioned, did best in the crash test).

The two 2nd row side seats had plenty of room with the car seat in the middle, and not only that, those 2 side seats were not truly part of one big center bench, they were independent "semi-bucket" seats that felt really comfortable to sit in while the car seat was in the center one.

So, with the Odyssey, problem solved. Benjamin gets to be in the middle where I feel he is safest. Two other adults can be on either side of him with enough room, in comfy 2nd row seats. Third row can stay folded down and then there's tons of room for all of our materialistic first world belongings smiling smiley

Two other things I noticed, at least for the Odyssey:

-Some had mentioned (I think) that a minivan is less expensive than an SUV. For Honda anyway, the Odyssey comes out to a very close price to the Honda Pilot, at similar trim levels (The pilot was very nice too, possibly my favorite of the different SUVs I tested).

-One feature that is very important to me is a built in nav system (I have used both built in and a mounted phone/nav unit + charger cable and the latter drives me crazy). On the Odyssey, you are not allowed to add the Nav, as an individual option, to lower trim levels, you have to get the 2nd to highest trim level, with at least some stuff I don't care about, just to get to have the nav as an option. Frustrating, especially since I think the screen and controls for the nav are there in lower trim levels and it feels like an artificial limitation to me.

So at this point, still welcome any thoughts people have. One local dealer in Oahu has an Odyssey with Nav, but only in Topaz (a fancy word for Brown. Have we learned nothing from the Zune?) while the competing dealer doesn't have an EX-L w/ Nav in stock at all, but does have a 2012 of the right trim level and Nav with only 12,000 miles, and apparently the only things added between 2012 and now were keyless entry/engine start, as well a lane change/forward collision warning beeps, and the change from 1 screen/lots of buttons to dual dash screens (which manny feel is a confusing UI).

The price difference between the new and used is a good $8000 or so. $5000-6000 difference if I got an extended Honda warranty on the used one to make the warranty periods match better. There'a the logical choice, and the emotional choice.........
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Re: Seeking recs on mid-size SUV for 2 parents, 2 grandparents, and a 1 year old child
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 08, 2014 07:32AM
Sounds like the used Odyssey would be right up your alley—what color is it?

If you have more kids, you'll find that the center-seat optimum goes away quickly. No. Two Son and his wife have three, and expect a fourth in February. They're all going into the Sienna, one way or another.

/Mr Lynn
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