1 2 3 4 5
Sine_Qua_Non
Sine_Qua_Non Dork
9/12/16 5:48 p.m.

Speaking as a new owner of a Mazda CX-9 as of Friday after searching for months for a family of 5. We were looking for something that had a little room but that was also a good solid driver with functionality with kids in mind. We looked at these vehicles. One of my kids (3) just went from car seat to a booster seat. Other two is 6 and 7.

We did look at minivans and quite frankly we were sick of them after owning one for 7 years. Granted it was a whole different ball game with those 2015 minivans vs our 1998 T&C. If I had to pick one minivan today, it be the Nissan Quest. Wagons were out since I had Volvo XC70. It was great but difficult putting kids into booster/car seats. Rather not bend and twist anymore.

Now on to the main event. We checked out and test drove these vehicles with 3rd row seats.

Audi Q7. Fun, fun, fun. Did I already say it was fun? Fast and the AWD was excellent but sadly does not serve our needs since we don't require AWD where we live. Not to mention it was expensive. Ford Flex (2nd row captain's chairs). Nice, styling was odd at first but quickly grew on me. Incredibly roomy for it's size. Sits low like a car and was excellent with kids for accessibility. See below for final result. Ford Flex with Ecoboost (2nd row center console). Same as above but damn, this thing was quicker. I LOVED it. The easy button to flip the seats foward to reach 3rd row was a piece of cake for the kids. Wife liked the power but not the looks so she put her foot down on this one. GMC Acadia (2nd row captain's chairs). Was a contender. Roomy but for some reason felt slow and heavy to drive. Heated and Cooled seats was nice. Hyundai Santa Fe. Nothing to say here. Not kid friendly for accessibility. Pass. Mazda5. Wife's first choice at the beginning of all this. We had a rental of this in Vegas and liked it but as a family now, Hell no! Put my foot down on this one due to abysmal crash ratings. Mazda CX-9. Wife loved it right off the bat. Handles great and moves quickly. Rear doors was a concern but it passed quickly for kids accessibility to 3rd row. Steering wheel feels odd in my hands (small?). Nissan Armada. Wife loved this one too but hated the gas mileage. Not as roomy as the Sequoia. Surprisingly easy for kids to get in and out of compared to the other cars we saw. It was close but the gas mpg was a factor. Nissan Pathfinder. Horrible driving experience. Seats not comfortable. Difficult for kids to reach 3rd row. Toyota 4 Runner. This was a winner too but DAMN it was expensive for what is offered. Toyota Sequoia. (2nd row Captain's chairs) Roomy as heck. Easy for kids to get in and out of too. Gas mpg was bad too. Expensive as well.

I really think the real winner was the Ford Flex. 2016 will be the last year for it too. RIP. My wife knew how much I liked this car and told me I can have one now on one condition. Get RID of all my Volvos. Not going to happen. So far, the Mazda CX-9 is suiting our needs just fine. It quiet and offers enough zoom zoom to get around. Good luck on your search.

T.J.
T.J. UltimaDork
9/12/16 5:50 p.m.

I just bought an XC70. It is not as big as a 20 year old full size wagon, but it has a decent amount of space inside.

I think it is about the only new wagon available now that does not have a swoopy rear roof that just decreases rear visibility and cuts into storage volume.

Other choices fall more into the SUV category or mini van wannabes like that Mercedes pictured above.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
9/12/16 6:03 p.m.
dropstep wrote: Ive never understood this kid space and cargo thing. We have spent all 8 years of my twins lives using my wifes ion. Including trips to maryland. How much crap do you guys carry per kid.

Consider yourself lucky. Your wife packs light.

bastomatic
bastomatic UltraDork
9/12/16 6:07 p.m.

I wouldn't rule out a Honda Fit. That's what we've used to tote my kids around, who are 4 and 2 now. It has a surprising amount of space inside. Just get smaller stuff - a double umbrella stroller takes up little space. Or do what we did and add a platform for the older kid to sit/ride on behind the younger kids stroller.

Or use a baby carrier/sling thing in combination with a single stroller.

For longer road trips we fit both kids, a dog, a rabbit, and all our stuff in a Volvo 740 wagon with a rooftop carrier. Easily.

jv8
jv8 GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/12/16 6:33 p.m.
dculberson wrote: We have one baby now, and the second on the way. (woohoo!) The first one will be 2 by the time the second is born so she can go forward facing. But my main concern is legroom for me, a somewhat long legged 6' tall, in front of the baby seat. It is very tight for me in front of the rear facing seat in the Mazda 6. I could not drive in front of a rear facing seat. Front facing is better but not 100%.

I'm 6'2" and we've spent all 11 parenting years driving Mazda5's. The second row moves forward/back so you can trade off cargo room for leg room. Tons of head room.

I think they are the ideal vehicle for 2 kids. 5's drive like the Mazda 3 they are based on. Everything larger seems like a tank to me. I test drove a Flex and yeah it's a comfy highway cruiser but the 5 felt like a Miata in comparison.

My only complaints: no turbo and I much prefer the seats in my Golf. Well the whole interior actually.

But the Mazdas are cheap to buy and we've had no problems.

I wish there were more cars in the mini-minivan segment. The 5 packaging makes so much sense. I even prefer the sliding doors.

plance1
plance1 SuperDork
9/12/16 7:55 p.m.

 photo 20160902_133332_resized_zpsztqqqqvq.jpg

You want a flex dude. I drove a non-turbo one for awhile and I thought it was awesome. But everything is relative. I rented a truck from home depot the other day and that thing about knocked my socks off, couldn't believe how powerful it was. So maybe you won't agree with my assessment of the flex.

drainoil
drainoil HalfDork
9/12/16 7:56 p.m.
jv8 wrote:
dculberson wrote: We have one baby now, and the second on the way. (woohoo!) The first one will be 2 by the time the second is born so she can go forward facing. But my main concern is legroom for me, a somewhat long legged 6' tall, in front of the baby seat. It is very tight for me in front of the rear facing seat in the Mazda 6. I could not drive in front of a rear facing seat. Front facing is better but not 100%.
I'm 6'2" and we've spent all 11 parenting years driving Mazda5's. The second row moves forward/back so you can trade off cargo room for leg room. Tons of head room. I think they are the ideal vehicle for 2 kids. 5's drive like the Mazda 3 they are based on. Everything larger seems like a tank to me. I test drove a Flex and yeah it's a comfy highway cruiser but the 5 felt like a Miata in comparison. My only complaints: no turbo and I much prefer the seats in my Golf. Well the whole interior actually. But the Mazdas are cheap to buy and we've had no problems. I wish there were more cars in the mini-minivan segment. The 5 packaging makes so much sense. I even prefer the sliding doors.

I to liked our 5 for pretty much the same reasons. Having more than 2 kids forced us into a bigger vehicle (e150 conversion van-yes for real).

skierd
skierd SuperDork
9/12/16 7:57 p.m.

I'd love to see Mazda bring back the 5 with a skyactiv chassis and engine, but if it came down to them using their engineering resources on that or a new rotary sports car, show me the new RX-8.

As far as fitting a full family in a small to midsize 4door sedan. Sure, it can be done. Except I'm tall enough that we can't put a rear facing car seat behind the driver seat in most of them, and my wife doesn't want to sit with her face on the dashboard when the car seat is behind her. The packaging on a lot of cars when it comes to kid seats is abysmal.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
9/12/16 8:23 p.m.
dculberson wrote:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: A sawzall, a welder, and the roof from a Land Cruiser could get you the Lexus LS wagon you desire (you already have the Lexus, yes?). Since Toyotas rust from the bottom up, you should have no problem finding that roof either
Believe me the thought occurred to me. I had thought of using a Volvo 960 as a roof donor. I could probably weld together a body but getting the interior to a fit and finish I would be happy with would drive me crazy for so long the kids would be driving by then.

You know how you can get JDM "half cuts" shipped here for the engine and other goodies? Looks like they sell what you're looking for over there, maybe you need to split with somebody and buy the other half of one of these:

It's called a Toyota Crown, apparently.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltimaDork
9/12/16 8:34 p.m.
plance1 wrote:  photo 20160902_133332_resized_zpsztqqqqvq.jpg You want a flex dude. I drove a non-turbo one for awhile and I thought it was awesome. But everything is relative. I rented a truck from home depot the other day and that thing about knocked my socks off, couldn't believe how powerful it was. So maybe you won't agree with my assessment of the flex.

We spent some time looking at these. They're really well laid out for hauling people and stuff. They have darn close to minivan practicality in a different wrapper. An ecoboost version would be lovely.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot HalfDork
9/12/16 9:53 p.m.

Bride's Flex has been very satisfactory.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
9/12/16 10:04 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote:
dculberson wrote:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: A sawzall, a welder, and the roof from a Land Cruiser could get you the Lexus LS wagon you desire (you already have the Lexus, yes?). Since Toyotas rust from the bottom up, you should have no problem finding that roof either
Believe me the thought occurred to me. I had thought of using a Volvo 960 as a roof donor. I could probably weld together a body but getting the interior to a fit and finish I would be happy with would drive me crazy for so long the kids would be driving by then.
You know how you can get JDM "half cuts" shipped here for the engine and other goodies? Looks like they sell what you're looking for over there, maybe you need to split with somebody and buy the other half of one of these: It's called a Toyota Crown, apparently.

It's....beautiful! I had no idea.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/12/16 10:18 p.m.
dculberson wrote: In reply to Klayfish: You should know I don't worry very much about my man card. What I do worry about is enjoying driving the car.. and my wife enjoys driving fun cars too. Yes maybe it's time to give that up with baby hauling duties but that's a thing that will go kicking and screaming not with a whimper and the convenience of stow & go.

I'll admit I'm a bit biased since I own a minivan, but I've rented a number of SUV's in various sizes. If you really think any CUV or SUV will be more "fun" to drive than a minivan, I wonder about your definition of "fun". None of these will be fun to toss into a corner or rip down a twisty back road.

As much as I love wagons, I've become rather addicted to have sliding rear doors. If when I go back to a full-size van, I'll really miss the driver's side sliding door.

emsalex
emsalex New Reader
9/12/16 10:20 p.m.

I would say it's safe to count Subaru out. I have a 97 outback and an 06 Baja and while they both will get me, my wife, a 3 year old and a 2 year old down the road they are a pain to get kids in and out of. the door opening on both of them is so small you have to rotate the kid or car seat 90 degrees to get them in. maybe 4th gen and later are better ?

I was similar situation as you but came across someone selling Grandma's Hyundia Tucson with very low miles and decided to go for easy child loading over cargo space.

patgizz
patgizz GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/12/16 10:37 p.m.
dculberson wrote: In reply to Klayfish: You should know I don't worry very much about my man card. What I do worry about is enjoying driving the car.. and my wife enjoys driving fun cars too. Yes maybe it's time to give that up with baby hauling duties but that's a thing that will go kicking and screaming not with a whimper and the convenience of stow & go.

Don't give in because you have kids. My wife went from rendezvous to v8 9-7x to charger. Her stuff keeps getting cooler. Minivans are a sign that you've given up and fallen into line with the status quo. . Be the cool parents, do not go quietly into the night.

I know minivan presses all the practical buttons, but life's too short to drive a caravan.
My mom has a caravan. She's 58 and a grandma. Are you 58 and a grandma? No? No caravan for you!

Crackers
Crackers New Reader
9/12/16 10:38 p.m.

And here I was expecting a thread about 70's land yachts...

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/12/16 10:44 p.m.

What about the big Benz wagons? I hear they are actually pretty decent mechanically and boy they have a ton of interior space. They pop up on CL for pretty cheap pretty regularly

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
9/12/16 10:48 p.m.

In reply to Crackers:

I want that, but made in 1998 - 2014 range.

JimS
JimS New Reader
9/12/16 11:00 p.m.

Flex. My son and his wife bought a year old Flex a couple of years ago. It's been trouble free and they love that thing.

Crackers
Crackers New Reader
9/12/16 11:05 p.m.

I think the Flex is about as close as you're going to get. I don't think it sits any higher than my 70 Kingswood Estate did.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/12/16 11:05 p.m.

In reply to patgizz:

I'm single and drive a Caravan... and I don't have kids, although I do have a fleet of other "fun" cars. A van just happens to be the best toy-hauler for my situation (I don't like bike racks). My van is in "cargo-mode" 99% of the time.

Crackers
Crackers New Reader
9/12/16 11:15 p.m.

How about a BMW 5 series?

Crackers
Crackers New Reader
9/12/16 11:17 p.m.

Did a CL search and found this.

http://houston.craigslist.org/cto/5705729787.html

novaderrik
novaderrik UltimaDork
9/13/16 2:51 a.m.

Get a Suburban.. i had a '95 2 wheel drive about 5 years ago that got 20mpg and drove like new despite having 340,000 miles on it. If you don't need the third row, then find a Tahoe..

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
9/13/16 6:04 a.m.
dculberson wrote: We have one baby now, and the second on the way. (woohoo!)

???? I had no idea. Congrats...and what the hell were you thinking???

1 2 3 4 5

You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners
CGEdEvpvVwFB0Hknu1rSfptkmS66RYPo96ycWuZyYvHNSTEXtXZ6Rfz8Ad1E4h41