Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Arcain. Show Arcain's posts

    Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    I am 16 weeks pg with my first, and DH and I just received some unfortunate news of impending doom (or costly repairs) for our old, beat-up car. Since we want something we can trust a bit more when kiddo arrives, we're looking for a new (used) one.

    We absolutely won't buy an SUV or minivan (I know, I know -- but I have many friends and coworkers w/kids who make it with compact cars), we want good mpg, and we have to stay cheap. I like the look and reviews of the Honda Fit, and it seems like a hatchback is a good option if we're going to be carting around a stroller, diaper bags, etc. Parents who have stuck with smaller cars -- any recommendations either of specific cars or must-have features?
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    We drive a Subaru Outback wagon which we feel has been great for having a baby. You definitely need some serious trunk room if you plan on travelling with a baby for any distance. (For example, when we visit my father in Western MA, we have a PnP, stroller, diaper bag, bag of clothes and extra toys, plus our bags, etc. It fills up fast!)

    We're a one car family (city dwellers), but have thought about what we might buy for a second car. We've been drawn to the Toyota Matrix. A reasonably roomy backseat and workable trunk, plus there's a 4 wheel drive version which we think is key for winter driving around these parts.

    We have very good friends who have sucessfully transported two children (now 8 and 5) since birth in two Honda Civics. It can be done!!
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from jettagirl78. Show jettagirl78's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    We have managed with a Jetta and a Saab hatchback for the past two years and we have been completely fine.  However, after being in both the Subaru Outback and Forrester we are considering trading in the Saab for one of them! They have much more space and they are both very good on MPG.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Winter2011Bride. Show Winter2011Bride's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    I have a friend with a Fit.  She outgrew it with her one.  By the time she gets stroller, gear in hatch there isn't much room.  She had her car seat in behind the passenger side and there was room for one person, but it was a bit squishy.  She is upgrading now as she recently had her second child. She is going for a 7 passenger.

    I have an 11-year old and have a Versa (same size as a Fit) and I'm thinking I'll need more room soon as the baseball and soccer equipment, etc., fills up the hatch and even though it says 3 people could fit back there it's not comfortable at all.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    My DH wants a Honda Fit!  I have been happy with my Civic - I find it plenty roomy for me and DD, however DH is 6'5" and it's not comfortable for him during long distance drives.  Although, it would be uncomfortable for him whether or not we had DD! 

    The time your baby is in the bucket seat will be the hardest with a small car because it takes up a lot of room and makes it very uncomfortable for anyone to ride in the passenger seat.  I've noticed that now that we're in the convertible carseat there is more room to push the passenger seat back a little.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    It's not a smaller car, but used Ford Freestyles are nice crossovers (i.e. snazzy station wagons that get about 24 mpg), and we got ours, a 2006 with 37k miles and loaded, for about $15,000.  (The newest ones are called Taurus X and cost about $35k.  Yikes!)  I don't have kids, but I can't imagine there's any reason it wouldn't make a great kid-mobile.  A friend of mine with a 20 month old asked me all about it (loving it) while he was riding with me; I know they are looking for a car.

    ETA:  The very back seats fold down for a VERY large, flat cargo area.  Ours carries our 75 lb lab quite nicely, but a stroller, cooler, and groceries would fit with room to spare...minus the big dog, of course.


     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    I just bought a Nissan Sentra. The back seat folds out and there is tons of storage room in th trunk. Like an insane amount - unlike the 2002 Corolla i just got rid of.  You can easily fit 3 fit adults in teh back seat.  Not sure how baby seats would install,  but for room and handling it's the best car I have ever owned. 

    My mom has a Matrix and easily fits a 140lb Rottweiler, my dad and all their gear for the summer house in it.  My sisters borrow it all the time to haul stuff.  I would too except I live too far away to use it. lol.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    As someone who thought a subcompact would be a great idea and is now stuck with one: I STRONGLY suggest you buy a bucket or convertible car seat and install it in the backseat of any car you're considering buying, and then have the taller parent attempt to get into the seat in front of it. There are some people we literally could not fit in the car once the car seat was installed. And if you do fit in the passenger seat in front of the car seat, think about how you'll feel after sitting in that position for any length of time.

    Other things to consider: Right now we can only take one other person with us if we go anywhere. If we have another kid we won't be able to take anyone else with us. I can't pick my BFF and her two kids up for a trip to Ikea because we don't all fit.

    I understand the siren call of the subcompact, and it IS great to only fill up every 2-3 weeks and to zip around and get into tiny spaces. But it is NOT great to get blown around on the highway and have your teeth knocked out by every bump and worry that you're going to get crushed by a giant SUV all the time. And we've been hit several times by big cars -- no fault of our own, just stopped at a red light -- because they simply don't see us. We're too little. And it's absolutly useless in the snow. I posted on here over the winter looking for advice on how to get my daughter to and from her sitter's because I couldn't get my tiny car around in the snow. If I had it to do over again I would ABSOLUTELY get a larger car with AWD. Probably a Forester. Once we pay our stupid little car off we'll probably do that.

    And we can just barely fit all the stuff that makes life comfortable into the back. I'd never be able to get it all into a hatchback -- we have a sedan.

    But if you do go ahead with the small car -- make absolutely sure you get power windows, locks, and starter thingy. I didn't and it's really unsafe to juggle a baby or toddler and a million bags and such in a busy parking lot, or, worse, on a city street, while you're trying to get the door open.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Also -- put the car seat into the back seat and then climb in next to it and see how you feel, and imagine sitting there for a few hours. Because at some point the driving parent will make you go back there to try to make the baby stop screaming. Or you'll have a friend or parent back there, all wedged in and sick with their knees up around their ears.

    Subcompacts are a childess couple's game, I'm telling you. I am you in the future, and a terrible truth I visit upon you. Look upon our fate and weep. The knees of your pants will absorb your tears.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from betty7. Show betty7's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    We have a honda civic and have plenty of room.  We can fit 4 (smallish) adults if needed plus the bucket carseat. Just this past weekend we fit an umbrella stroller, pack and play, acoustic guitar, tent, and 3-4 bags/backpacks, 2 adults and a baby for a long trip and it was perfectly comfortable. Also, it drives just fine in the winter.

    We also recently rented a new nissan sentra and ALF is right, it was awesome.  The trunk was huge! The seats were really comfortable. There was plenty of room for the bucket carseat too. 

    Good luck! Way to hold out on not getting an SUV or minivan.  We are literally the only people I know with a baby or kids that doesn't have an SUV or minivan.  I can see how the headroom might save your back a little, but otherwise totally not needed, in my opinion, if you have only 1-2 kids. 


     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from winter09wedding. Show winter09wedding's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    We are ford people... I have a focus and DH drives an edge. I love my focus- i work in the city and live in the burbs, fill up once every two weeks and can wedge into smaller spaces (when I bought it- 10 years ago- it was the most narrow compact on the market). trunk room is great- and although I love the idea of a hatch, you will keep mommy gear in there regularly, so make sure it is at least covered. The focus now costs more than it used to... but definitely cheaper than some of the imports in the same size category.  I think that the newer ones get up to 40 mpg.

    However, there is still a cost with a smaller car. Although we didn't have a real problem with bucket carseat, the rear facing car seat is absolutely huge (which you now need to use until the child is 2 years of age). It didn't help that I bought a britax boulevard, because like lemon said I was really worried about being plowed over on the freeway (it is a huge seat with side impact supports). But, now DH doesn’t fit in the front passenger seat because the rear facing seat takes up so much space (he is 6 ft.). it is fine if he is driving, but once we have our second, he won’t be able to get in my car.  the edge on the other hand- is a CUV (larger vehicle, car frame), which uses less gas than a SUV and is easier to park because it is smaller and easier to drive because it is lower to the ground, but not as cheap as the focus (and definitely not a Honda fit “size”) 

    Basics: (1) decide what the car is for- if you are going to rent an SUV for car trips, and this is only for one parent to drive regularly (or take grocery shopping on the weekends) then the rest of this post may not matter. (2) you need to be able to fit a bucket and rear seat, while allowing enough leg room so if you can borrow someone’s to take shopping, or test drive it to a magic beans or similar store that will allow you to “test” a seat.  If you are both short, you can skip this step. (3) plan not just for an umbrella stroller and diaper bag in the trunk, but that plus 4-6 bags of groceries.  A lot of my baby gear stays put, because it is only useful when it is in the car. (4) although a luxury, I kind of wish I had tint on my rear windows… would be nice for a sleeping baby. (5) like lemon- would highly rec any power features you can get, including remote start.  My DS won’t tolerate me going out to start my car, leaving him inside, without a meltdown. (6) think about how close two car seats would be in the back, i remember a post a while ago about kids touching/hitting each other.
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from winter09wedding. Show winter09wedding's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    ps. even though i think my focus is awesome, there are a lot of real strollers that don't fit into the trunk. and unbrella strollers are great for emergencies and quick trips, but if you are going to get a citi mini or anything like that, you need to plan for a lot more trunk room.
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from Lostgrouse. Show Lostgrouse's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Totally agree with what Lemon said.  Check out the convertible rear-facing in the back seat and then see if everyone can still sit in the front.  I have a Subaru Legacy (going on 120K in miles now) and my dad (a bigger person) cannot sit in the passenger seat because our rear facing convertible seat requires that the front passenger seat be pushed forward and not really reclined at all.  At first it was a little uncomfortable for my husband and me (I'm 5'10" he's 6'0") moreso because of the upright seat issue, but we've grown accustomed to it.  

    My husband drives a Civic Si and we essentially have the same problems with his car that we do in mine.  However, when we eventually turn the convertible seat around to a front-facing seat the room issues will go away.  

    We did have to travel home one night in a friend's Nissan Murano because my car picked up a rock under the heat shield of the breaks and fortunately that car was big enough to fit the driver, my husband, my two kids in their seats in the back and me squeezing between them in the back seat.  I really really liked that option that if we had to, we could squeeze an adult back there too.  Can't do that with my Legacy or with the Civic.  I think that my next car might be a murano some day.  

    Truck space is so important too.  The Legacy actually has a huge trunk which has been extremely helpful for trips.  Oh and you might want to think about faux leather or leather in the car or at least a darker cloth seat (or something with stainguard!) because those seats end up looking pretty bad after a while.  And while you could try to protect the seats with a car seat pad, inevitably, you will find that your wonderful bundle of joy will find a way to fling stuff all about your car and it will get dirty anyway.  Or they will leave a blue, yellow and orange crayon on your front seat on the hottest day of the year.  At least I have a colorful seat now.  
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from GC1016. Show GC1016's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    My husband drives a SAAB (sedan) and that is doable, but it's tight.  The trunk can hold enough for an overnight in terms of bags and one piece of baby gear -- either our stroller OR the PnP.  We couldn't do both and bags.  I have no personal experience with a hatch-back, but I can't see that working for us. 

    But it depends -- will you be traveling a lot with the baby (we do).  Will you be bringing baby-gear, or will the places you travel to already be hooked up (family/friends with kids)?  Will other full-sized humans need to share the backseat with the child? 

    We did what Lemon suggested -- we took a bucket seat with us car shopping to make sure other humans could fit in the car with it in there.  We already knew we were going SUV/crossover, though, and even some of those were tight (looking at you, Nissan Rogue). 

    I drive a Ford Edge, DH kept the SAAB. 
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Speaking as an SUV owner (Jeep Grand Cherokee) with only one child... we are often squished.  The few folks who mentioned the convertable car seat rear facing aren't kidding.  The seats are ginormous now... so turned around are just insanely huge.  Its behind our driver's side and my DH, only 6' can barely drive (thankfully our car has peddles that can move back and forth, so he uses that trick).  Think about how you will use your car in the long run.  If you rarely travel, small is probably ok, and you can find a few smaller convertable seats.  We often camp or head to Maine and our Jeep looks like we are moving into college.  We also like to hike or stroll off-road... so we have a jumbo three wheel stroller (an umbrella wouldn't cut it) and that thing is huge.  It didn't fit in my husband's former sedan.  So really think about what you need and what you are willing to settle for in terms of space.  

    Not sure if you aren't into SUV/minivans because of supposed environmental impact or gas cost related issues.  Or cost of car.  But we bought ours 1 year used, it was about 50% off sticker by then, and gets 23-24 mpg highway.  Ok, there are certainly better mpgs... but I'll take it for the extra space. 
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from Winter2011Bride. Show Winter2011Bride's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    There is no way if we had two children we'd be comfortable with the Versa, which is essentially the same size as the Fit.  I think the Versa has a little more room in the back.

    I agree that a Sentra would work.  A four door Civic may be a better option as well, but if you have another child in the future, it may be tight with the car/buket seats.  I don't need to worry about car/booster seats anymore, just space for sports gear.

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from Arcain. Show Arcain's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Wow, thanks so much to everyone for all the advice (and the laughs -- Lemon, your last post cracked me up -- I do believe you are prophesying my fate!). I think you've all successfully convinced me that DH and I can get as google-eyed over the little cars as we want, but we'll probably hate it once kiddo and all his/her gear is here.

    It's probably worth noting that we currently have a Ford Taurus (my college car that I have dragged out for ten years!), so it's not like I actually know what having a little car is like, even with just two of us. I'm willing to go with a slightly bigger wagon, but I definitely won't venture into SUVs/minivans. For now and as long as we can possibly manage it, this will be our only car, and I am sick to death of 20 mpg and, though they're all I've ever had, I have never liked the feeling of driving a big car.

    We're leaning toward a Civic or maybe some kind of medium-size wagon like the Outback. Neither of us is tall (I'm 5'5 and DH is 5'8) so I think we should be able to live with the passenger seat space, but I will try to get my hands on a bucket seat to try it out.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Arcain,

    check out Consumer Reports before you buy a Civic. They changed the 2012 model, and Consumer Reports panned it.  I test drove it [b/c that's what I intended to go w/ when replacing my Corolla] and it was awful.  Everything that was in Consumer Reports I experienced - hard to handle, hard to brake, noisy, etc.  I was very annoyed b/c I had may heart set on one.

    I went w/ the Sentra even though it was more b/c it was a much nicer ride.  I totally hear you on not wanting to drive a boat. I will not drive my DH's Jeep Liberty b/c, to me,it's ginormous, gas mileage aside. 
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Our on the large side Ford Freestyle really does handle great if you can find one to test drive.  I've never cared for how big cars handle, either, my grandfather's Lincoln terrified me - I always felt just a little bit out of control.  This one isn't like that at all.  It gets 24 - 27 mpg, has tons of room for gear, baby, and passengers, and is mid-way between drag-your-bum and SUV height.  I can get luggage easily into the back without hurting my shoulders or straining.  Not trying to push you into anything you don't want, just don't want you to dismiss something out of hand that you realllly might love.  It's a lot like the Taurus, actually.  This one is a 2006, maybe the last year they were made, not sure.  (We have TWO of them!)
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from InfiniteDreams. Show InfiniteDreams's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    We bought a Honda Fit last fall when I was pregnant with DS. He's currently in the bucket seat behind the passenger seat. DH is just over 6' and I'm closer to 5'5", so he usually drives and I ride shotgun. I'm perfectly fine in the passenger seat, but it's a little tight for DH.

    As for the back seat ... Well, we rarely have anyone traveling with us. On the rare chance that we do, it's one or two people and they usually squish in the back with DS. Or we take seperate cars and meet people at our destination.

    What I like about the Fit is that the back seats fold up or down, allowing for more versatility. We've gone on a few trips and were able to fit the three of us plus the pack n play, luggage, diaper bag, stroller, cooler, a 36" TV, and a box of networking equipment (don't ask). DH and I play a lot of Tetris - we're very good at getting things to fit.

    However, I do feel like we'll outgrow the Fit as soon as we have a second kid. Tetris or no Tetris, there's only so much space to deal with. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

    Ultimately, it's all about what works best for your family. But if you're determined to have a small car (I'm not comfortable driving a larger vehicle) it can work.

    Oh, and I definitely agree with everyone who recommended the remote starter - it's been a godsend. Smile
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from luckinlife. Show luckinlife's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Regarding the Outback - my husband bought this and it is very tight with one car seat however the new model has a lot more room.  I would NOT by an older model again. I don't think we could possibly put two car seats in there.

    I have a CRV - It is absolutely perfect for what we need.  Decent gas mileage (it is built on a car frame), very easy to get her in and out and enough room for storage.  DH has CRV envy all the time.
     
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  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    Huh, interesting that some of you have less room with the convertible.  We have the Britax Boulevard and there is now more room to push the front seat back or recline it a little in my Civic than there was with the bucket...
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    some-guy, that is exactly what three of my friends said who "caved" and bought Honda Odysseys.  They LOVE them.  Two have 2 kids, the other has 3.  A test drive (if they are in her price range) couldn't hurt even if she's sure she doesn't want one.
     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from June09. Show June09's posts

    Re: Non-mom car that's still good for kids?

    I'm expecting my first in January and drive a CRV, glad to see the positive review!

    Do you not want an SUV/minivan just because of the size? I drove a Civic for 6+ years and I feel the CRV feels just like a car. I didn't have any problems last winter either. If it's just the size/feel of a large vehicle you don't like, I would still test drive a CRV.
     

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