A few months ago I had the chance to test drive the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet. As I tooled down the PCH, wind in my hair, responsive ride at my command, I thought…. this is the life. This is my new car!
One problem. I can’t fit my whole family in my car! And call me crazy but… I’d rather only take one car. My lease is up on my minivan and much as I wish I was trading it in for the Cross Cabriolet… I can’t.
I hear from families of 5 all the time about what car works for them and their “large” family but I have to take it with a grain of salt. They don’t really know…
The fact of the matter is that car shopping was never really an issue for us until our fourth kid was born. Up until that point we could all squeeze into almost any old sedan no problemo. We could even make an economy rental car work if we were on vacation. Sure we had occasions when we had friends along and that third row seating was a great boon. That’s why we got a vehicle that technically seated 8. But it wasn’t truly essential to our daily survival and that optional third row was folded down a lot more often than it was open.
Kiddo #4 bumped us into another automotive zone. That no man’s (or every man’s?) land I like to think of as “Minivanworld”.
I was never a fan of minivans. Sure they have gotten much better over the years but I somehow doubt they’ll ever truly be a car enthusiasts vehicle. They are just too practical.
That said they are SO practical and comfortable that I can embrace them. I think of them as workout wear (I won’t go so far as to say sweatpants). As long as I have some time with a pair of hot heels (ie sportscar, convertible, european luxury car) from time to time, I think I can do this.
Other than minivans and a handful of CUV/SUV’s the pickings are slim for a family of 6. Particularly a family of six that includes both kids that are too “big” to be comfortable always riding in smallish optional third rows, and too “little” (ie: still in carseats) for the far back as well. What to drive?
Here are the cars we are considering, with some completely non technical pros and cons for each:
The Honda Odyssey . This would be round 2 for us with an Odyssey and I reviewed the latest model here. I’ve been relatively comfortable in our Odyssey as have our kids. However… the more I see of friend’s new cars, the more I’m not entirely thrilled with the new styling. It makes the third row a little dark and closed in feeling – something that will cause endless “I’m not sitting back there, you sit back there” arguments for sure. But on the plus side, the tech/electronic features have been vastly improved and the ride is as good as it gets for a minivan.
The Nissan Quest. Though I prefer Honda’s performance, I really like the lightness and brightness of the Nissan interior more. With the dual moonroofs, nobody is going to get claustrophobic. Bonus points for the piped trim on the interior, a style nod to my beloved (and seats only 5) Range Rover dream car.
The GMC Acadia. Stylistically reminds me a lot of my old Acura MDX, but bigger. When the MDX got smaller at the same time our family got bigger, we knew we were done with it. I’ve heard a lot of positive buzz from Acadia owners and though I have yet to test drive it, my interest is piqued.
The Ford Flex. I drove this vehicle shortly after it first came out and loved it. First of all it wasn’t a minivan. Second of all, it was uniquely, and well, styled. No surprise this distinctive alternative to a minivan has had the moms buying them in bulk. Which is part of my problem. Everyone and their sister has a Ford Flex here in the burbs. Ford even made a Flex moms commercial. I fear that a shark has been jumped, when it comes to “cool”. It’s also a lot more expensive than a similarly equipped minivan. And yet, I like it better.
The Suburban. I love these. They are big, roomy, powerful, safe, comfortable. And our most expensive consideration. With all the driving I do (presently at least 80 miles a day), I’d feel guilty about what I was doing to the environment. Still, I’d love to get a Suburban for occasional family road trips and all our whole-fam-in-the car local jaunts. I think I’d have to swap out with a Prius for the daily commuting to schools and activities that I do with individual kids, both for the sake of our budget and our carbon footprint.
How about you? Do you have a family of 6 or more? What do you drive?