Hauling 3 kids under age 5 - NOT A MINIVAN?

Ok, here’s the challenge. Want to ditch the '05 Expedition which can handle 3 kiddy car seats across the 2nd row. I don’t currently have 3 kids, but it’s being serious considered. Does anyone know how people haul 3 kids under age 5 without a minivan or gas guzzlers like the Expedition/Suburban?

We just have serious hangups about minivans and they aren’t that great on fuel mileage.

Then you need a full size car. There are PLENTY to choose from. They all pretty much get far better gas mileage then a minivan or Full size SUV. Our Lexus can haul 3 kids under 5 in the back seat. Wife gets about 22 city and 34 highway.

Any large sedan should work well for you, or any smaller SUV. I really like station wagons myself. My uncle had a 98 Taurus wagon and that has quite a bit of room. If you put a child seat in the front make sure you can turn off the airbag, with many cars you can turn it of with the key. If one of your kids is 5ish right now he very well may be out of the child seat by the time you have a third child.

If all three kids require car seats then its a very tight if not unsafe fit for car seats in nearly all cars. If two require car seats the one in the middle is not going to be happy for a bit.

To the OP I would suggest hanging onto your guzzler until the kids get a bit bigger and into smaller child seats/boosters and then the floodgates open with many good efficient choices. Your spending saving $1000/year in fuel costs at most by downsizing to something that can accommodate three kids. However the real issue is the serious bath your going to take selling your Expedition if bought new in depreciation. Your past the point now of the steep depreciation curve, hang onto it.

I would actually consider - at least for a moment - trying to get over whatever the minivan thing is. Rent one for a week or something. The world is full of minivan drivers who got over the hangups in the face of sheer practicality and convenience. I’m one of them, and as long as I have kids I will have a minivan.

I got over it when I had to rent one on a vacation. At the time my wife and I had an Explorer and two small kids. After the incredibly easy load in at the airport and driving for about 2 miles I just looked at her and said “why don’t we have one of these things?” All car-related life is frankly so much easier and more comfortable. And recall that my point of comparison was an SUV - even against that there was simply no comparison in comfort and convenience.

If all three kids require car seats then its a very tight if not unsafe fit for car seats in nearly all cars. If two require car seats the one in the middle is not going to be happy for a bit.

I suggest you take a look at full-size cars. If we can put 3 car seats in the back of our Lexus (mid-size) then they can easily fit in a Full size…And it is NOT unsafe.

The best people hauler would be a minivan. Next you might consider a crossover, which will get similar or slightly worse gas mileage. We have had 2 minivans since we had 3 kids. They have loads of room for the family and luggage. They can’t be beat. And with the long wheelbase, the ride is smooth. Our next car won’t be a minivan, but that’s just because the kids are leaving the nest.

If the seats touch as I found with “full-size” cars(in laws Avalaon, dad’s Caddy) then the fit is unsafe according to experts and directions. However results may vary if you can find a narrow seat. I use Britax which seem to be on the wide side.

The better answer is make sure to try fitting your seats in and see if it works.

What about the new Dodge Journey? It’s not an SUV, but not a minivan. Looks like the perfect vehicle for someone who needs a minivan but doesn’t like minivans. 19 city / 25 highway MPG, starts at $19,985.

Check it out here: http://www.dodge.com/en/2009/journey/

I’ll be considering this vehicle when the Grand Caravan is ready to retire.

(and no, I don’t work for Dodge, or own stock :slight_smile:

Looks an awful lot like the Ford Freestyle. This seems to be in a relatively new category of a cross between SUV and station wagon. Not quite an SUV but sort of SUV looking.

I don’t know if they still make it, but a Ford Taurus station wagon has a third row rear-facing fold down seat. You might be able to fit three children across the second row of seats. The third rear-facing row is right over the rear axle, which tends to make people car sick, but a station wagon would give you adequate space and better fuel economy than a minivan. Look at Volvo wagons.

By the way, I like your screen name.

It’s like a squished minivan with regular rear doors instead of sliding rear doors.

A wimpy SUV. Or a muscular minivan.

Toyota is coming out with a Station Wagon in 2009. Looks pretty good.

Three kids under 5 years old in car seats? No sweat! Fit easily in an Accord or Camry . . . I’ve done it for years. As they age, they lose the seats and will still fit. Rocketman

Ok, lets add a bit more info. I’m glad of the responses as it’s helped me understand what others do. Our other vehicle is a Ford Freestyle which my wife uses since she drive longer to get to work. She’s getting 26 mpg and it’s the FWD version. But, I lost my job back on January. I just accepted a new job but it’s 42 miles each way (84 miles per day).

2005 Expedition info: 75,000 miles. The rear end limited slip is acting up like the clutch plates are locking up when they aren’t supposed to. Only does it sometime like when doing tight, low speed turning maneuvers. Basically, the herky-jerkys until I go straight again. The heated seat control module went out about a month back. Basically, I’m really starting to not trust this vehicle. I don’t like that when I’m driving so much to get to work. Plus I’ll be traveling with the new job so we want a 4x4 for winter. If I’m traveling for work, I won’t be able to get snow cleared and after this last winter, that could be a problem. So the 4x4 would be used by the wife when I’m gone. I know I could contract with someone to clear the driveway, but I would have very specific time constraints plus the whole city plow blocking you in thing. I also don’t want to worry about it breaking down on the wife while I’m out of town.

We don’t have 3 kids right now, but are seriously considering a 3rd in the next 2 years. So the question was to learn what others are doing for 3 kids. When we bought the Expedition, it was for a different lifestyle than we have now. It was for living in a very rural area, having kids, and hauling lots of stuff. We live in the burbs now, fuel has gone crazy, and we don’t haul as much stuff. The Expedition was fine for me when I drove 6 miles to work each way. Now it’s 42 miles each way. The job change is the big monkey wrench. I’d seriously consider a minivan if they made them to get 26+ mpg. Plus I want something to make the run to rural areas outside Fargo every Christmas. (Not my choice)

So it’s a fun set of criteria. Thanks everyone for the ideas and info on what you are doing. We may just go inexpensive now and see what’s on the market if/when the 3rd kid comes around. Who knows, maybe Honda will drop in a clean-burning diesel into the minivan so it will get 30+mpg highway.

People I’ve talked to with minivans seem to get mid-20s for highway mileage. Honda rates their Odyssey at 25MPG highway. It’s not great, but until they put diesels in US cars/minivans it’s not too bad. By the way, that’s the new “more conservative” EPA estimate. I always managed to match the old EPA estimates so I’d think you could do a little better than 25.

I never did understand the stigma with the minivans either. But the new trend for crossovers is kinda funny as well.

  1. The Freestyle already meets your family needs even for #3 child

  2. A Subaru or Suzuki SX4 will get good gas mileage, and meet your ability to get to work in snow

  3. Home Depot sales new snow blowers every day for effectively clearing off driveways.

  1. yeah pretty good there, but need 2 vehicles capable of hauling 3 kids as we both haul them.

  2. Child Services frowns upon a parent leaving little kids alone in the house while the only parent home is out clearing snow. It’s when I’m not around the clear snow due to the job that I’m concerned about. I’ve gotten up many times at 5 am or earlier to clear the driveway. Tough to do if I’m 500 miles away.

The amount of time it takes to clear the drive with a snow blower is minimal. If that amount of time away from a child was a problem with child services, my parents would have been jailed long ago.

I spend a lot of time in areas with dirt and gravel roads, summer and winter, and can say that I don’t need a 4x4, the auto industry did a great job with their propaganda making everyone think they need 4wd or awd.