Help! What should I buy?


With the arrival of the newest child we realized we need to bite the bullet and buy something with three rows of seats. We went out and did some test driving and decided on a Hyundai Entourage – an awfully nice minivan at a very good price.

We took delivery of the car, drove it home and then found out that it wouldn’t fit through the garage door! We live in an older house with two single garage doors. We had to return the car to the dealer, and we’re back to square one.

The garage door opening is 92 inches wide. (The Entourage is listed as 78.1 inches wide, but it turns out that doesn’t include the side mirrors, which are huge and add more than 14 inches to the overall width of the vehicle.)

So I need something with three rows of seating and enough space behind the third row to carry at least a little cargo (a jogging stroller and diaper bag, at least) that’s no wider than, say, 84 inches wide, including mirrors.

So, dear readers, what should we be looking at?


Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it with two kids in a 1970 VW Beetle, but I did. At one time I had a two car garage and for a couple of months I had my 1965 Sunbeam Imp, 1970 VW Beetle and a 1976 VW Rabbit diesel all in that two car garage. They were really small cars.


The narrowest minivan seems to be the Chevrolet Uplander at 72". I assume that the equivalent Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay would be about the same width. The Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest are 4 to 5 inches wider. I drive a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander and have been satisfied with it. Mine was a “program” vehicle with 15,000 miles on the odometer when I bought it a year ago. I’ve doubled the reading on the odometer and have had no problems. I realize that this minivan is at the bottom of the heap as far as Consumer Report’s recommendations are concerned and it has the lowest owner satisfaction of all the vehicles that were in the CR survey. I’ve heard rumors that this may be the last year for GM minivans, so the price might be good. I paid a little more than half what a new Toyota or Honda minivan would have cost, and saved about $10,000 over a new Chevrolet Uplander. To me, a minivan is a minivan. I would rather be driving a Mazda Miata, but I manage and play in a small chamber orchestra and they don’t make miniature tympani to fit the trunk of the Miata. The Uplander seems quieter at highway speeds than the 2000 Ford Windstar that I previously owned. I have no real complaints with the Uplander, although as a French Horn player, I wish the horn on the minivan sounded F and B-flat rather than C and A-flat.


The side mirrors on pretty much every car folds in flat (or nearly flat) against the doors to reduce the overall width of the vehicle. I think any vehicle will do if you fold in one or both mirrors (or just have them fold in automatically by hitting the edge of the garage.) I think there are also some cars that will fold the mirrors automatically for you, but I imagine that feature is probably restricted to upscale models.


Yeah, here in Mexico, in our small village, we often have to fold one or both mirrors at times to get past double-parked folks, etc. It should not be enough work to require a special vehicle. Still different strokes for different folks, I guess.


Do you really have to park in the garage. If you like the Hyundai, just buy it and park in the driveway or curbside. How is the climate where you live?


We live where it snows a lot in the winter. Our driveway is about a 20 degree grade and becomes very slippery when covered with even a light layer of snow. Getting out of the car in a rain or snow storm and walking around it on the slippery driveway to fold in or out both mirrors every time you leave home and every time you come back would get old really fast.


See earlier response: we live where it snows a lot in the winter, and we have a steeply sloped driveway. To complicate matters, overnight parking on the street is illegal in our town, so we couldn’t even leave the car on the street by the curb.


Here is an outside the box possible solution: Get your garage converted to use a wide single door. Ours is 180" wide. A DIY person could do this; reinforce the span across the two old doors and remove the center section. You can get a custom width door or adjust the opening to use a standard size door.


Get your garage fixed. Hopefully you won’t take a bath financially getting your minivan back.


Wow, that must have been a heart-breaker!!! I have a cape house built just after WWII with an attached garage. In the winter I park my car in the garage so that it starts easier in the mornings and I tell you - I only have about 3-4" on each side pulling in. I’m the ONLY person on my block who uses the garage for their car :slight_smile:

Anyway, check out the Mazda CX-9. It says 76.2" and the side mirrors in the picture don’t look that large.

Good luck!@


Some cars in Europe, and I assume here also, have electrically folding mirrors. I know the minivan I rented last Fall in France had those. It was a couple of days before I discovered that feature.


Getting the garage “fixed” is a $25,000 to $30,000 project. Between the two single garage doors is a stone-clad pillar that turns out to be structural in nature. The garage is under the house, and the living room and master bedroom are both over it. Taking out that support and reinforcing the house some other way would be a major reconstruction project. Not something I’m going to do for the sake of buying a Hyundai :slight_smile:


The CX-9 is on my list of things to look at. It’s a good deal more expensive than I was looking for, but it does have the Zoom Zoom factor going for it.

The nearest dealer is 18 miles away. I need to get him to let me test drive the car to my house and park it in the garage before agreeing to anything :slight_smile:

For the person who asked, the Hyundai dealer did take the car back without any problems, though we did end up forfeiting the deposit we put down in order for them to transfer it here from a dealership in a neighboring state (which was the only way to get the color my wife wanted). I guess that’s fair, as much as I wish they hadn’t done it.


With all dues respect, I would be extremely reluctant to suggest that the average homeowner attempt to reinforce the span between two garage doors and remove the support. Without some knowledge of loadpaths and structural beam requirements this could be dangerous. Here in New England we have a lot of house designs such as “double garage under” arrangements with the garages under the end of the house, very often a multi-story structure, where the center pillar is a critical load path.

The suggestion to widen the opening is a good one, but I’d recommend the average homeowner call a licensed, insured, “name” contractor.

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I’d stay away from folding the mirrors unless it is an electrically activated feature. If you find minivans with this feature, they are likely to be the most expensive ones available. We have an Olds Silhouette and are pleased with it. It is the older generation of the Chevy Uplander. We also have two doors on our garage, and there is no problem fitting the van in, though there are only 2 to 3 inches of clearance on each side. The narrow body isn’t a problem for us. We have 3 nearly grown children and we all fit comfortably inside. Check out the GM minivans and see if you like them. They already have the narrow body going for them.