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In search of a manly, professional family car--does it exist?

A masculine family car. Is this an oxymoron? My husband needs to replace his truck which was never a family car to begin with but we’ve made it work the first year of our daughter’s life. Eventually we plan to have another child and the fact that kids need to be in car seats for an eternity means you really can’t seat more than two kids in the back of a typical sedan (if you want to carpool, for example. Or pick up grandparents at the airport with the kids in tow since they’re the ones they really came to see.) As far as capacity goes, the obvious answer here is a mini van. But my husband really doesn’t want to drive a mini van to work. I would be fine driving a van and giving him my CRV but he doesn’t think the CRV is all that manly either (“I’ve only ever seen women and grandfather’s driving them” he says.) We like to own reliable cars and drive them into the ground so we haven’t shopped for a long time. I appreciate any advice from those in the Car Talk community who sympathize with this conundrum.

The CRV is a 5 passenger car, as are most sedans. I’m unclear as to how many passengers you want to be able to haul at one time. And what’s your budget?

Get a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore, peruse the choices together over a lobster dinner and a glass of white wine, and spend a weekend test driving the choices that look good to you. Or just get a Bentley.

Looking at a Chrysler 300 for my wife, manly enough and lots of trunk room!

though an Equinox or suburban should suffice,

I think you’re maybe into an SUV or the mini SUVs whatever they’re called. I’m a little sensitive to packing a car full of kids though for disaster prevention. You burn a car up with a bunch of kids in it or crash it, and it is far more of a loss than just a couple kids in one car. That’s why I don’t like all those church buses full of kids and why companies limit the number of employees who can fly on any one particular flight. A great excuse for not participating in a car pool is “I only have room for two kids”.

If 5 isn’t enough, you need 3 rows, so a CUV is an option, like a Highlander or Pilot or CX-9. There are others.

Right good points. If we wanted to have a carpool with two other kids that would mean a total of 4 kids who might need to be in the back. So that puts us in the category of three rows but we don’t want a gas-guzzling SUV.

Budget is probably between $30 and $40K.

Does Toyota still make the Avalon? If so, and he prefers a sedan style, besides the Chrysler 300 as posted above, the Toyota Avalon is a possibility.

Not enough seats in any 2 row car. And 3 row CUVs are no longer the ‘gas guzzling SUVs’ of old.

I have yet to meet someone with kids and stuff to haul around that did not like a Honda Odyssey. A true manly man puts his family first ahead of an image which will go unnoticed by most people.

The automotive gender image crisis is a no win situation. I saw a young neighbor couple divorce over the wife’s insistance that they get a mini van when she became pregnant. She prevailed in getting the van… But eventually most men find that practicality is far better than image. They don’t like making decisions with their backs against the wall though. Or so it seems.

I don’t know where LDub came up with the $30-40,000 figure. She’s never been very good with numbers. More realistically, I’m thinking $20-26K.

Used Hummer.

If you want three rows and you don’t want a minivan, then it is Highlander, Pilot, CX-9, Traverse/Suburban. I am not sure if the Explorer and the Durango have a 3rd row. The Pilot has the most usable 3rd row. We have a CX-9 and the 3rd row is not good for adults on long trips. I am also against having my kids next to the rear hatch, so we fold the seats down and only rarely use the 3rd row for visitors (I tell them if you can fit back there you have a free ride, otherwise I can call you a cab).

The explorer has been available with a 3rd row for awhile now,introduced around the same time as the Chevy Trailblazer EXT, but the current generation is most likely not as gas-guzzling as earlier. The last 2 generations of the Durango have had a 3rd row. A friend owns a 2nd gen Durango with the 5.7 and loves it but is also thinking of getting something that’s not such a gas guzzler. The Highlander or Pilot would probably work best for your needs. Even if you found something like a used Rav4 with the 3rd row it’s a tight fit for 7 (even more than in the CX-9)

Is your husband putting his perceived manly image over family priorities?
I knew a few guys who tried to go that route.

Hormonal myopathy is responsible for a great many financially upside down vans and inside out marriages.

The Dodge Journey can be had with 3 rows of seats, and it’s a “crossover”, i.e. a minivan for “MEN”. It has good trunk space and is cheap as well.

Your husband’s masculine colleagues will never mistake it for a minivan.

Another really good vehicle, but more expensive (but still in your range) is the Ford Flex. It most resembles the station wagon of past years. Very roomy.

A man who is secure with his self-image shouldn’t worry about how others will perceive him, based on the vehicle that he drives. If the OP’s husband has issues regarding his masculinity, I think that there are valid ways of dealing with it, and those approaches don’t include buying a specific vehicle.