Small car for newly married fella'


The discussion title might say it all, but I’m recently married, and my wife and I have already started “the talk” about children (shudder). We seem to have “agreed” to start trying to have a family in 2009.

I currently drive a '98 Honda CR-V with about 172k miles on it, a cracked front windshield, and just the first hints of life as an old car – a few problems are starting to surface here and there.

It’s been a great car, but there are no side airbags, fuel economy isn’t up to par considering what’s on the market these days, etc. Plus, it sort of stinks.

So I’ve been considering a purchase of either a new car, or a used one dating back to model year 2006 or later.

I’m trying to find something that would fit the following criteria:

*small car payment

*4 doors

*can carry a baby

*can carry a mountain bike when there is no baby on board

*good fuel economy

*doesn’t look like a station wagon

I think that the Honda Fit might be a good “fit” (no pun intended), but I see other cars like the Scion XD / XA, Toyota Matrix, etc…

Anyone have suggestions on a car model? Personal experience with any of the above, or alternatives are much appreciated.

Thanks a buch

Tim Schleining


The ones you list are all great choices. There are others, like Civics and Accords.

Whatever you choose, be sure it’s a 4-door. Putting a baby into and out of a carseat in a coupe gets old really fast. It’s a major pain. I speak from experience.


Haha; doesn’t sound like you’re totally “on board” with the idea of “Baby on Board” (no pun intended); hope you’ll still get to use that mountain bike occasionally!!! Most of the small cars have four doors and a hatch (excepting Yaris and the upcoming Swift); I agree you’d get tired of “the coupe stoop”…


Step #1, ask the wife what she thinks. Do that first.


I believe you can fit a bike inside a Mazda3 hatchback if you’re the only one inside. Of course, you could always use a bike carrier. Mazda3 (sedan and hatchback) get very good crash test ratings with side airbags. As for personal experience, I’ve test driven it and plan on buying later this year. I also like the Toyota Matrix quite a bit, especially the 2009.

I’d go with a Civic over a Fit…the mileage is still good and it’d be a lot nicer for carting children around. My boyfriend drives a 2007 Civic and is very happy with it. If you go with a Honda, buy new because the resale value is high and you’ll spend almost as much on an older car.


I third not getting a coupe unless you rarely plan to have the (potential) baby in your car. My sister had a Neon coupe until my nephew was almost 3…that was as long as she could take climbing into the back seat to get him into his car seat.


I think the new Focuses / Foci are pretty sharp and meet the requirements you laid out.


Your best choice would be a midsized 4 cylinder model like a Accord or Camry. They both have plenty of room and good decent mileage for the comfort/usability factor. The problem with buying a small car for a family is that its short sited as you will outgrow it fast. I own a small car(Subaru WRX wagon) and we rarely use it for carting our two kids about so it sits in the driveway mostly as I telecommute 100%.

We use a 2005 Subaru Legacy wagon as a family vehicle and find it suits us perfectly for two kids in comfort/room. The difference between a small car to efficient midsize in MPG is not leaps and bounds.


I speak from experience when I say that if you’re over 5’6"–5’7" tall, you’re going to be miserable in a Honda Fit with a properly positioned rear-facing child seat in the back. In fact, I would borrow or even buy a child car seat and bring it with you whenever you test drive a car, and see how much space you or your wife (whoever is going to be sitting in front of the child seat) is going to have after you move the front seat forward far enough to accomodate the child seat.


Something to consider for that mountainbike…Get a bike rack that attaches to the back of the car or a roof rack…Makes life a lot easier.


One more point to make. A roof rack is the best way to transport a mountainbike on a family car. When you’re doing that 14 mile Bear Brook to Massabesic ride through the woods with the club and it starts to pour you won’t want to put that muddy mess in your family sedan.

Another option if it fits your needs is a small pickup with the 2-door + setup…you know, that quasai door that swings forward after the main door is opened. You simply can’t beat a small pickup for mountainbike transporting.


Many cars will fit your criteria. Try and see what you like. The Fit has a harsh ride and firm seats. It is huge inside, though, with a big back seat. Best way to carry a bike is with a rack that fits into a hitch. Fairly cheap to add to any vehicle. The new CR-V’s are very nice vehicles, but the mileage may not be what you want.


You have to have something that can contain a baby, true. It would be nice to have a vehicle that makes it easy to load the baby in there too. Don’t break a back. Some minivans have better doors for that, some are higher than others. A baby basket/seat and a couple of bricks and you can test… I think what you have is better than some cars.


Buy a sedan, not a coupe; you mentioned that, but it is #1 to me. It’s hard enough to get into the back of a coupe without a child. Adding the extra weight in front of you is even less attractive. If you already have a bike rack you might want something that can use the same one. One kid often becomes two, so look for a sedan that can accommodate a stroller or two and luggage for four. I prefer midsize sedans, and many of them have 4-cylinder engines. Test drive a 2008 or newer Malibu (not Classic); the new model is great. Test drive any year Accord, Camry, Altima and Mazda6. You can use, Edmunds,com, and to look at features, prices, and pictures to narrow your search.
Good luck, and don’t dread children. They are a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.