Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show



How often do you replace cars? If you’re going to keep the thing until the kids are in college, then you probably want something a little bigger. If you’ll be shopping for another new vehicle by the time the kids hit middle school, then you’d probably be fine with a large-ish sedan.

Little kids are… Well… Little. There would be plenty of room in the back seat of a family sedan for 2 car seats and a small dog. Some parents feel they need to pack up everything the kid owns every time they go anywhere. Personally, I find that somewhat mystifying. My mom managed with a boat bag. It held everything she needed to deal with little-me. 2 boat bags would easily fit in the trunk of a family car alongside luggage for a trip.

As for the stroller, a lot of strollers today are almost the size of SUVs. But there’s a dual stroller, the Kinderwagen Hop Tandem, which is more inline with the size of normal strollers from the old days while still seating 2 kids. It should fit in the trunk just fine.

- Prefer refined, sophisticated image over rugged type - Very practical

You did not mention how much you are looking to spend on this vehicle, but dollars aside I think a great one to look at would be the 4 cylinder Acura TLX. It’s got the refined sophistication, lots of great features, it’s comfortable, drives very well, and gets better mileage than the 6 cylinder version.

I drove one awhile back, and it doesn’t feel big, but it’s big enough to handle multiple people.

Pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview at the local bookstore, choose some that look enticing to you, and spend a few weekends going on test drives.

We’re all totally different. I can’t tell you what you’ll like anymore than you can tell me what I’d like. But CR will show you all the options and provide easy-to-use comparison data.

Good Luck.

As soon as I read “about to have a family”, I knew what you need: a minivan.

Yes, we’ve all been down the road of denial… but I’m here to tell you the minivan is the perfect family vehicle. Go check one out, and leave other peoples’ “soccer mom stigma” at the door. This is coming from a guy who would “always have a truck”, and I’ve never regretted trading my truck in on a minivan. They are amazingly versatile vehicles for families. Good luck.

A minivan makes the most sense, kids and dog as well as luggage needs lot of space. A basic Honda or Toyota minivan would give decent gas mileage and lots of versatility.

Your current hybrid would be completely impractical. When we had 2 small children and a dog and travelled much I wished there had been minivans!

I have never regretted owning either a station wagon or minivan. My profession included a lot of travel in the earlier days, and a station wagon to carry two kids and enough stuff to start a household at the other end came in very handy. Later, it was traveling with grandkids, etc, that justified the minivan. The gasoline cost never exceeded the usefulness of these type vehicles. There are plenty on the market, to do some checking around and test driving.

I gotta go with minivan, too. Very practical, good mileage, fits all your stuff and the planned kids (and their stuff - way more than you can imagine!)

Yeah minivan if you don’t care about image or if you want to project the soccer mom image. Otherwise like a CRV or something but comfort may be an issue.

As shadowfax worded it: “How often do you replace your cars?”

What we found, as did many of our friends with kids, was that once you get to two+ kids, and they begin to grow, and they begin to have friends to carpool with, and you begin to take vacations with lots of stuff (skiing, camping, beach, etc), you may find yourself wanting a minivan.

I also agree with Mountainbike about starting with Consumer’s Reports for comparisons.

Good luck.

I think you are perfect for a station wagon. Take a look at a VW Jetta wagon.

Or something a bit larger, like a station wagon, such as a Subaru outback.

Or a Subaru Forester, a bit cheaper than the outback, and you sit higher.

Minimalist. Good packer. Don’t want big vehicle.

Sedan, hands down. We were fine with sedans until the 3rd child arrived. Even then were were slightly crowded in the back of our Taurus for 3 years until we got a minivan. A 25 lb dog can ride in the back until you have 2 standard issue children. If your first child arrives on schedule, then it should be at least 3 years until you have the second. You can decide then if you need more space.

Sedans handle better than SUVs. I know it isn’t high on your list, but you will appreciate better handling nonetheless. Your description of your likes and dislikes sounds like a midsize sedan, like a Malibu, Camry, or Accord. They aren’t the only ones worth liking and most of the automakers have one worth looking at. In this segment, reliability shouldn’t be a problem unless you buy a Dodge 200.

Even though we have had 2 minivans, I always buy a midsize sedan for my commuter car. I am currently driving a 2005 Accord, and it has been very good to me. You should find a satisfactory car in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. It is what you really want and unless your spouse is very excited for a SUV, the sedan is what you need and want.

Kids and sedans are fine if you’re 5’5. But at 6’3 an SUV is much easier on the back when having to bend over to pick up kids and “stuff”.

I think you can fit everything you need in a 4 door sedan. That’s the way to go. Sedans are much nicer to drive, handle turns much better, handle bumpy roads much better, and overall have a more comfy ride. Choose from among the best selling sedans which have good Cons Reports reliability ratings. The Toyota Avalon comes to mind. But all the basic econoboxes should be considered. If you can purchase a sedan that meets your needs for $20 K, even if the ride is a little cramped, on the plus side you can put the other $20K in an investment account towards the kid’s college education. It’s a win-win.

I vote for minivan, 2 kids get captain chairs for the rear, and a bench for the way rear, you can not imagine how much stuff it takes for kids, we used to go windsurfing with 1 baby and 1 dog, and the minivan was so easy in comparison to a sedan, and then if you need to save money on a diy project a sheet of plywood or drywall was no problem for me. Hopefully they still are capable.

Given the budget and other preferences you listed, a full sized sedan could do well. Room enough for up to three car seats in back or two car seats and a full sized dog. Large trunks to hold strollers. Comfortable ride. That said, do not ignore the positives of minivans. And as TSM advises, the Consumer Report’s new car buying guide is full of very useful information. And don’t forget that your choice needs to respect the preferences of your spouse!

One overlooked virtue of minivans is the way they let you load the kids and the dog and the stuff without breaking your back at the same time. You can lift and maneuver things from a semi-standing position in a minivan, which you can not do with a sedan. It’s higher inside than a sedan, and the floor is quite low, so the step up is less than an SUV.

Another advantage is you can separate your kids so they stop poking each other and getting into screaming matches.

Yet another is that you are a bit farther from them, so the flying applesauce and Lego blocks don’t hit you in the back of the head.

Full size cars, midsize and larger SUVs, and minivans are fine once the children reach about 10, but that is at least 11 years from now. That is plenty of time to enjoy a midsize sedan and then revisit what vehicle to buy for a family with teens when they are almost teens.

@jtsanders If OP did not have a dog I would say a mid size car would be more than adequate. When we had small children, we had a 1965 Dodge Dart, a 1966 Chevelle Malibu, a 1971 Mercury Comet, 1976 Ford Granada and travelled all over, but without a dog!

If minivans ha been around then I would have bought one, since I always had to transport bulky items on a roof rack, instead of inside a larger vehicle. Full size cars had no appeal to me at that time, although I had them later as company cars.

No children yet. They might start arriving in a couple of years, and it isn’t clear how old the dog is. A small do can easily sit in back with one child and on the shotgun passenger’s lap if there are two children. It is really up to the OP to decide. All we can do is offer suggestions on what to consider.