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What do Moms really want? When it comes to cars, that is

We hope you liked our little chat with Kristen from Motherproof.

So, tell us… are you a mom… or just a lowly dad who’s busily toting kids around?

Join our discussion and tell what you think is important in a car, if you just so happen to be toting around your contribution to the next generation of drivers!

Got a mom-related car question? You can share it right here, too.


Well, let me kick things off!

I’m a mom with two kids, 2 and 6, and a third on the way. We need a new mom-car, but due to the present economy, we’re not too thrilled at the idea of car payments. My inlaws, who live in Portland, have offered us a 10 year old Dodge Caravan, that seems to be in good condition. (Runs fine, no obvious problems. It has something like 130,00 miles on it.) I’m not so keen on driving a 10-year-old minivan, but I’m wondering-- how reliable should this be? Should we sell it or trade it on for something newer?

My husband says we should definitely take it, and see how it goes, but I’m not so sure. And no, we don’t have a bet on what folks will say, and I’m not calling into Car Talk. I’m sure not I could handle the grilling!


By the way does Motherproof answer questions like this? I wasn’t sure.

You will probably get several good years out of it. But even if you only get one, that’s better than the alternative. It’s worth about $3000 if it’s in good condition. Where else are you going to find a car and owners that you know so well? You still might want to get it checked as if you were buying it to see if there are any hidden surprises.

I second jtsanders’ remarks. We try to pass cars down thru the family simply because we know the maintenance history and believe that a properly maintained car inside the family is superior to most used cars in the same price range.


Seriously, I’m not a mom or a dad but I have much experience with both. Mini-vans are just about ideal for carting around SEVERAL kids. My wife’s family came for a visit recently and we had 6 adults and three small kids to cart around. We almost all fit in a rented Chrysler town and country.

If you only have one or two rugrats, a decent four door sedan or small wagon will work. If Honda made a four door Element it would be great for small and messy kids (is that redundant?). Actually, I don’t know why no one makes a mini-van with a rubber interior like the Element. It would be highly kid resistant! (Nothing is Kid-Proof.)

My sisters-in-law value utility over luxury in vehicles. They should be easy to use but the extra goo-gaws like DVD players and sat-nav aren’t needed. Car seats should be easy to attach and remove. One sister-in-law even wishes she had vinyl seats for spill protection!

Moms generally want small sporty 2 door cars. I know my mother did, and my wife does. They settle for 4 door sedans, mini-vans, or wagons for practicality. There are some who get SUVs for paranoia reasons thinking they and their kids will be safer, but I suspect even those moms would really like a Miata if they didn’t have to worry about kids . . . :wink:

I’m a mother of two and can’t figure out for the life of me why automakers can’t build a car that works for families and be something you actually want to be seen in. Is that too much to ask? I’m frustrated with the options out there. I refuse to drive an SUV and yet the minivan just isn’t exciting. I’m not prepared to drop $30K on a minivan that just doesn’t excite me. Where are the exciting family cars?!

Cherryl, I agree with those who say go ahead and enjoy it and see how it runs. Accept their generosity.

Have you seen the new Infinty line? And the new Nissan Maxima is sweeeeeet!

What I wished I had with a baby in the back seat: seat belts that didn’t require your fingernails and 360 range of motion to get buckled; cup-holders!; a built-in vacuum to scoop up all the crumbs before they fell down into the seat’s crevices, only to be found as fossils years later; a back seat that actually allowed me to get in and unbuckle the seat belt, rather than forcing me to stretch beyond my capacity; a larger rear view mirror for better views of the tikes in the back; an automatic baby ejector, making it easier to lift the infant seat up and out of the car. Yes, some of this is fantasy. Truth be told, of our two vehicles we preferred the VW bug for ease of use, and the Saab for safety peace of mind.

My wife has always been pleased with her cars.

When we were first married she had a little German Ford (like a 4-door Mercury Capri).

Then a tiny economical Toyota Starlet which was easy to handle and park, and ‘cute’.

When the kids got to preschool age, a Volvo wagon with a rear-facing third seat hauled the kids and their friends everywhere. It was considered a bit ‘Yuppy’ at the time, but at least it was nicer and safer than a minivan.

When the kids got older, she downsized to a bright red 328 BMW which she loved. This was her first car with an automatic transmission. After 10 years, that car got passed down to one of the kids, and she replaced it with a bright red 330 BMW which she loves. She is a high school teacher and I think she enjoys being the envy of the students and the staff.

I’m still driving the '91 Volvo wagon.

Think it depends on age of wife and kids. When kids were small and wife was younger…she wanted a 4-door practical car with good gas mileage.

Now that she’s older and kids are older…she wants a nice 4-door luxery car.

Places for your stuff and lights. Dome lights and reading lights front, middle, and back. even some under the seats or on the wall for the floor.

I don’t think that you should be looking at the kids in the back seat while in traffic. If you need to do that have some consideration and pull over.

I think Tom and Ray are very conservative as what a momn’s car should be. They always recommend Volvos for teenagers and often for women with children. They don’t always think of the cost of cars. They mentioned the Mazda 5 for the woman and her nanny’s other employer who wanted to share a vehicle for their nanny to drive but nixed it because it was too hard to get to the back seat and because one of the 3 children might be lonely in a row by himself. First. I have a Mazda 5 and took out the seat behind the driver’s seat so I could put my wheelchair there. I bought it because I have 4 grandchildren. Without the seat there, the 3rd row of the seats is totally accessible and it is easier for the kid inb the middle seat to see the back row. Also one child can sit in the front passenger seat. The Mazda 5 is much cheaper than the other alternatives mentioned on that show, it is more compact and so easier to park, and I guess looks a lot cooler than a Van. If you normally would have a child in the passenger seat, it seems you could disconnect the air bag to protect the child. Also it is hard to put 3 carseats in one row. But you have to get a little creative. The old Mazda MP V have seats which are much easier to take out, if they could find a low mileage one of those. Second, how much money do you want to spend so a child won’t be lonely? Tons of only children are lonely every day. Sometimes it is nice to pur the pesky child in a seat by himself where he can’t reach anyone else.

Our Dodge Caravan Came From The Factory With 2 Built-In Child Seats !

Flip the seat’s front cushion down and there is the child seat, complete with three-point, easy to use, harness. Flip it up and it’s an adult seat. We used this while the children were growing. I liked not having to try and install and anchor a portable child seat. We still have the van and use it with full-grown kids!

Anyone running an older van, as in a previous post, can probably locate a gently used seat like the one I’ve described, at a salvage yard, in matching upholstery at a very reasonable cost, and install it in place of their existing seat without even needing tools. They just unlatch and come out. I don’t know what model-year and make of vehicles used these. Maybe some still do.

Sliding doors on both sides have really been convenient, too.

The part about “offered” is not clarified though.
Offered means what? Offered for free, offered for a cheap price? offered for a fair price?

For free, take it. Anything else is debateable.

Woo-hoo! I bought a Mazda 5 shortly after having my first baby. It’s the perfect car for us! It’s got more interior room than a 4 door sedan or even an SUV, but it’s not as bulky and hard to drive/park as a mini-van. The third row of seats IS hard to get to, but when you put it down, the stroller and baby equipment fits in the back perfectly. We figure that when we NEED that third row of seats, it’ll be for the kids and their friends, and they’ll be young and agile and able to climb through with ease. :slight_smile:

A young man recently asked my friend and me when we were going to trade in our minivans for convertibles. I replied that don’t need to express my sexuality with a car. My friend added, "Yeah, I can just buy a low-cut shirt for that."
That said, what I want in a car is the following:
Room for my kids and their friends
Easy in-and-out access
Safety & Reliability
I want to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer
Comfortable seats
Easy cleaning
Anything that makes my life convenient for now; the less I have to think about my car, the better.

My oldest is a teen now, and she and her friends pile in the car for rides more than ever, so our next car will probably be a minivan too. I’m okay with it.

Though I would prefer a car with better gas mileage, I feel that by actively sharing the driving with other parents, we’re keeping several other cars off the road with each trip, and that saves more gas & pollution than changing my own car ever could.

My question is,how long will it take this “car you really want” to be offered in a full electric version? if ever.

Will you buy a full electric version of this car? (400 miles between charges,plug in at home for charge,only a small extra cost over the IC version)

More exactly is a electric minivan with all the features people want (weight ,electrical demand,big AC issues) in the near future,or will these type of vehicles be the last to go electric?