Chessie and Robert’s waffle: used family car

Posted on

Chessie (of Melissa Button Boot fame) and her husband Robert are a two-kid, one-car family. Their current car is a Subaru Forester, but they are waffling about whether they should buy a larger used car. They are clear about two things: they do not want a minivan and the car must have 4WD.

Chessie explains: Now that we have two kids, should we 1) upgrade to a car with a third row at all? 2) and if we did, which of these cars would be better in terms of reliability and working well with kids? We mostly do city driving, so a good turning radius and easy parking ability are considerations as well.

Here are their top four choices. They are all 2008s.

The Acura MDX

2008 Acura MDX, used car, family car, Acura, used Acura

The Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90, used car, used volvo, family car

Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9, used car, used Mazda, family car, used family car

The Toyota Highlander

2008 Toyota Highlander, used car, used Toyota, family car, used family car

Which car do you think Chessie and Robert should get?

Have you been waffling about cars lately? Have you been rearranging the furniture and not sure if it works? Click on the button below to send me a waffle and get help.

7 responses

  1. I have no idea which one you should buy, but you should get one with extra seating. The carpools and playdates come fast and furious. We have just one child, but I often wish we had a bigger car for hauling friends.

    My big question for you is…how do you manage to have just one car in your family? Kudos to you!

    • Thanks Meredith,

      Yes, even though our oldest is not even quite three yet, there have already been times when we’ve wanted to bring along a friend and it’s been too tricky. I am sure that in a year or two, this will happen even more.

      We manage to function with one car only because we live right outside Boston in a city that is a suburban/city hybrid. We have a driveway and a yard, but we are a ten minute walk from the subway. I take the car to work or for activities with the kids (I work part-time) and my husband takes the T into Boston for work. We’ve had to make some decisions based around the one car (child care, etc.), and sometimes it’s a pain, but for the most part it works out great!

  2. We just went through this same dilemma. We had a Honda Element which was great for one child but with the arrival of our daughter 5 months ago we found we needed a bit more space. We have a lot of family that either visits or lives nearby and we always had to take 2 cars or rent additional ones. We looked at everything. I was opposed to a minivan and my husband was really open to the idea. (His first car was one of the first minivans)
    My issue with the cars with the third row was centered around car seats. I did not want to have to remove any car seats to get the seat down to access the third row. This left entering the third row from the trunk which just wasn’t practical when adding grandparents to the mix or buckling extra kids into their booster seats..
    We looked at all the minivans out there and surprisingly loved the Dodge Grand Caravan RX the best. It was a great price, it drove like a smaller SUV and not a boat. And one of the best features is that all of the seats fold into the floor. You don’t have to take seats out and prepare in advance, they almost fold themselves into the floor. AND when you’re not using the seats, it’s extra storage space. My husband loved the fact that you can fit an 8×8 sheet of plywood one all the seats are down.
    It has sport suspension and some sort of traction control which help in the snow. I think the Toyota Sienna is the only one you can find with 4WD. I know this probably doesn’t help you’re problem but I have found it to be the best car I’ve ever owned. It’s comfortable, practical and as the kids get older, you can open both sliding doors from the front and you never have to leave the driver’s seat.
    A friend of mine recently traded her 3 month old highlander in for a subaru outback because she though the gas mileage was awful for a hybrid and she never used the 3rd row because nobody would fit.
    If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them. I have seen the dark side of the minivan world and I love it!

    • That is all super helpful Sarah! Sounds like you have definitely been right where we are! Good to know that the minivan world is quite palatable. We may take you up on asking more specific questions sometime in the near future. Thanks again!

  3. I voted, but since I don’t actually own any of those cars, I’m not sure I’m really qualified to vote. I voted for the Highlander, since there is a hybrid option and 3rd row seats. Once you get to school age, if you drive at all, it’s SO helpful to have extra seating for carpools.

  4. I’m especially interested in knowing from people who may have older kids and have already been through this stage (we have a 4 month old and an almost three year old), if the third row is really all that great and useful. Right now we have the car seats next to each other (3 year old on side and infant in middle) so an adult can sit back there if needed. But it’s a tight for sure. Thoughts? Thanks!!