Justin is about to have twins! Which is awesome, but his Volkswagen GTI is not going to be sufficient for hauling kids and stuff. He needs a vehicle that can accommodate his growing family, and hopefully still be a little fun. What car should he buy?
Having children is wonderful. It is not wonderful for your cars. Once, my son got car sick and sprayed digested PB&J all over the back seat of my brand new GTI. It was the one time when I regretted not upgrading to the leather.
Justin is going to avoid this fate of vacuuming sandwich-vomit out of tartan seats with something that is a bit more appropriate for little ones .
Here is the scenario:
My wife and I are expecting twins so as much as hate I to do it, I have to sell my Mk 7 VW GTI. As bummed as I am about the car, I’m super excited to be starting a family and look forward to creating a new generation of gearheads! My other vehicle is a 2016 4Runner Trail which is in the process of being upgraded to overland duty and since I use it for work and play, it’s out of the running for daily baby duty.
I have a max budget of around $40,000 and I’m looking for something newish and reliable, preferably with some kind of warranty. A manual would be ideal but I know that is probably not happening. It has to be able to cart around a big ass baby stroller and all the usually baby stuff. Be able to fit two baby seats and have easy to clean seats.
Most of all, It has to be FUN!!! I refuse to think that having twins is the end of fun cars.
Budget: $35,000 - $40,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Average Miles Per-Week: 100 - 200
Wants: Practical, Good for little kids, fun
Doesn’t want: Boring
Justin, now I’m not saying that I know better than the rest of these jokers, but I am the only one on staff with two kids—and the difference between having a car for one kid and two is significant. So I’m going to level with you here, my man, you might think that a cool wagon or something will be just fine as a baby hauling car. It’s got a cargo area and bigger back seats, no problem!
False. Wagons are fun, you know what is not fun? Having two rear-facing car seats push your front seats up so far that neither you or your wife are comfortable. Or having a cargo area that is just barely big enough to fit your giant ass stroller not to mention all the baby crap you are going to tote around for the next few years. And what happens when you want to go to the store and buy things? You now have to make a choice between leaving the stroller at home or being real tight on space for your grocery run.
Now is not the time for a fun car, now is the time for what I call a “hold me over car.” Don’t worry bud, you will get your fun car, but at this moment need something that is easy to use and you already know what I’m going to suggest.
A Ford Transit Connect. Yeah, I know you were expecting me to say minivan, but this is the best balance between something “wagon-ish” with all the goodies of a van. The Transit Connect is a “European style” van so it’s not going to feel like a boat in the corners. It’s got an easy load flat floor for your stroller and whatever else you need to haul. Trust me, the less strain on your back when lifting that stuff the better.
A fully loaded Titanium Extended will run you under $30,000. Then what you do is you take the $10,000 savings and stash it in a sports car fund, once the kids are out of the car seats you’ll have a nice down payment for something a bit less practical.
I feel like you could actually pull off a Ford Focus RS or Focus ST with twins, but it wouldn’t be fun and you’re already getting rid of the GTI so I’m assuming that’s out of the question.
Because you’ve got two babies on the way the reality is your idea of “fun” isn’t going to be speeding down the highway. I don’t know how your normally drive, but the most important things in the world are in your backseat and you’re going to have to find fun somewhere near the speed limit. I think your best bet is then to get the smallest, best handling car with a stick you can afford and still enjoy with two enormous carseats in the back.
When I drove the BMW 340i I was pleased to discover it took our infant seat and one large stroller. Those twin-strollers can be even larger, but I’m guessing you could haul one of those around, two car seats, and still have enough room for a pack-and-play, a couple of soft suitcases, and a diaper bag. You can’t afford a 340i in your budget, but it doesn’t matter. This black, manual, RWD BMW 328 is well within your budget. Want to save more? I think your best bet is actually a Jalopnik-spec 320 like this one for $35k. They’re almost all sold in white, but who cares, white cars are lighter.
Expert #3: Michael Ballaban – Is Very Secure In Who He Is As A Person And Doesn’t Need To Prove Nothing To No One
A Ford van? Might as well kill yourself, or start picking up fares from the airport. One of the boring BMW 3 Series that reminds you that BMW hasn’t made a properly exciting car in a decade? Blah. Everyone knows you’ll just be doing it for the badge.
But you, my friend, Justin, you are a man of exquisite style and taste. I can just tell. Got that vibe about you, ya know? And when it comes to style and taste, usually “practical” or “fun” get thrown out with that. On the venn diagram of style, practicality, and fun, you get to pick two, and that’s it.
Okay, yeah, this is one of those times, too. Because you need a Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG.
Yes, it does look a bit like a great big shimmering alien whale has landed upon your driveway, but what a whale she is. With over 500 horsepower (FIVE HUNDRED!) this thing does somehow manage to move faster than any family car has a right to. Plus, it’s got vast caverns of room inside. And Mercedes barely made any of them, so you know you’re never going to see another one at the lights. You’ll be unique, you’ll be fast, you’ll be you.
And isn’t that what everyone wants, when they have kids? To still be themselves? That’s what we’re selling here, Justin. You.
Here’s one for less than $40 grand. It’ll be a while before you see another.
Justin, just buy the damn minivan. This is one of the best pieces of advice Jalopnik has to offer, along with “Never go to a second location with Jason Torchinsky.”
As Tom said above, the beauty of the minivan is that it’s the best car for now—not the best car forever. A friend’s dad happily drove a Honda Odyssey for years, and when two of his three daughters went to college and he didn’t really need it anymore, he traded it in for a new Mercedes E-Class. Good for that guy. He paid his minivan dues and moved on to the car he wanted. You’re planning for your kids’ futures—plan for yours, too.
You also don’t need to spend that much. Here’s a CPO 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan with just 16,403 miles for $25,000. That’s not bad at all. Drive it now, upgrade later. You’re welcome.