Ryan is rather proficient at procreating. So much so he has three kids including one set of twins and another on the way. His old SUV just isn’t going to cut it anymore and he would like something a bit more comfortable. What car should he buy?
Here is the scenario:
I was too busy thinking about sex during sex-ed and now...now...I have too many children. My eldest is the ripe age of three. I have one-year-old twins. My wife is pregnant with number four. I have a 12-year-old Expedition with captains chairs in the second row. I can’t quite figure out how to get into the third row (which can only hold two car seats) when car seats are installed in the captain’s chairs.
I have a nanny who helps us during the day and takes the kids to church school. Every car she has driven so far has some interesting scratches on the sides. The youngest one won’t be in school for two years so we need to be able to get the other three out while the littlest stays put.
In a couple of years, my eldest will be able to buckle himself up in a booster seat which resolves this short-term problem of getting around four car seats. I’ve typically kept my cars for 200k+ miles, but I’m willing to look at a short-term solution. I have about $15,000 to spend on this family hauler.
I’m also 6'3 200lbs. Maneuvering myself around the back to the kids loaded is a concern.
I don’t know what to do. Send advice or money*
*Please send money
Budget: up to $15,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Atlanta, GA
Wants: Room for lots of people
Doesn’t want: Anything that would require he must remove a car seat to get someone in and out of the car.
Expert #1: Tom McParland — You Already Know What I’m Going To Say
Ryan, I really wanted to be cool and creative and find you an A-Team replica van or something swanky like a Mercedes Metris, but both options proved to be either too expensive or not quite right for your needs.
Buddy, you need to just buy a damn minivan. Now which minivan will be the difficult question. You can easily go to the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, but since both of those cars hold their value pretty well you are looking at some high mileage options at this price point. You could look at the MOPAR options like a low mile Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Grand Caravan, both of which are fine, but reliability might be a concern. The newer Pacifica may be out of your price range.
My recommendation would be the Kia Sedona in the updated body style that came out in 2015. Now there won’t be a ton of them for $15,000, but they are out there and these are sharp looking vans that actually drive pretty well. Here is a 2015 nearby that has the all-important power sliding doors.
Now before our comment section gets all judgy about your kid situation, I am not here to lecture you about your reproductive habits. I will, however, share my own personal experience. After our second child was born, my wife and I decided we did not want to be outnumbered. So I made an appointment with my local urologist and underwent a certain procedure to avoid future offspring. I know what you are thinking about that being a sensitive area and folks messing with your manhood, but here is the reality. The surgery took less than 15 minutes, my post-procedure pain would have been described as “mildly uncomfortable,” and after waking up I went and had a nice pancake breakfast and then I was good to go. And no more kids.
You may use that information as you wish.
Expert #2: Patrick George — Go Big Or Don’t Go Big At All
Sorry about all your kids, Ryan. I for one hope child labor makes a comeback so they can eventually make some money for you, and not be as soft as these participation-trophy millennial fucks.
Anyway, I’m from a place called Texas. It’s run by lunatics and it’s under water sometimes, but other than that it’s great. And in Texas, once your second kid drops, you get a Chevrolet Suburban. It’s the rules. So what if it’s huge and trucklike and generally overkill? It’s what families down there drive.
And it’s what I recommend to you, with your gigantic family. You get hauling, towing, three rows of seats and even some nice creature comforts. And you should be able to get folks around the car seats just fine—I’ve seen it with my in-laws’ own vehicles, and they have three small kids.
In your price range you’re looking at one about a decade old, but these are tough, proven trucks with robust V8 engines. I’d wager they can handle more abuse than most 10-year-old General Motors products.
Here’s a 2007 Suburban with 156,000 miles for $15,000. Pay cash if you can, drive it until the kids get older, and get into something smaller and more fun after that. Happy trails.
Expert #3: David Tracy — Don’t Fret, You’ve Got Excellent Options
I’m tired of folks with kids whining about how all hope for automotive joy is lost; don’t be one of those people, because this just isn’t true. Take that Mazda5 in the photo above—it’s the only minivan from this decade that you can buy with a manual trans in the U.S. (it’s a six-speed). And though its 2.5-liter inline-four doesn’t even make 160 horsepower, I’ve read good things about its handling and of course that transmission. There’s no doubt: the Mazda5 is the enthusiasts’ choice in the minivan world.
If six seats is not enough, you could just do what I’d do (and what my dad did) and snag a first-gen Chrysler minivan. You can get a five-speed on the base inline-four models, wood trim, and even a turbo (which also gets the manual trans). It’s a decidedly cool option in a very uncool automotive space, as I’ve made clear in a previous article.
And I know I’ve already gone over my one-car recommendation limit, but screw it—I’ve got to make my point that minivans aren’t lame, and that having kids doesn’t mean you’re doomed. So if that manual transmission “sporty” 5 doesn’t do it for you, and that classic boxy turbo manual Chrysler minivan isn’t enough either, then get a Chevy Astro. It’s a body-on-frame minivan that’s basically a more space efficient version of a Chevy Silverado pickup. It’s super reliable, undeniably handsome, and designed to take a hell of a beating (since it was also sold as a cargo van).
So don’t worry; you’ll be OK with all those kids. Even if you get a minivan.
Expert #4: Kristen Lee — Drawing On Personal Experience
Oh, man, Ryan. It seems like you’re going to have your hands pretty full very soon. Sounds like you’ll need something that can put up with a good amount of abuse. I think the sliding doors of a minivan are ideal, but in the interest of not repeating what Tom said, I’m going to go ahead and recommend a GMC Acadia.
This was the people-mover of choice that the Lee family inexplicably decided to buy when both kids left the house for college. I laughed then, but now that the grandparents don’t drive much anymore and us kids come back on occasion for dinner outings, I’m starting to the see the logic. The Acadia seats six adults comfortably and has enough trunk space to haul around all the additional accessories.
Our Acadia has been reliable and I can only imagine how well it would fit non-adults. The middle seats scoot forward to leave ample room for the rear and an aisle between them ensures easy access to the third row. This one here, with just 46,133 miles on it can be had for $14,384.
Good luck with everything and remember, you can sleep when you’re dead!