New Car

Updated on June 28, 2010
J.S. asks from Morrisville, PA
13 answers

Looking to get a 7 or 8 seater SUV. Wondering how you mom's out there like yours and if you prefer the middle row to be captain's chairs or bench seating. I WILL have to get to the back row of the car. I currently have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and will be trying for #3 soon. My 3 year old is only 26 pounds so she will still be in her car seat and even when the new baby arrives I highly doubt she will weigh enough for a booster. She is however very independent and can already climb into and buckle herself in (does need help unbuckling). Point being both my children and myself will need to access the back row. Also, those of you who have already lived managing children in a large SUV if you could tell me features of the car that make your life easier or things I should look for, it would be greatly appreciated. To sum up: middle row captain's chairs VS bench and additional features that you love. Thank you so much for your help!

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answers from Philadelphia on

You may also want to consider some crossover vehichles. I have the Mazda CX-9 and am loving it. It sits 7 and the thrid row isn't all that bad. The middle row can slide forward to give the third row more leg room as well as both sides fold down for access. Third row folds down very easily on those days when you need more cargo room in the back, however like all SUVs, etc. the cargo area is small with the third row up. I only have one kid in a booster right now with an infant on the way, so you would have to see how all the seats would fit with three.

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answers from Philadelphia on

i LOVE LOVE LOVE my suburban z71! yes, it is one of the larger suvs but i wouldnt go back! i have the mid-row captains chairs and they dont have to b folded down to get into the back like someone else had posted - thats the point of the split seat - to get into the back! i love its size bc we take lots of trips and we can fit EVERYTHING in there! ive even had my 6'5" brother all the way in the back and he rode very comfortably! another factor for us was that we go surf fishing all summer... u cant drive a mini van on the beach! i also recommend the dvd player - a savior on long trips!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My husband bought a Chevy Traverse last summer and we absolutely love it! We could only afford the base model. We looked at the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander. The Traverse had the most cargo room in the rear with the 3rd row seat up. I can fit a full-sized stroller in the cargo area with the seat up, and with the seat down, boy it can hold a lot!!! The gas mileage is ok, and I like the fact that there are separate temperature controls for the front seats and middle seats, so if the kids are cold, we can turn their controls warmer so they aren't freezing. The only thing I don't like about the Chevy is the doors unlock automatically when you put the car in park. A minor annoyance. We have 2 kids in car seats in the 2nd row and the only problem we have is that we can't slide the 2nd row seats forward when there is a car seat in place (the 2nd row is a split bench seat, and both sides slide forward). There might be a trick to it that we aren't aware of. I would suggest contacting a Chevy dealer to ask about this and bringing a car seat to latch into the 2nd row and try it out if you consider this vehicle. The 3rd row seating is MUCH more comfy for adults than any of the other vehicles we looked at. Hubby is 6'4" and I'm 5'11" and this is the only vehicle we could sit in the 3rd row comfortably. Once you get your choices narrowed down, be sure to load all the car seats into the prospective vehicle to see how things really fit. That was helpful for us (even though it's a pain) when we bought our Traverse. You might also try renting the type of vehicle you want to buy (just for a day or two), to make sure it will really address all your family's needs. Happy car hunting!



answers from Indianapolis on

We've had both a 2008 and now a 2011 Honda Pilot. They're really nice and seat 8 well, but there are draw backs. We got a 2010 that was a lemon and had to fight to get the 2011. They made some changes from 2008 that have made the transmission not as smooth in an attempt to increase gas mileage, and it didn't help other than to make it pretty rough on some gear changes.

Before you make a decision, take into consideration that not all back seats are the same. The ability to put 3 car seats across is really dependent on where the latches for the car seats are located. My husband had a Chevy Lumina as a company car vs. my 2008 Taurus (also a former company car). My car was MUCH bigger and had a really big back seat, but when the 2 car seats were in the back, he had more room because of how the latches were situated.

If you have the 3rd row up, you'll lose almost all ability to have cargo in the car. In that case, I'd recommend a minivan instead.

However, if you're set on a SUV, I'd check out Motor Trend, Car and Driver, NADA, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and do side-by-side comparisons + reviews.

We had a 2006 Pathfinder (yes, we go through MANY cars) and hated it once we got kids. It's rated very poorly, but despite being horribly ugly (in my opinion), the Ford Flex was one of the highest rated SUVs recently because of space, versatility, safety, gas mileage.

Also, I was very much against captains chairs because, if you did need the 3rd row stowed, you are stuck with seating for only 2 people, not 3. We looked at the Acadia, with that option, and it's great for my parent's Enclave since they have mostly adult passengers, not so good for kids.

My last piece of advice is to take the car seats, put them in the vehicle, and see how easy it is to get babies, kids in and out of car seats. The Pilot is much easier than the Pathfinder. One thing I don't like about SUV's, though, as kids get more independent is that they're much more prone to open the car door into things vs. the sliding doors of a minivan that make getting in and out much easier.



answers from Detroit on

The only snippet of insight I have is that if you have captains chairs you can't use one of them for a carseat beacuse you need to fold the chair forward to get to the back.
I worked this out after I bought my minivan with captains chairs. If I had to buy one again I know I would prefer a bench seat for that reason.
Oh I also rented a minvan with the stow n go storage, that's awesome, I loved it. I could keep diapers, wipes etc in the car but they were hidden away yet easy to get to.



answers from Philadelphia on

I had a Toyota Sequoia and LOVED it! My kids were 3 and 1and I was expecting #3 when our lease was up and we turned it in for a Toyota Sienna mini van. I hated the fact that I was driving a van, but with the kids so little and needing to reach the third row seat and also stow a double stroller the SUV was not practical. I really do like the van, and those automatic doors have been awesome... I will miss those... and the cargo space is unbeatable! However, our lease is up again and we intend to go back to the SUV now that I have 2 kids in boosters that can buckle themselves and I no longer need a double stroller.

I always wanted to get the SUV with the captains seats to make the third row more accessable, but I am not reconsidering that. If we go on vacation we will need the cargo space and so would need to fold down the third row, or get a bubble or something for the roof. I think having the option to use the bench in the second row is a good thing. I plan to get the Sequoia with the fold flat third row, and remove or keep folded the jump seat that allows access to the third row. I am going to put both kids in boosters in the third row, and my youngest on the second. (I don't like seating them too close to one another in the car as to not have to deal with them toucing each other)

Anyway, just a few considerations Im sure you've already thought of. Just beware when shopping for an SUV that most of them have no cargo space when you actually use the third row. Make sure you check that out and that your stroller will fit back there! Happy Shopping!



answers from St. Louis on

I had twins and 1 year later had #3. We got a Ford Expedition with a bench seat. Loved it...I fit all three car seats in the middle row and never had any problems getting the kids in and out. Having to fold up a seat to crawl in and out of the back row was not an option. Most of the larger SUVs can fit 3 carseats in the middle row. We just dowsized to a Dodge Jorney and I still can fit 3 booster seats in the middle. It has a 3rd row that we use for long trips or when family visit but for day to day they all sit in the middle row. I really don't miss my larger car and I get much better gas milage now.



answers from Philadelphia on

I have a Suburban Z71 sport edition. I have the 2nd row captain's seats and I really like the fact that my children can get to the 3rd row easily. It is also great when other adults are riding. They don't feel like they are riding in a van and they don't have to sit directly next to the children if they don't want to.
I also like the dual air system. You can adjust the air in the back for the children. Another plus is the ability to change the radio sound to only play in the front seat. This is very helpful when traveling long distances and the children are trying to sleep.


answers from Biloxi on

Oh, I have a Honda Pilot and absolutely adore it. It is not as huge some but has third row seating so it sits up to 8 comfortable. I have had three adults, two tweens, and a baby in a car seat in it, plus Mardi Gras gear and we all had enough room. I can also seat a bunch of teen boys in the thing.

Both the third and second row seats fold down completely so I can still haul lots of stuff. Oh, and the gas mileage is fantastic!!

Good luck with whatever you get !!!



answers from Pittsburgh on

We have a GMC Acadia and I'm very happy with it. We have the captain's chairs (so the dog can seat in the middle on the floor). I can "walk" to the 3rd row if need be. However I don't think the 3rd row has the LATCH system, which you may or may not need for your car seat?

2 adults can fit in the 3rd row, but the leg/knee space is limited. Also, your child in the 3rd row may likely be kicking the back of the 2nd row seats?

CONS: With the 3rd row in use, your trunk space will be pretty limited for groceries. Goofily with the Acadia the hooks to hang dry cleaning are in the 3rd row and sort of hard to get to.

PROS: love the remote start (for summer A/C and winter heat) and love the remote trunk opener/closer. My version also has the back-up safety indicator (starts beeping if you're close to hitting somethign) which is good but also makes me sort of lazy, and it has a rear video projection in the rearview mirror so I can see what's on the ground below me so I don't back anything over.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't know if this is too late but I have a Nissan Armada. I LOVE it!!! It is a bigger SUV but I needed the the time of purchase I had a 2 yr old and an infant plus I watched 3 other kids. The one thing that sold me on it was that even with the 3rd row up I could still put a double stroller and many other things in the trunk. I looked at the Yukon XL and the Suburban but I felt lost in them but in the Nissan I felt like I could park it at the mall! We have the bench seat that folds in 3 pieces and I like it because it does allow me to put 3 kids in the middle but if need be I can fold one of the side seats up to access the back. The only drawback that I see in this car is that it doesn't get very good gas mileage but neither would having to take 2 cars somewhere everytime I want or need to leave the house! I hope that helps and good luck in your search!



answers from Philadelphia on

A few other people mentioned this, but with the SUV's that have 3 rows, when the 3rd row is up there is almost NO trunk space. For that reason (among others like the preference of sliding doors and cargo capacity) we decided on a minivan instead. I have the Chrysler Town and Country 2008. I love the car, though we have had a few issues with stalling and the A/C, but the dealer has dealt with all these issues under warrenty. I have the stow and go seating which means that all seats can be folded into the floor if you need to transport something large. When the seats are up there's space in the floor for storage which is great. Even with all 3 rows up there is a good sized trunk. The back row of seats is split 70-30, so you can fold part of the back row down to increase cargo space while still having enough room for all 3 of your car seats. I have the captain's chairs since that's the only way the stow and go comes. I have never had to fold the seat for people to get in the back. The leg room in the back row isn't great, but it's not awful either. I absolutely LOVE the sliding doors which are automatic and the power lift gate (awesome when your hands are full!) The remote start is fabulous for the winter to get the car warm before putting little ones in there.



answers from Cleveland on

I have a Chrysler Town & Country and luv it! It's a 7 seater w/ captain chairs as the middle 'row', if that's what you would call it.. I've never had to fold the middle chair to get the back or buckle anyone in. but my kids are 5 (booster chair) 3 1/2 (booster chair) & 16 mnts (5 pt car seat).. my youngest sits behind me to make it easier to access. my 3 1/2 yr old sits next to him in the middle & my 5 yr old sits in the back.. but my 3 1/2 yr old will sit back there too b/c she can buckle & un-buckle herself.. I found if i had friends riding along that had booster seat that I would just go thru the trunk to help buckle them but that's b/c they didnt know how to buckle anyhow.. but that was once in a blue moon.. so it was never a pain in the butt.. i have stow and go also & luv it! i have a portable high chair that stays in the car always so if we go somewhere we always have a place for the baby to eat.. on the other side i have a baby blanket for each kid & a sweatshirt in case we break down & a diaper bag w/ an extra set of clothes for each kid just in case.. w/ a few extra wipies & diaper if need be.. so i can somewhat carry a normal 'oversized' Good luck in whatever you decide :)

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