By on February 14, 2013

In general, having kids requires surrendering some semblance of “cool.”  With kids, for instance, living room orgies have to stop – at least after 9pm.  And money that would’ve been spent on tires and brakes must instead go to Huggies and strollers that fold to the size of an umbrella.

But the addition of children doesn’t need to mean buying a boring minivan or SUV.  No matter your budget, you can keep your vehicular “cool” when wee ones come along.  Allow me to list some of the coolest family cars for dads who aren’t yet ready to drive an Odyssey with a stick figure family on the back.

1995 Volvo 850 T5-R Wagon

There are yellow ones and there are black ones.  There are also a few green ones.  I highly recommend yellow, primarily because it may lift your spirits when it inevitably breaks down.  I highly discourage spending your last dollar on a T5-R wagon, primarily because there’s no such thing as a “last dollar” with these.  In fact, the number two cause of bankruptcy in America – after medical expenses – is used turbocharged Volvos.

So what’s the upside?  Well, did I mention it’s yellow?  Also, Volvo used this car – yes, the wagon – in the British Touring Car Championship.  It broke down a lot then, too.

2001-2006 BMW X5 manual

Imagine it: you drive a stick shift E46 323i with fake Xenons.  Then you knock up your girlfriend.  This will be harder for some of you to imagine than others.  Obviously you can’t keep driving the 323, since the marijuana smell will stunt your child’s growth.  So what’s a BMW lover with an M Power tattoo to do?

Easy: X5 manual.  Sure, it doesn’t have a third row, and the cargo volume is reminiscent of a soft-sided cooler.  But what’s more exciting than rowing the gears in a BMW while you effortlessly cruise through a blizzard and pass wet wipes to your sniffling two-year-old?

Mercedes R63 AMG

Yes, they made these.  Approximately 84 in total, which is about 77 more than the market could bear.  As a result, this is the cheapest “63 AMG” you can buy – assuming you can find one for sale.  Which, fortunately for wives everywhere, you usually can’t.

But if you do, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful R-Class styling combined with award-winning 6.2-liter AMG fuel and maintenance costs.  Oh, wait.

At least you can seat six.

2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8

The first Grand Cherokee SRT-8s are in the low-$20s now, which makes them great deals for anyone with a refinery.  Or a gas station.  Or mental problems.

Yes, the SRT-8 is expensive to run.  But it’s also the perfect family car thanks to leather and plastic that’s so cheap to replace, you won’t even worry about hand prints.  You also won’t worry about vomit, which is common in a 425-horsepower vehicle that shares its center of gravity with a race horse.

1995 Toyota Land Cruiser

A ’95 Land Cruiser is like a savings account.  Value in 2006: $9,000.  Value in 2009: $9,000.  Value today: $9,000.  Coincidentally, that’s about the same interest rate I actually get on my savings account.

The ’95 Land Cruiser – dubbed “FZJ80” by guys on Internet forums who seem to know what they’re talking about – may be a total gas hog, but it’s cheap to run, cheap to insure, and still very cool.  It also houses the world’s flimsiest third-row seat, which weighs 90 pounds and “stows” directly in your blind spot. (Literally!  It actually covers the rear side windows.)  Not that it matters: even if you have an accident in an old Cruiser, you’ll drive away uninjured.  And it’ll still be worth $9,000.

1996-1999 Ford Taurus SHO

I love the ’96-’99 SHO because you don’t have to go through the hassle of selling it.  Here’s what you do: buy it for $3,000.  Drive it for two years.  One day, boom!  Cam sprocket failure.  Abandon the car and do it all over again.  This is surely less of a hassle than dealing with people on Craigslist who ask what part of town you’re in even though there’s an address in the listing.

Plus, there are other redeeming qualities of the ’96-’99 SHO.  For example, you and your kids can play “count the ovals” with the center stack.  And it has some really cool five-spoke wheels you might want to consider harvesting during abandonment.  You can sell them on eBay to SHO owners who don’t yet know the term “cam sprocket failure,” but will soon find out.

Land Rover Defender 90

It’s often said that the D-90 is the perfect car for any situation.  Of course, whoever said that must have an endless supply of oil.  Also, they must live somewhere with no rain.

But for all its flaws, the D-90 is the perfect family car.  One reason is that it seats six, not five like the womanly Lexus RX.  Which coincidentally costs about the same.  That means if you want to have four kids, go ahead and do it.  They all have to stare at each other as the rainwater leaks in.

The D-90 is also great because it’s so safe.  Some cars have airbags: this thing has steel.  Except for the ones that have rust, which is virtually all of them.  But as you cruise through Nantucket on a warm day with the top off and your motion-sick children in the back, you’ll know you’ve made the right decision.  Especially if a Land Rover dealer is close by.

OK, so most of these are awful ideas.  In fact, I’m not sure that a sorrier list of “cool” family cars has ever been assembled.  Have you got any better ideas?

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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101 Comments on “Cool Cars for Parents...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Missed one: Mazda5. Minivan, can handle, has a stick.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda5 will be in the companion piece covering serious suggestions. Unless the troublesome suspension qualifies it for this one.

      Quite true on the old Volvo. I was dumbfounded when Derek bought one. There is a last dollar–when you get rid of it.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Get the wife a decent CUV/SUV/MV whatever, and get yourself the fun car. Use her car for trips, family outings, etc.

    Of course, unless you’re already down to one vehicle in the household and it’s that 1990′s Honda Civic left over from your high-school heyday; complete with dilapidated body kit of course. But then again, you probably can’t afford children and had no business breeding in the first place. (Yet, ironically, those seem to be the first to fall in the family life….)

    If that’s the case, buy the old mini-van from your in-laws for your “new” car and enjoy your life of sticker families and misery.

    • 0 avatar
      indyb6

      This comment is dripping with “win”.. Can I steal it? :)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      BaCk in the day in my preppy New England childhood, Mom drove either a gigantic plywood pleasure palace American wagon, or a Volvo wagon. Dad drove a Porsche, BMW, or Saab if he was a skier.

      Those T5 Volvos are actually pretty reliable, but they have a lot more go than the chassis can deal with. It’s not a Camry, but it isn’t a 12 cylinder BMW either.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddie

      The problem with this theory is that once you have a family you don’t have a lot of leisure time for the solo drives in the Mustang, Miata, or whatever your fun car is. So the car guy with a family needs to seek out the family-friendly daily driver that still has some excitement to offer. That way you can drive responsibly to deliver the kids to soccer practice and then have fun with no passengers on the return trip. On second thought if it’s just kids and no other adults, the kids will enjoy pulling Gs in the corners and won’t rat you out.

      • 0 avatar
        mklrivpwner

        @Freddie,
        If you can afford both the family life and the Mia-stang-whatevers, then you can afford a daycare or babysitter for the luxury cruise. Also, you probably think of your “fun” car as your “baby” or whatever pet name you choose, and don’t drive any faster than the speed limit, unless you’re in rush hour traffic. In which case, the speed limit becomes your new minimum speed as you cut off all those minivans with no passengers and sticker families showing twelve cats and two kids involved in some athletic activity (because no one admits that their kids are in fact lazy TV watching, booger eatin’ morons) and you mutter the whole time about how there would be less traffic if people would have “practical” cars and carpool and things like that… from your Porsche Boxster in silver… automatic… with Starbucks in some special cup holding device because they don’t have cup holders… and your cell phone to your ear (even though you have a bluetooth headset AND bluetooth speaker phone).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    You missed one.

    Pontiac G8 GT and/or GXP.

    Massive backseat, mafia grade trunk, super comfortable, 0 to 60 in 5ish or under 5 for the GXP, big V8, cool looks, and in the GT form has proven to be relatively reliable. Additionally a history of holding their value, the GXP in particular.

    • 0 avatar

      And 14 MPG in the city… I considered, and walked away.

      • 0 avatar
        johnsha

        Yo Kaga:

        I have a GXP M6. The only way you get 14mpg is to do burn out at every light, ride it hard and put it up wet! Normal city driving is 16 mpg and 22 mpg hwy. Not bad for a 415 hp 4000 lb car.

        Great car but is not a Prius!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        What johnsha said.

        Admittedly I “only” have a GT but the only way you’ll get 14 MPG in a G8 GT or GXP is by doing burn outs at every light or idling for an hour in the morning to warm up.

        If I drive gently (which does not mean drive like I have a Claymore mine under my right foot) at say 65 MPH on rolling hills type interstate – 24 to 25 MPG is easily achieved. City is 16 to 17 MPG.

        As noted above – not a Prius – not bad for a 0 to 60 in 5.01 1/4 mile in 13.3 scream machine. Oh ya, and the kids think it is VERY cool.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        14 mpg in the city? Yeah, that seems overly pessimistic. My 09 GT500 can squeak out 16/25 with a pulley and a tune and moderately aggressive driving.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Unfounded or false blanket statements, forced wanna-be-Clarkson writing.
    Poor. Very poor.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought it was quite clever, as articles go.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I think it’s brilliant as well. Maybe the best one yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      You’re right. Everyone knows that old European cars are very reliable, the BMW X5 is huge inside and a paragon of space efficiency, the Mercedes R-Class is one of the top selling vehicles, an SRT V8 Grand Cherokee sips gas, there’s no market for an old Land Cruiser because Toyotas don’t hold their value, a late 90′s Taurus has more square lines and Chevy Celebrity and the Land Rover Defender, like other British soft tops, rarely has water leaks.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      I enjoyed reading it, and laughed a couple of times.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      A Clarkson wanna-be? What a theory. Someone who really wants to be Jeremy? I know the world has a lot of interesting critters about, but that must surely be a rare species, particularly among journalists, certainly broadcast.

      If my readers or viewers considered me a Jeremy Clarkson wanna-be, they may as well think of me as a UK football/soccer lout. I’d be inclined to re-evaluate how I did my job, if I was perceived to come off like Jeremy.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Hey, can we have some editing here? This piece starts as follows:

    “In general, having kids requires surrendering some semblance of ‘cool.’ With kids, for instance, living room orgies have to stop – at least after 9pm.”

    Assume for the moment that “living room orgies” is a comical thought unrelated to the author’s possible overindulgence in the sleazier corners of the internet where such things can be viewed. What, then, does “at least after 9pm” mean? Orgies with kids in the house are okay BEFORE 9 pm?

    Obviously the entire post is frivolous – anyone could come up with such a list of cars – but still, this sticks out like a sore thumb (isn’t there a more up-to-date equivalent for this phrase? I can’t think of one) and should have been dealt with.

    (A separate question is why a writer who admits “I’m not sure that a sorrier list of ‘cool’ family cars has ever been assembled” was invited to write at TTAC.)

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      Chill out. Journalism at it’s best. No. Light hearted and cheerful; sure!

      Is it a good list of cars? Meh. I’d go by my suggestion and get one practical family car, and one fun car. Most households need two vehicles anyways. Hell, we have six.

      I enjoyed this piece. But I guess if someone out there actually has kids, no money, and realize even this crummy list of cars are above their means. Well, I guess I would hate the slap in the face of my own personal reality too.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      I guess the edit should be to make it read “till AFTER 9pm”. Could the up-to-date equivalent you’re looking for perhaps be “sticks out like a blue nose out of joint”?

      I thought it was a very funny piece.

    • 0 avatar
      ldl20

      Doug: If I could send you an invitation to write for TTAC, I would. As a former owner of an 04 Odyssey, sans stickers, that was traded in for a 4-door GTI, I can totally relate to the spirit of this post.

      But, you forgot one: 04-07 Mazda6 wagon (with the body kit, of course)

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      In the immortal words of our new best friend and big toe, Sgt. Hulka, “lighten up Francis.”

    • 0 avatar

      TTAC management approves of living room orgies, before or after 9pm.

    • 0 avatar
      Muttley Alfa Barker

      On the “Living Room Orgies”, he probably meant none before 9 PM.

  • avatar
    Maxseven

    As we all know, there is mass delusion and perhaps widespread mental problems afflicting the majority of kid-producers in the USA, in that most all feel they must drive a minivan or SUV. So your article should be rewritten with a serious attempt to help these poor people get their senses back and realize it is okay to buy a touring sedan, hot hatch, upscale euro saloon, or sports car (at least one).

    I vote for any of the Audi or BMW wagon variants. Sedans? Just as good.

    VW GTI or Golf R with a Thule Rack works too.

    • 0 avatar
      markholli

      @Maxseven

      In other words, “Hey everybody with kids, take some advice from somebody who doesn’t have kids and has no clue what it’s like to transport children.”

      Try to tell the mom loading 3 kids and a cart full of groceries into her minivan in a rainy supermarket parking lot that she should drive a hot hatch. Power sliding doors are a godsend in narrow parking spaces, and buckling kids into car seats is worlds easier when the seats are are at waist level.

      Point is, minivans exist for a reason.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxseven

        I have two kids and I understand what you are saying, however…

        I think it would indeed be helpful to tell a mother (as you describe) to drive a hot hatch. After all, we are talking about driving cool cars here.

        It isn’t much more difficult to load kids and products into non-minivans.

      • 0 avatar
        turbobrick

        My family went from a nice sporty wagon to a beater van, and I will say that everyone is much happier with the van. Nice car with nice interior is so much stress with little kids that you don’t need.

        As far as space usage goes, we did fine with a compact wagon w/ two kids 3yrs apart.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Point is, minivans exist for a reason.”

        True, but, to me, this post didn’t come across as either/or. People should drive what they feel is right for them but making someone aware of other options is a good thing.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    That’s it, this guy is now my favourite writer on TTAC. The pats are funny to read and they seem piss off people with no sense of humor. Keep it up!!

  • avatar
    mstover

    ’05 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT. Turbo charged 250hp all wheel drive! Safe with all the airbags and ability to drive through anything. Huge space for hauling everything in the back, and the seats are far enough apart to keep the “he’s touching me” to a minimum.

    Once kids are big enough, go small with a MINI Cooper Countryman all4….usually don’t have the fighting in the back any more so they can sit closer together, and there is still plenty of room in the back and it will go through anything…. but now you can have fun when kids aren’t with you.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “A ’95 Land Cruiser is like a savings account. Value in 2006: $9,000. Value in 2009: $9,000. Value today: $9,000. Coincidentally, that’s about the same interest rate I actually get on my savings account.”

    Nicely, nicely done.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Have you got any better ideas?”

    I just caught wind of a 1998 Windstar Northwoods Edition that would give any of the above a run for their money.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    If the Lionheart that is the Volvo 850 T5R is brought up, one has to mention its Saladin, the Saab 9000 Aero and its 9-5 descendant. The risk of bankruptcy is similar, and the Swedish vibes were upfront and not markedly muted by GM interference until 2006.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Doug, your assessment of the Land Cruiser is spot on. Land Cruisers are more of a holding account, rather than a depreciating asset. Same goes for Tacomas.

    Where I live in the Rockies, it’s very common to come across 93-97 Land Cruisers whose original owners are only now, in 2013, selling or upgrading. Most of them have 250-300k, and are still selling for $6000-$9000.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How about a Saab 95 Areo Wagon? Then your kids can worry if you’ll leave them orphaned like GM did to Saab.

    “Obviously you can’t keep driving the 323, since the marijuana smell will stunt your child’s growth.”

    Memo to doucebags in 3-seires BMWs. Smoke enough weed and you won’t need to worry about knocking your girl up, but you might have to borrow her bra.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      A 10 year Saab 9-5 wagon pulled $4,000 on a no reserve ebay auction. Not bad for coming from a bankrupt car company. Many of the manual transmissioned examples pull closer to $8K. This one has the bigger Mitsubishi turbo so 300HP/330ft-lbs of torque is a couple of hundred dollars away you too can spin the tire on the 3-2 downshift in the wet. The 9-5 wagon has the biggest wagon cargo hauling available only to be dwarfed by the MB E320 and within a cubic foot of the Volvo and Dodge Magnum wagons. It the same size as many mid-sized cross-overs but handles like a car and regularly sees mid- 30′s in fuel economy.

      http://item.mobileweb.ebay.com/viewitem?nid=58441640402&nav=SEARCH&itemId=200892121546&index=0&emvAD=356×242&nbcol=0%7Cunknown

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    At first read I thought this was the worst piece of dreck I’ve read on this website and was quite offended. The overall tone was “childless guy giving advice on how to be a cool dad”, which made me want to write a very nasty reply. After reading it again, I see the tone was more tongue-in-cheek.

    I suppose I’ll find this article more funny in a few years. Right now I’d prefer the “Ugly, Uncool and Un-killable: How to keep your fleet of crap from ending up on Junkyard Finds while paying for daycare”-piece.

  • avatar
    vikast

    I thoroughly enjoyed the article and appreciated the sense of humour.

  • avatar

    See, we need real help with this very topic. Our second is arriving in late July. I have an 07 Fit that my wife can’t drive because she panics in traffic if she has to downshift (she never learned to drive stick and no amount of teaching can rectify at this point), and with the toddler behind me, as owuld be the configuration, I’m eating steering wheel. With the rear-facing seat behind the passenger, my wife is in the dashboard as well. So we’re going to sell it. Berate our gross consumerism all you want. I can get 2/3 of what I paid for it.

    So what do we replace it with? We’ll keep it for at least 10 years, so a worn out beater isn’t an option. No Panthers. A used car might not be the best option, given the length of time we intend to keep it. It would be a gamble – would the savings up front be greater than potential problems not covered by warranty? I dunno.

    That said, I don’t want a minivan. We have two kids. It’s not necessary. I think a solid mid-size sedan would fit the bill. The new 2013 Accord Sport is a likely candidate. I also like the new Mazda6 Touring.

    The CX5 Touring is also a strong candidate. I’ve alway shad a hatchback, and in all honesty the CX5 is a great handling, comfortable, fuel efficient daily driver.

    We have $18k saved.

    My wife is fixated on a minivan, and seems to be pushing me to sell the Fit, then buy an Odyssey for her, and I’d take her ’02 Camry for three or four years, until we’d saved up enough money to buy another new car, which she lovingly calls “my last car”. Ugh.

    So we fight about this. A lot.

    A non-tongue-in-cheek article/discussion on this topic would actually be pretty dang helpful.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You sound like you are about to become trapped in the classic: “Mom gets new car, Dad takes Mom’s old car.” Lather rinse repeat so you as the Dad are constantly stuck in the “driving my wife’s leftovers” category.

      My father survived this by having a fun car to drive on weekends and to the golf course. In his case it was a 12 year old V8 Mustang Convertible that he still has. (A 1967 he got in 1979 and still has.)

      • 0 avatar

        I have an ’82 Alfa GTV6. Fun, yes. To drive, not so much…

        The problem is my wife doesn’t take my financial sensibilities seriously. Which is probably why we have no debt, no mortgage, no car payments, etc. So maybe that’s not such a bad thing. But her mother has a lot of influence over some of her decisions, and she has convinced her a minivan is the ONLY reasonable solution, and that I should graciously accept selling my car, which I like quite a bit, and take a 12 year old appliance, with a smile and a bow. And if I balk, then obviously I’m selfish…

        Marriage is hard. Kids make it harder.

        The worst part of it is I can never again have a manual. I’d planned on a Focus ST. C’est la vie.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Get the Odyssey (for all of the reasons mentioned above in an earlier comment). We have two kids and it’s the perfect vehicle. Our minivan-hating friends are all gradually realizing that the Camcord with the oversized cartop carrier and bike rack on the back just doesn’t work that well for summer vacation trips.

      I have a 2001 Odyssey (2 kids), my sister has a 1999 (3 kids), and my brother has a 2004 (2 kids). We all came to the same vehicle solution independently. For its size, the Odyssey (at least the 99-04) drives and handles more like a car than any other minivan that I have tried – I just did a 400-mile road trip over this past weekend in it.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      @Chairman Kaga,

      Comrade, I don’t mean to be harsh so if this reply comes across as such know that is not my intention.

      Based on this post and your reply to PrincipalDan it seems as if any vehicle we recommend won’t see the light if day unless its “approved” by your wife.

      I understand household dynamics but what I fail to see is why you can’t buy what you want and she buys what she wants (within reason of course). Everybody’s happy and nobody has a vehicle forced on them.

      This is the way my wife and I did things pre-kids and it’s what we still do now.

      I feel for you. I like to drive (as do most on this site). It’s something simple, done daily, that brings me joy. Being saddled with a conveyance so popular with so many yet dishwater dull is bad for the soul.

      You should talk to your wife and stop this now. Or get used to driving beige hand me downs.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Chairman Kaga,

      Keep the Alfa, float a little debt and get the wife her minivan, what’s the big deal everyone is doing it. If you do go the minivan route read Baruth’s article about the 2011 Grand Caravan (as crazy as it sounds the GC along with the Town and Country actually drive great).

      Whatever you do don’t sell the Alfa! I sold my brown ’84 GTV6 20+ years ago and would love to have it back. The engine sound alone makes it worth keeping just to hear ot roar every once in a while. My wife better hope I never find another brown one or else we’ll have a new addition to the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      we used a 2002 Taurus to haul kids for about 3 months. Then got a 04 Sienna. It was a million times better for the job.

      Yes you can tote children in Taurus or even a Fit.

      Its just easier in a van. Easier to lift the infant seat into its base. Easier to change diapers inside of. Easier to buckle in at the toddler stage, easier to let the elementary kids in and out. Easier to have access to 3rd row for when kids friends come along Easier to separate bickering kids with a 3rd row. Easier to get stroller out of storage behind 3rd row (stroller can stand up, and you still have room for stuff. Easier in tight parking spots. Easier for long road trips. Easier for IKEA, Costco, or Walmart Runs ( Minivan holds a TON of shit)

      Just get your wife the Oddy, she is right and be glad she is the practical sort.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        That paragraph about “its just easier in a van….” is the reason I will never, ever be a father. Sounds like h…. on 4 wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @BobinPgh

        Same here. Despite my love of station wagons, my children have four legs, are a rather hairy, and only go in the car once or twice a year securely locked in a cat carrier!

        I’ve always thought humans should eat their young, would improve the species to no end.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      What about selling the Camry and getting whatever minivan you can with the proceeds (and your aforementioned savings)? You should definitely be covered for the basic Caravan (as ACD mentioned), and if your wife is absolutely set on an Odyssey, you should hopefully be able to find a demo or year-old model in your price range.

      If you trust the EPA’s numbers, the Camry will cost you about $2500 more in gas over the next five years over your Fit, which helps negate some of the Fit’s extra worth. Plus, it should have at five years more life left than the Camry.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is the Fit’s manual gearbox. Not that we’d swap cars, but there have been a couple of occasions, like when my wife’s car was in the shop, that I was the sole chauffeur. Plus it just makes sense to have cars both parties are capable of driving. We’ve worked for years getting my wife comfortable driving a manual, but as soon as other cars appear it’s full-on panic and meltdown. Hence, all future cars must have an automatic (or an auto function… DSG’s are acceptable).

    • 0 avatar
      turbobrick

      Who drives around with the kids most of the time? Sounds to me like she’s the one who wants to drive the van, not you. 18K + Camry + finance the rest. Remember to call your insurance agent and find out how will the new car impact your premiums, you may get a nasty surprise otherwise.

      All I can say is that we tried a compact wagon, a large wagon and an a minivan and everyone is much happier with the van. Kids love it, my wife likes it and I have really nothing bad to say about it. The flat floors inside are great, it’s like driving a short bus. It was also very useful when my parents came to visit. I could fit everyone in one car and the dual air conditioners kept everyone comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      2010 or later Subaru Outback, CVT with the flappy paddles.
      Why?
      - The rear seat legroom is IMMENSE
      - It’s a wagon
      - It’s AWD
      - The CVT makes your non-shifting wife happy
      - The flappy paddles let you fake a manual when you need it (hill descents, slowing without the brake lights…)
      - 30MPG highway is actually achievable.
      - When you get bored, a remarkable amount of STi suspension & brake bits are reported to bolt right in.

      I’m 6’1″ and still find myself with plenty of room sitting in front of my baby daughter’s rear-facing carrier (Chicco Keyfit30). I’ve also gone 500 miles with a 6’3″ body builder stuck behind me and neither of us had any complaints about the room – he still had 3″ before his knees found my seatback.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    One of the more noteworthy Volvo 850 print ads showed a photo of a black Countach on the highway towing a small going-to-the-dump trailer, with the caption “The Idea Behind the Volvo Station Wagon”.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I wanted a Challenger, but the kid compromise was the Charger. Woe is me.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Cars are expensive, especially to change. Families are expensive.

    Therefore, I subscribe to what I’d like to call the “Steve McQueen School of Automotive Taste and Parenting Aptitude”:

    Whatever car I’m driving at the moment is cool.

    (but you’d better believe as soon as my son is old enough to turn a wrench, I’m looking for an E30 or Miata…probably E30 so little sister can ride in the back)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I have a friend with four boys, age 7, 8, 9 and 11 (I don’t know what happened in 2002). He has a custom camper that slips into the bed of his ’95 F150. He has a hydraulic base for the camper so if he wants to haul the kids, he backs the truck under it, drops it in and bolts it down. Otherwise, he drives a manly pickup.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Since wifey and I would need separate cars anyway, I figure it would make the most sense to cover full span of our automotive needs. So she would get the wagon and I would get the GT + motorcycle.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Still driving my 95 M3 Lightweight with 3 kids under 7. Sparks their imagination to go places in “the race car”. Two of them know how to shift already (albeit lefthanded) when one rides in the front (allowed in our state with a booster).

    All the car seats we had – buckets, child seat, then booster seat – fit in the back. A rear facing child seat? No. But it’s never required.

  • avatar
    vertigo

    I almost died laughing at the first paragraph about the X5. Wonderfully fun article.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Well this post was a breath of fresh air. Enjoyable to read and pertinent to my own situation. Here’s a question for all the B&B. My daughter is about to turn 6 months old and getting her in and out of the back of my 2 door 2010 Cobalt is beginning to wear thin. Well, that and I really REALLY dislike the car.
    I want a car with 4 doors and a bit more space and is either a bit fun and/or silly. I own the Cobalt outright, figured it’s work about $10k and don’t have any more money to spend. Ideas?

  • avatar
    ajla

    “It also houses the world’s flimsiest third-row seat…”

    Pretty sure that this distinction belongs to the Mitsubishi Outlander.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Callaway Suburban. Pricey, but man are they attractive.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Let’s not forget the CTS-V Wagon.

    556 hp–check
    supercharged–check
    manual– check

  • avatar
    Adonis

    @Doug_DeMuro: Hey, I liked this one. Pretty funny.

  • avatar
    Astor

    You forgot about a GMC Typhoon! It takes everything that’s great about the early 90s GMC Jimmy, such as…er…well, anyways…and makes it far faster than any box-shaped vehicle should go. Besides a Volvo T5-R. As an added bonus it’s a two door so you get the joy of squeezing yourself over the folded front seat to wrestle baby seats into the back.

    Or a Contour SVT? Sure, the interior is compact size and you’ll never fit your pinky into the engine compartment because it’s so crammed full of V-6, but you won’t have to live with it long before the wiring harness chafes and it costs more than the car’s worth to replace the harness. Then you can upgrade to a nice FWD Impala SS and experience the best that torque steer has to offer…

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “Point is, minivans exist for a reason.”

    Indeed. And I lol everytime a friend or acquaintance says they wouldn’t get caught dead in a minivan.

    Get an Odyssey. At least its a little fun. And savor the 12-15 years you get to schlep them around in your adventuremobile. When it’s due to get sold or go to the crusher, every stain will bring a memory, every Jurassic french fry a smile.

    Don’t buy a rolling museum piece with kids. Everyone had the Grandma with the plastic covers on the couches, and the other Grandma with the threadbare comfortable couch. It’s called a living room for a reason.

    I’m getting ready to replace my vehicle. The 11 year old is very sentimental about the adventuremobile being retired since it’s the only thing she’s known, and the strollers go here, and the bikes there, etc. etc…..so I’m trying to figure a way to still keep it around for occasional duty (but respect it’s 13 year, 200k+ mile service to the family).

    Meanwhile I’m letting her help in the shopping for a new car, and might even give her the chance to pose three colors for me to choose from.

    Probably an Outback.

    Oh, and touche’ on the Land Cruiser. Even the old, bland ones are sexy in an adventureous way….

    • 0 avatar
      b72

      I suggested to my wife that we get a minivan. It’s comfortable, convenient, gets good mileage, and can carry lots of stuff.

      She said “you drive it” and bought a turbo Subaru wagon.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    AMG Hammer wagon. You will have to sell one of your kids to buy one, and harvest and sell body parts from the other on the black market to keep it running. But at least it has a cargo net to keep them from bouncing from one side to the other.

    A Taurus SHO wagon; like the “Bubba wagon” built for Car and Driver. Put a smile on your kid’s faces as you beat their friends in red light drag races until the engine, transmission, or the entire car blows up.

  • avatar
    bortlicenseplate

    @Doug Demuro: these were really great — especially loved the X5 one — please keep ‘em coming!

    This is only slightly OT: for those who laughed at Doug’s “living room orgies” thing, i.e. those with a sense of humour, you may enjoy Gavin McInnes’ piece for GQ about new parenthood — I know I did:

    http://www.gq.com/news-politics/mens-lives/201106/gavin-mcinnes-being-a-father

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    It’s too bad Nissan never offered the Stagea for sale in the US… not the newer ones that suck, but the older ones from the late 90′s, the ones that used a Nissan RB25DET engine, yup the Skyline GT-S engine, because the Stagea pretty much was a Nissan Skyline station wagon, you could even get the ATTESA AWD too…. and if your utterly insane (such as I am) you could have the 260RS, which was pretty much a Nissan Skyline GT-R wagon, same RB26DETT engine, transmission and ATTESA ETS-PRO AWD…. because your kids need to get to kindergarten, NOW.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    You left out the part wagon-part muscle car RWD LX based Dodge Magnum, basically a Charger/300 wagon. With the optional Hemi you can have a performance car while having decent room in the back for the kids, gear or stuff from the home improvement center. SRT versions packed even more power, an American AMG wagon so to speak. If you don’t want muscle car grunt the 3.5 and optional AWD allow you to differentiate yourself from the Subie driving moms while having the same practicality.

  • avatar
    Ciriya.com

    Very enjoyable article. Luckily my wife has her dream kid hauler now (a Prius). She was in the SUV/CUV phase for awhile but that ended when we nearly bankrupted ourselves buying gas in Valdosta GA (closest city is an hour and a half away) and our Ford Explorer blew 3 water pumps in 1 year. Now I get the Ford until I can figure out how to get rid of it, at which point I not only have the full OK to get a sports car/cool car, but she scours Auto Trader for my favorites to motivate me to ditch the Explorer sooner. lovely woman, she is.

  • avatar
    Cerum

    Went from an 02′ WRX that I auto-x’ed in SM to an 10′ Wrangler 4 door when the additions to our family came. It’s fun, just a different type of fun.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    As far as I am concerned, there are two decent family cars. Warm weather: Aston Martin Rapide, and Cold Weather: Cadillac Escalade ESV AWD.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Pontiac G8 GT. Mid 20′s price, HUGE interior, leather, 360 horsepower V8 and rear drive. Do basic bolt-on stuff: intake, headers, exhaust, etc. Wonderful family car.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    For large families and long trips, a Winnebago is ideal. With a sofa, flat screen TV and DVD, a bed for naps, a bathroom, stove and refrigerator, you never have to stop, except every 120 miles for gas.


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