By on October 3, 2013

Seth writes:

Sajeev,

I own two cars – a 2003 A4 3.0 quattro with 81k miles and a 2005 Boxster S with 50k miles. Both were bought used and both have been relatively inexpensive to maintain (so far). I went ahead and replaced the timing belt on the A4 earlier this year due to the car’s age, despite the fact the service manual doesn’t call for a new timing belt until 105k mi (which would occur at 13 years old based on my annual mileage).

That said, my wife is about to have our first baby and this has called my car choices into question. The A4 is pretty small – too small for a kiddo and all her associated stuff – and the Porsche, well, that’s a non-starter. Since I can’t turn the airbag off, my kid wouldn’t see the front seat of the Porsche until she’s a teenager.

The question is: do I trade in both cars and buy a family friendly SUV (say a VW Touareg) or keep the Boxster and trade the Audi in on something a lot less expensive, yet still family friendly? I am torn – I really enjoy the Porsche.

Sajeev answers:


Wait, WHUT? Kids aren’t allowed in a Porsche?

They’re sure as hell allowed in a C5-C6 Corvette…or a regular cab Ford Ranger for that matter.  Oh Porsche, how could you not let us share your pure driving experience with our cute little children?

Turns out that like many features/attributes of a Porsche, safely carrying your kiddo is an extra cost option.  Which sounds stupid, but it’s probably justified like other wallet-killing options: the Slim Thug approved wood grain wheel, fake aluminum trim, retro side decals, pointless body kits or leather-wrapped vent registers. This article explains the two options available to owners of older airbag’d Porkers and younger children. Part number 997-044-800-15 is probably what you need.

To what end?  Get the Boxster sorted for your future sprog and buy a normal vehicle to replace the A4.  I’d suggest avoiding Europe for that, getting a higher value Japanese or American alternative…and pocketing the cash savings from the next few years of ownership into a college fund for the kiddo. Or an impending IMS failure. Ain’t nothing wrong with owning a Boxster and a Camry! Probably.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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81 Comments on “Piston Slap: Porsche’s Kid Friendly Option. Yes, Option....”


  • avatar
    Slave2anMG

    Whaddya mean the A4 is too small for a baby and stuff? Doesn’t it have a trunk?

    Seriously, I don’t get this. Parents going out for the day pack like they’re going into the Sahara on a two month journey. My wife’s parents took an infant and a 3 year old from NC to WV in a 1964 Beetle, over the mountains for cryin’ out loud. A BEETLE. No interstate over the hill at that time either…it was US 52 up from Mt Airy to Fancy Gap. Don’t know how they managed eh?

    • 0 avatar
      GulfGolf

      I was going to say something similar. What kind of stuff are you expecting to cart around on the daily for ONE child? Save the money and learn to pack efficiently for trips.
      My wife and I have two kids, aged two and four, and we manage just fine in a MKIV Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      US-52 north to Fancy Gap? How DID the Beetle manage that climb??? I’m pretty sure that grade is a couple percent greater than what’s acceptable on modern road construction and that they now restrict or ban truck traffic on the stretch near the state line.

      Of course back when a 64 Beetle could have made that climb without disturbing too much other traffic (couldn’t have been after 68) then holding an infant in your lap was no big deal. Now you could probably see jail time for it.

      • 0 avatar
        Slave2anMG

        Vehicle over 8 tons gross are verboten down US 52 now below VA 148. But for some perverse reason a couple of years UPS ran its trucks – and I mean the tractor trailers, not the parcel vans – up US 52 from Mount Airy to Fancy Gap where they got back on to I-77. Damnedest thing…but there’s a old school truck stop at the bottom of the grade where you’d often see 3 or more UPS trucks. I haven’t been down the grade in a while so they might not do it any longer.

        It’s a nasty grade but there’s no truck runaway ramps on it…I’ve always found that odd. But it does have a truck lane upgrade all the way…which is probably where my in-laws Beetle plugged along.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’m sure the LATCH system in the 1964 Beetle worked great…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Seriously, I don’t get this. Parents going out for the day pack like they’re going into the Sahara on a two month journey.”

      True that. If my wife, myself and the two spawn go out for the day, I’m jamming bag after bag of crap in the car wondering, “WTF is all this for? If we end up stranded at the South Pole?”.

      When myself and one kid go out, the diaper explosion kit is usually my only extra baggage. Really, I should just keep one next to the first aid kit in each vehicle as part of the emergency kit.

    • 0 avatar
      rushn

      I keep on seeing the same from my friends with new bundle of joy. Somehow regular sized sedans are not enough for whatever 10 lbs of food disposal capability needs. I just stop talking to these people.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You stop taking to people because they buy a large crossover?

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          Yep I agree, forget the truck/SUV. As a father of 3, the A4 will work just fine for the new baby. Besides what’s safer than a german sedan? When we just had the one, my wife was leasing an ’05 Audi TT. That did have the capability to turn off the air bag and our oldest did ride in it from time to time once he was facing forward. Mostly/always he rode in the other vehicle. So my advice is to definitely keep the A4 and if you can get by with having him ride in that all the time, keep the Porsche.

      • 0 avatar
        colin42

        Part of the problem is the size of many car seats make people to think they need a larger car. Consider looking for a smaller carseat each time – yes it will likely have a lower weight range but carseats cost a few hundred bucks compared to the thousands of a new car. Try different car seats and different locations in the car(middle or side)to see which fits best.

        Im my case a Safety 1st infant carseat fitted better in the RX8 than it did in the Honda Pilot

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Keep the A4! As a kid, we had a shiny Ford Escort sedan. The three of us fit just fine. It got cramped at times, but it was large enough for us- and cheaper on gas than an SUV. We had that little Escort until I was 12 or 13. It finally died at 351k on the clock. We managed just fine. The A6 Wagon I drive now is a lot nicer and roomier, but we managed with the Escort.

      The A4 is certainly large enough, has a V6, and quattro! In winter, nothing I’ve owned beats quattro. If you want something bigger, get an A6 Avant. I own one and can haul anything I want.

      I’d keep both cars. Why have another car payment when you don’t need one? Keep the Audi and the Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Good point. Those below listed the tiny cars they rode in when they were kids, but I rode in a 1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe, about the size of a Chrysler 300 today. Still, the point should be how much is enough for traveling with a baby?

      When my aunt traveled with us and her infant, there was a nylon bag the size of a large shopping bag that held all the baby’s needs. A father loading bag after bag for a short trip should note how many were unneeded on the first trip, and in future trips, refuse to indulge his wife’s instinct to prepare for all possible eventualities, probably including the Cubs winning the World Series.

    • 0 avatar
      bollockitis

      It’s simple really. Modern car seats are pretty damn big, and children up to the age of 2 have to sit rear-facing, which takes up a hell of a lot of space. In most cars — even ones that seem otherwise roomy — wherever that rear-facing car seat goes, it’s almost certain that no one is going to be sitting in front it. In my case, at 6’2″ with a 34″ inseam, if I put a rear-facing seat in my old Honda Accord, I can’t even get into the passenger seat.

      Of course, you can put it in the middle — and that’s the safest position — but what if you have two kids in car seats? Or what if you PLAN on having another sometime in the future? And what if you’re taking the whole family, dog included, on a road trip? I would like to see a 1964 Beetle fitted with two modern car seats: one rear-facing and one forward-facing.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the damn rear-facing car seats. The footprint is massive for any and all of them. My daughter’s, in the back of the CRV with the rear seat all the way back, occupies so much room that my wife in the front passenger seat is literally 3 inches from the dashboard. Add in an umbrella stroller (or heaven forbid if you have two kids and one of those duallie strollers), diaper bag, etc., and it’s a ton o’ stuff, with the main culprit being federally mandated hardware.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      So all the parents in here clamoring that they don’t need all that space are all raising their kids in 500 square foot one-bedroom apartments, right? I mean, why would you need any more space? Lots of people have successfully raised children in small homes.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Thanks for beating me to this, I read, “The A4 is pretty small – too small for a kiddo and all her associated stuff.” And thought really? Cause there are tons of parents with TWO kids making do with a Civic or something similar. Parents just love overstating their need for a van or SUV because they have one baby. ONE. BABY. Car seat + 1 or 2 bags, max. Put them in the back seat, put them in the trunk. It’s an A4 sedan, not an R8. Maybe he meant to say he has an R8 with 80K miles.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    A Touareg? Well, if you are choosing between that and the Porsche Cayenne, I suppose it’s not a bad deal. But it sure ain’t a “family friendly” car unless your definition of “family friendly” means all sorts of meaningful family bonding time in the VW dealership service lobby while you get it fixed again.

    Perhaps the XC-60 or XC-70 (if you want something vaguely luxurious, with decent hauling capacity) or the CX-5 if you want to save your pennies. There are also worse choices than a 2006-2011 Passat Wagon if you want to stay German.

    • 0 avatar
      MK153

      People on this site sure do like to hate on the Cayenne.

      The XC-90 is riddled with problems – I really don’t think you can say its bulletproof and the Touraeg (or Cayenne) will be at the dealer more often than not.

      A used Cayenne S is a tremendous value – you can get one with 60,000 miles or less for $15-17K.

      About its “family friendliness” – it does have a decent storage capacity – but my biggest complaint (yes – I do own one) is that the front seats cannot be all the way back if you want to flip down the rear seats. That and the rear seats are *effing heavy!!** – I am 6’5″ and 280lbs – but jesus those things almost always take a bite out of my skin putting them up or down.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      My Touareg has been flawless — never seen a dealer yet. The T3 design (2011 on) has improved the reliability tremendously. Please see True Delta’s statistics on this model if you don’t believe it.

      • 0 avatar

        The T3 Touareg is still a reliability nightmare. Have a look at Consumer Reports or some T3 forums.

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          Just not true — I frequent the T3 forums every single day. The only (minor) issues are some cranky owners complaining about steering wheel shake at 65 MPH when the wheel bolts aren’t torqued properly to 133 ft. lbs, and the Check Engine Lights on diesel Touaregs which were fixed by VW with a issue with the evaporative recirculation system (pollution control).

          As a thirty-year Consumer Reports subscriber, I am aware that their Touareg reliability numbers 1. Don’t differentiate between gas and diesel engines, and 2. Are based on exceedingly low input from respondents and therefore borders on not being statistically significant. Check CR’s take on the sister Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, which sell in greater numbers due to their upscale image. You don’t see those showing up on CR’s Used Cars to Avoid list, by the way.

          The 2004 Touareg was a mess in regards to reliability — no question. Since then, the model has improved and the T3 redesign has significantly improved the model reliability-wise. Again, go look at True Delta if you don’t believe me.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Touareg is a great way to bathe in luxury without shouting your affluence the way an X5, Cayenne or Range Rover Sport would (and for the record, the previous-gen Cayenne did *not* age well compared to the Touareg). Used examples can be had pretty inexpensively. You also have the option of an Audi Q7, but somehow those seem to have reliability problems that the first-gen Touareg and Cayenne didn’t. And then of course, there’s the option to just skip the SUV thing altogether and just upgrade to an A6.

      Seriously, though, is an A4 *that* small? Yours seems to be in good condition and I don’t know if you should try your luck on a third used VAG product because they are hit-and-miss in terms of reliability, and you’re bound to end up with a sour one sooner or later…

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I used to work with a guy who had a 2000 A4 (1.8T I think) when his kid was born and he kept that at least until his son was 6. Granted his wife drove a full-size SUV (he needed that to tow his 916-clone to PCA races), but he picked up/dropped of his kid probably more often than his wife. The car seat will fit unless you and your wife are both gargantuan (over 6-3). All you really need is a diaper bag the size of a laptop backpack (the backpack ones are much better and manlier than the shoulder bags, trust me, my third is 9mo old), and opt for a quality umbrella-style stroller instead of the mega-bulky “travel system” stroller that holds the infant carrier and you’ll have room to spare in the A4. Also, fixed rear-facing car seats that hold newborns are slightly less bulky than the majority of infant carriers with the leave-in-car base. Shop car seats if you have to; not all are created equal and some are specifically designed for and marketed toward owners of smaller cars. Follow this advise and your A4 will suit you until your third arrives, unless your first is big enough to be out of a booster seat by then in which case you’ll still be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      We used the infant carrier system with the base that you leave in the car, though we never used the stroller portion (by the time each of our kids was big enough to be in a stroller, we used an umbrella stroller).

      The main reason we used that was because we could easily remove the sleeping child from the car and take them into the house without waking them up – just let them finish their nap in the car seat.

      It’s disappointing that modern car seats are so massive, but you don’t need a big car, what you need is a car with a good amount of rear seat room. Alternatively, automakers REALLY need to do a better job of shaping the upper seat backs of their small cars to accommodate rear facing car seats. You could easily gain 2 inches of additional rearward travel in the seat with just a small amount of material removed from the back of the front seats.

  • avatar
    BC

    The Audi should be OK with one munchkin. The rear facing baby seats take up quite a bit of room. My wife had 01 A4 when our first was born and it was a tight squeeze, but that car is smaller than the 03. We ended up getting a saab 9-5 wagon which was plenty of room. When the car seat goes forward facing you’re going to find you don’t need anything quite as big as a toureg – until #2 shows up. Your porsche is likely toast, but you don’t need to do anything until after the baby comes.

    And Sajeev has way too much car repair anxiety. Buy the car you want. If you’re buying used, you’re going to get way more car if you buy a depreciated european model vs japanese. Have you priced a used Subaru lately? I’ll take the pre-owned BMW, thanks. Any impending repair issues can be mitigated by a CPO or extended warranty.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Do what you think is best for your family. Every time there is a kid/car issue a bunch of people that come out of the woodwork and say, “Why do you need a CUV if you have a kid?” The anwser is that you don’t, but it certainly is nice.

    We went from a MKV GTI and Focus Titanium to a C-Max and MKT once we had a child. My wife and I are both much happier. I don’t know how tall you are, but my GTI and Focus (2003 A4 probably has about the same rear legroom) were uncomfortable for me with car seat in them. I need the seat all the way back in both. The additional truck space our new fleet has comes in handy often as well.

    Take the infant car seat and base, which you most likely have, when you go look at cars. Find one that works for you, whatever it may be. If you can get by with the cars you have now, great, but don’t let anyone tell you a CUV/SUV is a bad choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      This is a weird thing about this site: apparently nobody needs anything larger than an ’88 Excel, and if you want something larger or more comfortable YOU’RE A TERRIBLE PERSON WHO SHOULD LEARN TO LIVE BETTER, but also get a Panther (?).

      Keep (but modify) the Porsche and trade in the Audi, as Sajeev recommends. Sure, you can muscle a child seat into the back of the Audi, but why bother? The only thing you’re going to want two years from now is something, anything, to make your life easier, and no amount of “virtue” in driving a small car you’ve come to hate will overcome that. Go test drive the XC70, Touareg, a well-equipped CX-5, and any other conveniently-sized, decent-handling vehicle that you can afford and that won’t feel like a total downgrade from the A4 so that you won’t resent driving it, and buy what you like.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        I write this expecting to attract criticism but I see it as the truth. Most of us are worried about what folks think of what we drive and I am seeing a lot of that here today. My pride in that junk left decades ago with my hair. We don’t have kids but we sure do have grandkids. Lots of them. My wife and I travel due to her hobby of keeping up an electronic newspaper in our state.

        We have gone over 100k trouble free miles in a Nissan cube. First in a six speed and now in an auto. The rear seat is huge and the mileage has been between 32-34 mpg. Some of you wouldn’t be caught dead in one, I know. It handles the curves well,is a little loud at cruising speed, and has absolutely no pretensions. Our second car is a truck that carries feed and buiding supplies. Least said about it is better. Another day. YMMV but it works well for me and the Cubes easily handled two car seats and an adult in the middle. I’m thinking three car seats is reasonable. I expect a scion and a soul would do the same.

        Not a porsche, audi, or fit for the country club but it just works.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Agreed. We went from a MINI and a GTI as our primary vehicles (both 6MT) to a Prius v[an] as the primary vehicle with a 4Runner doing winter duty. Yeah, I wish they were more fun to drive, but with a 1 year old, I’m far happier with the bigger vehicles. The reclining back seats in both of the Toyotas really improve how our Chicco 30 fits in the vehicle and, when the little one is throwing a fit, you’ll end up in the back, so you’ll enjoy the additional adjustability of the rear seats. We do a lot of hiking and biking on our frequent weekend trips, so the extra space also means that I can just grab my milk crates full of my biking and hiking gear and toss them in the back without playing car tetris. Parenting is hard. “tall station wagons” make it a little easier . I’m becoming more and more convinced that having a fun car is the thing that doesn’t make sense. We still have the MINI, but it only saw 1500 miles last year, costs me $600/yr in insurance (full coverage), and $300/yr in personal property taxes. Not even factoring in deprecation, maintenance, or fuel, and my cost is over $0.50/mi!!!

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You had the same solution I did, except the Toyota version. Our daughter is out of the Chicco infant car seat and into the Britax convertible car seat. It is taller, but takes up less horizontal space.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          We have moved to the new Chicco NextFit Convertible seat in the Prius. It takes up a little less space than the Keyfit 30 that locks into the base, but it doesn’t move from vehicle to vehicle as easily. We now keep the bases in the 4Runner and MINI and use the keyfit 30 in those 2 cars. So, we can technically haul the kid around in all 3 cars, but the MINI is such an inconvenience that she’s only ridden in it 2x. She has recently hit a growth spurt, so I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be comfortable in the Keyfit.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That NextFit car seat looks awesome (I can’t believe I am saying that, look what having a child has done to me). We have two Britax CombiSomethings permanently anchored in our cars now. I do miss leaving her in the car seat sleeping. My wife is like a baby sleep ninja and can get her from car seat to crib while still sleeping. I do not have those skills.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Haha. Well worth it, though. My 1 year old figured out how to put her Lego Duplo blocks together the same day she “dribbled” a soccer ball for the first time (kick chase kick chase kick) over the weekend. Very proud papa.

        • 0 avatar
          Car Ramrod

          I feel your pain with the Britax. I just moved to that from the keyfit 30 last month. It is far larger than the seats Britax made 10 years ago when we first started having kids. The only place it fits in my ’02 5-series is in the middle seat, and that’s strictly a front-facing affair, even though my youngest is only 16 months (unlike my wife, I think we’re less likely to wreck if I can actually see out the rearview mirror).

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I can at least say that the Britax car seat, and Chicco for that matter, is made really well. We took a vacation to Arizona last month, and I was appalled by the quality of the EvenFlo car seat we got from the rental car company. It took my 20 minutes to get it hooked up to the LATCH system. Even then, it would still move around.

            The Toyota Avalon we rented didn’t impress me either. After a few days, I had it switched out for a Taurus Limited, and I am not a Taurus fan.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I almost always disagree with Sajeev’s advice and I take that as a point of pride.

    So they have two paid-for cars that the guy is happy with so far, and apparently putting about 5,500 miles per year on the Boxster S and about 7,500 miles per year on the A4, which indicate that these folks don’t really do a lot of driving, so now they should sell the paid-for Audi, which won’t net much, since those supposedly depreciate fast, and get I suspect a somewhat newer Camry, which will cost quite a bit considering their high resale value…and then “pocket the savings” from that transaction – ?

    What savings would that be? Sounds to me, and I suspect to most sane people, that by following Sajeev’s advice he would be going on the hook for about ten thousand bucks.

    Contrary to nail-biter Sajeev, who is apparently afraid of sailing off the edge of the flat automotive earth, a paid-for Audi sedan getting modest use IS a “normal car.”

    • 0 avatar
      BC

      I don’t know man. The thought of two trips to the mechanic within a calendar year makes me anxious. That might cost an extra 1500 bucks. Better to spend an extra $10k now so as not to risk saving money while driving a nicer car.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    The child doesn’t take up much room, but man, their seats! If you think the rear-facing seat is bulky, wait until you step up the “convertible seat” around the one-year-old mark. Those things are huge. Factor in the new recommendation that children should face rearward until they turn two, and you are really gonna need some more space if you are taller than about 5’6″ or regularly ride with a passenger who is.

    If you are tall, a full-sizer is in your future. I am 6’3″, and I do not fit comfortably in front of a convertible seat in plenty of midsize to large sedans and SUVs. The trick, as has been said, is to find a car with a lot of rear-seat space, or an SUV with two good-sized rows instead of three cramped ones (at my height, even a Pilot/MDX is tight).

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Modern car seats are massive. Even in my wife’s MDX, with a base-type infant car seat behind the driver, I can’t put the driver’s seat and backrest where I want it, and I’m barely 5’10″ tall.

    I have a used X5 for kid hauling and it works well because I usually don’t have a car seat behind the driver’s seat. In hindsight, an old 7 series BMW might have been better than the X5 for accommodating car seats in the back.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      I have an E70 X5 and I would agree about the a rear-facing seat. If I sit in the passenger seat ahead of the infant seat, my knees are pinned to the dash.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Are you sure about that airbag in the Boxster? I have a 2007 Cayman, and there is a weight sensor in the passenger seat. The airbag works if there is an adult in the season, but if the weight is too light, it deactivates the airbag.

    I went through this same question a year ago with our new baby. So far we’ve kept the Cayman, and my wife’s Volvo V50 has done a fantastic job. The key is to swap that a4 out for an Avant. The v50 is about the same size (maybe even smaller) than the A4, but the wagon makes all the difference.

    Don’t touch the Porsche!

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      If the seat is installed correctly, I suspect that the airbag would feel heavy enough to the seat to deactivate the airbag. I think the sensor is just for the car to determine how much force to use if the airbag needs to inflate. I know on my 996 (and I think on the 987), the only way to turn the airbag off is by using the Porsche Airbag Deactivation Bar.

  • avatar
    Chris FOM

    What does your wife drive? If you asked me what I owned I’d just mention my E90 3-series and leave out my wife’s Flex, but if the Audi and Porsche are it then it’s a different discussion.

    We’ve got two and can get out in my car without too much trouble, but the Flex is far easier. First, you do need the space. Due to the safety regulations car seats are far bigger than they used to be even 15-20 years ago and the kids are stuck in them far longer so you can’t count on them quickly growing out to limit how much space you have to devote. Add in strollers, diaper bags, etc., and the amount of stuff involved gets out of hand shockingly quickly, and not all of it is the waste that the “back in my day” crowd would have you believe.

    As for practicality, with one kid you’ll probably be ok with the Audi for weekend trips or shorter. Anything longer than that and the amount of space lost to the kids will hose you. Doesn’t sound like you drive much, so that may not be a huge limiting factor. If that’s the case whoever has the baby takes the Audi, the other parent has the Porsche, and you’re good to go.

    With two kids it all goes out the window. The Porsche is likely gone. The Audi will work fine for the “off” parent (ie the oone that doesn’t have the kids as much, in particular both of them), but you’re going to want something bigger for routine family driving. If the possibility of three kids exists then you want three rows, the current car seats are just too big to be able to easily stuff all three in the second row.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Yes, yes, all owners of enormous vehicles like the space, we get that. I think it all comes down to what the wife wants to drive. Mine demands RWD and manual transmission, so my choices are limited in this country.

      • 0 avatar
        Nostrathomas

        “Mine demands RWD and manual transmission”

        You better be treating this woman right!

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        If you need an enormous vehicle with RWD and a manual transmission I suggest you check out the Ram 2500 Crew Cab with 8′ bed and a 6.7L diesel engine backed by a 6spd manual. Not enough interior space? Don’t need so much open bed? Go for the Mega Cab with 6′-4 bed.

        Sure it’s expensive, sure it’s not as much enclosed seating or cargo room as a Suburban, but you can’t get a Suburban with a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      3 kids in a manual transmission RWD sedan can be done, provided the age spread is right. My kids are 9, 5, and 1, and they squeeze into my car daily. The 5-year old needs help buckling with the giant car seat tray in her way, though.

      My wife wouldn’t deal with that. I guess that’s why she finally submitted to getting a van. All kidding aside, the minivan is infinitely more useful than a Tahoburban or Lambda with captain’s chairs for our purposes.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > The A4 is pretty small – too small for a kiddo and all her associated stuff

    I don’t know about A4 but we had little trouble with our matching 325i’s. And we did travel long distance with pack-n-play, toys, stroller, baby monitor, diapers, portable potty, clothes for a week, etc., etc. all packed neatly in the trunk. I cannot imagine A4 being much worse than a 3-series in this regard. In fact, we even traveled to Canada with 4 adults and the baby in the car with all our stuff in the trunk and a roof mounted cargo carrier. No problem.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’ve asked this question before and no one has ever answered – what do Europeans do? They are JUST as into child safety as we are, and over there an A4 is a relatively BIG car. Most Northern Europeans are taller than most Americans too. There must be intelligently designed car seats out there.

    I mean if you want to get an S/CUV to save wear and tear on your back getting the sprog in and out I certainly feel your pain, but it sure doesn’t seem particularly necessary just because the Audi is too small. Among my friends with <2yo kids, one couple drives his and hers TDIs (a Jetta and a Golf, both 2012s), the other has a Corolla and a Camry (both 2010s), with the Corolla doing most of the kid hauling. Both couples are good-sized though not exceptionally tall people with one kid.

    As for the Porsche, disable the airbag and keep it! I have a friend who did just this with his Miata when he adopted an infant. Kid is 13-14 now, he still has the Miata!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I don’t care what Europeans do. It isn’t relavent to my lifestyle or wallet. Just like a Suburban or Expedition isn’t relavent to them. If Ford, GM, etc had midsized and full size wagons, I would think about it.

      Gas is cheap, I drive far, and there are plenty of good large SUV/CUV choices in America. I have owned euro hatchbacks, and for my family, the Lincoln MKT is just better. It does everything better except for fuel economy and parkability. I’ll take the 22 MPG, down from 25 MPG with the GTI, and it parallel parks itself.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I guess it all depends upon your automotive value system, and that’s why I have a GTI instead of a big SUV that parks itself. Nobody ever said that driving a car-enthusiast-type car was not going to entail any kind of sacrifice. If you really think a Lincoln MKT does everything better than a GTI except parkability and fuel economy (like be fun to drive, for example), it’s probably good that you got rid of the GTI.

        I have had hot hatchbacks since my son arrived…he’s 9 now…and honestly I don’t recall any impression other than an awareness that I still had a lot more room than I needed. And that is with long road trips, too.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          You are right, the GTI is more fun to drive, but it isn’t faster. How much fun do I have commuting on the Detroit freeways though?

          The cars I have now are better for my lifestyle. There are certain things I miss about the GTI, but I don’t wax nostalgic for it. There are plenty of different answers to the same problem. Having properties 200 miles away from each other also factors in to having a larger car. There is always something I have to take either way along with stuff need for my family.

          BTW, I’ve also owned a few hot hatches/compacts. GTI, GLI, Focus ST, Focus SVT, and an Audi Quattro. I get why people like them, because I like them too.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Well, you are sounding like a jerk. For one thing, there are plenty of people out there who can’t afford to just chop in a paid for small car because they have a kid. And given that this guy has an Audi and a Porsche, perhaps he actually cares how the car drives?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          As soon as I pressed submit, I knew it would sound jerkish.

          I don’t think he should get rid of his cars. If he can make it work, thats the best case senario. The cars I owned didn’t work for me with a kid for a number of reasons.

          However, just because Europeans consider a 90 HP Fiesta to be an acceptable family car, doesn’t mean that I have to or should be expected to. I care about how my cars drive, but I gave up some of that for space. My primary vehicles aren’t competing with M3s for drivabilty, but they do very well in their segments.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Original poster: So, what’s your wife’s car?

    You said “I own two cars.” So does she own one? Are they both joint ownership?

    What about keeping them both or getting her something kid friendly?

    Otherwise I say sell the Audi and buy a Dodge Caravan “MAN VAN” in the loudest paint color they’ll sell you and drive like your are Jack Baruth incarnate.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Ahh, MAN VAN is something I would embrace. Not the kind you are talking about, though. When I traveled in Alaska, I saw several vehicles with European plates but by far the most intriguing was a MAN chassis RV with manual gearbox and German plates. Now THAT’S a MAN VAN! :-)

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-dodge-grand-caravan-r-t-road-test-review That is what I meant. Personally I think it needs a functional hood scoop. ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          tooloud10

          Looks like ChryCo is up to its old trick of sticking a spoiler and some racy-sounding letters to a car and calling it a new model. I’m disappointed that they didn’t do a real “man van” with a hopped-up motor, brakes, etc.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Put me on the list of those questioning the need for a vehicle larger than an A4. I’m 29, and for most of my childhood, my dad had an 89 Honda Civic Hatchback (bought new, kept for 13 years). Mom went through 2 Subaru GL wagons, 2 Infiniti G20s, one 1996 I30, and a 1990 Toyota Camry. She now has a Lincoln Town Car, but she didn’t get that till my sister and I had started college. The I30 was biggest car we had through high school. All 4 of us drove from Florida to Wyoming and back on a monthlong summer family vacation in one of the G20s when I was 12 and she was 10. None of those vehicles have any substantive size advantage on a 2003 A4.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      Trust me, what you went through as a kid is irrelevant here. I’m about your age (31) and am the oldest of 5, so I remember what the car seats were like when we were kids. Mine was a light steel tube frame with a plastic shell and some vinyl-covered light foam padding. By the time I was 4 or 5 I was out of it completely (and my mom is a pediatrician). Same for all of my younger siblings. Booster seats were just gaining in popularity with the youngest 2. Mom tried them, they didn’t work out, and gave up within a month.

      The newer ones are in a different category entirely. They’re absolutely huge, with tons of metal and plastic, enough bolstering to make Recaro blush, big Styrofoam inserts, and support everywhere. By the time I was 2 I could buckle and unbuckle my own car seat. My older daughter is 3 and can’t even get close and won’t be able to any time soon. On top of that, the age requirements have skyrocketed. Kids have to be in some type of restraint until they’re 8 (or 100 lbs). It’s a completely different regulatory environment. You could fit three 1980s car seats across the bench seat of a reasonably large sedan or station wagon. By comparison my wife and I ended up in the back of a rental Impala a year ago next to our daughter in her car seat and it was miserable.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You and I are within a year of each other so I remember those 80s car seats too, so I’m curious to know if you think keeping kids in some kind of car seat until they enter high school is a knee jerk reaction or justified?

  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    I think one thing folks here are forgetting as they consider a car for carrying kids is ride height.

    While the back seat of that A4 can certainly accommodate a child seat (or two), stooping over all the time to belt a kid into and out of a child safety seat, then packing and unpacking assorted kiit can literally become a pain in the backside.

    One of the great things about SUVs/CUVs is that the hip point — where your hip is where you stand, compared to the base of the seat — is just about even. The same reason older folks like trucks and SUVs is why parents learn to love them: you can stand up like a normal human being while you load/unload everything and slide into or out of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      I find this argument to be completely not true. What I have found important packing babies into the back seat is how wide rear doors open. As far as the height, I find it more difficult to reach up than to reach down. In fact, one time we had to pack our daughter into a Dodge Caravan and my wife complained bitterly how difficult it was because it was so much higher. In addition, our daughter could not climb into the minivan by herself because the step-in height was so much higher than our 3-series. We had to lift her in and out, which was extra work. Plus, those sliding doors just give me the chills when I think about little fingers getting caught in them…

  • avatar
    MK

    The correct answer is sell the boxster and replace with a 911 (look honey! Back seats for the kids!) and sell the Audi for an SUV of some sort.

    Best of both worlds.

    And yes, car seats these days are absolutely ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      That’s actually exactly what I did. When my oldest was born, I retired my Miata and bought a 911 and the rear seats truly have been a lifesaver for me. Most of the time the kids ride in my wife’s X5, but this combination is infinitely more palatable to us than all the demands that we sell our fun cars and replace them all with minivans.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    I’m in the camp that says the A4 is plenty big enough for one kid, and it is likely big enough for two as well. (Big enough for two is dependent on whether both kids need to be rear facing, and if they do, then if you can fit one behind you or not.)

    You might like, or enjoy something bigger, but you don’t need it.

    You can shop around for smaller (lighter) strollers and car seats. These things might seem expensive, but they are much cheaper than cars :)

    The child arriving is an event, which means two things are at play:

    1. You have an excuse to go spend some money.
    2. You have a fear of the unknown.

    Really, the sensible thing to do is to wait until 6 months after the child has arrived and then make a much more educated decision on whether to replace cars or not.

    We have 2 children, both are rear facing, and we don’t own a car bigger than an A4.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Keep what you have. You are going to have plenty of things to spend money on.

  • avatar
    kkt

    The A4 should be big enough as long as you just have one kid. We had one kid with a 98 Civic and then an 02 Protege, and it was quite doable, even on camping trips. Limited space keeps you from taking too much needless stuff.

    Those humongous car seats do keep kids safer. The 2003 accident that killed the Civic put Mom in physical therapy for years, but Kid was just scared.

    If you have more than one kid, though, at least one of your vehicles will probably need to be traded for something bigger.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Seth – Dump the Audi and pickup a V70 AWD and be done with it.

    I posted auction figures in the Volvo article yesterday regarding MY08 V70s, basically you’re looking at spending $20K for one retail in the 50K miles range. I personally wouldn’t give much on trade for an ’03 A4 (base?) but if I had to guess its worth in the 6-10K range, so say you get 8, finance 12ish @ near zero and pay maybe $260ish/month/48month (or $200/60mo) loan and save the other $200/mo or so you’d be spending for a new lease/new car toward proactive maintenance with your friendly local Volvo indy mechanic.

    You’re welcome.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    I dumped my Boxster fast at that point, glad to be rid of the ticking time bomb of IMS failure.

    If anything keep the Audi since you can, in a pinch, take your baby in it. Or just sell both and buy a Panamera or something.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    Did i really need a diaper genie? Hell no. But at the time, i went full we todd did like all new parents.

    This guys can afford it, let him get what he thinks will keep his family happy and comfy.

    My wife and I got a rav4 in anticipation of our daughter. Had a mazda 3 hatchback prior…. probably could’ve managed with that at the time… but why bother?

    And the extra room comes in handy for target/walmart runs.

    As for cuv/suv vs wagons…. well. If you want to go cheap, there are way more low miles cuvs for sale at a price range whete you can only get a beat-up german vwagen. Ja.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    We made it almost a year with a Passat. Switching to the RX made everything go from “possible” to “pleasurable” loading the car with kid and stuff. Beach trips always need cargo, and beach trips with a little one… that’s more stuff.


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