By on December 23, 2010

Hello guys! Maybe you could help me make up my mind. I have a baby coming in June. I drive a Fiat Palio hatchback. In anticipation of my son, should I get the Palio’s sedan version, the Siena?

First off, let me say this: The Palio is one of the best cars I’ve ever had. Really. Honestly. It’s a 2006 version. It has a surprisingly spirited 1.0L engine that gets good fuel economy, but also gives me something extra when I want to push it a little for some fun. It has almost 60 000km on the clock, and nothing, and when I say nothing I really, honestly mean nothing, but wear and tear items, has ever needed replacing. To be honest, my plan was to keep it forever. Do I need to change my plans for my son?

You see, it’s only problem is that it’s a two-door. If it were a four-door, I wouldn’t even be thinking of replacing it. However, baby seats are not too far off in the future. Is it really so back-breaking to install, uninstall them every once in a while? My wife has a Renault Logan, which will be the main family car. Most of the time the baby seat will be in it, but from time to time, said seat will end up in my car.

So far, in favor of keeping the car, I’ve come up with the following: it’s fully paid for, it’s well-built and will last a long time, and it serves me perfectly in my daily routine. Against the idea of keeping it: the two doors and the resulting “chore” of the baby seat, lack of trunk to haul baby stuff. Plus if I do get the Siena it’ll help me on my “weekend job”. On weekends I moonlight as a delivery boy for my wife’s company. Getting things to customers would definitely be easier in the Siena.

I have a perfectly serviceable car. Its shortcomings though will be highlighted by the baby’s coming. I wouldn’t like to spend too much money though at this time. So if I do buy I’d go used. This of course brings up another bag of possibly negative consequences, though I generally know my way around cars and I’ve been happy (or lucky) with my used-car purchases. This Palio is just so good it makes the prospect of changing an almost perfect car for something that’s always um tiro no escuro (a shot in the dark) even more daunting.

That’s my question then. As Steven Lang is famous for saying, “your purchase of footwear will impact your life much more than your choice of car”. Should I follow him and put up with some (possible) back pain? Should I go for it and avoid the pain? Am I just using the baby’s birth as an excuse to satisfy the itch to buy a new car? Or is a sedan just an overall more practical family car that it would justify its acquisition?

BTW, in Brazil a subcompact sedan is a perfect family car. It’s small enough to be economically viable and easy to maintain, while sporting a trunk (in the Siena’s case 500 liters worth of trunk) to make it family friendly. No, minivans are much more expensive and station wagons are almost out of the picture down here. Plus my wife hates station wagons!

Thanks for the input.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

71 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Which Car For Marcelo’s Baby?...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Plus my wife hates station wagons! Ay mi dios!  (I know that’s Spanish but hey it’s what I’m familiar with.)  My future one does too!
     
    Congratulations on the coming bundle of joy.  Perhaps it would be cheaper and easier to buy 2 baby seats?  Keep one in each car and forget about the “install/uninstall” routine?  I’d really hate to see you get rid of a car that you planned on keeping for a long time because of a baby seat.  Plus if I remember correctly from many of your earlier reports, cars are dang expensive in Brazil.
     
    Vaya con dios.  (Sorry Spanish again, I know.)  :P

    • 0 avatar

      Hi EducatorDan!

      Why do women have such a beef against wagons? The Palio has a station wagon version, too, and I like it. My wife though. Plus the Siena sedan is cheaper…Sigh!

      As to the Spanish…very good!

      The equivalent in Portuguese (in order of appearance) is : Ai, meu Deus! and the Fica com Deus! (which actually means stay or be with God).

      Anyway, Fica com Deus e Feliz Natal!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Why do women have such a beef against wagons? 

       
      Does your wife at least come by it honest?  My lady has the excuse of being forced to sit in the rear facing seat of a mid 80s Chevy Celebrity wagon and having a day care provider who ferried her around in a GM B-body Oldsmobile wagon that smelled vaguely of vomit.  My experiences were positive because I got to get behind the wheel of my dad’s Caprice Classic wagon after getting my license.  It’s 305V8, 4brl combo would have made it a rocket ship in Brazil, I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine really doesn’t. Her “rational” justification is that they’re ugly. Her “real” and unassumed justification is that she once said that she thinks she’d look like an old lady in one.

      In her house they never had SWs. In my house we always did. While little, in the US, my dad always had a big Chevy wagon. I used to sit in the back looking at the incoming cars. Later in Brazil he had two VW Santana Quantums, a Chevy Astra Wagon and a Marea Weekend. All cool, all very fast for Brazil. His dream used to be to buy a Mondeo wagon.

      I’d have a wagon in a heartbeat.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      Dan, that’s a literal translation, and you’d never hear a native speaker say it that way.
      It’s “Ay, dios mio!”
      Marcelo, we’ve got the same conundrum in my household. I drive a 2-door 2008 MkV GTI, wife drives a 2006 Mazda3 5-door, which is the main “family” car for taking our 1-year old places. We only have 1 car-seat and my wife insists on sitting in the back with our daughter when we go places. So when we’re in my car, that means going through the motions of installing a car seat, then she squeezes into the back, all the while complaining about the entry process.
      Our cars are paid for, so it’s tough to justify getting into debt again so soon after buying cars. Plus, my wife has the older car with more miles on it, so, technically, if anyone should upgrade, it should be her. I find myself lusting after the new Golf R (4-door/stick, of course), or the new Jetta Sportwagen TDI (stick) as a consolation prize, and I have a sweet spot for the Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi (you guessed it, w/ a stick). But, if we can stick it out, it won’t be too long before my girl can climb up into the seat herself, and, we’ll have bought a second car-seat, most likely used.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi akitadog!

      Time always solves all problems, doesn’t it? Sounds like pretty soon you’ll be able to realize your dream.

    • 0 avatar
      cacon

      What Dan said!
      Buy a second baby seat. That’s what we did in our family, just have a seat in each car. A lot easier and cheaper than changing/buying a car.
      I don’t think that having a sedan will give you much more cargo space, if you have the patience to load a hatchbak, it can carry all your stuff and things that are big in volume and may not fit in the “rectangular” space of a sedan trunk. We have a 2004 Ford Fiesta “5 door” and a 2009 Seat Leon “5 door” too. Both manuals, both very practical.
       
      Of course a wagon would be the perfect compromise and if that is not an option and you really want to change the car, get the 4 door hatchback (although I think 4 door hatchbacks are called 5 door versions right?…anyway…)
       
      Have fun! and Merry christmas!

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Cacon!

      Pls read my answer to Dukeboy below as to reason why this won’t probably happen. It has to do with security. Don’t want my car to become a thief magnet!

    • 0 avatar
      cacon

      Yeah I read it too late!! Sorry.
      Too bad you can’t go that way, it would help a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      @Akitadog:
      I would strongly advise against SAAB 9-3. The main reason is reliability, the second – absolutely no space in the back seat. If you want to get bitten by a SAAB bug at all, go for a M2004-05 9-5 Wagon. Arc – if you want ride quality and lower costs, or consider Aero – just for the hell of it. These two years are pure gem – all bugs fixed and reliability is excellent. Besides, you have one of the truly safest cars on the road and tons of space.

    • 0 avatar

      @akitadog

      I know natives would say “Ay, Dios mío!”, but that would have to be translated as “Oh, God of mine”. So when Dan says “Ay, mi Dios”, it’s actually correct to translate it as “Oh, my God”!

      Just sayin’

      Feliz Natal!

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    In July of 1998 I got married. In September of 1998 I bought a Pontiac Firebird. This was in addition to a 1994 Chevy Beretta, giving my wife and I two 2- door coupes in our personal “fleet.” In November of 1998 my wife got pregnant with our first child and by August of 1999 we were trying to shuffle the kid in and out of one of the coupes. It sucked, especially in the Firebird. Especially when it was raining or snowing. I would imagine in Brazil that rain will be a serious concern during certain times of the year although snow won’t be. We did it until October of 2000 before I broke down and traded the ‘bird for an extended cab GMC Sierra with the rear opening suicide doors. Life was much better.

    So, sorry, but you’re gonna need a four door. You can try to make it work for awhile, but the first time you thunk your kid’s head really, really hard on either the roof or the B- pillar because you were in a hurry to wrestle him into his car seat during a monsoon, your wife is going to insist on a 4 door anyway. Might as well save your kid the headache and get one now.   

    Edit to add: I blanked right over the part about your wife’s car and how it will be the primary family car. In that case, I’m with Dan: You should just get two car seats and leave one in both cars permanently. The really difficult/ annoying part of carseat and baby wrangling with a 2 door car is in the early months when they are riding in the rear facing seats. Once they graduate to the forward facing or booster seats then it’s not as big a hassle, although 4 doors are definitely easier.

    What you’ll find is that you will go out of your way to make sure that the baby rides in the four door car to avoid having to wrestle him into your car. You’ll sooner swap cars with your wife depending upon who has to watch the kid before you wrestle him into the seat. It’s just easier.

    My intention is to make my kid learn from my mistakes. Her first car will be a 4 door sedan. If I had gotten the 4 door Chevy Corsica instead of the 2 door Chevy Beretta, I could have avoided the problem entirely.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the thoughts.

      As a response to you and EducatorDan, to buy two sets of seats might be risky. You see baby seats are relatively expensive here and only middle class families and up used to use them. Now there’s a new law ordering people to have them when carrying babies and small children (up to the age of 9). So I’m afraid having a baby seat in the car might become a thief magnet. I park a lot on streets and a black market for said seats will surely develop.

      That is, if the law catches on. In Brazil some laws don’t catch on and are never enforced. Others catch on immediately and others take a while. Right now we are in a phase when we are still waiting to see if it’ll be enforced.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ll use them for my kids, but if it really becomes mandatory the seat becomes something people with no money will need. And thus, my car will be in danger, and the install / uninstall routine will have to happen.

      Let’s see how it plays out.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      My cousin was here from Brazil this past summer and he bought a car seat for his daughter at Walmart for $60.00 to take back with him. Same car seat in Brazil was something like $400.00!

      Feliz Natal, e feliz Ano Novo, Marcelo.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      What are regulations for window tint in Brazil? Where I am originally from theft from vehicles is a huge problem so to deter “casual” thiefs folks install very dark tinted film on all windows so that one cannot see what or who is inside. Also there are anti-burglar films, that prevent side windows from shattering and letting the thief in.

    • 0 avatar

      acubra:

      Such dark tints are illegal. However, cops don’t usually bother too much with them unless they are very dark. I have some on my car, but very light, just to break a little the glare from the sun. Oh, and on windshield they’re forbidden.

    • 0 avatar

      Feliz Natal e Próspero Ano Novo pra você também Pgcooldad!!

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Keep the hatch and buy a partition to keep what is in the back hatch area secure in the event of a collision or hard braking. You don’t want the little one being hit with projectiles. Buy the sedan when you are comfortable spending the money.

  • avatar
    leshnah

    Marcelo,
    I’m from Chile, and my firsta car was a first gen year 2000 Palio, electric windows and that was it.
    1.3 liter engine, really cheap to run, cheap parts ($40 dollar bumper, natch).
    Excellent car, to this day I keep wishing Fiat do Brasil to REALLY redesign it into something new, the last versions have been nothing but refreshments on the original version.
    Mine was a 3 door, but I was single and with no kids (I still am, knock on wood).
    I’d say get the wagon, and let your lady grow to like it. The practicality, space in those Siena Weekends is amazing. She’ll end up loving it.
    Besides, everyone knows the sedan is much uglier than the wagon… You should post a picture of it for comparison purposes.
    Feliz Natal (that’s the correct spelling?)

    • 0 avatar

      Feliz Natal to you, too!
       
      Pictures of Palio Weekend – station wagon: 

      http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Palio%20weekend&FORM=BILH#

      Picture of Palio Siena – sedan:

      http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Fiat+Siena&go=&form=QBIR#

      And a word of advice, if you liked the original Palio so much, go check out the new Uno. Same spirit, new generation, much improved. Or wait till next year when new Palio (based on New Uno) will start to be sold.

    • 0 avatar
      leshnah

      Yeah, the Uno has not arrived here yet but I lije what I see really…

  • avatar

    Congratulations Marcello!
    I know nothing about kids or carseats, but I hear you can fix this situation by hand.
    And this much I do know: if you even have to ask “Am I just using XYZ as an excuse to satisfy the itch to buy new car?” you more than likely are. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… the heart wants what the heart wants.

    • 0 avatar

      Hahaha!

      Loved that answer!

      Yeah, the itch comes and goes. The thing is that at the moment I’m in a position where I could do it rather easily. A little money appeared courtesy of a dear departed Aunt. That’s why the itch is extra strong. It’d be no great sacrifice….

      But then again the Palio is so good!

  • avatar
    86er

    I’m glad I waited until the first few comments rolled in.  I thought we were talking about lawnmowers…

  • avatar

    Buy a sedan only when you find a buyer for the Palio at a higher price than what a dealer will pay for it. Then you can have a kid friendly car without really taking a bath on your finances.
    Then again, if you have a good back and don’t want a car payment…

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Sajeev!

      That’s the rule for sure. You’ll always find a better buy from a personal buyer. Dealers always low ball you. Sometimes it’s good to use them just to unload an older car. In my case, the Palio is relatively new and doesn’t have that much mileage (about average for its age in Brazil). Plus it has a lot of optionals that most of its brothers won’t (like AC, power windows, etc), not to mention that it’s a Fiat Palio. So if I announce it today, I’m pretty confident it’d be gone within a week.

      In the past people used to say: Ter um Gol é ter dinheiro na mão. Having a VW Gol is like having cash in your wallet. Well, for my region, the Palio has absolutely passed the Gol. It has amazing liquidity.

      The back is still good, but I’m reaching that age you know (40).

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    buy another car seat.

    put it in your car.

    leave it there.

    use as necessary.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You see, it’s only problem is that it’s a two-door. If it were a four-door, I wouldn’t even be thinking of replacing it. However, baby seats are not too far off in the future. Is it really so back-breaking to install, uninstall them every once in a while?

    Yes.

    Can I say it again?  Yes.  You’ll both be more tired and more busy than you were before, with less opportunity for things like, eg, exercise or sleep.  The time spent dealing with a recalcitrant newborn or toddler and two-door will be time you’ll want back.  Trust me, crawling back into the rear seat of a car to comfort an upset child gets tiring quickly; trying to get the child in or out in crowded spaces is no fun, and managing the space stuff takes it hard.

    Personally, I wanted to enjoy my time with my children: this meant a minivan when they’re young, and possibly something low slung and obnoxiously sporty when they’re older.

    Here’s what you want:
    * Tall rear doors so you needn’t bend down and wedge stuff in.  Bonus if they’re sliding.
    * The ability to get from the front to the back without being a contortionist or getting out of the car in traffic.  Maybe this is different for you, but I was really uncomfortable with myself or my wife getting out of the car on a busy, snow-covered highway.
    * Something that fits a rear-facing car seat safely.  A lot of people put this in wrong (eg, they must not touch the backs of the front seat and must be reclined to a safe angle).  Because of neck muscle strength, pre-walking age children can be easily paralyzed or killed in the kind of accident that would give an adult or older child whiplash at worst.
    * Something cheap to operate and dependable.  This is not the time to get something that costs you money you’ll need elsewhere, or breaks down.  Save that for the car you get when the kid is eight or nine.

    Consider a small MPV. I hear you have some pretty cool choices.

    Oh, and by the way, congrats, enjoy your time and get your sleep in now

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for that vey honest piece of advice! Humm, will really have to wrap my mind around that.

      Sliding doors would be wonderful, but the cheapest cars you can get with them are not really minivans in Brazil. Think a Ford Transit for passengers. Fiat Doblò, Renault Kangoo or Peugeot Partner. Unfortunately they’re too expensive for me. the Siena would fit that situation ’cause it’d take really little money to get into one.

      And yeah, about sleep. Unfortunately I think you can’t get ahead on sleep. Only behind! Looking forward to many sleepless nights and drowsy days.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Do they sell the Transit Connect in Brazil, as opposed to the full-sized Transit?  That’s not a bad choice in what we get here as the “wagon” trim if you can stand the work-truck ambiance.
       
      Of the others you mentioned I’ve only been in a Kangoo.  Nice car that I wish we could get here.
       
      As for sleep, well, yeah, it’s a luxury you might not get.  My kids are 1.5 and 5 and we’re dealing with everyone in the house having intestinal trouble.  I slept maybe two hours per night for the last two nights.  Not every child is like this and you could get lucky, but my oldest is pretty tightly wound and has been since before birth when he was threatening to kick my wife’s kidneys out.
       
      If you have extended family, get on good terms with them.  Having people you can tap for help saved my sanity in the first three weeks, I can tell you that.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      As for sleep, well, yeah, it’s a luxury you might not get.

      Ah, yes – the “good old days!” Seriously, they’re not that bad – been there, done that. When you’re young, you have the energy to deal with it.

      Psar is right, though – 4 doors is a MUST! As he implied, every little thing you can do to save your energy and stress you will appreciate down the road. Persoanlly, the type of car I drove wasn’t as important as was family convenience during those momentous and wonderful years!

    • 0 avatar

      Psar:
      We only get the full-size Euro Ford van. And it’s too big. The Doblo and Peugeot I mentioned are all very similar to the Kangoo. That’s my vote for ideal family car in Brazil. Unfortunately, too expensive just now.

      Sorry to hear about the health issues. Hope things improve fast! As to family, we are all closely knit, so that won’t be a problem. Plus everyone is excited ’cause it’ll be the first boy in the family. So far 3 girls have come along. Another reason for me to worry though. Boys are “always” more “difficult” aren’t they?

      Zackman:
      Thanks for the kind words. I agree we’ll make it through irrespective of the car we have. And in future will look back at the difficulties and just laugh them off. Even if I choose to keep the 2-door!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Another reason for me to worry though. Boys are “always” more “difficult” aren’t they?

      From what I can tell from my own and others, the insanity doesn’t set in until 3-3.5.  I can tell you it’s going strong at 5, though, and shows no signs of abating.  From what I uinderstand, girls get their own back around 11-16.

      You get used to kids getting sick pretty often, especially when they start playing in groups.  Kids are filthy little critters, but it’s all in fun and it supposedly it strengthens the immune system later in life.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      From what I can tell from my own and others, the insanity doesn’t set in until 3-3.5.  I can tell you it’s going strong at 5, though, and shows no signs of abating.  From what I understand, girls get their own back around 11-16.
       
      Ha, no kids yet but my lady (having grown up in a family of 3 girls [counting her]) wants all boys.  In my family it was just my sister and I.

    • 0 avatar

      Psar and EducatorDan:
      insanity

      Wow that word scares me a bit!

      In my family we were 3 boys and one girl. So my sister would always “suffer” a bit as we tended to do more masculine things. For my son (at least in the extended family and for the moment) he’s the one who’ll be left out sometimes. will have to keep an eye on that!

    • 0 avatar
      marjanmm

      I usually like reading Psar’s political comments but this is not one of those and in this case do not listen to him :)
      I’ve got a three year old and a 2 month old and manage just fine with my three door Opel Astra. When I got the first one and then the second one I briefly considered changing the car but there are many reasons why I am not doing this:
      1. I like my car.
      2. being 206cm tall, long legs type, I basically try a car on as I would try a pair of trousers – the Astra fits fine. Btw, if a man that tall can install the car seat on the back seat of a three door I don;t think anyone else should really complain.
      3. I don;t really like minivans and since the traffic and parking is crazy in the city where I live a standard 1.8 liter compact hatchback is the best possible compromise, you can fit it anywhere and it is light enough which with the manual makes it pretty nimble, lively and also thrifty enough.
      4. the car has been dead reliable.
      5. Switching it for an Alfa GT would be pushing it a bit too far :)
      And don’t listen to him about the kids. The best advice I got before the first one was simply: “now just don’t be afraid” so just keep your head cool and use family and grandparents as much as you can, organization is everything. Not all kids are ill al the time!

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks marjanmm!

  • avatar

    Not sure if it’s any help Marcelo, but when their first kid was due almost five years ago my brother and his wife went through a similar dilemma. My bro had a 3-door Peugeot 307 he was as fond of as you sound to be with the Palio – similarly hassle-free ownership experience and it did the business as his primary transport but would be a hassle for car seats. My sister-in-law’s 5-door VW Golf did most of the family duties but the Pug has the larger engine and was the better motorway cruiser for long journeys.
     
    Like you they wrestled with switching a “known quantity” they were happy with, for something perceived as more practical. They settled on sticking with the status quo and five years on are only now looking to replace the venerable 307. Yes, getting car seats in and out of a 3-door hatch is less easy than a 5-door but for the few occasions they’re needed it’s perfectly feasible. More importantly not changing their car left my brother and his family with a car they knew and were happy with, as well as some all-important spare funds for the arrival of first one, then another small addition to the family.
     
    For what it’s worth I’d suggest you stick with the Palio for now, and look at changing it when it’s *actually* falling short of your (and your family’s) needs, rather than because you think it might.

    • 0 avatar
      djn

      Caro Marcelo,
      When our first child was born, my wife had been driving a 69 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV that was about 15 years old.  She loved the car and wanted nothing to do with minivans.   After two years our 2nd came a long so we went for the sedan, an 87 Citroen CX.  Four doors really helped.  After the Cit got totaled in an accident, we went the mini van route and have had a succession of 4 minivans since.  She really loves the size and utility of the minivan.
      Feliz Natal e prospero ano novo!
      []’s
      David
       

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks splateagle. You reallu gave me somthing to chew on. My dilemma is exactly the same.

      Hey djn! Minivans like in America are too expensive here. A Dodge (soon to be Fiat) Journey goes for around US$50K! The smaller minivans like Fiat Idea or Chevy Meriva don’t really improve the trunk situation. They just add height. ANd things like Renault Scènic has left the market and Citroën Picasso, for that kind of money I’d rather get a Ford Focus sedan. Proven brand, more liquidity, probably lower maintenance. But I don’t want to spend that kind of dough on a car. When a second little bundle of joy comes rolling in I’d have to change apartments. Better spend that money on a better house than a better car!

  • avatar

    I don’t know anything about Fiat in Brazil, so all I have is the current fiat page there to go on. But it looks like there is a 5-door hatch version of the Palio there. Seems like that would keep 95%+ of the stuff you love about your current car, while adding ease of getting the kids in & out, and a little bit more cargo space for your weekend job. Looks like a win all around.
    Heck do some shopping around and you might find someone with a similar age 5-door Palio to yours and you might be able to do a swap of your Palio plus a little cash for theirs.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure, I thought of that, but all the extra hassle just for an extra pair of doors. I eliminated the option. Because if I get the sedan I get the extra doors plus I almost double my trnuks acreage (from 290L in the hatch to 500 in the sedan). That little extra in the trunk is what would probably make it worthwhile. At least in my mind.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My suggestion, to be taken with a grain of salt, is to keep the car you have as a spare. You know it, it’s reliable, it’s paid for. Buy the Siena if you need the seat space, ease of carseat maneuverability. I know nothing of the Brazilian car scene, save the little I’ve learned from you, and don’t know if three cars would be a major tax liability or anything like that.

    FWIW, I stuff three carseats and a booster seat in the back of a US Spec 2003 Honda Accord Coupe (a car quite a bit larger than what you’re looking at for sure) and it wasn’t too bad if you’re in reasonably decent shape. I make no assumptions as to body frame in this post as that would be rude and uncalled for.

    EDIT:

    I no longer have this car and meant to say stuffed 2 car seats (1 forward, 1 rearward facing) and a booster seat.

    These are just by two copper Lincolns.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey talkintobeans! Thanks for the interest. Yes, 3 cars would be a mjor pain in the neck. Tax-, insurance- and garage-wise. In future, when I get myself a house, that’ll be a definite possibility, but right now, living in the middle of the city, it’s just too impractical.

      The Honda Accord is way bigger than what I’m talking about here. But once I saw a really decrepit looking Palio parked on the street. In a condition reserved only for old Beetles or cars 20 years old and plus. So it really called my attention. So much so that when I walked by it, I peered in and there was the answer to the mystery. The car’s owner had managed to put 3 baby seats side by side in the back seat of the car! Poor soul!

  • avatar
    NN

    I recently went through this scenario.  I had a 98′ Chevy Blazer ZR2 2-door with 155k miles on it.  Great truck, paid off many moons ago, still ran strong.  My wife had a four-door SUV (Mercury Mountaineer).  Then we had a baby last fall.  Car seats nowadays are huge.  Getting them in a four door car isn’t even easy, let alone a two door.  A minivan is really the absolute best for getting kids in and out.  But we won’t go there.  I can tell you the car seat issue will have you constantly thinking about replacing your two door. Too bad your car only has 36k miles on it and therefore isn’t ripe for replacement anytime soon.  I tried to harness my inner Steven Lang and bought a 2002 low mileage Mazda Millenia sedan on the cheap and kept it and the Blazer, but the Mazda gave me more headaches than I could handle, so I had to sell both and we bought my wife a 2010 Malibu sedan and I am now driving the Mountaineer.
    Also, make sure you consider both car seats–rear facing for infants and forward facing for when they are 1-9 years old.  They are both big, bulky, etc., but end up being difficult in different ways.  The forward facings would be easier to deal with in a 2-door than the rear facing.  Consequently, I find the forward facing more difficult in the four door because you’ve got to wrangle the kid at a weird angle to get him past the massive side-impact zone built into the fancy car seat.  I have banged my son’s face on the open door or door frame a handful of times in the Mountaineer, which you would assume should be big enough for anything.
     
     

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I completely understand the itch to get a new car… but why buy the exact same thing, except a sedan vs a hatchback? The interior, the feel, the smell, heck the outside view will be pretty much the same except from the side and back. If you really want to get a new (or different) car, then it should really be different. Try other brand,  and from different country of origin. Maybe even upgrade to the next larger size, or try other body styles, like a small SUV or something. You only live once! Plus you’re a car enthusiast. Don’t you want to know what it’s like to own other makes/models?  The Fiat Palio couldn’t possibly the only good car in Brazil, could it?

    • 0 avatar

      Hi MrWhopee!

      Yeah, but at this moment, I find myself thinking very responsibly. So the Fiat Palio/Siena is the safe bet. Let’s just say I’m buying the Brazilian equivalent of the Honda Civic. The VW Gol/Voyage would be the equivalent of the Corolla.

      Like mentioned before, having a Palio in Brazil (at the moment) is like having a wad of cash. You can sell it off in a matter of days. My wife’s car is not so easy. Though better than the Siena in many an objective way, it’s less well received in the market due to a number of reasons (expensive replacement parts, reliability, design). It’s been to the dealer much more than what would be healthy. I have to be prepared to substitute it should it have a hissy fit. It’s approaching the end of its 3 year warranty and depending on its behavior next year, it could be going out as soon as the warranty expires.

      As to other cars in the same market segment, let me do you a quick run down. Gol Voyage, way too expensive for what it offers, plus I don’t like style. Ford Fiesta: more expensive, less content, much lesser liquidity. Chevy Classic: too small (rather keep Palio). Chevy Corsa sedan: very barebones, any comfort charged extra. Peugeot 207 sedan: too expensive. Renault Logan: the only one I’d give a chance.

      The Palio/Siena is a fine place for me to be. Yes, I’ve had it a while, and have even had earlier versions of both Palio and Siena. You could easily say I’ve spent half my automotive life looking at very similar interiors. Yes, all of them have always been different. They alwqys change the gauges, the lighting, the position of things to keep it interesting, but yes, the backbone is the same. And maybe that’s the point. This car just “dresses” me in a way others don’t. Only the Ford comes close. Even the Renault doesn’t fit me as naturally. The GMs are all too small inside and the VW and Peugeot force you to sit down so low, I hate it. Like I said before I’ve had both Siena and Palio in prvious itinerations. They are always improving the car. This one, while keeping the same basic structure, rides better than the older ones I’ve had. And I’ve driven many rentals of newer ones than my Palio and they are even better than mine.

      That’s why I always go back.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Yeah, I know what you mean. Looks like there’s always such “people’s cars” in every country. Very popular, a safe choice, very easy to sell, good resale value, easy parts availability. Not always the best cars (in fact they rarely are), but somehow is a winning combination. In my country (Indonesia) it is the Toyota Kijang (now Innova) and the Toyota Avanza/Daihatsu Xenia twin. They’re everywhere! Perhaps half of all the cars you see will be one of them. And yes, my family owns an Innova as well… :)
       
      Problem with these type of cars is, of course, they’re typically popular with thieves as well.
       
      I’m just wondering, is there any Japanese cars at all in Brazil? None of the cars you mentioned are Japanese. Or are they tend to be imported exotics out of your price range (and generally those are bad choice anyways in terms of getting parts and finding places to fix them)?
       
      BTW, the more I read your responses in this thread, the more I see similarities with car markets (and other stuff) with my country. Tax evasion and rampant bribery. Corrupt officials.  Exotic imports. We have quite wide selection of cars officially marketed here in Indonesia, but you can get anything not officially sold here through specialized car importers. Nissan GT-Rs and all manner of JDM cars, Chrysler 300s, Cadillac Escalades… The Toyota Alphard minivan was so popular as grey imports that Toyota decided to officially sell it themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi MrWhopee!!

      Who’d have guessed. Brazil and Indonesia. So far geographically, culturally, ethnically…Yet apparently so close in terms of political and/or cultural development.

      Let’s answer your queries.

      Jap cars. Way, way too expensive. Corolla and Civic. Cars for executives here. They’re suffering a bit now from competition. Fusion especially and also Azera have won people over (not to mention Renault Logan is just as big and costs a fraction of price – they don’t compete you say? Well they do in the minds of those willing to squirt out every last drop from their hard earned money!). Honda’s City has also knocked down Civic (see my post tomorrow). If the Japanese ever get down from their pedestal down here they could do some serious damage. Or not. Toyo tried Daihatsu a couple years back. Did the usual mistake of overpricing it. Fiat, VW, GM et al just licked them back to Japan. Maybe Etios will sell. Depends. Pricing (also subject in my nextr post, if interested pls read!). Can’t stress that enough. Selling cars to poor people is just more cumbersome than selling to rich. In a recent Hammer Time (30-20-10), Steven Lang outlined the conumdrum. These cars in Brazil just have to have the performance of a Ferrari, the design of a Maserati, the economy of a 0.8L kei car, plus reliability of (dare I say) Toyota. Not to mention have replacement parts on the level of FIat. Tall order. Those who get closest win. And the Japanese, for these low income level consumers fail on design, economy, spare parts, price. Well, so far. As also mentioned in my next post, the next couple of years will be interesting. But I suspect japs have missed the train. Maybe Chinese will cash in.

      As to people’s car, that are not best but somehow win the market. The Fiat Palio/Siena or for that matter the Gol/Voyage, but specially the Fiat products are not the best in (almost) anything. Yet they’re never the worst either.They are just very balanced. Best fuel economy? Nope, but close. Best design? Debatable but probably not. Best insurance, definitely not, but there are worst out there. Best resaleability together with Gol yes. Best maintenance: again together with Volks yes. Better content at initial prices, Fiat probably better than anybody else. Best drive: No. Best reliability : Probably not, but replacement parts cheap!!!That’s to me the reason for their success.

      Next query, yes very popular with thieves. But you see, thieves are stupid, or in the stupid words of an ex VW Prez in Brazil, they’re very smart. No car is more robbed here than the Beetle (3 million cars out there mostly in the hands of very poor people who don’t mind paying the robber for whatever, nevermind they’ll get robbed the next time they park their cars). For runaways from police, they love the Golf. To kidnap people they love the Parati. Not to mention VW was so stupid as to insist for over 10 years on a very easily defeatable system (involved just turning key the wrong way). Meanwhile Fiat, Ford, Renault all have electronic protections. So insurance is greater for VWs. Sinc I don’t like/buy VWs, good for me!

      As to exotics. I saw my first GT-R the other day. Crazy cool. The Challenger…my dream, so beautiful. THe Mustang is always nice, but sorry, Camaro just leaves me cold (though I do like Corvette). Recently GM srated to import Camaros officilly due to popularity. BMW did same for Mini (though charge crazy prices) and Fiat with 500.

      Thanks for the interest. Always interesting to read your posts.

      (as to police/gov…hush man! They could be coming any minute!!!)

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry MrWhoppe!

      If you read my answer pls read my nexct post today. You see, I just realizes it’s 1:05 am Brazilian standard time. So that means it’s Dec 24 already. So, you’re in Indonesia it’s almost Dec 25! So tomorrow might mean today. Or not!

      Anyway, Feliz Natal!

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    Olá Marcelo,
    I’ve been in a similar situation. I had a 2-door Astra Hatch when the baby came. I bought a 4-door Focus Hatch when he was 4 months old. What a difference 2 extra doors make! Whatever you do, be sure to get a 4-door!
    Other than that, upgrading the size of the trunk will depend on how often you will use this car to carry baby stuff. The Astra and the Focus had nice trunks that could fit a folded stroller (of the kind that is still big after folded) plus enough bags. Palio’s trunk is not enough, the Logan has plenty of space.
    So either buy a 4-door Palio or upgrade to Focus or similar. On second thought, my mother had a 1.0 Palio and I drove it often. Though I liked it the Focus is SO much better the baby may be a good excuse for an upgrade.

    • 0 avatar

      Oi Autobraz!

      Long time we haven’t heard from you! A Focus would sure be sweet. I have to be prevident about the future though. If a second baby comes along, I’d like to change apartments. So I’m keeping my money for that eventuality!

      Have you seen the Bravo? How would you compare it to the Focus?

  • avatar
    srogers

    Here are the conditions attached to my response. I am only 175cm and thin. I have no chronic back problems.
     
    You do not need a 4 door. When my first child was born, I was driving an 89 Colt Turbo 2 door hatch. Yes, I flipped the seat forward and crawled in the back every time that I strapped my child in the back. Never thought twice about.

    Replaced that car with an 1988 Saab 900 Turbo 2 door hatch. More space in the back, but that’s not why I bought it. Now I’m climbing in to strap kids in. I still don’t mind.

    Replaced with a 89 BMW 325 2 door sedan. Less space than the Saab. I’m strapping 2 growing kids in the back.

    Replaced with a 02 Focus SVT 2 door hatch. More space in the back (not why I bought it). The kids strap themselves in, get themselves in and out. Nobody has ever complained.

    The kids are now 11 and 13, and have a few more years of getting driven around by Dad ahead of them. When I buy my next car, I will give some consideration to whether it has 2 or 4 doors, but I’ll choose the car  first.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Hey Marcelo,

    I understand that aside from the purchase price and maintenance costs (you can buy a larger used car, don’t you?) one has to deal with progressive taxation of cars depending on size, no?
    If I were in your shoes I would start with used Kangoos / Partners or some such.

    • 0 avatar

      Not in terms of size. There’s an institute called Fipe, that collects used car prices. Then the various governments use this as a basis for charging a yearly car property tax. in my state it’s 4% for cars, 2.5% for pick ups and 2% for rental cars.

      Problem is they use asking price, not real transaction prices. Practically nobody gets the Fipe price. I think there’s something fishy going on. The government is happy ’cause they get more than they should. The subservient press doesn’t ever talk about it. Just the tax payer gets screwed.

      Alas, only part of the tax payers actually pay. Evasion is huge. In my state is hovers around 30%. In Rio state I’ve read it’s almost 50%. Why pay when (specially Rio) you can always bribe yourself out of a situation? Or if you live in the country there’s almost nil inspection.

      Sorry for rant.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Marcelo, no apologies required. I am originally from Russia, where government is just as inventive in screwing its car-owning populace. And I am well familiar with the practices of settling down disputes with officials “on spot” – which is always cheaper and uncomparably less time-consuming than the proper procedure. So I really feel for you.

      Unfortunately our friends in NA do not always realize how well they are off. So it is sad seeing them cry for more government nanny regulations and more taxation.

      I guess with existing regime personal importation of a vehicle is just out of question?

    • 0 avatar

      Heaven forbid! I couldn’t import a car if my life depended on it. This an area that is a very dark shade of gray. I mean, there are independent shops specialed in importing one off cars, but the cost and bureaucratic red tape makes it just not worth it. Such shops import the occasional Challenger, Camaro, Corvette you see on the streets. But people pay through their nose to get one of those.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Sounds all too familiar… :(( No freedom of choice. Including automotive choice. It was one of the reasons I hopped the continents. Not major, but not in the bottom of the list either.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately our friends in NA do not always realize how well they are off. So it is sad seeing them cry for more government nanny regulations and more taxation.

      Hi folks! On this Christmas Eve, I must say, I agree with Acubra. You have such a nice thing going, pls., pls, don’t ruin it!

      Ah, North America. It sounds just as sweet as Autralia/New Zealand. The only places I’d ever emigrate to. Though I’d miss my Fiat cars if I ever did!

      Feliz Natal pra todos!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      “It sounds just as sweet as Australia/New Zealand. The only places I’d ever emigrate to. Though I’d miss my Fiat cars if I ever did!”

      No need to miss the Fiats Marcelo, they’re already in Australia (dunno if in NZ too). No 178 project platform but others. Also your beloved 159 is sold there, pricey, but sold.

      Take a look at this site: http://www.carpoint.com.au/

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Marcelo, today is my anniversary, so I’m not reading all the comments.

    De entrada, felicitaciones por el chamo que viene en camino. En Junio habra que tomarse los miaos “virtuales”. If you don’t get it, it’s a celebration with liquor (of course) that friends of the father do along him here.

    On the car issue. Having a 2 dr car doesn’t suck that much when having a baby or seat. You will need that seat, for sure. I have as daily driver a 2+2 coupe, and yes, inserting the seat over there is a PITA, but it stays there almost forever. Your Palio is airier, and would be a piece of cake to insert. The baby also will take contortions, but it’s no issue in the Fiat.

    Your wife already have a sedan. Don’t see the point in buying another car.

    If you really have to, well you have many options: Ecosport, Meriva, Zafira (über cool, I sat in one in Rome and deemed it perfect for family vehicle). If Jeep sells them down there: Compass or Patriot. An Idea would be a nice option too.

    The Siena you mention would be just fine.

    If you’re planning to do roadtrips, think about the station wagon card. Forget what the “government”/jefa/whatever funny name you use for the wifey there- says about them. You’ll need ALL that space. Really. To that end, Palio Weekend would be my choice. Also any of the mentioned above.

    Suggestions: buy an umbrella stroller, the other kind takes a lot of real state in the trunk and is not that much more comfortable for the baby. The umbrella will allow you to use the Palio if you haven’t changed it by then.

    Buy a baby seat of the group 0 type. Our first was a gift and after 1,5 year my son hated it, so we had to buy a new one, french, that he loves. Buy it with as much padding as you can find it, neck protection and stuff. There are one that work very similar to a car seat (like mine) which makes your life easier.

    I used the past year and a half a company car (which I don’t have anymore). A Samand, that was like having a modern ’80 Malibu for the family. Based on that, I would choose a bigger than the Siena car (Astra, Focus, Vento/Jetta/Bora/X), but you have already explained your market for me to suggest it.

    Felicitaciones. Un bebe es una alegria inmensa en la vida. Espero que sea niña, asi mi nenex tiene la novia numero 6, esta vez en Brasil. :D

    • 0 avatar

      Hola Stingray!

      Thanks for all the excellent opinion. Will sure bear in mind.

      Pero, perdona por desapontarlo. Es un niñito que vendrá por lo tanto, tu hijito habrá de encontrarse otra novia brasileña! No podré ayudarle a, si bien que tengo tres sobriñitas nenitas. Quien sabe?

      Congrats on your anniversary!

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      LOL, not dissapointed. See the good side, he may have a friend in Brazil. :)

      You’re welcome. I’m also selling my beloved car, but I need the $$$, so no 4dr purchase.

      At some point next year, I should do the BB question.

    • 0 avatar

      Go for it Stingray! Lot’s of thoughtful help from our friends. Though you’d probably be in doubt between a Challenger R/T or a Camaro or a Cadillac Escalade…Big engines…Never’ll get them here…Sigh!

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Marcelo,
     
    Tudo bem?  It has been a few years since I did some work in Sao Paulo.  Magnificent country you live in.
    As the father to a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old, I can tell you with car seats, it just depends on the car.  I had to switch car seats and get a smaller one as in rear-facing mode (until they are about 2 years old), most seats would not fit – I had the seat in the center, going through the front seats, and I have my seat most of the way back.  Once you get the hang of the seat, you can swap it in and out fairly easily.  It is intimidating at first, but they do try to make it simple for the user.  BTW, I drive what you would know as a Ford Mondeo (Mk2) 4 door sedan.
    I say keep what you have and with the car seat, if you find yourself needing it in your car more than twice per month, consider buying one.  Otherwise, don’t waste the money.  But do test out the seat in your car as well to make sure it will fit.  Those commenting about car seats from 10-20 years ago don’t realize how much car seats have bloated in size since then – just like the cars they sit in.  See if there is a similar book to “Baby Bargains” in a bookstore there to give you advice on car seats.
    Best of luck!
    Steven

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • dal20402: Car dealers also rely heavily on maintenance revenue from servicing ICE cars. EV cars require far less...
  • Inside Looking Out: It all started with Dr. Spock in 1950s and went increasingly crazier ever since. And add here...
  • 05lgt: It’s not like the ICE exhaust forces any costs on other people, right? Oh. Yeah. You are full of...
  • EBFlex: Right…… Because in todays world of fake news and misinformation, anything good that happens under the...
  • mcs: “until electric vehicles offer an advantage to IC,” They do. instant toque. They’re quieter...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber