Ask The Best And Brightest: Which Car For Marcelo's Baby?

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos
ask the best and brightest which car for marcelo s baby

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.

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6 of 71 comments
  • Stingray Stingray on Dec 23, 2010

    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

    • See 2 previous
    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Dec 24, 2010

      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!

  • Sastexan Sastexan on Dec 24, 2010

    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

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Dec 24, 2010

      Feliz Natal! Glad you enjoyed your time here. Grat advice. I'll go out to check about the book, too. Thanks!

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.