By on January 19, 2018

2017 Ford Focus RS - Image: Ford

Did you watch HBO’s new David Simon show, The Deuce? It takes a while to get started, kind of like Season 2 of The Wire, also a Simon creation, but it eventually acquires some real momentum. Anyway, if you ever get around to seeing it, you will hear that the opening theme is a carefully edited version of Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go.”

One of the best sections of that song goes something like this:

Everybody praying
And everybody saying
But when come time to do
Everybody’s laying
Just talking ’bout, “Don’t worry”

As you’ll see below, however, when it comes to using performance automobiles for improbable-bordering-on-impossible family tasks, sometimes people do more than just lay around…


Ryan asks,

I currently drive a Focus RS that I’ve had over the past year. I live in Wisconsin and drive it throughout the year. I love it for the driving experience and love having the manual transmission. What I’m not thrilled about is the interior room. I have three children, ages six, four, and two, and all three car seats fit but it is tight (two boosters and one infant seat). My family also has a full-size truck and minivan for other duties, family trips, etc. The RS is my daily driver, but I drop the kids off every day and pick them up most.

Do I suck up the inconvenience of the RS or look for something else? If so, what something else?? One possibility is a 2015 Grand Cherokee SRT with something like 9,000 miles that’s coming in to my local car dealership, which I’m interested in. I would get the room with the Jeep, but would I regret the lower fun factor?

You’re one child ahead of my brother Bark, who puts his seven-year-old and nine-year-old into the back of his Focus RS. Like you, he has a more conventional family vehicle (a Flex) that sees some kid-hauling duty, but he uses the RS more often than not when he’s the parent behind the wheel. I can only imagine what a tight squeeze it is to get three small children in that back seat. It’s bad enough for two.

Nevertheless, it’s working right now, so my initial advice is that you live with it as long as you can — which, in my opinion, could be another three or four years. As a thoroughly paranoid father, however, I have to wonder about the wisdom of putting a four-year-old in a booster seat, to say nothing of a six-year-old. My son is nearly nine years old and he is the second-tallest child in a class of kids who are all older than he is, but I put him in a full-size conventional child seat more than half the time. The rest of the time, he’s in a Britax booster that verges on child-seat size and weight.

He was four and a half years old when he and I were involved in a real humdinger of a car crash in January of 2014. I’m not certain a booster seat would have given him the protection he needed from the flying glass and debris. Nor would I have wanted him to be attached to a seatbelt mount that was bent and twisted from the force of the impact.

Alright. Enough holier-than-thou claptrap outta me. The question is: Can you preserve the driving enjoyment of a Focus RS in a package that works better for three children? That’s a tougher question. Having put some hard miles on a Focus RS, I can’t easily think of a larger car that maintains the driver involvement level of Ford’s hottest hatch — particularly on anything that looks like a $40,000 budget. A Grand Cherokee SRT ain’t gonna do it. That’s a great vehicle but it offers nothing like the tactile feedback and pleasure of an RS.

The fact of the matter is that a slightly wider rear bench won’t make much difference. What you really need is a third row, and once you get involved with third-row vehicles you’re not going to do any better than something relatively tepid like a Mazda CX-9. Maybe a Tahoe RST or Durango SRT, if you want to spend money like a Bitcoin billionaire.

The best vehicle I can recommend is a used Ford Flex Ecoboost. It’s fast, it’s kinda fun to drive, and it handles three children without difficulty while also posting best-in-class crash results. Otherwise, keep the Focus as long as you can — but don’t be too hard on yourself when you need to sell it. And also, don’t worry: if there’s a three-row hell below, pretty much all parents of respectably-sized families are gonna go.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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104 Comments on “Ask Jack: A Real Pain In the RS?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “and all three car seats fit but it is tight”

    I’m amazed the doors close. Is there a side business for this gentleman in helping enthusiasts pick out appropriate car seats for their performance ride?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Focus is so tight. With 3 kids, it seem like a can of sardines. This dude has money. But not brain. Any accident in this car with 3 on-board will mean end of family. Hey, if you want fun with 3 kids inside your car, you must be crazy. ans since you need to drive gentle, what is the difference what to drive at that point?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        “The RS is my daily driver, but I drop the kids off every day and pick them up most.”

        I hope that “drop off and pick up” is a short trip.

        Yeah you Luddites can say things like “we didn’t even have seat-belts and we survived” but as a father I totally understand those who loose their senses after the death of a child or try to take revenge on someone who they see as responsible for the death of their child. I have a 50 year old Mustang but my 3 year old daughter has never ridden it.

        But for the grace of God go I.

      • 0 avatar
        Plamry

        I actually have both money and a brain, thank you very much. Kids are all in safe seats. Also we should not always equate car size with safety. Pretty sure any Subcompact car built today is safer than any vehicle built in the 70s

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Have you participated in a car crash? I can tell you how violent it can feel. And the thing is, you can control only what you do but not others. I have 2 friends who where violently struck by a drunk driver in their respective cars. And if these cars were anything less than Accord and MDX, both of them would be badly injured. You should get as much room as possible between a child and a body of the vehicle, and between children. And in Focus it aint happening.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Really, he’s a negligent parent if he’s carrying his children in anything lighter than a 3/4-ton truck.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          While cars in general are indeed safer now than they ever have been in history, a bad accident will induce forces and stresses that even the safest car may not be able to sustain.

          Add that to the simple physics of having a heavier vehicle transfer more energy to a lighter vehicle in a crash, and it could spell problems that a “safer” small vehicle does not address.

          I am not saying you are wrong or right, but in the event of a medium to major collision your kids would fare far better in a larger vehicle. Id drop the Focus and get the SRT. Or just a Hemi Grand Cherokee.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        “Any accident in this car with 3 on-board will mean end of family.”

        Any? You’re going a little overboard on the hyperbole.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Umm, if he’s the one with the kids, why not just use the minivan? What’s the point of having a psuedo minivan (flex) and a real minivan? How many drivers does this family have?

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      That’s what I got out of it too. Just sack up and take the minivan on the days you have to both drop off and pick up kids. The kids can handle the RS if it’s just one way.

      And don’t worry about booster seats vs full child seats until their 18. You’re still here and your parents likely didn’t worry that much.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “You’re still here and your parents likely didn’t worry that much.”

        Yes, and my parents laid sideways beneath the back window on cross country drives in the 1950s and they’re still here as well. I’m taking a wild stab that it probably has more to do with the car never wrecking than the safety of riding up there.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Depends on what he has for a booster seat. Some are full wrap around seats just like a toddler car seat but they use the seat belt in the car instead of the 5 point harness.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I agree with this. Just drive the minivan when you’re toting kids.

      I like driving my LS460 far more than our C-Max, but usually not enough more to deal with the hassle of moving the car seats unless it’s for a long trip.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That would mean driving the minivan most days, in which case he may wonder what the point of owning an RS is. It’s the very definition of a First World Problem, but if he bought an RS he’s going to want to drive it and I can’t blame him.

  • avatar
    raph

    I wonder how the Fescue compares to a Pinto wagon in rear seat space? Although to be fair mom and dad never had to deal with three abreast child seats in those days.

    Too bad people have such an aversion to station wagons. GM and Dodge tried to spark interest but in a world where people love brodozers its just not meant to be.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I was out of booster seats when I was 4. If you can go to the bathroom by yourself, you can sit in a car. Keep the RS, tell your 6-year-old it’s time to graduate.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      Many states require child restraints until age 8 or a height/weight attainment. Every state is a bit different though but under 8 years old for a child restraint is the most common.

    • 0 avatar
      e30driver

      Honest question – why the rush to get children out of car seats?

      I would do anything to reduce the risk of injury to my children. It is hard to argue with the physics involved when small bodies are subjected to the forces of a crash. I don’t factor into the equation what my parents did or what their parents did. Glad we all survived to adulthood, but knowledge has advanced since then.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Honest counterpoint, why are we keeping kids in child seats until they’re in the double-digit ages, and what difference does a carseat make for a 6yo versus wearing their seatbelt properly? We had those canvas snap-on shoulder belt adjusters that brought the belt down to our shoulder height growing up, but I only ever needed it for a year or two. I also understand that kids can be stupid and refuse to wear their shoulder belt correctly, but slap some sense into them and tell them not to be stupid(or show them a video of a crash that results in either bruises with the seatbelt on, or fatality without it).

        • 0 avatar
          e30driver

          All other things being equal, why not use the safest option possible?

          My understanding is that the carseat is safer than the seatbelt for a number of reasons related to the bone structure and physical size of children and how their bodies respond to the forces of a crash.

          For a parallel example, why do race car drivers bother to wear a five point harness when they could just wear a normal seatbelt?

        • 0 avatar
          Alfisti

          My reply above was sent before you replied so it was not aimed at you.

          To answer your question, it’s not about age or weight, it’s about size. Kids can slip through a regular belt in some collision circumstances, the harness is far, far better are restraining them.

          My boy gets himself in and out so the only hassle is when I need to carry something and I cannot fold the seats.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Alfisti’s frame is right — driving in a car is by far the most dangerous situation in which most of our kids are usually placed, except maybe for crossing streets on foot. Reducing risks of driving is the single best way to keep kids safer.

          Seatbelts are designed to work properly on humans that are over 57 inches tall. Until kids get there, especially if they’re thin, it’s possible for them to slip out of the seatbelt. The car seat is designed to make this impossible, while the booster reduces the risk of it.

          Whether car seats need to be as big and bulky as they are, or whether that’s feel-good marketing, is a separate question.

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      SO much ignorance on this issue. The single biggest threat to your child is a car crash, using a proper harness until they are big enough to be properly restrained by a seatbelt is not over-parenting, it’s just effing sensible.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      I don’t have kids and I’d like to have money for a little while before, so I haven’t done any research. Fair points on the right sized harness but none of my friends had booster seats once they were out of car seats, and I was born in ’91. It just seems incredibly dorky in my mind to see a grown up kid in a car seat.

      e30driver, as a fun quip, I’d put my kids in a 5-point harness if I planned on going 200mph on the way to wherever I was going.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        Dorky it may be but the harnessed booster can look kinda cool, my boy thinks he is Daniel Ricciardio.

        If you do have kids, do the research, the biggest threat, on paper, to a child in the developed western world is their dad. let’s rule that out, next is car fatalities. It’s a no brainer to use a proper seat.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I let my 8 year old son AVERAGE 41 miles per hour on an oval track in his K80 kart. No seatbelt at all.

        When we are done taking that risk, he gets into a proper child seat.

        Because karting is worth a risk.

        But looking “cool” on the way home isn’t.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    it does not seem like the hassles are worth it, the third car sounds great but if it comes with three kids most days it does not seem like it is worth the hassles. Your years away from moving one safely upfront so I say it is time to let it go, if you need another car, you either go the jeep route if that floats your boat or maybe a drive one of the other 2 cars you have and buy a used miatia for the summer months to get your go cart feel of driving pleasure.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Geeeezus! That’s way too cramped up!

    I don’t think a Grand Cherokee will be big enough either. It’s time to put that mini-van to full use. Sell the RS before the head gasket pops and bank your cash.

    Mini-van isn’t cool enough? Throw some lowering springs and a set of wheels with nice compounds on it. Haha

  • avatar
    EX35

    Chevy SS? No third row but much larger then a Focus. I’ve never driven one, but I’ve heard the SS w/ the 6-sp is fun.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    3 kid seats will fit pretty easily in the back of a Chevy SS as long as they aren’t all rear facing.

    No, it doesn’t drive like an RS, but it is available with a stick shift and it’s a closer experience than a Grand Cherokee or Flex would be. And with snow tires it drives alright on anything but the very worst roads.

  • avatar
    Plamry

    Thanks for answering the question Jack!

    I guess what I’m hearing is that there is really nothing that would have improved seat space for 3 kids and be as sporty as an RS.

    I have considered the Miata plan and just using that for my fun drive days, but this idea keeps fizzling out mostly because I actually like taking my kids for rides and introducing them to fun cars. I hope they enjoy driving as much as I do when they are of age.

    Other ideas I have had would be something like a Charger Scat Pack, but I think that would be too much of a boat. Or also going in a different direction and getting a new JL Wrangler, not overly sporty but I would be able to get a manual transmission and put the top down in the summer months.

    • 0 avatar
      raisingAnarchy

      I test drove a Focus ST back to back with the 2015+ WRX and I have to say the WRX feels downright cavernous in comparison. The WRX and WRX STi model might be worth checking out if you’re still wanting sporty AWD.

      Disclaimer: I bought a 2016 STi before the RS even came out, but the seating position and interior dimensions of the ST put me off to the Ford hatches anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      JalopNick

      From what I read here, you already know the answer to your question. No, you don’t have to replace your vehicle right away but you’re just delaying the inevitable and dealing with a lot of inconvenience in the process. Having myself been through a lot of what you’re describing, here’s my experience and the choices I made:

      Family life started with two convertibles and a solid belief that 4 doors is 2 too many. Days before child #1 was born, one of the convertibles was replaced by a Volvo sedan (I came from the hell no I’m not driving an SUV school of thought). It became obvious rather quick that even with a single rear-facing infant seat, it was a bit too cramped for this use case. It was good enough, even though putting the kid in required a bit of contortionism. It was probably a tiny bit larger than your Focus’ rear bench, workable but not really adequate for the job.

      Quick side-note about your miata dreams: Forget about that for now! My first child rode happily in my roadster until #2 was born. From that moment on, the roadster started collecting dust in the garage and it took me 4 years to admit that I really can’t use it anymore.
      You won’t have too many opportunities to drive somewhere by yourself without having to pick up or drop kids off. It will be too much of a hassle to own this kind of vehicle and it will end up sitting around and taking space that will otherwise be needed for bikes and kids’ junk.

      We wised up and got a large vehicle when #2 was born. I looked at everything on the market and found most choices to be dynamically unsatisfactory. At the time, I had shortlisted the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Mazda CX9. I picked the Q7 and found that it was the perfect vehicle for that point in life. It’s an elephant with ballerina skills, excellent weight distribution, rotates wonderfully in turns, true awd with solid rear bias gives you good traction and helps counter understeer when you overcook a corner etc. It’s spacious inside and has an actually-usable third row, good materials and decent electronics. My second Q7 is now nearly 5 years old and it still gives me the same fizz I got from the old one on day one.

      If it fits your budget and taste, you should definitely take a look at a first-gen Q7, ideally a 2014 or newer diesel. The new Q7 is an expensive turd in comparison, i.m.o., stick with the old one!

      A second, cheaper option would be the first-gen MDX. Not nearly as nice but drives almost as well. Probably a bit cheaper to purchase and surely cheaper to repair. This is another example of a solid driver’s SUV followed by a crap second generation.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      I like the Wrangler idea as kooky fun is as important as racy thrilling in cars – different strokes for different kids and all that.

      I scanned the comments below and haven’t seen these:
      * Golf R – close competitor to the RS but smoother and wider, top safety ratings in n America
      * used Porsche Cayenne or Macan S – depreciation has been a mother to each I have heard but they’re still excellent
      * used Volvo Polestar – imperfect, awesome wagon in bright blue

      I realise these may be too kooky in some way for your taste.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      JL doesn’t have the 3rd row that you need. It’s a nice car otherwise. Do keep in mind that it’s going to be expensive for a few months while the hype recedes.

    • 0 avatar
      FalcoDog

      You should consider driving the ScatPack. It is clearly not a track car but it dances well for a big girl and it is way more fun than you might think.

      I traded my Focus ST on a Charger for similar reasons and frankly, I never missed the Focus.

  • avatar
    Plamry

    Considered the SS in manual, may have to think on that a bit, but in my area they are far and few between.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    What about a Pontiac G8 GXP? Might also be hard to find, and getting old too.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    In the unlikely event of a rollover a child in a booster is far more likely to fall out of the vehicle and be crushed by it.

    I refuse to use them, instead i use a harnessed booster, the Britax Pioneer. It retains the harness and kinda looks like a racing seat so my 6 year old loves it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I haven’t been around children since I was one, but the Chevy SS is the correct answer here.

  • avatar
    tnk479

    I am surprised no one has mentioned it but, the 2018 Accord 2.0T 6MT or even the 10-speed AT is the way to go for this use case. The back seat is huge. The steering feel and suspension aren’t Focus RS sharp, but, nothing else in the required price range is and the Accord Sport or Touring is as good as it’s going to get.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    OK, you can fit the three kids in the back, barely. But do they have any friends? They won’t be coming along. Don’t condemn these innocent children to only the company of siblings. In my parenting days, I carried all sorts of other kids in the back of my TDI Beetle and my GTI. I could get by with those cars because I had only one kid.

  • avatar
    AK

    My brother and I spent our youth being shuttled around in a ’77 LeSabre coupe.

    Worked fine.

    Get a ’77 LeSabre coupe.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Enthusiast, meet reality. You’re a father with three kids, use the minivan.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Three of us rode in the back of the family Ford Falcon wagon, way in the back, no seats, seatbelts, boosters, etc. We also consumed Red Dye #5, ate hot dogs that contained Strontium-90, gnawed on lead paint, played tackle football without helmets, and grabbed car bumpers in snowstorms so we could sled behind them. Now we live in Wuss Nation so you’ve got to make choices. Spend a little and get a Durango SRT, my niece has one, she and hubby are happy and there’s room for the ankle biters. Or you could spend $70K and get a Avenir minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      You did all those things because your parents were ignorant to the dangers. I’m sure they’d have been just as “wussy” (read: informed) as parents today if all the info and products we have now were available. You’re not tougher for having grown up in a more ignorant time.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Being informed doesn’t count for much if the “info” is bs psychobabble. Participation trophies, helicopter parents, safe spaces, etc. This is why people will one day go from A to B in autonomous pods. Life is supposed to have a degree of danger. Wuss. Nation.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The issue at hand is car restraint systems that reduce injury in wrecks, not bathing your child in perpetual unearned admiration until they are dysfunctional adults.

          If you buckle your seatbelt and haven’t yet pulled the ABS and airbag fuses, then you aren’t practicing what you preach. Unnecessary crippling injuries build *character*.

  • avatar
    NoID

    How does your 9 year old fit in a conventional car seat? Holy cow…

    We just follow the state/federal/manufacturer recommended guidelines, which ends up with the kids exiting full size seats around age 4 and exiting boosters around age 8, but it depends on how husky the child is…

    I’ve crammed two boosters and a car seat into the current generation Grand Cherokee SRT / Trackhawk, and while I’m sure it’s easier than a Focus RS it’s still not something that excites me. I don’t know about the RS, but the seat belt latches are recessed down into the bench, and hand access becomes restricted by the wings of the baby’s giant throne of a car seat and the legs of whoever is in the boosters. Therefore my standard operation is to latch the car seat in the middle and strap the baby in, set up the boosters on each side, pre-buckle and loosen the belts, then have my two larger kids contort themselves up under the belts before re-tightening them. Then of course my oldest gets a rare seat in the front, where he secretly puts the vehicle into Track mode when I’m not paying attention in an effort to rattle my aging bones with firm damping and kill us on highway ramps without traction control.

    • 0 avatar
      Plamry

      Do you have an SRT or Trackhawk currently?

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        Not personally, the gas mileage would kill me if the inability to afford groceries and electricity after the monthly payment didn’t get me first.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        On the plus side kids grow out of car seats and boosters, so not only would they fit well into a JGC eventually, the same holds true for your RS. If you love that car so much then I recommend just waiting them out.

        As for the driving experience, I second the notion that the JGC SRT is a totally different experience than something like the RS. Is it fun? Absolutely, but it’s apples to oranges.

        Now, the Trackhawk on the other hand…I won’t say that the experience is any more comparable to the RS, but I will say that the Trackhawk would provide more giggles per mile than the RS, guaranteed.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I’m going to be a contrarian and say to trade the RS in for a late model Corvette, BMW Z4, or some other 2 seater of your choice. That way your wife will be FORCED to make the school run OR you will be FORCED to make the school run in one of your more practical cars, but still have a fun/sporty vehicle in the fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      This. I used to drop our oldest off at school on nice days in the Cobra replica. Once the second became school age I had to take the sedan. You know what, I don’t miss it, but she does.

  • avatar
    St.George

    The OP seems to have an array of vehicles suited to the task of ‘family mobility’. If the Focus RS fits the 3 kids in legally & safely, I’m sure they can suck up the (assumed) short ride to and from school. I personally would have loved to have been shuttled back and forth in such a performance car. We made do with Austin Metros, Allegros & similar :-(

    • 0 avatar
      JalopNick

      My kids loved taking “the twisty way” to school. We’d get off the main road and take this back road, flog the Quattro around the turns and scream and giggle all the way to school (doing the Blastoff routine from Little Einsteins). Good times …

      One should inject a little fun into the mundane, whenever possible.

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    It is so nice to see all the busybodies here telling us what is “safe” and what we should be doing with our lives because they know best. Thank God they are so smart and have all the “right data” to justify themselves being narcissistic bores.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    Mom’s 52 Olds 88 did a good job of ferrying 4 of us to school and back…and anywhere else we needed to go…not seat belts, car seats, etc…

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Is it really that bad to put one in the front?

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      It is probably not against the law but it is definitely more dangerous.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Sure, but it’s more dangerous for an adult too, and almost none of them sit in the back voluntarily. The improvement in quality of life from the front seat view is worth the extra risk.

        If modern airbags are so violent that they’d harm reasonably sized children, then I’d think they’d be killing thousands of fragile elderly people every year.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Determine a child’s muscle and bone structure at a certain age and compare it to an elderly adult at a certain age, then cross reference the ages against known passengers in airbag deployments. I would not be surprised if the airbags were killing people (outside of Takata’s which we know for fact are killing people of all ages).

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I think it’s just the result of our litigious society. Once upon a time, some people put rear-facing car seats in the front seats, or placed front-facing seats too close to the dash in front of unnecessarily powerful airbags designed primarily for people who don’t wear seatbelts. Now, nobody can even suggest that a child can sit there without risking serious financial penalties for even the most common, relatively minor physical consequences of airbag deployment.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I believe to offset the calls of some to stop using airbags many vehicles had/have a mechanism to disable the passenger airbag.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    So, you have an RS, a full size truck (automatic I assume), and a minivan. You pickup and drop off 3 kids most of the time.

    So why don’t you man up and drive the van, let your wife (man up as well), drive the truck when she is not picking up or dropping off the kids, and drive the RS when you are by yourself.

    Being a parent means growing up and doing what is the best for them, not the most fun for you. Yes, I’m a dad with 2 young daughters as well, and a proud diaper mobile owner (Prius V).

    • 0 avatar
      Plamry

      My wife wouldn’t give her van up!!!

      So according to some of you there is no fun to drive vehicle in existence that holds three kids? This isn’t a vehicle for family trips just my daily driver that has to be used to get kids to and from school and daycare.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        I gave up a lot of fun when I am raising my kids (like video games), it is sort of necessary to find time for things we need to do.

        Sometimes you just have to adapt and find fun in different way, like how we teach kids to find something good out of things they don’t want (watch Daniel Tiger with them, it is as good for the parents as the kids). One of my coworker picked up gardening because he can watch the kids in the backyard while enjoying outdoor, instead of playing golf.

        You can test drive a few more cars and see what works but the truth is if you want to keep them in as big of a car seat as you want, you will need to give up some handling to get the safety.

        Try to convince your wife to drive the truck, or trade the truck for another 3 rower.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Serious question: how difficult or feasible would it be to ask your wife if she can get the kids when necessary? I imagine there’s a note on the Focus and it doesn’t make sense to trade it if you enjoy it and can think of a different option.

        I’m not going to pretrend I know what you should do since I’m not a father and I’m only 30.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Dodge Magnum wagon SRT-8 version. Add Hellcat crate motor if more power desired.

  • avatar
    NG5

    Others have mentioned the Chevy SS but if you stick within Ford, how about the Taurus SHO or Fusion Sport? I haven’t driven them, but they are pretty large Ford cars with a powerful engine and AWD.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Have Uber drop the kids off. :)

    I would look down the path of alternative vehicular enjoyment. Not just a compromise of different extremes (like the Grand Cherokee would be) but fall to one of the singular extremes. The Jeep Wrangler may be a good way to get a whole new experience (and just as valid as an singular experience as the RS is) while potentially fitting all the kids in there. You could also go down the Full Size truck path. You mentioned that you have one but did not detail the config/age/trim level. Perhaps a replacement truck could be used as your family hauler and allow you to experience something new that otherwise you wouldn’t consider.

    You could also look down the luxury segment and go with one of the larger RWD vehicles.

    The trick is finding a vehicle that is best of breed and then take in that experience while meeting the space needs.

    Good luck in your automotive journey!

  • avatar
    ernest

    Three children six, four, and two? In a Focus RS? Bwahaha… Sorry, I’ve been down this road myself. With a Camaro IROC Z Convertible (1st child), Camaro RS T-Top (2nd child), and two Fords (F150 Supercab 4×4 + Thunderbird) (3rd child). The first child learned how to drive on the pickup, and ultimately went off to college in it. The Thunderbird got traded somewhere along the line, and a Mustang GT ultimately wound up taking it’s space in the garage. It got turned into a Camry when the 3rd child went off to college. Kids have a habit of changing your perspectives.

    These days I spend more time hauling around the furkid (100 lb Lab) in a Charger R/T. If that car had been available when the kids were little, I’d have gone that route. Automatic or not, it puts a grin on my face every time I light it up.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I followed you right up until you traded in the Mustang GT for a Camry when the 3rd went off to college. That makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I will not disguise the fact that I now think far less of you for it.

      The Charger R/T that now occupies your garage earns you extra points back however.

      Don’t let this kind of poor decision making happen again. We’re all counting on you.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        Third Kid didn’t want to take the GT to college. She thought it was too much car for a new driver. I know- shocked me too… but she always was the most sensible one of the three. So we found her a nice used Camry, which she promptly totaled the next year coming back from a ski trip in Bend.

        Currently she and her husband rock a Dodge Ram 4X4 pickup, a Golf tdi, and and a mint ’95 Bronco I don’t have space for up here.

  • avatar
    BiturboS4

    I personally switched from a Focus ST to a grand Cherokee Limited with the 5.7 L Hemi when my daughter was born. We also have a large dog.

    Of course the Jeep isn’t the same as the Focus, but it’s still incredibly fun to drive. Just having a monster V8 under your foot is worth the price of admission. And on highway trips it makes an amazing cruiser, even if it isn’t efficient.

  • avatar
    ernest

    Back to the original topic. Three little kids dictate a little bit of thought in how to cart them around. As they get older, seat separation is going to be a huge sanity issue for whatever parent is shuttling them. I also speak from experience when I say that, as they get older, they acquire friends ===> leg and headroom become bigger considerations than whether the child seat fits ===> your “sports car” may well be the vehicle you’d most likely want to carry a set of muddy adolescents. ===> The 7 passenger requirement turns into 7 passengers AND luggage, as opposed to 7 passengers OR luggage (goodbye minivan, hello Suburban). They may discover camping, skiing, water skiing… any of which will dictate a dramatic reconfiguration of your driveway.

    And I haven’t even mentioned College, and the insane impact that will have on how you view money, your lifestyle, and what expenditures are really important. Just a PSA from a dad of three that’s been down this road.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d look into a full size sedan.Reasonably priced used Infinity m56 with sport package,genesis sedan with v8,or with if you’re feisty lwb XJ6,s class.I remember a EuropeanCar mag project car on S600 with Renntech mods.The journalist used our old MB shop here in KC for install.
    I had a great experience with my G37 6mt sedan but its backseat is too small for 3 car seats.mid 20s will get you a low mile m56.sedans have taken a resale beating w the SUV craze so its a buyers market.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    Used E63 Wagon or possibly CTS-V wagon?

    I’m in a similar situation w/ a fun car and an SUV w/ kids in child seats. When I’m driving the kids around I am usually in the SUV. The idea of a big Mercedes Wagon or CTS-V wagon crosses my mind frequently.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Both are rare, but I’m spitballing thinking you may find the E63 before the CTS-V wagon. I thought something like 1500 were built of the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Additional: According to wiki only 2139 examples of all types of CTS Wagon were sold between MY11 and MY14. I would imagine “V” is about 1/3rd of those at best. Rare bird indeed.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_CTS-V

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