By on July 7, 2020

We all know someone who’s had a kid. Yup, procreation still happens in today’s enlightened society, and with that babymaking comes a rapid accumulation of stuff. It’s a scourge, and this disgruntled, childless writer has long railed against the steady onward march of this phenomenon.

Y’all are spoiling your children. They’ve got too much stuff.

More often than not — almost inevitably, really — this new addition to the household precipitates another change in either the driveway or garage.

Whereas couples once used to trade in their coupe or sedan for a minivan or wagon, they now take ownership of a compact to midsize crossover. Yes, I’m thinking of my friends’ Hyundai Santa Fes and Kia Sorentos. Once upon a time, young Steph and his sister, joined by his mom and dad, managed just fine in a hatchback, wagon, or sedan — even on family vacays. Of course, there was little in the way of frivolous stuff to bring along. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t make the cut.

Again, you’re accumulating too much stuff. One’s level of stuff shouldn’t dictate the vehicle; the vehicle should dictate the amount of stuff brought along. But it’s a free country, I guess. Do what you feel you need to do.

Of course, many people who do make the switch might not be doing so entirely of their own volition. Pressure from parents and in-laws and babymaking friends might push them in the direction of a RAV4 or Equinox or Escape or Odyssey. “You’re gonna need that room,” they’re told, helpfully, by their procreating comrades.

It seems, if you’ll indulge yours truly, like a phenomenon seen in the world of (gasp!) guns. For many decades, going all the way back to the late 19th century and the advent of smokeless powder, certain calibers were seen as perfectly fine harvesters of whitetail deer. And the .30-30 Winchester topped the list. An easygoing intermediate caliber chambered in handy, lever-action rifles that never break or die, the old .30-30 became the backwoods deer cartridge. You didn’t need anything else. It’s still relatively popular, as it never stopped excelling at this very task. Lately, however, as always seems to happen, gun makers are busy adding the latest wonder round to their respective model lines.

In 2020, that would be the 6.5mm Creedmoor. Hard-hitting, flat-shooting, and capable of great accuracy at incredible ranges, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is an excellent hunting cartridge almost no one needs. Its ballistic superiority is only realized at ranges of 400 yards or more, making it a pointless acquisition for the legions of backwoods hunters who never shoot beyond 200 yards, at the absolute limit. And there’s already a host of century-old cartridges designed to shoot two fields over.

Yet the capability of this new round is a draw. If you wanted to, you could shoot that far. The potential is always there, much like the cargo volume and all-weather abilities of an AWD crossover. Anywhere you want to go, anything you want to bring along, you can. Can’t do that in a useless four-door sedan or hatch that’s perfectly fine for most tasks and delivers better fuel economy to boot!

New parents, or people undergoing some other change in their lifestyle, will undoubtedly face some pressure to switch vehicles, even if it’s unnecessary. Has that person ever been you? What was the vehicle suddenly so unsuited to the tasks at hand, and what was the proposed solution? And did you make the switch?

[Image: General Motors]

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49 Comments on “QOTD: Under Pressure?...”


  • avatar
    thegamper

    I ended up with three children, didn’t plan it that way. Maybe my wife did because she wanted a 3 row vehicle before we even had 2 children. Infants and toddlers require a decent amount of gear when travelling. A pack and play, at least one stroller, etc, etc. So, there is a need for at least some additional space especially if you have a whole litter of little ones.

    My wife had a Land Rover Freelander when we got married which was pretty small but totally fine for one child. But we almost immediately got a BOF Nissan Pathfinder with 3 rows (even though the 3rd row wasn’t fit for humans), then a Ford Flex. We had our third child when we owned the flex and the room available was appropriate.

    Personally, I have been pushed out of a manual transmission due to children and the need to switch and share vehicles with my wife at times. I have one family sized vehicle and wont be moving along from a sedan for myself. There is a real push for some reason for people to buy vehicles for that 1 in 1000 trip when they need the space, towing, etc. Not sure if its marketing, some sort of false sense of security that people desire or just poor decision making. I will always buy a vehicle that is best suited for the 999 trips, on pavement….because that’s where we all drive. Of course we will no doubt hear from all those who regularly taxi commercial airliners with their vehicles or are constantly lugging around 1000’s of pounds of stuff, traversing untamed wilderness, etc. Its some sort of insecurity of not having it if you need it that is driving today’s sales environment. But $20 will rent you a truck or van for the day. I will stick with a vehicle that is best suited for how we ACTUALLY use our cars on the 999 of 1000 trips.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Unfortunately here in Canada I just checked and the rental fee for a minivan is currently $115 per day, for weekdays. More on weekends.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I was referring to renting a truck or van at UHaul. Minivans are sort of hit or miss in my experience. They are popular rentals especially around touristy areas and airports. During popular holiday travel times they are difficult to secure and prices are high. Rent one on a regular day in middle of nowhere America and they are $30 bucks.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Yes, I bought an Aerostar when my two boys and their friends and their stuff outgrew the small hatchback I had prior. Smart move, enjoyed many peaceful road trips along with everyday kid-carry duties

    When my youngest went off to college the Aerostar was retired, it’s duty fulfilled

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    Nice comparison. I like it. I have no need for any such spawn-toting vehicle, so I will just lurk with popcorn.

  • avatar
    G Tatler

    My grandparents had an Austin-Healey 3000 but they had to get rid of it when my dad was born, they also had to move to a bigger house to accommodate but they then had nowhere to store their old Alpine restoration project so they had to sell it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True you can always rent a truck if you need one. Growing up my father always had a station wagon which we used not only hauling people but for transporting things. A full size station wagon and a compact sedan were my parent’s vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This buying large crossover/SUVs for a growing family is not a new phenomenon, when I was growing-up 20′ 3-row station wagons were the norm. The needs haven’t changed just the form

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        The families were much bigger though, 5+ kids were reasonably common. Are many families today having more than one or two?

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          True, but those 5 kids had a lot less stuff then today’s 1 or 2

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “In the good ol’ days” *we* did not need to worry about seatbelts, car seats, play pens and all sorts of other safety items.
            I recall my dad & mom , my brother and I along with a black lab and a rabbit crammed in the cab of his regular cab F250. The box was full of tools, parts, diesel, and oil.
            2 adults, 2 pets and 2 kids in booster seats fit nicely in my super crew 4 door.

            It isn’t so much about spoiling kids with stuff.

            Times have changed for the better.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I grew up in the 90s when the body on frame SUV craze was taking off. Meanwhile mom and dad trundled along in regular old D3 sedans (Tempos, Taurus, Escort – this was the fastback thing, Corsica – for a time until Chevy bought it back after the 3rd engine blew in 6000 miles). Dad had a couple D0.5s (a Fiesta and an Aspire).

        Mom briefly had an Aerostar, but it was too much to feed and they quickly got rid of it. Occasionally we’d all pile into one car, but sometimes mom and dad would both drive so we’d have room to spread out. As the youngest of 3 who always had the middle seat in the sedans, these occasions were wonderful.

        I welcome the mostly fuel efficient crossovers for their general utility, though I’m only liable to shuttle kids periodically when I have my nieces and nephews.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Growing up my family had a station wagon (’49 Dodge), some sort of sedan and a ’39 Greyhound bus (Bill Haley and his Comets former tour bus) for trips.

      My father kept vehicles until they were beyond getting old which no doubt didn’t please the neighbors (not that he cared). Well, he cared a little, I guess. There was a second driveway in the back of the property where the bus was parked carefully screened from the street.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Our 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan was a direct result of the adoption of our daughter. We were empty-nesters, sporting a fun Scion TC and Lancer Sportwagen when the call came in to run through the night to pick up our (then 10-year old) niece right before Christmas of 2015. The situation got to the point where we delivered an ultimatum to adopt her. Our daughter loves animals. Any animal. And soon, we were getting heavily involved in making rescue runs for pets as well as stepping headlong into the wild world of dog shows. Both cars were woefully undersized, and I tired of borrowing my sister’s Explorer. So…this sports car loving couple now parents to a growing young lady ditched the cool and bought a gold box on wheels. We never regretted any of the decisions that got us to this point, even the (done in jest) chiding we got for piloting a minivan.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Space Efficiency Assignment: Compare the *footprint* of a “Cosco Stylaire baby high chair mid-century”
    https://tinyurl.com/Stylaire-Example

    with a more modern example
    https://tinyurl.com/ydgsmm8j

    Compare them in person.

    [The tray sizes got out of control for awhile, but it seems like they have been reined back in.]

    Here’s a current ‘light weight’ example, but clock that footprint:
    https://tinyurl.com/yavoqngu
    (I suppose when huge Uncle Charley trips on one of the legs and takes three family members out, we won’t list that as a ‘stability’ issue.)

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    My youngest was born in Italy and we had a US spec Ford Escort which wasn’t really even small over there.

    The problem wasn’t space…the problem was the banging of someone’s head on the sloping roofline. Modern coupes and sedans don’t have good access to the rear. The only one I drove that wasn’t terrible was a Camry. Additionally I don’t know how you get the stroller in and out of most modern trunk openings.

    I had an Ion when my second was born and after a couple weeks swapped it for a VUE. Sedans do so much better but hauling your kids around isn’t on that list. Now my wife has just gotten used to the form factor and prefers the cargo room and not falling down to get in. They really are just modern station wagons.

    As to deer hunting, i’ve never been anywhere where a 400 yard shot would be a thing. I suppose out west you could get that sort of shot though. But yeah, 30-30 is still king in the southeast.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I don’t see the need for 400 yard shots either. I guess if you live on the prairie or more open terrain. I don’t recall shooting deer more than 200 yards. Most was much closer. My brother used to hunt with a buddy who used a 270 caliber rifle. My brother tried it and loved it. I borrowed his and that’s what I have now. I haven’t hunted in a long time though.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Way back in 2002 when we had a 1 year old we bought a 2000 Durango. Didn’t need the size of a Suburban like everyone else, but we needed some cargo capacity and we did (and still do) to with it regularly.

    We have always had a mid-sized sedan but with two growing kids we bought a Pacifica for our road trips. We still use the sedan for shorter trips, but for 2000-3000 mile trips we use the minivan. Plus the minivan gets better mileage than the Rogue, but not the sedan with the same motor.

    It is nice to be able to pack your own food rather than fast food so the extra room is nice to have.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Here in western PA, the old calibers still certainly get their share of work in the deer stands. I carry a first year 336 marlin in 30-30, my father the same 30-40 Krag that he’s had for 50 years, and my wife .303 British. All have put their fair share of meat on the table and helped control our farmland.

    When I was a kid we traveled all over PA OH and MI to toy tractor shows, m our family of 4, display case, merchandise, and weekend gear all loaded fine in a MK2 Jetta. However, car seats were tiny or non-existent, I can’t remember anything more than a booster, though that just might be the poor memory of a child.

    When my wife and I were married, she had a Malibu Maxx and I a 2 door GTI. Even after our first kid arrived,we were just fine with our vehicle selection. When my wife took a job that saw her spending a lot of time in a company CRV, the visibility difference started a push to get her into a SUV type vehicle. An insurance total (not our fault) put us into a Outlander Sport, which was fine even with 2 kids (or 3 counting cousin) but once the second nephew came along the 3row desire started. A fortunate hailstorm totaled the Outlander and pushed us into a 3 row Tiguan. Now we can haul all 4 kids as needed, but forget any real cargo with the 3rd row in service. A month in a loaner Atlas was nice, but neither my wife or I cared for the overall size. If we plan a long trip, I think we will invest in a rooftop carrier.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Our daughter has a Marlin 30-30 with Skinner aperture sights on it. She got her first dear at a measured 165 yards with that setup. Most of where we hunt is pretty wooded and you can’t see further than 75 yards most of the time.

      Oh, she won’t give that rifle up for any amount of money.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Bought first house and first wife pressured me into getting a truck. It was a fine vehicle and I kept it for 10 plus years but ultimately I only needed its capability a few times a year. Sold it and haven’t looked back. I have a desire to have a vehicle in the household that will tow a few thousand pounds (say 3,000 to 5,000) and have a small trailer for those times I need to haul.

    When my first child was born (with my 2nd wife) I only held title to the aforementioned truck (standard cab), my 1967 Mustang, and a 150cc scooter. I ran out and bought a low mile 2010 Highlander. It was overkill and honestly I hated its appliance like nature.

    New rule, the wife (who is no enthusiast when it comes to driving) can drive the 3 row beast and Dad will drive whatever the heck he pleases as long as he has enough capability to pick up the kids after school.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Wife and I became a 2-car family in 1980 when we added an Audi 5000 diesel to the 78 Honda Accord hatch that previously was the only car we owned. Apart from its numerous repair issues, the Audi was a delight after 2 years with the Accord, which, in those days would have slotted somewhere between the current Honda Fit and Civic in size. Child #1 came along in late 1981 with no change in vehicles. The Audi was fine. When child #2 was on the way in 1984, we replaced the Honda with a new Jeep Cherokee/Wagoneer 4wd wagon. That served fine as the family vehicle until 1991 when child #3 was on the way, at which point we replaced the Jeep with a first-generation Previa. That car was replaced in 1994 with a loaded (leather seats, the works) second-generation supercharged Previa. (The dealer had returned the first generation car to us still wet after a cleaning in the humid DC summer. Its interior was liberally clad in mouse fur, with the predictable result that it grew a bumper crop of mold and mildew inside, to which my wife is seriously allergic. After dealer efforts at remediation failed, we compromised on them taking the Previa in trade on a loaded new one, at wholesale, with full trade in value on the moldy one. Child #1 having gone off to college in 1999, we downsized to a Saab 9-5 Aero wagon in 2002. Child #2 went off to college with the green Previa (nicknamed “turtle”)in 2003, where it served her for the balance of her 4-year stint. The Previa was traded in late ’08 on a Honda Pilot, which my wife said was needed for the dog, even though the two older children had finished college and moved to California. In 2009, child #3 started college with the Saab, which served her until after she graduated and left the US for Peace Corps duty. We still have the Pilot; you can’t kill it. What happened to the Audi? In 1987, it was traded for a series of “Dad cars”: a Mustang GT, a Taurus SHO (1992) and a 2001 BMW Z3 3.0 (purchased in 2004). The BMW was sold in 2015 for what I had originally paid for it, and was replaced by the GMC pickup in the photo, for duty pulling our 28 foot Airstream travel trailer. Five years later, the ODO on the truck has rolled over to 100K miles, during which it has demonstrated Toyota-worthy reliability–scheduled maintenance only, front brake discs and pads replaced once.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Yes kids have a ton of stuff, but they also cost a ton of money. Diapers and formula are already more than my car payment, and daycare is about the same cost as a smaller crossover yearly. Plus, I love in an area where it’s difficult to find a two-bedroom of any kind for much less than three-quarters of a million without going so far out I’d never see my kid because of commuting. So, I’d rather not spend yet more to buy something bigger and just make due with my Mazda2. It’ll only be a three-seater at least until my son switches to a forward facing seat, but we’ve managed to fit a long weekend’s worth of stuff in fine.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I bought a .38 revolver and .357 lever gun last year and from the way some people reacted you would have thought I bought a squirt gun.

    As far as the question goes, I’ve been a cheerleader for the Odyssey but no one in my social circle has gone with it. I’m usually told it is more than they want to spend.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    When you have 3 children you truly appreciate having 3 rows.

    The aero rooflines of modern sedans/coupes make loading and unloading a baby/child seat torture for most adults. And nearly impossible for grandparents.

    The minivan is still the best kids transporter due to a) sliding doors, b) more headroom.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Aurthur Daily – LOL, yes the advantage of having multiple rows of seats especially when the kids go through that “HE’S TOUCHING ME” phase.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Aurthur Daily – LOL, yes the advantage of having multiple rows of seats especially when the kids go through that “HE’S TOUCHING ME” phase.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Our 3rd child was born in 94,and in 96 we finally jumped from the 2-door 82 LTD into a used 96 Grand Voyager.

    Now, after 5 kids, I’m trying to stretch my 4th minivan as long as possible. It’s a great truck, but I don’t need the people capacity anymore, sadly.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Lie2me–Growing up my parents had 3 station wagons over the years with 2 being 9 passengers. True we had a lot less stuff and being number 3 son I got the hand me down clothes, toys, and etc. When my sister came along I was 14 and she got a lot more stuff than we boys especially since she was the baby of the family. Not only did we use our wagons for trips but we hauled furniture, trees, building material, and anything you can think of it was truly our family truckster. Growing up no one I knew had a pickup, suv (Suburban or Travelall) and few had vans. Family vehicles were mostly sedans and station wagons. Station wagons still exist they are just slightly higher and come with AWD but you now call call them suvs and crossovers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Exactly, that’s why I said the need hasn’t changed from the old station wagons just the form to the current crossover/SUVs

      Even the minivan concept wasn’t new, there were always the few families that drove the VW buses

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      There was a time when pickup trucks we work vehicles. My dad always has a pickup because he had a small trucking company.
      I always have had pickups because it was the best lifestyle choice for me since I’ve always been into dirt bikes, camping, fishing, offroading.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My ex and I once took our kids, who were 9 and 5 at the time, on a Denver-Chicago road trip in our Focus sedan. Did it work? Yes. Would it have worked better in something a bit bigger, with a hatch? God, yes.

    I love it when people who don’t have kids bag on those who do for buying too much stuff, BTW. Walk a few miles in a parent’s shoes, and THEN judge.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Interior space is like AWD/4WD. Yes-you don’t need it all the time, but when you do you REALLY NEED IT.

    If you can afford the cost of said vehicle-why not?

    I love my Silverado 1500 crew cab. (And yes getting ready to leave on a 17 day vacation through Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota) pulling 5,000 pound 29 foot travel trailer.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I remember my son, wife and self in the cab of my ’46 Chevy pickup along with many others, most were roomier .

    Only the one son so even in the old VW Beetles he always had plenty of space .

    Yes, to – day’s kiddies drag along far too much crap .

    The safety seats are better and that’s a very good thing .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    millerluke

    We have three kids and a 2012 Hyundai Elantra. It actually has more storage space and rear seat room for car seats than a previous vehicle, an 09 Santa Fe.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Lie2me–Well I have one of those elevated wagons and it’s called a Honda CRV AWD. Just the wife and me but it is easier to get in and out of, nice to have when it snows, and has much more space to haul things than today’s sedans. At one time we had an Escort wagon and that was a very useful vehicle as well. I also have a sedan and a midsize pickup. Growing up I enjoyed riding in the 3rd seat of our station wagons. I was never embarrassed riding or driving the family truckster especially the 64 Impala wagon with a 327 V8 with a Rochester 4 barrel.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Many fond memories of traveling the East Coast in the 1960’s in a clapped out Chevy Suburban, jammed full of noisy brats and camping gear .

      My ex wife bought a Honda CR-V some years ago and loves it dearly .

      She’s alone now but loves tossing her groceries and crap in that big back door .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    18726543

    I was born in 1982 and can remember when my brother was born in ’85 my dad getting rid of a Dotson wagon for a fresh, new Plymouth Voyager. It was the first year they were available and I can remember friends’ parents eager to find out more about the thing. My 2nd brother was born in ’88 and it was plenty enough car to cart the 5 of us around, though it was completely disgusting inside. We used to take a trip about 3 or 4 times a year from the Philly suburbs to upstate NY to visit my grandfather and in the Voyager + walkman the trip was a breeze as long as I brought enough tapes.

    Around ’96 we unloaded the Voyager for a 1993 GMC Vandura-based conversion van (short wheel base, 4.3L) and man did my dad HATE driving that thing. It was brutally underpowered with the V6, but it was absolutely perfect to bring us to hockey practice and take those Philly-NY trips with ease. We’d stop at West Coast Video on the way out because they had a deal if you rented 3 movies at once. 3 movies was just about perfect to cover the trip to NY, and the time would fly by watching those VHS tapes on the little 12-or-whatever inch TV in the roof pop-up. Eventually we figured out how to wire our Playstation into it, but the controllers didn’t reach the back seat.

    At 38 I’ve made the not-so-hard-for-me choice to forego the procreation lifestyle (surgically assured), but my job requires me to have a 4WD vehicle, and lugging my 5-piece drum kit to gigs ensures that it need be reasonably sized. For a while I relied on my ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee for both roles, but last year got an ’05 Liberty diesel for the daily driver duties. I haven’t tried to fit the drum kit in the Liberty yet, but I’m thinking it’s a no-go.

  • avatar
    rustbeltPete

    Yes, kids these days have too much stuff, but have you tried fitting a rearward facing child seat behind, oh I dunno, an adult? At 6’3”, there’s more vehicles on the market that I don’t fit into than do. Add the infant seat in the back, and only the largest vehicles are comfortable, which is why I have an F150 super crew. My wife has a ‘13 Fusion (Which I barely fit into) that will be due for replacement soon, and we’ll probably end up with a Flex, just because of the headroom in the first and second rows, and the second row legroom (child seat space). The only thing smaller I’ve seen that has enough back seat space for a rearward facing child seat with the front seat all the way back is a Lincoln Continental. (And there’s no way she’ll drive an old fart Lincoln sedan, or a minivan of any brand). If there were full-size affordable wagons on the market, we’d have bought one a long time ago. (And I’m not talking Gm wagons of the 90s, those things have all died of metal cancer a long time ago around here)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I would have been born and raised a generation later my parents would have had a minivan instead of a station wagon and if I were being raised today I am sure they would have had a crossover or suv. Different times and different vehicles but still the need for a vehicle that will haul the family and things around. The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    No kids for me and my wife yet. But we have siblings that don’t drive and somehow are often around. Plus we just bought a house. So we do need capability. After several sedans, I got an Audi hatchback. Whoa! A glimpse of what I was missing. But ultimately I decided the Audi was best used as a regional car, not road-trip car. I didn’t like driving the turbo engine at 80 mph for hours on end. And it wasn’t comfortable enough. We lucked out when a very nice professional lady was selling her E91 BMW in our region. It is a glorious color combination (with burgundy leather seats, which I think were really an M3 thing), every single option available at the time (sport package, Harman Kardon, parking sensors, pano roof, etc etc). I jumped on it.

    Just yesterday we had to return from visiting relatives. Three people and all their gear, barbell and weights, spare tools from an older relative (garden tools, chainsaw… the works), and an IKEA trip where we picked up a not insignificant amount of furniture that came in very long packages.

    All of it fit with the hatch closed (though my armrest was furniture boxes), and we don’t have a trail hitch, any rooftop capacity, etc. Car was stable, fast as usual, and cool and quiet. 80+ mph for 400+ miles. 24 mpg on 91 octane. I’ve had this car for over a year now, and it is by far the best automobile I have ever been lucky enough to own. I do miss sedans and how they drive, but I’m never going back.

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