So a few weeks ago I visited the LA Auto Show in search of a new family car. As my twins are now teenagers, and their singleton brother is close on their heels, our mid-sized family sedan just isn’t cutting it anymore. The biggest complaint? The backseat leg room is quickly shrinking. The twin stuck in the middle not only gets “the hump” but his knees are practically in his mouth. Finding the perfect car is a problem that many new parents of twins and triplets face as well. Parenting message boards are brimming with questions like, “Which sedans can fit multiple car seats?”
My advice? Take the family to an auto show and start strapping ’em in!
The great thing about visiting the auto show is that you can compare many cars all at once. No more driving from dealer to dealer trying to remember if the Honda had good rear visibility or if the Toyota’s seats were comfortable. At the auto show, you can jump from car to car and then back again if you so choose comparing amenities in real-time.
After poking, prodding, and comparing stats at the Auto Show for more than four hours, my hands down favorite is new The Ford Explorer. No doubt.
Before I state my reasons, let me first assure you that this is my very own humble opinion (but my sons concur) and that I currently own two Toyotas (which I love) and haven’t owned a Ford in more than five years.
Starting at $28,190, the 2011 Ford Explorer gives you the most bang for the buck with plenty of style, safety, and roominess without feeling oppressively large. Its interior feels luxurious. It’s easy on gas, too (the 3.5-liter V-6 gets 25 MPG highway while the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder–due out this summer–will pull in a bit more). But it’s the ample rear seat (39.8-inch legroom, 56.7-inch hip room) as well as PowerFold Third Row Seat that sold me. (Push a button and the third row appears or disappears effortlessly, perfect for a new mom hauling around two infant car seats plus a cart-load of groceries!)
If the Ford Explorer still seems a bit too big for your lifestyle, then consider my second-place choice, the Toyota Venza ($26,475/est. mileage 21/27). With a roomy backseat (39.1-inch leg room, 56.5-inch hip room), a beautiful car like drive, and an absolutely abundant cargo space, Venza is a clear runner-up.
Although I had high expectations for the Toyota Highlander ($27,400/est. mileage 20/25), it was my least favorite as its backseat was painful. Literally. Although the backseat’s two captain’s chairs are great for a family of four, the snap-on Center Stow Seat (a contraption that slips under the front console when not in use) to create room for an additional fifth passenger is a joke. Stiff, narrow and downright uncomfortable. What were the designers thinking?
No matter. There are plenty of other solid choices out there for families with multiples.