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Desirable, essential and AWFUL features in cars for 3dcs? What might we forget to look for?

(46 Posts)
Gentleness Fri 05-Oct-12 19:32:25

Sorry if this is a repeat topic - I've seen lots of discussions about larger cars but not one that focuses on this! I just know that with so many child-related purchases, there were things I'd never even thought about until other mums told me about them! If I've missed a great thread and you can redirect me, I'd appreciate it!

So we have 2 dc, both small for their ages, one just turned 3, one is 17mo. Dc3 is due on Christmas day. I've always wanted 4dc, but it's not a given and wouldn't be for another 2 yrs minimum. We do want to be able to give lifts though that is in the desirable, not essential column for now. I'm a bit anxious about 7 seaters and the rear crumple zone having seen a couple of nasty accidents on motorways over the summer, but we are considering anything and everything!

So - what did you find great and terrible when dealing with 3 kids and cars?

AliceMum09 Fri 17-Oct-14 21:01:15

I have a Peugeot 5008 and three children aged 9, 6 and 2. It has three equal-width seats in the rear, all with ISOFIX. There are also two extra pull-up seats in the boot floor, when they are up there is just enough space for a Maclaren pushchair behind them. So not much boot space compared to all the other similar cars (I think the Zafira/Touran/Grand Scenic all have bigger boots once the rear seats are up), but the upside of that is good legroom for those rear seats.

The car seats I have in there at the moment are a Britax Adventure HBB, a Britax KidFix HBB and a Britax (spot the pattern!) Multi Tech II rear facing seat for my two year old DD2. There is plenty of space to get to the seatbelt buckles, the KidFix seat is slightly wider than the car's individual seat so if I had two of them I'd have to slide one seat forward a little to 'jigsaw' the high backed boosters together. Two would fit easily if they were either side with the Multi Tech in the middle, but I can't get the driver's seat far enough forward to fit the Multi Tech in the middle (it has to go behind the passenger where it leaves more room for their legs). But I've had any combination of infant carriers, Group 1 seats and HBBs and they have all fitted.

My car is a diesel, 1.6 engine. It does 43mpg on a mixture of pottering around during the week (it's not used for commuting) and a bit of dual carriageway/faster driving at the weekend.

I love my car, and I think it would work for teenagers as well as little ones in child seats.

jilted Thu 21-Aug-14 09:15:26

Probably obvious but make sure the back seats are flat for car seats.
My dh has a BMW 5 door saloon and he can't fit our 3 seats in because the seats turn up at the edges.
Funnily enough though they all (just) fit in my little Cora because my back seat is flat!!

Patrizio Wed 04-Jun-14 13:54:10

So, what did you finally choice, Gentleness?
we are in similar situation and are looking at the renault trafic or the ford tourneo custom...people mover vans, i see, but a lot of space and boot in almost the same money and only a bit more length...

what do you think about?

Megsdaughter Sun 14-Apr-13 17:22:02

Oh and it had privacy glass on the windows and blinds that you could operate from the front, brilliant for when a child fell asleep.

Separate heating front and back could all be operated from the front.

Megsdaughter Sun 14-Apr-13 17:20:29

As a CM, I had a Mazda Bongo.

It was brilliant, could get three fixed baby seats in the back row.

Three unfixed seats in the middle row.

Sliding door. Room under the seats for boxes (I kept all wet weather gear in the car, or when we occasionally got it sunny weather gear)

Could get a side by side double buggy AND a single buggy in the boot at the same time.

If I didnt need the back seats it can be flattened to make a huge boot.

It wasnt bad on fuel, ( diesel ) and was automatic, which for me was a boon.

ArchiNewell Sun 14-Apr-13 17:13:56

I've had an S-Max for 4 years and I'm going to buy another one now the lease is up.
I'm new here so I hope this isn't unacceptably long. I guarantee it's relevant.

I've had a Windstar (American galaxy) a few large estates-mondeo, saab, audi and I had a Sharran for a while.

These are a few of the things I consider important and useful and things that are positive with the S-max.

1. Very little body roll
This makes it not only makes it nice to drive but your head doesn't loll about anything like as much as in other big boxes. The kids don't get thrown about and so stay relaxed etc.
One of life's little miseries is trying to get vomit out of a seat belt anchorage.

2. Enough legroom in the 2nd row for a child to walk through with someone in the seat.
So for example, child one gets in and child two wants the middle seat so can pass by. Or the big one goes to another school and sits on the off side (because naturally you put the little ones on the kerb side when you need to strap them in) so can walk through rather than getting out into the road. Not essential until you've seen it done almost every day for 4 years.

3. Three full seats in 2nd row and each big enough for a child seat.
All seats should slide and fold flat.

4. Doors should open really wide and have a tall body.
It's so much easier to put a child in the seat when from your arms.
Don't assume all cars have wide opening doors and it can really kill your back bending into an estate with a child in your arms.
It shouldn't be too high to get in either. The Volvo CX90 is really high for instance and difficult to get out of for little kids I find.

5. Independent middle seat
In the S-max The middle seat in the second row can fold down into a table, great to clamber into the back or to give the kids something to put their stuff on. Better visibility from the back too.

6. Noise
I would prioritise noise levels over speed any day.
The big diesel is not particularly noisy at tickover and hardly any noiser at motorway speed (about 3000 revs) so the cabin is really quite quiet and relaxed. So much nicer to get to your destination with every one feeling fresh. A noisy cabin winds everyone up without you realizing it.

7. A refrigerated glove box.
What a stupid idea you think when you first hear about it, but at the end of a long journey when you have a fresh bottle of milk some butter and maybe a couple of eggs, you really appreciate it (also these are often things you have to bin when you go on holiday). The glove box is really huge on the S-max too so plenty of room for all that, some yoghurt and some water. It will keep sandwiches fresh throughout the journey too.

8. The door bins are huge so everyone can have a large bottle of water next to them. There are pockets behind the seats like aircraft for comics and a fold down flap with cupholder behind each front seat.

9. 12V plug in the back for DS charger, PSP DVD player etc. Not just a cigar lighter at the front.

10. Tinted rear windows
Definitely, not only to keep them cool but so no one can see all the electronic gadgets on the back seat at the motorway service station.

11. Big enough for a large family dog behind the third row of seats.
Not for everyone but this is a must for us and there are few other cars in the class that can do this especially as it really isn't that huge. We have a 40kg Golden and he has plenty of room.

12. I don't know about kidilocks, I don't like the idea about people being locked in but having a door alarm has been a life saver once. The newer model has locking from the driver I think which is better. Collision warning saved me once too.

13. Heated windscreen
Another thing you can't do without once you've had it.
When you're doing the school run on a frosty morning and you're late, having a clear screen in 3 minutes is really great.

14 Fold in electric mirrors
These are wide cars and the mirrors are vulnerable. Also it helps to be able to close them to go through gates etc. We hit one mirror on the S-max and it all just sprang apart. New glass cost £14 and the whole thing fitted back together again.

The S-max is not only a great family car but it is genuinely nice to drive. The engine (diesel) has plenty of grunt so it doesn't flag going up hill and it's really quite quick. I often drive it with a big box on the roof and forget it's there.

Most importantly it doesn't feel like a big car. It's easy to park-not too much overhang, ( yes, radar front and rear is great too) it has really good brakes-and an amazingly small turning circle for a big car so it's really quite nimble.

Sliding doors are great but not a deal breaker. I had them on the 95 Windstar. If they aren't electric, the kids can't close them themselves as they are too heavy and they can't reach far enough backward anyway with their belts on. Mine can close normal doors as they get in and there's a warning to tell me when one is open.

Seats/mirrors with memory which adjust to your key is great. I literally can't get in the car if I open it with my wife's key because the seat is too far forward. That's a real problem for a couple when one doesn't adjust the seat when they get out. I really need that.

I like runflat tyres. Extra safety feature, they are quiet with good grip these days and you you're less likely to be stuck with a flat somewhere (it's still possible though) They are expensive but I think they are worth it. You wouldn't but a car without ABS so why not runflats? I get 16000 out of the front and about 30000 out of the back.

As for negatives, I don't like the front pillars in the S-max which can hide a bike or even a car sometimes, and one or another is always too hot or too cold but I don't know if that's the air con or the people. There seems to be plenty of airs coming from the door pillars.

That's genuinely all I don't like.

A point about built in booster seats- they are ridiculously expensive. I think you're better paying a tiny amount for removable ones. They kids grow out of them really fast and you will need different seats for the baby anyway. Also I have had them and the seats weren't as comfortable as a normal seat when folded down.
Rear 2 don't need booster seats for kids around 6 years old because they are low and the belt goes over their shoulder anyway.

One last general thing, invest in a cheap DVD system that straps on the seat backs. They cost less than £100 and they are a real godsend. A generic make will be just fine.
I hope this is useful and not too long. I don't know what the conventions are.

Thirstysomething Thu 10-Jan-13 09:57:17

We are thinking of Bongo'ing, but I am watching this thread with interest, as in the next year or so we want to upgrade dh's car for a second hand seven seater, so that we can both ferry kids around. And in his case we will get something with a few more miles per gallon than the thirsty Bongo...
We have four dcs, ages 6 (in feb), 4 (in march), 1 and bump due in July.

From this thread I have figured out that we would like on our tick list:
- 3rd row seats fold flat rather than having to be removed when not in use
- tinted windows
- able to access rear seats without moving middle row - gap btw rear seats ideal.
- sufficient heating/cooling vents in back ditto speakers
- sliding doors
- boot will fit dogs and buggy in even with all seats up
- built in booster seats nice extra
- parking sensors nice extra - but think you can get them fitted after
- run flat tyres (fit after)

Which seems to be:
Grand Scenic (expensive to repair, but can turn off front airbag and fit 3 in 2nd row) POSS
Alhambra/Sharan (seats dont fold into floor?),
S Max, (smaller 3rd row than galaxy)
Galaxy (drives like thro custard, no spare wheel)
Espace (hard to get into back row with three kids in 2nd row, much less boot space than Galaxy behind 3rd row, seats don't fold down) NO

Any others that should be considered?
Thanks, great thread!

BadRoly Tue 08-Jan-13 21:35:39

We have 4 dc's and now have a Ford Galaxy and a Renault Espace.

I loved my Galaxy (dh has it now)because:
Easy to get to back row seat.
All seats are always in the car.
Parking sensors grin
Child watch mirror doodah!
Very comfy to drive.

I would have liked it to have slidey doors and a bit more oomph (is a 1.8)

I inherited my Dad's Espace and the children wanted me to have it because it has built in DVD player! All the rear seats are isofix! Which is no good to me as only dc4 has an isofix seat. It is lovely to drive (nicer than Galaxy). BUT if I have 3 in the middle it is very difficult to get into the back row. Also there is much less boot space behind the back 2 seats. And the seats don't really fold down so either take up loads of space in the car or are removed and take up loads of space in the house...

wafflingworrier Tue 08-Jan-13 21:24:33

just want to say thank you to everyone who has posted something contructive, i have made notes! we are in a similar situation and i had NO idea where to start and was overwhelmed just at the thought of trying to work out what car to get.

JourneyThroughLife Sat 08-Dec-12 10:35:34

I know someone else has highlighted how expensive they are, but I would say run-flat tyres are ESSENTIAL. Having been through several flat tyres at the most awkward, impossible times (just when I have an appointment, child is screaming and baby being sick) as well as having a complete blowout while going at full tilt down the motorway (really, REALLY scary to handle) I now have a car with run-flat tyres. They give me incredible peace of mind and are worth the money. In my experience they don't wear down more than other tyres but give a slightly harder, less cushioned ride but really worth it....

petitfiloser Fri 07-Dec-12 20:28:08

how the fuck have i got onto mumsnet cars shock

petitfiloser Fri 07-Dec-12 20:27:29

what the fuck is it tonight about cars/???

RudolphsNoseInMyXmasStocking Mon 03-Dec-12 19:14:30

I had a picasso for 10 years - very little went wrong with it until the end - over 100K miles on it though! Excellent space in the rear seats (my kids are now teenagers, was still plenty of leg room) and boot space is fab. Rear seats were removable - handy for trips to the tip!

Brandnewbrighttomorrow Mon 05-Nov-12 23:39:50

We have britax car seats, they aren't especially wide - I did only put one of them in and assess by eye, but it looked fine in the middle seat. Our eldest is close to moving to just a booster seat so less of a concern now than a couple of years back. We collect on Saturday, I'll double check just to be sure before we hand over our pennies! I liked the fact that each of the seats can be individually reclined - great for long journeys. The worst car-seat scenario we had was when a group 0, group 1 and group 2 all needed to fit in one car - that's how we ended up with the c8, couldn't find another that we could squeeze into.

I was astonished at how many of the cars pitched as 7 seaters have those tiny central seats that you can't fit a car seat into or have the rear two seats it's barely possible to get into! We had a look at the 5008 and I almost got stuck in the rear seat as the space to exit (even with the seat in front pushed forward) was so tiny. I'm not huge btw! Had a go in the back of the s-max and nearly got knee capped when the middle row seat was put back in place - ok I'm 5'8 but that's hardly Amazonian!

Gentleness Sun 04-Nov-12 09:26:13

Wow, and you can fit 3 highbacks in? I thought the middle seat was smaller in the galaxy!

Brandnewbrighttomorrow Sat 03-Nov-12 23:15:16

And some good news, found a car that's perfect today - 3yr old ford galaxy. Top tips about the tinted windows and rear parking sensors, had them on my tick list. Can fit our three car seats in the middle row and crucially can recline each of them individually, which is great for helping dc's sleep on longer journeys. Was surprised how nice a car it is to drive, doesn't feel like a bus!

Looked at the seat Alhambra, hyundai Santa fe, peugeot 5008, ford s-max, Volvo xc90 (lovely but soooo expensive), discounted the citroen's because of cardboardy seats.

Brandnewbrighttomorrow Fri 02-Nov-12 20:49:39

Our car died today, will cost more to fix than it's worth so on the hunt for a new 7 seater too sad three kids in high back boosters although our eldest won't be for much longer (she's only 7 but 132cm already) just done the sums and have £10k to spend tops.

Hunting high and low, would love to have slidey doors but don't think £10k's going to cut it :-(

DorisIsWaiting Thu 01-Nov-12 08:41:41

I have a sedona and the parking sensors make life so much easier, the size of the car makes parking harder so it's a small bonus. that and the automatic sliding doors.

Weird bits like driver controlled electric windos and a window lock are also useful .

When I had 3 dc's under 3 I really rated the keyfob opening sliding doors (still like them!) I had baby in arms, no hands left to struggle with doors.

The sedona also has 4 isofix seat points in the back.

Katydive Thu 01-Nov-12 08:25:37

This is a really interesting thread as this was my dilemma a few weeks ago. My two DS's are nearly 5 and 2 1/2. We swapped our Citroen C4 Picasso last year for an Audi A4 estate, thinking that would be it children wise for us and as we own a small business thought this would be a bit more appropriate to go to meetings etc. We really love the car but there is no way you can get three car seats in even a base booster. However we diecided to get a company car and sell the Audi. We chose a Peugeot 3008 Crossover as it looks great and the interior is gorgeous, it also won car of the year etc etc. However we had recently been trying for a third baby and I was getting concerned about the rear seats again, there seemed no massive difference between that and another other car. Sure enough found out I was pregnant last month and on the same day was told that the car would be delayed and would we like the 5008 which is the small MPV 7 seater version. We are picking it up tomorrow, but have already seen one. I would highly reccomend, we have got parking sensors on the rear, I understand this is a bit of a must!

eachpeach11 Fri 26-Oct-12 17:50:47

I have a renault grand scenic which i love. However I have found that its hard to get 3 car seats in. They fit but middle one is lopsided as seat not full size. We are either going to get a narrower seat for middle to sit eldest in front.
Not sure how safe that is though.

megandraper Wed 17-Oct-12 14:27:40

thanks schmaltz

ProphetOfDoom Tue 16-Oct-12 22:17:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

megandraper Tue 16-Oct-12 16:04:12

Sorry to keep asking questions, schmaltzing that's very helpful, thank you - can you get 3 car seats across the middle row of the Scenic?

ProphetOfDoom Tue 16-Oct-12 14:51:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

megandraper Tue 16-Oct-12 08:43:17

I am watching this thread with interest!

Gentleness, in answer to your question, you can apparently use the ISOFIX with a leg on top of the in-floor cubbys if you fill the cubbys with polystyrene (cut sheets to size and fill gaps with polystyrene beads) or if you put something solid and hard over the top of the cubby and put the leg on top of that. That's what the guy at the Swedish car seat safety centre told me.

Schmaltzing - how big is the Grand Scenic to drive. Is it easy to park?

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