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      07-03-2020, 12:57 AM   #1
E91WAG3N
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Toddler hauler that isn't a minivan?

Hey all,

Looking for some input and recommendations for a new vehicle. Situation is we have a 5 year old, 2 year old, and newborn. We currently have 2 E91s and itís not looking like we can fit 3 car seats across the back. My wife had a new Jetta in 2015 and prior to that an E36. This would be ďher carĒ but I will likely put more miles on it in the driverís seat than she will.

Criteria is basically something thatís enjoyable to drive, my wife and I are both firmly against a minivan. Neither of us care much about tech, driver aids, etc. Looking for something in the $30-40k range.

Some options that come to mind:
  1. Mercedes E Class Wagon S212 Generation through 2016 - seems like the logical choice. Plenty of space, good build quality.
  2. Porsche Macan CPO - a bit of a tighter fit but I have friends who rave about theirs. Weíre not fans of SUVs but my friends have commented it feels like it drives like a hatchback not an SUV/CUV or whatever it is.
  3. F31 328i M Sport - not sure if 3 car seats will fit. Honestly not a huge fan of how the F3X Generation cars drive but itís beats a minivan and weíre both fans of the looks of the car.
  4. E61 535i - might be too old and maintenance-needy at this point. AWD and turbos in a 10 year old car doesnít scream reliability but clearly the cheapest of the bunch.

Thanks for everyoneís comments!
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      07-03-2020, 01:27 AM   #2
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X3 M40i might also work. I know you arenít a fan of SUVs but it should check a lot of car boxes for you.
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      07-03-2020, 01:55 AM   #3
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      07-03-2020, 04:11 AM   #4
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That is so much work. Congrats.

Few year old five series is worth nothing but I'd go big. Thinking full size suburban (full three rows) and that is about it out there.
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      07-03-2020, 07:13 AM   #5
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      07-03-2020, 08:27 AM   #6
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FWIW I cannot fathom how insecure people need to be to not buy a minivan. It is by far, far, far and away the best tool for the job unless you are towing huge numbers. The flexibility is amazing. Anyone I know who reluctantly bought one keeps buying them. 3 kids+, no comparison IMHO. And a 328? No way that holds 3 kids and if it does it'd be a nightmare, as you know, safety seats are ENORMOUS.

Otherwise yeah the E-Class wagon makes the most sense. In my experience though, as much as I hate to say it as I have a 9-3 wagon on the driveway, SUV easier to live with if you have kids.

Last edited by Alfisti; 07-03-2020 at 08:43 AM..
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      07-03-2020, 08:42 AM   #7
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There are very few two row vehicles around that will handle three car seats (assuming the 5 year old is still in a booster seat). Even two child seats plus one child is an awfully tight fit.

You may be in a three row situation.

A friend of mine bought a used MB R vehicle. Sort of a quasi SUV/minivan. Regular doors but three rows. That might work for you.

I see you live in Las Vegas and the good news is that the roads are wide and parking is relatively easy so a bigger vehicle won't be a major problem.

While I like the Porsche, I don't think you will all fit in it.
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      07-03-2020, 08:50 AM   #8
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Definitely avoiding large vehicles. My wife hates them and so do I. Tons of typical American replies in here, was hoping for something out of the box. Yes a minivan or SUV does the job but the sheer size is unnecessary and both drive like utter crap. Mercedes Metris is the only thing in that realm that peaks my interest.

My mom actually has a new X3 and itís sitting in my driveway right now. Iíve driven it a bit in the last few weeks and hate it. Steering is numb, feels heavy and disconnected from the road.

Clearly a 3,000lb car isnít an option here but we both love our E91s. Iím definitely of the analog crowd who prefers hydraulic steering, RWD, etc... but that era is behind us. E class wagon still seems to be the logical choice since we didnít get the F11 5 series wagon here. Those 2 are as close as we can get to a good driving experience. There are a couple of car seats out there that are narrower in design (17 inches) and can fit 3 wide in a larger sedan. Iíve seen folks who have done it in an E class and Macan.
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      07-03-2020, 08:54 AM   #9
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I owned an X3, how the HELL do you go three seats wide???? I cannot fathom it.
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      07-03-2020, 09:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfisti View Post
I owned an X3, how the HELL do you go three seats wide???? I cannot fathom it.
Dionan or Clek Fllo. Not sure if they fit an X3 but they fit 3 wide in a Macan.
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      07-03-2020, 10:24 AM   #11
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No way in the world I am putting my newborns in either of those seats. Even my 2 year old I wouldn't do it in the Dionan, they just do not have the side support. You need a larger vehicle for 5 years then you're set.

The biggest threat to your kids, statistically, is you, male head of household. Let's put that aside, next in line is a car accident. Don't fuck around with their seats imho.
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      07-03-2020, 12:19 PM   #12
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Macan is an excellent vehicle but 3-across may be a bit of a stretch for comfort, and legroom is pretty tight, a Cayenne would likely do you much better. E-Class Wagon is also an excellent choice, and would likely be the most practical of your choices you listed and the V6 engines of the E-Class are pretty much bulletproof. Only trouble may be that the number of used E-Wagons are a lot less than the other choices since they sell very little and owners tend to keep them for a while.
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      07-03-2020, 01:57 PM   #13
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Even though you said no SUVs gotta recommend the volvo XC90 definitely an amazing vehicle for a growing family
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      07-03-2020, 02:00 PM   #14
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your only real limitation here is 3 car-seats side by side.
(truly 2 car seats and a booster depending on how large your 5 year old is - remember safety for kids isn't about their age, it's about their height. They need to be large enough for the safety systems to work whether that's a seat, booster, or belt). I envision the infant seat in the middle, and the larger car seat and booster flanking.

Truth is most van's wont work for you because they have captains chairs so only have 2 seats anyway.

In terms of most compact Scion Xb would work but they don't make them anymore

You really would need to go to a dealer with your specific seats and test it in the specific car because your actual seats may not work whereas another brand may. It's unfortunately a process of elimination.

I remember when I was shopping after our first, we took the jogging stroller to the car show to see how many trunks it fit in. Believe it or not it wouldn't fit in most SUV trunks but fit in most sedan trunks easily (because SUV trunks are very shallow from rear seat to hatch and it couldn't lay down, sedans are deep and it just plopped right in).

But to specifics, you can try any of the BMW X mobiles as they are the better driving SUV's out there. Believe it or not I felt the X1 had a fantastic back seat, especially for kids. It's more than spacious for two, but it may not do well with 3. Of course any 3 row works because the 5 year old goes in the way back. So that gives you Mazda too in the CX-9. (there are other 'tweener' SUV's like the atlas, ascent, telluride, and pallisades, but none are drivers cars like the Mazda is).

But in 2 rows, the Hyundai Santa Fe sits 3 across, not sure if it's 'fun' most hyundai's are on the softer side by design. Also the Honda Passport (the 2 row 'fun' version of the Pilot).

In terms of sedans, you've got the Avalon, it's a boat, but they make a TRD version.

here's an older list:
https://www.cars.com/articles/which-...1420668847322/

the European cars don't do well in this test because they are not wide on the inside. Volvo has great built in car seats and boosters but they really only fit 2 in the rear.
I happen to like that the charger makes the list because I thought it (and the challenger) were lots of fun. Truly huge rear seat too.

Only downside is the windows are small. For kids, I like the largest windows possible so they have the most light, feel the most space, and have from what to look at so they aren't bored and most importantly don't get car-sick. (Subaru does really well here).

Seth
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      07-03-2020, 02:06 PM   #15
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Does it have to be a 535i e61? Was the 530 available in the US? For the money you'd spend (and lose through depreciation) on some of those other choices, think of the preventative maintenance you could pay someone else to do on a 5xx...

Of course, for the ease of getting the kids in and out of their seats, minivan/suv, etc is going to be hard to beat...but I respect and appreciate your desire to stick with a CAR...particularly one with hydraulic steering and a stick. Good luck in your search!
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      07-03-2020, 02:25 PM   #16
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I don't think there's any way you can fit 3 across the back, you need a 3rd row for sure.
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      07-03-2020, 03:56 PM   #17
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Step 1 - don't have 3 kids

Since you screwed up step 1, my brother with 3 kids the same ages that had the same situation bought a Chevy Traverse as it was one of the few he found that could fit 3 car seats. The Kia Telluride was another option but he couldn't find one for sale locally at the time. I can't imagine trying to fit 3 car seats in a Macan, doubt they would even fit in a Cayenne. Square peg, round hole.
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      07-03-2020, 05:17 PM   #18
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if you have the space and the finances just pick up a used odyssey for cheap. Keep the E91s. You just need a large box to get 3 kids from A to B. You dont need the latest hi-fi audio, heated seats, usb ports and all that.
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      07-03-2020, 05:29 PM   #19
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Try this one:

https://bisimoto.com/odyssey/
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      07-03-2020, 09:23 PM   #20
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Of those, Macan for sure. I can attest it basically drives like a car. It'll be spacious enough for kids that age. You clearly care about how a vehicle feels to drive and it'll be good enough in that area.

E61...just forget about it. E-chassis cars are old enough now that they are total money pits and headaches.
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      07-03-2020, 09:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfisti View Post
FWIW I cannot fathom how insecure people need to be to not buy a minivan. It is by far, far, far and away the best tool for the job unless you are towing huge numbers. The flexibility is amazing. Anyone I know who reluctantly bought one keeps buying them. 3 kids+, no comparison IMHO. And a 328? No way that holds 3 kids and if it does it'd be a nightmare, as you know, safety seats are ENORMOUS.
Doesn't make one insecure to invest in one's appearance and want to feel good about themselves. It's no different from buying higher end clothes and shoes because you appreciate the more fitted appearance and quality.

Plus minivans are unnecessarily large for most families.
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      07-03-2020, 10:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Humdizzle View Post
if you have the space and the finances just pick up a used odyssey for cheap. Keep the E91s. You just need a large box to get 3 kids from A to B. You dont need the latest hi-fi audio, heated seats, usb ports and all that.
this.
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