Cars For Parents Who Don't Want SUVs
We look at some of the best cars for parents.
Web2Carz Staff Writer
Published: September 19th, 2012
Even if you’re not ready to visit the grocery store in a Caravan or drop the kids off at school in an Explorer, there are other choices out there.
f you’re used to traveling around town in a two-door sportster or little economy car, taking the plunge and putting yourself behind the wheel of an SUV or-gulp- a mini-van after becoming a parent can be difficult. You’re not quite ready to turn that sporty ride in just for the convenience of changing a dirty diaper in the back seat while parked in the lot of your local grocer, but that little car isn’t so roomy once you add a kid to it.
But there’s a difference between cars when it comes to pulling the little ones out of the back seat. If you have one child it makes things a little easier and gives you more options when shopping for cars. If you’re looking to stay with a car--not an SUV, mini-van, or crossover-- and you have more than one child, every inch of that back seat counts.
So we’re here to show you that even if you’re not ready to visit the grocery store in a Caravan or drop the kids off at school in an Explorer, there are other choices out there.
We measured a number of car seats to see how many could fit in the back of car. We found that while the distance between the buckles that connect to the back seat was usually 12 inches, measuring infant car seats from arm rest to arm rest could actually reach 26 inches. Toddler booster seats were closer to 18 inches when measured at their widest point. Armed with this information, we focused on the width of back seats, or hip room, to see which cars could handle more than one car seat and still leave room for maneuvering. You’d need at least 60 inches of hip room to get three car seats back there. That’s not going to happen in a mid-size sedan, so we’re concentrating on cars with plenty of room to maneuver two seats.
“It’s usually a younger couple that can’t get over the stigma of driving a minivan, so if they don’t want a crossover, there other options,” said Michael McConahay, a longtime sales rep at Sunnyside Dodge/Chrysler in McHenry, IL.
We also focused on leg room, not because the kids need a lot to stretch those little legs, but any parent will tell you that every inch is appreciated when you’re cramming your knee into that car seat while pulling that buckle strap to get it as tight as possible.
2012 Chrysler 200 Sedan: 52.8 inches hip room, 36.2 inches leg room (Base price of $18,995)
“I would first recommend the Chrysler 200,” McConahay said. “And, depending upon their price range and whether they’re OK with rear-wheel drive, I’d also recommend the Dodge Charger.”
The back seat dimensions of the 200 were on the smaller end of cars in the same category, but the base price was lower than a lot of similar cars.
2012 Dodge Charger Sedan: 56.1 inches hip room, 40.1 inches leg room (Base price of $25,595)
“The Accord is a great car for kids,” said AJ Mundell, a sales rep for Castle Honda in Morton Grove, IL. “If I couldn’t get them into a CRV or Odyssey, I would suggest the Accord. It’s very roomy and quiet. It has a four-star rating for front safety, five-star side and five-star rollover, so it’s safe. I have three grandkids so I know it works great with kids.”
Pulling up to soccer practice in a Charger full of kids would be pretty awesome. There’s no doubt the other parents would be jealous. But, depending upon where you live, rear-wheel drive in the winter can be dangerous to handle if you’re not used to it, and, jumping up in car models is going to cost you.
Honda has added a little more room in the back seat of the Accord for 2013, both in width and in leg room. The Accord is an extremely kid-friendly vehicle when battling car seats.
2012 Honda Accord Sedan: 54.3 inches hip room, 37.2 inches leg room (Base price of $21,480)
2013 Honda Accord Sedan: 54.7 inches hip room, 38.5 inches leg room (Base price of $21,680)
A sales rep for a Ford dealership in Michigan, who declined to have his name used in this article, said selling a car to a parent of more than two children is not looking out for the best interests of that parent.
“I sell Fords, so I can surely point anybody in the direction of the Fusion,” he said. “But even if you forced three car seats in the back of a Fusion, you’re going to be miserable trying to get those kids in and out of there.”
That said, we found dealing with two car seats is certainly manageable in most mid-sized sedans. And looking at the amount of hip and leg room while taking price into consideration, we came up with a few of our favorites:
- 2013 Honda Accord: 54.7 inches hip room, 38.5 inches leg room (Base price of $21,680)
- 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: 54.3 inches hip room, 36.8 inches leg room (Base price of $22.390)
- 2013 Ford Fusion: 54.4 inches hip room, 38.3 inches leg room (Base price of $21,700)
- 2012 Camry Sedan: 54.5 inches hip room, 38.9 inches leg room ($22,055)
- 2013 Mitsubishi Galant: 53.7 inches hip room, 37 inches leg room (Base price of $21,899)
- 2012 Chrysler 200 Sedan: 52.8 inches hip room, 36.2 inches leg room (Base price of $18,995)