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  1. #1
    Member 1stTimeDad's Avatar
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    Cool NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Thanks so much to all of you already for the information I have found on this website. You guys are great and apparently have TONS of experience.

    Here's my question. My wife is due in September with our 1st child. I want to get a different car to be our main "family" car. We both drive "safe" cars, but both have their negatives. I drive an 05' Subaru impreza. Love it, but it's small and here in Miami people don't know how to drive and there are a lot of SUVs and Pick-up trucks here. I would hate to be plowed into by one of those especially with the baby in the car. I want a bigger car. A few years ago I swerved off the side of a highway and into a median (luckily it was about 20 yards wide) in my honda civic in the rain so I definitely want AWD or some kind of trraction control. My wife drives an '02 Nissan Pathfinder, but no 4wd or AWD. It's fine, but I do get concerned when she drives in the rain. Here in Miami it doesn't just rain...it thunderstorms without much warning. Within a 1/2 minute to a minute of thunderstorm you can be driving in a 1/2 inch of water. I like AWD and anti-lock brakes. Neither car has side airbags either.

    We also have 4 dogs so I think a pick up truck just might be out of the question although I've heard great things about the f150 and the ridgeline. I've been doing a few weeks of research and many of you like the honda pilot. I've read great things about that SUV. I'm not sure if we are ready or have the need just yet for the odyssey, but many of you (and 3 out of my five sisters) love them. I would have to trade in my car or sell it so I am looking for a used car at about a $10k-$11k range. I've found a few good choices here and there, but I think I found the right place to ask for advice. So what do you all think? I need a safe car from an accident point of view and a rainy point of view, but I also need baby friendly. (Soon I will be asking about baby seats when I start doing research on them.) Thanks everyone.

    BTW...what is a DH? One of the few acronyms here I couldn't figure out.

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  3. #2
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    DH = dear husband

    As far as picking new cars, there are way too many to choose from until you get an idea of what you want. I would spend a few days looking at car lots. Look at anything that has 4+ doors. If possible borrow a full size stroller from a friend and take it with you. After you pick a class or two, ie crossover, mid-size SUV, etc, start looking at crash test ratings. Be sure to consider IIHS & NHTSA ratings as they can vary significantly. Then, look at the options in each vehicle, and decide what's important to you. Then come here & ask about car seat installs in your favorites. That process should keep you busy until the baby showers start & you have a never ending stack of things to assemble.
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

  4. #3
    Member 1stTimeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Thanks Kathy for the advice. Yikes....I have a ton of more research to do. Especially when it comes to getting a car seat as I will be looking for the ULTIMATE best and safest seat around.

    I am going to follow the "should I buy a van" and "if you had to buy a vehicle tomorrow" threads closely. More reading for me. Thanks!

  5. #4
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Keep in mind that large does not necessarily equal safe. In fact, larger vehicles are more likely to cause death and destruction than anything else.

    You can have an extremely safe car with the features you are looking for without buying something that puts other people in danger, pollutes the environment or hogs the road. I think a lot of Americans definitely conflate the large and safe concepts, unfortunately.

    The other concept to consider is that if your four dogs travel in the vehicle with you, they need to be properly restrained, not only to protect their doggy selves , but to protect your baby. In an accident, if one of those dogs goes flying, it could be your daughter that gets injured.

    What sort of dogs do you have? If they're all tiny yap-dogs, it should be a fairly simple matter. If, however, you have four St. Bernards, you might want to look at a vehicle with a larger interior volume (like a minivan), and seats that can fold flat.

    Proper restraint means the doggy is either secured to a seatbelt with a 'PetBuckle' or similar product, OR is in a crate that is secured to the vehicle floor/seat/belts.

  6. #5
    Member 1stTimeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    I've always agreed about the "big car" theory and in an ideal world we would all be driving smaller more economical cars, but like I said there are many many trucks and suvs where I live. I do drive a very safe car in my Impreza, but its just small and no side curtain airbags. Not too sure how getting a car seat/baby in and out of it will feel like after a couple of months. There is still a chance that I keep the car. We'll see how strollers and such fit into it. Maybe I'll experiment this weekend with my 2 year old DN? (darling nephew).

    Thanks for reminding me about dog safety. I had forgotten as we usually let them ride unrestrained in the back seat. They are 70lbs, 60 lbs, 60 lbs, and 40 lbs. We've only had them for 2 years and we dont take them around too much. The dog park is 2 miles away. Ayee....more things to think about. Thanks!!

  7. #6
    CPS Technician Pixels's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by 1stTimeDad View Post
    Thanks Kathy for the advice. Yikes....I have a ton of more research to do. Especially when it comes to getting a car seat as I will be looking for the ULTIMATE best and safest seat around.
    The ULTIMATE best and safest seat around is the one that is used properly every time without fail. If the seat isn't installed properly, or isn't adjusted properly to fit baby, it can't do its job to the best of its ability.

    Stick around. You'll learn more than you ever thought there was to know.
    Melissa, CPST and Mom to three

  8. #7
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by 1stTimeDad View Post

    Thanks for reminding me about dog safety. I had forgotten as we usually let them ride unrestrained in the back seat. They are 70lbs, 60 lbs, 60 lbs, and 40 lbs. We've only had them for 2 years and we dont take them around too much. The dog park is 2 miles away. Ayee....more things to think about. Thanks!!
    This isn't an exact formula, and if you have any background at all in math or physics it will probably make you extremely twitchy but a good way to think about projectiles is that you multiply the weight of the item by the speed it's traveling. So a 70 pound dog traveling at 20 miles per hour at the time of a sudden impact is now roughly 1400 pounds of force launched in the car, maybe into the back of your head or your baby's face. So it's really crucial that everything in the car be secured, but particularly weighty pets!

  9. #8
    Member 1stTimeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Thanks everyone.

    Still not 100% sure if I'm going to sell my car as it is beginning to get tough to justify that thought. So just in case.

    Does anyone know of a car seat for a newborn that fits relatively easily in a 2005 Subaru Impreza wagon?
    How about a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder (DW car). Thanks.

  10. #9
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Someone here drives an sti.

    I second the borrowing of car seats, strollers, and other baby gear to see how things work in your vehicles.

    I had a BMW 325Ci (the coupe). I thought I was being smart and practical, cuz the BMW has a relatively large back seat area for a coupe. While it works with forward facing car seats (for older kids), the way the seat is shaped and how the front seat is, it's just not roomy enough for an infant seat (which is rear facing). I had no idea about the different types of seats as I wasn't even married at that point and had only seen forward facing car seats.

    You have plenty of time to experiment and try different types of baby gear. That can be totally helpful in figuring out what works for your car and even which items you want to buy for yourself for your lifestyle. I didn't do that and am now in the midst of a VERY expensive transition from single life vehicles to family vehicles. I had to trade in the BMW which totally threw things off our plan.

  11. #10
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    FWIW---my husband just bought(late nov 09) a Hyundai Elantra. He mainly needed a commuter car for back and forth to work and around town to clients.

    As a tech, I was pretty impressed with the safety features:
    SIP curtain airbags-standard
    torso airbags-standard
    sensor to detect when air pressure is off in your tires-standard
    Blue tooth compatible-option

    I can't think of any others at the moment and my DH really isn't helping---he's being simple.

    I know that's probably not a model you were looking for...and it's not our "family" car, but I think I will at least look at Hyundai when we're ready to upgrade my car. He went to the dealership with the intentions of buying a used car, but they were able to get him in the Elantra for LESS than my car payment(which we just paid off---shhh....don't tell the car) from '05.

    Susan
    Mommy to my angel, Ethan Daniel (8/5/07-8/6/07)
    Mommy to Nicholas (12-29-08) RF'ed to 2.75 yrs in Graco MyRide(crashed) and a True Fit Primier. FF in the TFP and a Graco Nautilus Elite. Nicholas is 2.75 yrs old, 32 lbs and 36" tall.
    Child Passenger Safety Tech

  12. #11
    CPS Technician Pixels's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    I'm not sure about the newest Elantras, but SIL drives an 05. She's 4'9" and has a hard time fitting a rear facing convertible behind her. In fact, she kept the convertible on the passenger's side (no passengers usually) for just that reason.

    Also not a 3-across friendly vehicle at. all. I think you maybe could get three Radians (all FF, no RF Radians in that car) with a lot of work. Maybe.

    TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) is required by law in all new vehicles.
    Melissa, CPST and Mom to three

  13. #12
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    I know it's tight fit in the rear for RF convertibles....as we've got one in there, that's why I suggesting the BRAND, not the specific model.

    I didn't know the TPMS was now standard in all new cars.

    Susan
    Mommy to my angel, Ethan Daniel (8/5/07-8/6/07)
    Mommy to Nicholas (12-29-08) RF'ed to 2.75 yrs in Graco MyRide(crashed) and a True Fit Primier. FF in the TFP and a Graco Nautilus Elite. Nicholas is 2.75 yrs old, 32 lbs and 36" tall.
    Child Passenger Safety Tech

  14. #13
    CPS Technician hrice's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    As far as infant seats go...I was extremely happy with my Britax Chaperone! It has side imapct protection wings around baby's head, the sun canopy is extra large and does a great job sheilding bay from the elements, you can adjust the harness strap height very easily without having to de thread them, the base has an anti-rebound bar, and the list goes on!

  15. #14
    Carseat Crazy rosey2007's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    The 05 Elantra is the older model. The new model of Elantra came out in 07 and is quite a big larger on the inside. I have owned an 01 and a 07 and have liked them both. Have you looked at the Hyundai Santa Fe?The Santa Fe also came out with a new model in 07. My SIL has one she just loves it and she has three kids.

  16. #15
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    I had a 2002 Subaru Impreza wagon. Loved the car, but was a total lemon maintenance-wise. Anyway, we had a Graco Safe Seat 1 in the center back with no problems. Simple, tight seatbelt install. I think you could still move the front seats most if not all the way back. I would think if the SS1 fit, you shouldn't have any problems with an infant seat. We sold the car before we moved into convertible seat territory, so I can't help you there.

    One thing I came to hate about that car was that the back doors didn't open a full 90 degrees, so it was a tighter fit getting the bucket in and out of the back seat. My new car has doors that open all the way.
    DD 2-16-09 & DS 9-6-11

  17. #16
    Member 1stTimeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    That Britax Chaperone looks like a captains chair in a rocket ship....I love it. I heard that the Radians seem to fit well in smaller cars. True or false? I also looked in my owners manual for my car and found out it has a nice LATCH system. So do most of the new RF models have latch systems? What's better the latch system or the seatbelt?

  18. #17
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by 1stTimeDad View Post
    That Britax Chaperone looks like a captains chair in a rocket ship....I love it. I heard that the Radians seem to fit well in smaller cars. True or false? I also looked in my owners manual for my car and found out it has a nice LATCH system. So do most of the new RF models have latch systems? What's better the latch system or the seatbelt?

    I wouldn't say that about the Radians. Radian fit is dependent on the slope of the back seat. If your back seat is more level than angled, the Radian will take up too much room front-to-back, making it flat out incompatible with many smaller vehicles.


    ALL harnessed child restraints have the LATCH system. This has been mandated since September 2002.

    For a rear facing restraint, neither LATCH nor seatbelt is safer. LATCH was supposed to be 'easier' but that isn't always true, unfortunately. Whichever install is easier and creates a better fit for YOU is the best choice.

    For a forward facing restraint, you need to always have it in a vehicle position with a top tether anchor, regardless of how you install through the belt path.

  19. #18
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
    I wouldn't say that about the Radians. Radian fit is dependent on the slope of the back seat. If your back seat is more level than angled, the Radian will take up too much room front-to-back, making it flat out incompatible with many smaller vehicles.


    ALL harnessed child restraints have the LATCH system. This has been mandated since September 2002.

    For a rear facing restraint, neither LATCH nor seatbelt is safer. LATCH was supposed to be 'easier' but that isn't always true, unfortunately. Whichever install is easier and creates a better fit for YOU is the best choice.

    For a forward facing restraint, you need to always have it in a vehicle position with a top tether anchor, regardless of how you install through the belt path.


    Wow...thanks for that reply...exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately that means I just have to go to each store and try out models and see which ones fit. I have a store a few miles away that has britax and sunshine kids. They should have more options as well. Thanks so much. Anymore advice from anyone else will be great! Chime in all!

  20. #19
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    This site might be helpful. Enter your make and model. Skip the year, as there are likely several that are the same in your vehicle. I usually skip the type of carseat, too. You can click on the entry for more information.

    http://www.carseatdata.org/cnt/Car-Seat-Compatibility
    PEG - Gramma to:
    Hannah - 16 - Seatbelt! Reya - 1.5 4Ever/BLVD/Peg
    Brett - 15 - Seatbelt Nolan - 2.5 - 4Ever/Fllo
    Matt- 11 - Seatbelt Baby Boy due 1/17/19 Pipa
    Griffin - 6 - Parkway SG

  21. #20
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    Re: NEWBIE...Car Choices

    I had an '04 Subaru STi when I had my first child and we had a Britax Companion (the predecessor to the Chaperone) in the center installed with a seatbelt, and it fit great. It also installed just fine outboard with LATCH, but there was no center LATCH position available in that model, and I doubt it is in your Impreza either (I don't have a LATCH manual, so if somebody wants to chime in on that one, that would be awesome.)

    So while it fit great, it was a complete pain to use. Getting in and out of the backseat was torture and I had no room to sit on either side of her. We traded it in when our baby was 2 weeks old and got an Acura MDX.
    DD 5.5yrs, FF in a Recaro ProSPORT
    DS 2.75yrs, RF in a Peg Primo Viaggio


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