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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    What should I buy??

    Looking for: (1) good safety features (including side-curtain airbags) (2) reasonable fuel efficiency and lower emissions (3) seating for 6-7 (4) good handling and tight turning radius. I currently commute 18 miles each way to the office, 5-6 days a week (90% freeway). DD commutes with me (onsite childcare). Currently drive a Ford Escape and have been generally happy with it except: (1) my '02 model does not have side curtain air bags (2) 6 cyl fuel economy is not great and (3) only seats 5 (uncomfortably 3 in rear due to DDs carseat). We are a family of 4 but often have nephews or carpool kids along and need at least one family vehicle that seats more than 5.

    I was seriously considering a Ford Freestyle until they discontinued it and I am having trouble finding one to buy that has the center-row two bucket seat configuration. Wondering if I want to buy a car in its last model year (concerned about parts availability and service issues). Do you think this is a valid concern?

    We have rented various full-sized minivans and I don’t really like driving them (I'm used to the handling, visibility and parking ease of a smaller vehicle/wheel-base).
    I do not like a full-sized truck frame due to stiff handling and my perception of higher center of gravity and roll-over risk (but a unibody type small-truck platform like the Escape drives more like a car and I am ok with that).

    I'd like to stay under $30K. Also, prefer UAW-assembled but not a deal breaker (grandparents were Polish immigrants who made their life here as lifelong UAW workers).
    EDITTED TO ADD: This will be the vehicle that 15.5 yo DSS will be learning to drive when he gets his permit (too soon) and completes the drivers ed course) so any additional considerations there would be welcome. Also, this will be our family's primary transport vehicle as our other vehicle is a p/u truck DH drives for work.
    So, any suggestions that meet my needs and preferences?
    So, any suggestions that meet my needs and preferences?
    Last edited by Dragonflymama; 06-26-2007 at 05:23 PM. Reason: indicated additional info
    DD May'03 46#(fully dressed) 44" FF Radian65, Radian80,and SafeGuard Go (travel)
    Previous Seats: RF SnugRide, RF/FF Britax Galaxy (similar to RA), RF/FF Graco ComfortSport (waste of money), FF MA (Olivia, I love that cover)

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  3. #2
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    Re: What should I buy??

    How about the GMC Acadia (might be a bit more than 30K) or the Saturn Outlook? They both seem very roomy and probably similar in size to the Freestyle. Do you need AWD?

  4. #3
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: What should I buy??

    mazda5:

    - reasonable, but not stellar gas mileage (27 mpg hwy)

    - ULEV-rated for emmissions, one notch below the cleanest

    - seats 6 standard

    - has a really tight turning radius (tighter than any other van/SUV on the US market)

    - handles better than any van/SUV on the US market

    - has side curtains airbags for all three rows, and although not yet crash tested in the US, got top ratings in BOTH japanese AND european tests.

    - dirt cheap... under $20k to start, and you can get the top model with navigation and leather for under $24k.

    on the downside, it's not as powerful as most other vans/SUVs out there and it's definitely on the smaller side, with very little trunk space with the third row up. and it's not UAW-assembled, as it is made in japan. also no stability control, not even optional.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Thank you for the good suggestions, I'll check these two vehicles out.

    Do we need AWD? Define "need" LOL... I think we would be ok with a good frontWD, but my DH seems to think that we have to have AWD. We do go up to the mountains/snow a lot during the winter months (snow sports) and camp/hike/enjoy outdoors year-round. But honestly, I think we only need AWD or 4WD on very rare occassions (severe winter weather when renting ski cabins off the beaten path) and even then if good FWD would not get us out safely, we might be well-advised to stay put until the storm passes and the plows come out. But I have not convinced my DH of this yet.

    In the past, I lived years in both the Black Hills and also in Boulder Colorado with only FWD and I could get around just fine through pretty tough mountain winter weather. DH is a Califonia boy and seems to think outdoors = 4WD.

    I love the idea of better fuel efficiency with FWD vs AWD.
    DD May'03 46#(fully dressed) 44" FF Radian65, Radian80,and SafeGuard Go (travel)
    Previous Seats: RF SnugRide, RF/FF Britax Galaxy (similar to RA), RF/FF Graco ComfortSport (waste of money), FF MA (Olivia, I love that cover)

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    mazda5:

    - dirt cheap... under $20k to start, and you can get the top model with navigation and leather for under $24k.

    on the downside, it's not as powerful as most other vans/SUVs out there and it's definitely on the smaller side, with very little trunk space with the third row up. and it's not UAW-assembled, as it is made in japan. also no stability control, not even optional.
    Thanks SouthPaw, I had no idea the Mazda5 was so afforable. I'll add it to my short-list to compare.

    UAW is a feel-good extra, but not a requirement. I've owned Opal, VW Jetta and Mazda 323 in the past.
    DD May'03 46#(fully dressed) 44" FF Radian65, Radian80,and SafeGuard Go (travel)
    Previous Seats: RF SnugRide, RF/FF Britax Galaxy (similar to RA), RF/FF Graco ComfortSport (waste of money), FF MA (Olivia, I love that cover)

  7. #6
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: What should I buy??

    i was wrong on the emissions... it's LEV-rated, not ULEV. so it's two notches from the best, and probably in the same league as most other vans/small SUVs...

    base price is actually just $19k with auto transmission, and $25k gets you everything, including navigation and DVD entertainment.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  8. #7
    CPST Instructor
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Are you sure they are discontinuing the Freestyle? I had heard they were redesigning it and rebadging it under a new name. I'll have to have dh check this out.
    Jenny
    Senior CPS Tech-Instructor & Mommy of 2 girls
    K1 12 yrs old- 61" & 100lbs in vehicle seat belt
    K2 10 yrs old- 59" & 92lbs in vehicle seat belt

  9. #8
    CPST Instructor
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    Wink Re: What should I buy??

    Jenny
    Senior CPS Tech-Instructor & Mommy of 2 girls
    K1 12 yrs old- 61" & 100lbs in vehicle seat belt
    K2 10 yrs old- 59" & 92lbs in vehicle seat belt

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Great news! Now I wonder why the dealership around me dont have much inventory???

    Thanks for the heads up!
    DD May'03 46#(fully dressed) 44" FF Radian65, Radian80,and SafeGuard Go (travel)
    Previous Seats: RF SnugRide, RF/FF Britax Galaxy (similar to RA), RF/FF Graco ComfortSport (waste of money), FF MA (Olivia, I love that cover)

  11. #10
    CPST Instructor
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonflymama View Post
    Great news! Now I wonder why the dealership around me dont have much inventory???

    Thanks for the heads up!
    It could be because it is almost the end of the model year. New year models are released late August/early Sept. You could also have the dealer search for the model with the options you want too. So, Even if your local dealer doesn't have a good stock another dealer within a 500mile radius might have one you want.
    Jenny
    Senior CPS Tech-Instructor & Mommy of 2 girls
    K1 12 yrs old- 61" & 100lbs in vehicle seat belt
    K2 10 yrs old- 59" & 92lbs in vehicle seat belt

  12. #11
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: What should I buy??

    If you decide on the Mazda5, check out my recent thread about the third-row seat belts. It may not be a problem depending on the ages of kids you're hauling - if they're teens you should be fine, or if they're still in harnessed seats it's not a problem.

    Otherwise I love it! It's got an awesome turning radius and I love the gas mileage. Someone else posted that they are correcting my only other complaints in the '08 model - it's getting a passenger armrest and rear air vents.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  13. #12
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    the '08 model - it's getting a passenger armrest and rear air vents.
    those were my biggest complaints about it as well.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  14. #13
    CPS Technician Loves2sing's Avatar
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by jen_nah View Post
    Are you sure they are discontinuing the Freestyle? I had heard they were redesigning it and rebadging it under a new name. I'll have to have dh check this out.
    The only manufacturers that are still going to continue making minivans, are the imports, and Dodge. GM and Ford are giving up the lost cause of Mini-vans, because they can't compete with the other makes. This is according to all my dh'd MANY MANY car magazines. (Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Motor World, and more)

    The 2009 Ford Flex is the new shape of the people mover at Ford.



    Consumer Guide's Impressions of the 2009 Ford Flex

    Flex signifies the demise of Ford's minivans. Thank goodness. Production ends on the slow-selling Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey during 2007, leaving room for this not-so-soccer-momish people mover.
    The Flex is an ugly new SUV that replaces Ford and Mercury's Minivans.

    AUTOWEEK

    December 9, 2006

    General Motors plans to cancel its next-generation minivans and abandon that vehicle segment.

    Instead it will try to woo buyers with its midsized, Lambda-based crossover vehicles, sources say. The minivans had been scheduled for the 2010 model year.
    This makes it sound like they will be renewing their Minivans in 2010. But the other sources make it sound like a mid-sized crossover vehicle will be replacing the vans. I don't know, i should ask dh. He's the one cheering that less Minivans will be on the road! LOL! (Why do you think we have such a huge truck? LOL)
    Amanda- CRST & Mom
    J-08/01/05 & M-09/14/08

  15. #14
    Senior Community Member
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    Re: What should I buy??

    How about a Toyota RAV-4? A third row is a option for it, though I have a hard time believing that adults would be comfortable in the third row of a car as small as the RAV-4. It has side curtain airbags with rollover sensors for at least the front two rows, and it also has electronic stability control. Crash test ratings are pretty good, and the gas mileage is reasonable. Plus, it should be reliable and fun to drive. If you don't go crazy with options, you should be able to keep it under 30K.

    FWIW, I would not put a new driver in a car without electronic stability control if I could help it. The Mazda5 really should have it.
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  16. #15
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    FWIW, I would not put a new driver in a car without electronic stability control if I could help it. The Mazda5 really should have it.
    Electronic stability control is a great thing to keep in mind for our soon-to-be-driving teen. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by JennasMommy View Post
    The only manufacturers that are still going to continue making minivans, are the imports, and Dodge. GM and Ford are giving up the lost cause of Mini-vans, because they can't compete with the other makes. This is according to all my dh'd MANY MANY car magazines. (Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Motor World, and more)
    BTW, the Ford FreeSTYLE is a crossover/AWD wagon, not a van (despite the misleading similarity to the FreeSTAR minivan name).
    DD May'03 46#(fully dressed) 44" FF Radian65, Radian80,and SafeGuard Go (travel)
    Previous Seats: RF SnugRide, RF/FF Britax Galaxy (similar to RA), RF/FF Graco ComfortSport (waste of money), FF MA (Olivia, I love that cover)

  17. #16
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    FWIW, I would not put a new driver in a car without electronic stability control if I could help it. The Mazda5 really should have it.
    yes it should, but then again, i still have more faith in some cars without ESC than some cars WITH ESC. it is not a guarantee against losing control and it has much more benefit on larger, top-heavy, poor-handling vehicles like SUVs than it does on smaller, lighter cars that handle well to begin with.

    MIL's CRV has ESC and i don't feel nearly as in control driving it as i do my car, which lacks ESC. in fact i have intentionally put the CRV's ESC to the test, and it wasn't able to save me from putting the car into an intentional spin
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  18. #17
    CPS Technician Namegirl's Avatar
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Another vote for the Mazda 5! The sliding doors are great (the Freestyle has regular doors).
    Namegirl
    DD in Turbo
    DS in Turbo, Pioneer
    DS in Diono
    DD in Britax B-Safe

  19. #18
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    yes it should, but then again, i still have more faith in some cars without ESC than some cars WITH ESC. it is not a guarantee against losing control and it has much more benefit on larger, top-heavy, poor-handling vehicles like SUVs than it does on smaller, lighter cars that handle well to begin with.
    I agree. I bought a Legacy last year despite its lack of ESC. (I was, however, annoyed that Subaru didn't have it as an option on the wagon.) But a Legacy without ESC has a better NHTSA rollover rating than most cars *with* ESC, even passenger cars. That Subaru low center of gravity makes a huge difference. I still would have liked to have it, though.

    The lack of ESC on the Mazda5 was one of the things that put it out of contention for me; I really think that even a small van like that needs it. And I also think that teenage drivers would also benefit from the course correction features of ESC.
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  20. #19
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    The lack of ESC on the Mazda5 was one of the things that put it out of contention for me; I really think that even a small van like that needs it. And I also think that teenage drivers would also benefit from the course correction features of ESC.
    I'm really not familiar enough with ESC to say for sure, but you might want to try driving it. I've driven both my friends' minivans (a Kia Sedona and a Chryster T&C) and while they are much more care-like than my old AstroVan, my Mazda5 doesn't drive like them. It's also much shorter (height and length). It really feels more like a station wagon than a minivan.

    Like I said, I don't know if ESC would make it even better, but even though they are calling it a minivan, it's not a minivan. It's a station wagon with two seats in the cargo hold!
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  21. #20
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: What should I buy??

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    but even though they are calling it a minivan, it's not a minivan. It's a station wagon with two seats in the cargo hold!
    it's the only minivan, IIRC, that is listed as a "passenger car" and not a "van". it is based on a mazda3 passenger car platform, and mechanically, it is nearly identical. it just has a slightly taller body.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

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