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  1. #1
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    Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    Hi there, we are looking to replace our current car (2008 Outback) and planning for a 3rd kid in the near future. Current kids are age 2 (RF) and 4.5 (FF, but is already 42 lbs and could probably switch to a booster by the time a 3rd kid came along). We would like to essentially buy something as small as possible that is very safe, has AWD, and will transport 5 people and 2 medium/large dogs. Our Outback is ok (but pretty darn cramped) for now, but there is no way we'll be able to fit a third carseat in. Our other car is a 2009 Buick Enclave, which we love, but we don't really want to buy another car that's so big--although we'll go that way if we have to.

    Using the data on informedforlife.org, it seems the safest vehicles which fit our criteria and have better mpgs than the Enclave are the 2012 Chevy Equinox, 2012 Honda CR-V, and maybe the 2011/2012 Toyota Highlander, 2012 Ford Explorer, 2011 Volvo XC60, or 2012 Saab 9-4x. As I mentioned, we would also consider another Enclave, or their twins, the Chevy Traverse or the GMC Acadia. For budget, we are trying to stay under $35k.

    The Equinox would be my top choice based on price, mpg, safety, and size, but I haven't been able to find good information about fitting 3 across in one. Is it possible? The CR-V would be the second choice--but is 3 across possible there? If neither of those work, any other thoughts on the list above? Also, thoughts on whether it is more convenient to have 3 kids across, or 2 in the second row and one in the 3rd row? I don't love the idea of having a kid in the way back (like in our Enclave)--they seem so far away, and I wonder if the airbags, etc. are as robust back there--but I haven't ever tried it on a regular basis.

    Thanks!!!

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  3. #2
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    The compact SUVs are not going to be substantially bigger than the Outback, and many will be smaller. The Equinox and CR-V are probably among the largest of the compact SUVs and they are about the same size as the Outback overall I'm thinking. Even if they are a little bigger, it won't be much.

    The Highlander is a smaller midsize model bigger than Outback but smaller than Enclave, similar in size to the Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Explorer is getting closer to the size of the Enclave.

    If you like the Enclave, have you seen the refreshed 2013 Acadia Denali? Pretty sharp. Honestly, for 5 people plus 2 dogs and possibly gear, I'm thinking the larger midsize SUVs like Enclave are the way to go. That means Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Tribeca, Ford Flex, Nissan Pathfinder (2013 model), Dodge Durango and some others. I enjoyed the Pilot in terms of 3-across potential in the 2nd row. It's also not quite as big as the Enclave.

  4. #3
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    Darren, thanks so much for your reply! Our Outback is a 2008, which was before the redesign which made them a lot bigger (at least they look a lot bigger now to me, although I guess I should look at the interior measurements to be sure). It really hit home for me last year when we rented a Hyundai Sonata on vacation and it had sooo much more interior room for 2 adults and 2 carseats than our Outback (I'd love a Sonata hybrid, but then the dogs would have to ride on the roof--jk).

    I'd really be happy with a situation where we could get 3 kids across comfortably for daily commuting, I could throw the dogs in the back for a 10 minute drive to the dog park, and where adults in the front seat had enough leg room to ride comfortably (not like the Outback where my 6'1" husband looks like he's been stuffed in like a sardine). For longer trips/family outings we would still take the Enclave. If we could fit 3 across nicely in a 2012 Equinox or CR-V I think it could work, but I haven't been able to find good info on that yet (anyone know about this??). But as you say, maybe a Highlander or another Enclave/twin (I'll have to check out the Denali) may be more functional for this stage in life. I'll also check out the Durango. I want to like the Pilot since it seems functional and got good ratings, but I can't quite get past the looks. I think the others you mention are lower down on the informedforlife.org ratings, which I'm relying on pretty heavily this time around--which is too bad because I like the Tribeca and CX-9. Maybe the Kia Sorento? That's another I've been meaning to check for 3 across possibilities.

    ETA: Darren, I just found some of your car reviews, for the CR-V, Highlander, Sorento, and Durango--so helpful!!!! I think that helped me rule out the Sorento for sure, anyway. Now you just need to do one for the Equinox! I'll post the links here in case anyone else is looking for an answer to these questions.

    http://carseatblog.com/17138/the-un-...rseats-safety/
    http://carseatblog.com/15393/2012-ki...ts-and-safety/
    http://carseatblog.com/15169/all-new...a-cr-v-review/ (any updates on 3 across possibilities since the article?)
    http://carseatblog.com/9785/minivan-...hybrid-review/
    Last edited by Rosamond; 12-17-2012 at 11:11 PM.

  5. #4
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    Did you make a decision?

    I'm in a similar spot, have also been relying on informed for life. I was hoping the latest round of results of IIHS's new test would narrow down, if not just make, my decision. Unfortunately, none of the cars we're considering are on both the IIHS list of "top picks +."

    http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr122012.html and informed for life's "super stars." http://www.informedforlife.org/viewartcl.php?index=1

    Also, though it may be temporary the back up charts on informedforlife appear to be missing. Neither the Equinox nor Enclave are on his current super star list, but I *thought* they and other crossovers were pretty well ranked.

  6. #5
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    Quote Originally Posted by marge234 View Post
    Did you make a decision?

    I'm in a similar spot, have also been relying on informed for life. I was hoping the latest round of results of IIHS's new test would narrow down, if not just make, my decision. Unfortunately, none of the cars we're considering are on both the IIHS list of "top picks +."

    http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr122012.html and informed for life's "super stars." http://www.informedforlife.org/viewartcl.php?index=1

    Also, though it may be temporary the back up charts on informedforlife appear to be missing. Neither the Equinox nor Enclave are on his current super star list, but I *thought* they and other crossovers were pretty well ranked.
    Many vehicles, including most minivans and SUVs, have not yet been tested in the new IIHS small overlap front crash test. For that reason only, they cannot be listed on the "Top Safety Pick +" list. The standard "Top Safety Pick" indicates top ratings in all other tests, but untested in the small overlap test. Note that many vehicles on the "Safest" list for 2013 at Informed for Life also do not yet have an IIHS small overlap front test result.

    The Enclave (and it's GMC and Chevy siblings) is one of the best performing SUVs on the road in terms of crash test results. The only issue is again that it has not yet been tested by the IIHS for the new test, so it cannot receive the "+" rank, yet.

  7. #6
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    I would look at the 2011+ years Dodge Journey

  8. #7
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    Quote Originally Posted by CPSDarren View Post
    Many vehicles, including most minivans and SUVs, have not yet been tested in the new IIHS small overlap front crash test. For that reason only, they cannot be listed on the "Top Safety Pick +" list. The standard "Top Safety Pick" indicates top ratings in all other tests, but untested in the small overlap test. Note that many vehicles on the "Safest" list for 2013 at Informed for Life also do not yet have an IIHS small overlap front test result.

    The Enclave (and it's GMC and Chevy siblings) is one of the best performing SUVs on the road in terms of crash test results. The only issue is again that it has not yet been tested by the IIHS for the new test, so it cannot receive the "+" rank, yet.
    I do get that about the new IIHS test, and informedforlife guy is not using it to determine 2013 "super stars." But, for some reason that's not obvious to me, the current list doesn't include the Enclave.

  9. #8
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Small SUV shopping, 3 across in Equinox, CR-V, Explorer, Highlander, or???

    I haven't looked at InformedforLife in a while, not since before the new rating system apparently. I do know the Enclave and twins were among the top vehicles overall for 2011 and maybe 2012. Not sure what might have changed.

    Personally, once completed, I'd put a lot more weight on the new small offset frontal crash test than, say, the IIHS head restraint evaluations. Their rear crash safety rating is not a crash test at all, it's a very subjective evaluation and measurement of the best possible performance of a vehicle seat and head restraint when correctly adjusted for an average sized dummy.

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