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  1. #1
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    New large car help

    Okay, so be pre warned, you guys are gonna hate me after this is done! Just know I mean all of this in a good natured way!
    So I'm looking for a little help with a new car. It would be (so far away) tax time not this upcoming year, but 2016 probably. Hopefully sooner. But my financial situation has taken a turn for the better (finally!) and I'm hoping by then if I can get my credit caught up that I'd be able to afford a 2008 ish model year. But my requirements are so picky, I don't know if anyone can help.
    I'm a nanny so I need a larger vehicle, but I am a die hard suburban fan. No one can convince me otherwise. This is a problem, it's just a horrible move for me to buy one. I hate vans. It has nothing to do with the look or stigma, I really hate driving them. I love my truck, a van is not a truck. They drive like huge sedans, blehg. I know most people appreciate the easier to drive smooth ride, but the only thing I appreciate is my truck. I am almost kinda sorta convinced that I may be able to tolerate a new ody, but I can't afford one that new. Plus I like GM. After driving a suburban, and now a buick lesabre I'm just so convinced that a GM vehicle is "my car". That said, I'd like to keep an open mind. I need to seat 8. Soooo, sell me on a crossover? I love the idea of a GMC Acadia, but I'm not sure what else the great minds here can come up with. Thanks so much!

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  3. #2
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    How old are the kids? 8p, drives like a truck, GM... first thing that comes to mind is an Astro/Safari. As long as you have 2 kids in harnessed seats, you'll be fine. Newest you'd be able to get is 2005, though. Getting 6 kids into a crossover or SUV is not going to be fun.

    If you can do with 6p, you could maybe still get a truck. Toyota Tundra has had 6 full seats since 2006.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Thank you for that! It's definitely another option to look at. Everywhere I look, and every option I consider just gets me more conflicted. If they could just make a suburban that gets 40mpg and has sliding doors, that would make my life so easy! How does anyone decide on a car, let alone even narrow it down to what they they're looking for?!
    To answer your question, all of my kids are 6-, so headrests in every seating position and leg room are not a concern. The tricky part is I have 3 that must rearface, and one more that I'd like to. I've considered so many times just going to a 15p van, just to give me extra room for the 3,4,5 or 6 that I normally have. Plus it would allow me to carry all of them when I have 7, but that is rare, is only ever for a couple hours and only on weekends so I don't *have* to go anywhere because no school pick ups. So that is not really on the radar. My main hold up on going to a full size van is 1 higher rollover risk and 2 I only have one child. I would feel ridiculous taking that thing everywhere on my days off lol. The rollover risk I have read is not a huge concern, as long as you drive extremely cautiously and don't try to drive it like a compact car. That sounds like me though, I just don't trust my own driving. I don't speed, but I don't always turn corners as slowly as I maybe should. Main reason I could never drive a jeep, they scare the crap out of me. A crossover just seems more my speed, even though I guess it doesn't drive very truck-like either. And I'd love to have a pick up, but due to having up to 6 kiddos on a regular basis it's just not possible. I need a true people hauler.

  5. #4
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    You're welcome

    You probably don't want a 15p for everyday city driving. At one point we had 4 vehicles. Mazda Protege, GMC Safari 8p, Chevy Express 15p, Toyota Tundra 6p. We since gave away the Protege but have the other 3. I miss running around town in the Protege. It was so convenient.

    We drive the 15p on road trips and when we go to church. That's it. The Safari is my daily driver. I loaned it to a friend while her 15p van (her only vehicle) was in the shop. She didn't want to give the Safari back She was gushing about how "you can actually park in a regular parking spot!!". I love it. You want a Suburban with a sliding door, that's about as close as you're going to get The Astro/Safari is built on a truck chassis and drives like a truck. You can fit any 6 seats in, pretty much. It's so wide. It also has a tether anchor for the front passenger seat. No switch on the airbag, though.

    I really like loading through the trunk. You could do 3 RF across the back bench. Take the headrests out for easy access.

    You could try out a 12p maybe. Chev/GM have stability control from 2003 (I think). Ford is 2008. If you're going pre-08, get an 03+ Chev and be prepared to deal with ridiculously FOTB outboard seatbelts (you'll have 2 sets of LATCH front bench outboard, so it's not TOO bad). 08+ my vote is for Ford. Higher seatback, all tether anchors, all shoulder belts, and easier car seat installs. They never did fix the short wheel base problem, though. So if that's a big deal to you, go Chev/GM. I put headrests in mine. It's easy as long as you have access to a scrap yard and someone who can weld.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Thank you, this is so helpful! I meant 12p and I think I'm actually leaning towards that. The space is just so tempting. Even if I took out the fourth row seating (do they come out?) and could only seat as many as a suburban, it'd still be a much easier endeavor trying to get everyone into seats. Plus there's no reason my two oldest can't climb back there, buckle themselves and leave the other two rows to the little kids to only have to deal with two carseats in each row. I'm fantasizing about that a bit. SPACE. I never have any. Not sure how "worth it" it is though. IIRC, it does get slightly better gas mileage than a suburban though, and it is cheaper. So I'd definitely get more bang (in the form of space and seating options) for my buck. What am I missing that I'd lose? And I think I'd do an '08 for side curtain airbags as well as stability control and ABS. I'd feel so much better about a full size van with those safety features. But we have the daily driver problem still. An Acadia is MUCH smaller although a pain with 6 carseats and drives too much like a minivan/small suv. The thought of putting gas in/maintaining/insuring 2 vehicles on one income makes me cringe. Although the van could be claimed 100%, or more accurately 90% business use for a huge/negligible? tax write off. The other option is I have my '89 lesabre that is paid off, and in great shape with 120,000 miles on it and only one previous owner. Provided it doesn't die in the next year (knock on wood) I could use that daily. I would still have to insure and put gas in it though. The other problem is possibly not getting any better gas mileage in it. I'm having a hard time calculating gas mileage I'm getting now, but I think I'm only at about 18. It's had its regular maintenance. If they're the same, the only benefit to using my buick on my days off would be parking/navigating easier. But I don't think the cost would be worth that.

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    Oh and I should say I'm leaning toward a12p express OR safari. There's compelling arguments for both. Headrests I'm all over, I've read your posts about retrofitting them before, and that's a big thing for me. My only Q about that is, can you make them taller/more adjustable than a caravan's originally would be? I ask because my brother is 6'1" with long legs and is "too tall" for the suburban's head support. If I needed to bring other adults somewhere, it'd be an added safety plus. Oh and you lost me on one thing. Does short wheel base= low to the ground? If so that is a HUGE deal. I hate not being able to clear curbs. Thanks so much

  8. #7
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabatha View Post
    Thank you, this is so helpful! I meant 12p and I think I'm actually leaning towards that. The space is just so tempting. Even if I took out the fourth row seating (do they come out?) and could only seat as many as a suburban, it'd still be a much easier endeavor trying to get everyone into seats. Plus there's no reason my two oldest can't climb back there, buckle themselves and leave the other two rows to the little kids to only have to deal with two carseats in each row. I'm fantasizing about that a bit. SPACE. I never have any. Not sure how "worth it" it is though. IIRC, it does get slightly better gas mileage than a suburban though, and it is cheaper. So I'd definitely get more bang (in the form of space and seating options) for my buck. What am I missing that I'd lose? And I think I'd do an '08 for side curtain airbags as well as stability control and ABS. I'd feel so much better about a full size van with those safety features. But we have the daily driver problem still. An Acadia is MUCH smaller although a pain with 6 carseats and drives too much like a minivan/small suv. The thought of putting gas in/maintaining/insuring 2 vehicles on one income makes me cringe. Although the van could be claimed 100%, or more accurately 90% business use for a huge/negligible? tax write off. The other option is I have my '89 lesabre that is paid off, and in great shape with 120,000 miles on it and only one previous owner. Provided it doesn't die in the next year (knock on wood) I could use that daily. I would still have to insure and put gas in it though. The other problem is possibly not getting any better gas mileage in it. I'm having a hard time calculating gas mileage I'm getting now, but I think I'm only at about 18. It's had its regular maintenance. If they're the same, the only benefit to using my buick on my days off would be parking/navigating easier. But I don't think the cost would be worth that.

    What you're losing with the big van is convenience. You can't get into underground parking. It's hard/impossible to parallel park in a city spot (depending how much room other people happen to have left you). You might have to take up 2 spots on the far side of the lot if the local store has made the spots ridiculously small. But compared to a Suburban, there's not much difference really. They're the same width, about 9" height difference, and only 5" difference in length.

    The Astro/Safari is actually even smaller than the Tahoe, but still room for 6 car seats & cargo. It sacrifices a bit of front leg room. It's fine for me. I'm 5'7" with long legs, but I can drive with the seat all the way back (I can't in most vehicles). DH is 6'2" with long legs and found it a bit small, but manageable.

    Our Safari & Express get similar gas mileage. With mixed city/highway I get around 17mpg in the Safari and about 15mpg in the Express.

    I would only do a 2nd "run-around" car if I could find a cheapo little thing like a Sprint or Fiesta or 323 hatchback or something that would pay for its own insurance in gas savings. DH & I have gone through a few cheapo vehicles over the years and we just pass them on even cheaper or free. We've seen all of them around town for years after we got rid of them, too, still running fine. So old cars don't have to be maintenance nightmares or money pits. I love it when cars are old enough to have character and you can say "yeah, that's the one" when you see it in a parking lot .
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    Since this is primarily used as a business vehicle, there are other factors to take into consideration. Marketability. What would you think your families you nanny for would expect you to drive or would be happier you drove? What area of the country do you live in? There are clear lines in the US (and probably Canada) where expectations and brownie points for what you drive will help you secure and retain nanny business.

    As much as you don't like the smooth ride of the new MPVs (not minivans anymore as they are too nice), they definitely evoke a sense of "hmm, she really is pretty serious about keeping my kid safe and her nanny job to make an investment in an obvious parent vehicle." Not to mention, you can clearly afford a newer Odyssey compared to a Suburban (just on retail sticker alone there is a 17K difference in price between comparable trim levels). And lastly, as a business expense, the Odyssey will cost you less to maintain in both gas prices and in parts/labor as you will most likely afford a newer model by comparison. It will be a lot easier to load and unload the children from the car. Rear Facing installs and getting the kids in and out of those seats in either the second or 3rd row won't be a problem in the Odyssey compared to the Suburban.

    Now, if you are rural where there is lots of mountainous and uneven terrain, then yes, a parent might feel like a Suburban is the safer pick for you to take their kids around in.

    I am making a lot of assumptions here, but honestly from a strictly business standpoint, the better bet for me would be an Odyssey. Much more marketability to your nanny business.

  10. #9
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    Re: New large car help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabatha View Post
    Oh and I should say I'm leaning toward a12p express OR safari. There's compelling arguments for both. Headrests I'm all over, I've read your posts about retrofitting them before, and that's a big thing for me. My only Q about that is, can you make them taller/more adjustable than a caravan's originally would be? I ask because my brother is 6'1" with long legs and is "too tall" for the suburban's head support. If I needed to bring other adults somewhere, it'd be an added safety plus. Oh and you lost me on one thing. Does short wheel base= low to the ground? If so that is a HUGE deal. I hate not being able to clear curbs. Thanks so much
    Yeah, they go pretty tall. I can measure total height when I get the van back from the shop. Wheel base is the distance from where the front tires touch the ground to where the back tires touch. Longer wheel base means more stability with the trade-off being a larger turning radius.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeanh View Post

    Yeah, they go pretty tall. I can measure total height when I get the van back from the shop. Wheel base is the distance from where the front tires touch the ground to where the back tires touch. Longer wheel base means more stability with the trade-off being a larger turning radius.
    I think stability will rule if I do go to a full size van, so would probably go GM. I will definitely drive both and install some carseats just to get an idea. Thanks so much for all the great info! Where in the world would I find one?! I'd want a dealer because I can't pay cash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DawgDad View Post
    Since this is primarily used as a business vehicle, there are other factors to take into consideration. Marketability. What would you think your families you nanny for would expect you to drive or would be happier you drove? What area of the country do you live in? There are clear lines in the US (and probably Canada) where expectations and brownie points for what you drive will help you secure and retain nanny business.

    As much as you don't like the smooth ride of the new MPVs (not minivans anymore as they are too nice), they definitely evoke a sense of "hmm, she really is pretty serious about keeping my kid safe and her nanny job to make an investment in an obvious parent vehicle." Not to mention, you can clearly afford a newer Odyssey compared to a Suburban (just on retail sticker alone there is a 17K difference in price between comparable trim levels). And lastly, as a business expense, the Odyssey will cost you less to maintain in both gas prices and in parts/labor as you will most likely afford a newer model by comparison. It will be a lot easier to load and unload the children from the car. Rear Facing installs and getting the kids in and out of those seats in either the second or 3rd row won't be a problem in the Odyssey compared to the Suburban.

    Now, if you are rural where there is lots of mountainous and uneven terrain, then yes, a parent might feel like a Suburban is the safer pick for you to take their kids around in.

    I am making a lot of assumptions here, but honestly from a strictly business standpoint, the better bet for me would be an Odyssey. Much more marketability to your nanny business.
    Those are all very good points so I do appreciate the input. The hold up with the Odyssey is still space. If I need 3 across both rows I will have a fun time trying to load up all the kids, especially with so many rearfacing. Plus the Odyssey is the same as the suburban in the sense that while 3 across the second row is fine, 3 across the third row means radians. While it may cost less in the long run, I can't see dropping $1,000 on carseats for someone else's children. That's why I thought the safari/astro was such a good suggestion, but I figured if I'm going to that I might as well go to a full size van. If I had 6 children of my own, I wouldn't hesitate to go to a 12p van. I wouldn't want to deal with the daily headache of any 8 passenger vehicle. And since I will be doing this at least 5 if not 7 days a week, it makes sense to me to do that. I will be shopping around a ton more, and an odyssey is on the list to test drive as well.

  13. #12
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabatha View Post
    I think stability will rule if I do go to a full size van, so would probably go GM. I will definitely drive both and install some carseats just to get an idea. Thanks so much for all the great info! Where in the world would I find one?! I'd want a dealer because I can't pay cash.
    Start with the local used car listings. If there's not much selection, find a dealer that will broker used cars. Basically they find & bring in your perfect vehicle. Here's the dealership that imported our used 15p Express into Canada from Texas: http://www.autoway.ca/ We saved a bunch of money since vehicles are cheaper in the US.

    If you're going to try out an Express/Savana or an Astro/Safari, let me know what seats you have and what year-ish vehicle you're trying out. I can probably save you some frustration. Especially with the 12p's outboard seatbelts.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeanh View Post

    Start with the local used car listings. If there's not much selection, find a dealer that will broker used cars. Basically they find & bring in your perfect vehicle. Here's the dealership that imported our used 15p Express into Canada from Texas: http://www.autoway.ca/ We saved a bunch of money since vehicles are cheaper in the US.

    If you're going to try out an Express/Savana or an Astro/Safari, let me know what seats you have and what year-ish vehicle you're trying out. I can probably save you some frustration. Especially with the 12p's outboard seatbelts.
    Thank you! I will call around when the time comes and see if they have what I'm looking for or will be willing to do that. And if I go GM it will most likely be 2003-2008. I have a cosco apt 40, safety 1st guide 65, evenflo titan 65, nextfit and harmony nbbs. Any known incompatibilities? My budget for new seats is as cheap as possible, but I'll spend what I need to if you have recommendations for better seats

  15. #14
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabatha View Post
    Those are all very good points so I do appreciate the input. The hold up with the Odyssey is still space. If I need 3 across both rows I will have a fun time trying to load up all the kids, especially with so many rearfacing. Plus the Odyssey is the same as the suburban in the sense that while 3 across the second row is fine, 3 across the third row means radians. While it may cost less in the long run, I can't see dropping $1,000 on carseats for someone else's children. That's why I thought the safari/astro was such a good suggestion, but I figured if I'm going to that I might as well go to a full size van. If I had 6 children of my own, I wouldn't hesitate to go to a 12p van. I wouldn't want to deal with the daily headache of any 8 passenger vehicle. And since I will be doing this at least 5 if not 7 days a week, it makes sense to me to do that. I will be shopping around a ton more, and an odyssey is on the list to test drive as well.
    I think you can get away with two across RF in the second row and one in the 3rd row without a need to get Radians/Raniers. That's what is great about the newer model Odyssey's with their ability to widen the seats in the second row to fit easier FF or RF car seats in a multitude of configurations. If you put all RF seats in the second row, you wouldn't be able to fold a seat forward to get to the back, and if you put them all RF in the 3rd row, you would have a VERY hard time getting kids into and out of the seats as the shells of the seat backs would prevent you from reaching them. It's a definitely worth the look...plus the added bonus it's the safest car for 8 passengers out there couldn't hurt.

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    Have you considered the Ford Transit Van Wagon? It's new in the 2015 year model, but it would (I assume) drive more like a truck, has 8, 10, 12, & 15 passenger options, has l/s belts in every position, and headrests in every position. I think the concept is similar to a Nissan NV or possibly a Dodge Sprinter, but much cheaper than the Sprinter. Anyway, it's certainly not a minivan.
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

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    Re: New large car help

    Maybe we should clarify your budget

    There's a huge difference between a $3000 Astro or $4000 - $10,000 Express and a brand new Ody or Transit. The Transit is my dream vehicle. It's the only thing besides a bus that might actually be TOO big for me (talking about the 15p + cargo version LOL).

    As for incompatibilities with the GM 12p, I think you should be okay with the seats you have. I have no idea about the Nextfit, sorry. We don't have it in Canada yet. The Apt & Guide should be fine RF ouboard. FF is sort of a toss-up. I've never tried it. I tried a Complete Air (also a Dorel seat) and it was acceptable FF after some fighting and a locking clip. Titan 65 works RF & FF, but I use a locking clip. The belts are great with boosters.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeanh View Post
    Maybe we should clarify your budget

    There's a huge difference between a $3000 Astro or $4000 - $10,000 Express and a brand new Ody or Transit. The Transit is my dream vehicle. It's the only thing besides a bus that might actually be TOO big for me (talking about the 15p + cargo version LOL).

    As for incompatibilities with the GM 12p, I think you should be okay with the seats you have. I have no idea about the Nextfit, sorry. We don't have it in Canada yet. The Apt & Guide should be fine RF ouboard. FF is sort of a toss-up. I've never tried it. I tried a Complete Air (also a Dorel seat) and it was acceptable FF after some fighting and a locking clip. Titan 65 works RF & FF, but I use a locking clip. The belts are great with boosters.
    Good point! I have no idea to be honest. Certainly not anything new. I would want payments to be about $400 or less a month, and I'm not sure what price overall that translates to. With almost no credit, I'll be lucky if I can get approved for anything. That's why I'll be taking the time until then to build my credit some, but I don't know where that leaves me budget wise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeanh View Post
    Maybe we should clarify your budget

    There's a huge difference between a $3000 Astro or $4000 - $10,000 Express and a brand new Ody or Transit. The Transit is my dream vehicle. It's the only thing besides a bus that might actually be TOO big for me (talking about the 15p + cargo version LOL).

    As for incompatibilities with the GM 12p, I think you should be okay with the seats you have. I have no idea about the Nextfit, sorry. We don't have it in Canada yet. The Apt & Guide should be fine RF ouboard. FF is sort of a toss-up. I've never tried it. I tried a Complete Air (also a Dorel seat) and it was acceptable FF after some fighting and a locking clip. Titan 65 works RF & FF, but I use a locking clip. The belts are great with boosters.
    That's good to hear! The APT and guide 65 I only use RF and the titan 65 I only use FF so that works out perfectly. And the nextfit has very few incompatibilities, and it's generally an agreeable seat so that's the one I was least worried about.

  20. #19
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: New large car help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabatha View Post
    That's good to hear! The APT and guide 65 I only use RF and the titan 65 I only use FF so that works out perfectly. And the nextfit has very few incompatibilities, and it's generally an agreeable seat so that's the one I was least worried about.
    I just remembered the Scenera was a no-go FF, works RF. I don't know how similar the belt paths on the Guide & Apt are. Other seats I've found incompatible with the outboard belts: Keyfit & SR22 bases, Radian, True Fit, SBP Frontier, Coccoro.

    Just guessing from pics, I'd say the Nextfit might work FF if you're allowed to recline it. RF probably not. Likely not a deal breaker, just be mindful that some seats may have to be installed with LATCH or in a centre position.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeanh View Post

    I just remembered the Scenera was a no-go FF, works RF. I don't know how similar the belt paths on the Guide & Apt are. Other seats I've found incompatible with the outboard belts: Keyfit & SR22 bases, Radian, True Fit, SBP Frontier, Coccoro.

    Just guessing from pics, I'd say the Nextfit might work FF if you're allowed to recline it. RF probably not. Likely not a deal breaker, just be mindful that some seats may have to be installed with LATCH or in a centre position.
    Yep, the nextfit allows you to recline quite a bit FF as long as the install is still tight. And the apt and scenera's belt path is almost identical, but the guide is different enough that it'd have to be tried on its own. And I probably wouldn't be be in the market for any of those seats for the van

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