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  1. #1
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    Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    Hello all,
    We're in the market for an older used vehicle that we can safely fit our family in. We have an absolute max of $7000, but would rather spend around $5000 or less. We have an 18 month old son who is rear facing in a radian r120 and are expecting baby boy number two in June. We used a britax chaperone with our older son, but fitting that beast into most cars seems to be an issue.. So if it won't fit we're thinking about attempting a second Diono from the get go.

    We also have three dogs. This is where the problem lies. The smallest dog, 12lbs, rides in a sleepypod air, buckled into a seat belt or (worse case) on the floor in the backseat in front of a carseat. The other two are 40lbs and 50lbs and would ideally ride in their crates (each 31 inches by 20 inches) strapped down in a cargo area. I'm open to the possibility of using the sleepypod clickit harnesses in a cargo area too, but feel less comfortable with that.

    We also want something that won't be horrendous in fuel efficiency.. But I'm not sure how possible that is. >.<

    We've thought about going the minivan route, likely a 2006+ Sedona, but we don't haul the dogs all that often and it feels like such a waste of gas! Then there's the station wagon route, outback etc but I'm not sure how well two rear facing radians would fit. I would loooove something like a matrix/vibe but fitting the larger dogs seems to be a possible problem with the smaller cargo area...

    Any other ideas, suggestions? We have a few months but would like to purchase sooner rather than later as we currently have to borrow my parents' minivan to take the dogs anywhere. =/

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  3. #2
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    What about a Mazda 5?

    I also thought of the Ford Focus wagon as a really inexpensive solution, but that would only last until your oldest was out of a highback booster due to no headrests in the back seat.
    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

  4. #3
    Moderator - CPS Technician
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    My first thought is minivan. Really the gas mileage is not so bad! I think a station wagon would be the only other reasonable option with the two dog crates.

    When you have the two crates, are you also hauling luggage?
    Cutie #1 (13 years) 5-stepping
    Cutie #2 (10 years) riding in a Safety 1st Incognito

    Cutie #3 (7 years) riding in a Chicco KidFit
    Cutie #4 (6 years) riding in a Frontier
    Cutie #5 (3 years) riding in a Nuna Rava

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    May 2014
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    Atlanta, GA
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    What is the height for the crates in the back? Visibility (if they fit) become more of a concern for me if this is something you guys regularly do. With a SUV or Minivan, you at least might have some visibility. With station wagons or the mini wags, you have almost none since the back cargo area to roof is smaller.

    Your budget is a bit of a concern in allowing you options, but there are deals everywhere. I would always suggest trying out what you need in the car you are thinking of buying to make sure that everything actually fits. For instance, just because the cargo space measures that it can allow for something 35" long does not mean that it can allow something 35" square. Why? Because often times the measurements are taken from the bottom of the cargo area where the back seat is at it's furthest point jutting into the cargo area. The seat is at an angle, so you lose space as the seat angles into the cargo area. For a square object like a crate, you really get something like 30" of length for a published 35" space. Wheel wells also can be a pain for width...

  6. #5
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    But.. but we're talking 20 mpg for a van vs close to 30 if we can fit the dogs in harnesses in a matrix/vibe!

    As far as luggage goes, I think unless we go the minivan route we'll have to get some sort of top/rear cargo container or rent a small trailer for trips. We don't go on trips where actual luggage is required more than once or twice a year though and we very rarely even take a stroller, almost never if we also have the dogs.

    The crates are 23 inches high, not tooo bad.

    If we could find a Mazda 5 in our price range (I've seen a few here and there) that would definitely be a good option imo. The only concern there would be that I've heard radians are incompatible forward facing in the third row? A minor problem, as most of the time we would use the captain's chairs I'm sure. It would be convenient to be able to carry more than just our immediate family if need be though.

    Thanks for all the input so far!

  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    I think the Focus Wagon would be a good option. They are pretty low mileage vehicles in your price range, and most kids fit in highback boosters until 8 or older, so you could plan to drive that for 4-6 years and then buy something with headrests in the second row. They are becoming more common, so you should have lots of options by the time you're ready to trade again.
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

  8. #7
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    I will definitely add that to our list! We only want this car to last 5-6 years, until the husband is finished with his PhD and has a "real" job so it sounds like the lack of headrests won't be an issue.

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by battylady View Post
    I will definitely add that to our list! We only want this car to last 5-6 years, until the husband is finished with his PhD and has a "real" job so it sounds like the lack of headrests won't be an issue.
    I understand! My dh was in college when dd was born and there were a number of things that just had to work until he was out of school, and a Focus was one of them. I still miss that little car sometimes!
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    Can the two bigger dogs crate together in a slightly larger crate if it'll fit. Not sure how you'd feel about it. Mine ride in crates in the car because I will leave them there and crate from my car instead of bringing them into places when the weather allows. I can put a 24 inch crate, a 30 inch crate, and rf seat in my equinox, on the rear seat. I could do a 32 inch vari kennel in the cargo area if I wanted, maybe slightly bigger but I never had anything to try. I can cram a good amount of stuff in around the on the floor in front of the crates and could also cram around a crate in the back if I put one there. I generally just keep my car packed for traveling with the dogs, so I usually keep their crates in the seats, along with extra folded up wire crates for when they come in somewhere that they need the crates, big folding chairs (I have fancy ones with foot rests, umbrellas). The dogs bags live in the car.
    I'm just thinking, if the two dogs can go together in one slightly bigger crate, it might make some stuff work that won't with two crates.

  11. #10
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    Update:

    We went ahead and purchased a 2002 Focus Wagon with less than 100k miles and it's been perfect for our purposes so far. The dionos both fit well, one with an angle adjuster behind the passenger for our toddler and one in the middle at a 45 degree angle for the newbie. Thank you so much for your recommendations!

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  13. #11
    Carseat Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by battylady View Post
    Update: We went ahead and purchased a 2002 Focus Wagon with less than 100k miles and it's been perfect for our purposes so far. The dionos both fit well, one with an angle adjuster behind the passenger for our toddler and one in the middle at a 45 degree angle for the newbie. Thank you so much for your recommendations!
    I'm glad you found something that's working well for you!
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

  14. #12
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: Used family vehicle for two rear facing kids and three dogs...

    Yay! Thanks for the update
    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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