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  1. #1
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    Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    I asked awhile back about vehicles, but the situation has changed some.

    I want to get a new vehicle that will allow us not only to transport our family, but to also allow my boys to occasionally bring friends along. My 2 kids are 3.5 and 5.5 both 45-50lbs, currently harnessed in Graco Nautilus’s.

    What vehicles (under $35k, preferably under $30k) would allow me to bring up to 4 kids in car seats/boosters, and have good mileage? (Thinking 23mpg+). Does such a thing exist?

    What about if only one could bring a friend, any vehicles that are wide enough for 2 Nautilus’s and another seat? If I were to move my 5.5 yo to a booster, would that allow any different options? If so, what booster?

    Currently in a 99 Sienna that has seen better days. I wouldn't mind another Sienna, but want to know what else is out there.

    Thank you!

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  3. #2
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Check out the Mazda 5.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  4. #3
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    Check out the Mazda 5.

  5. #4
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Thank you! I don't know much about that one.

  6. #5
    CPS Fanatic Heather98012's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    Check out the Mazda 5.
    Oh, & off topic, hi from S. Snohomish County!

  7. #6
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    Check out the Mazda 5.
    ^^^^ yeah that.
    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
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    My '09 Sienna gets 21/22 when I am driving around town (Tacoma), about 24 when it has more highway, and 27/28 when I drive from Tacoma to Portland. I have the spoiler and that honestly has gotten me more gas mileage then I used to with my '08 Sienna.

  9. #8
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    23mpg city will be tough. Mazda5 is 21mpg for the auto. Kia Rondo is 20 w/ 4cly. Mixed, you can get 23mpg with those two. If you need 23mpg highway, then most minivans can do that. I'm on my 3rd Town and Country and am getting 25 mpg highway with the ac at 80mph.

    If you can spare one seat, the Ford Escape 4cyl gets about the same, 20/28 and can do 3 across with some seats. Hybrid is over 30mpg.

    Have you determined how much 23mpg costs vs. 20mpg for a regular minivan? At $4/gallon and 15000 miles per year, that only $32/mo extra. Considering you are prepared to spend $30k+ or the equivalent of $500+/mo for a loan, I would not think 3 or 4mpg matter much.

  10. #9
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    23mpg city will be tough. Mazda5 is 21mpg for the auto.
    Mine's a stick and even with the heaviest city driving I've never gotten gas mileage that low. The lowest I've ever calculated was 23mph, and that was one time when it was fully loaded (and I mean fully-beyond-capacity). I average 25 mpg.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  11. #10
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Everyone's driving style and conditions is different. That's YMMV, your mileage may vary. EPA ratings may not be accurate for any specific person, but they are useful for comparing between vehicles as they are testing under the same driving conditions.

    Anyway, the Mazda 5 is a great vehicle for lots of reasons. Just consider what the 15% better FE is really saving ones pockets if one thinks FE is such a high priority.

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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    Everyone's driving style and conditions is different. That's YMMV, your mileage may vary. EPA ratings may not be accurate for any specific person, but they are useful for comparing between vehicles as they are testing under the same driving conditions.

    Anyway, the Mazda 5 is a great vehicle for lots of reasons. Just consider what the 15% better FE is really saving ones pockets if one thinks FE is such a high priority.
    15% can translate into a lot of pocket cash. for example, if you drive 15,000 miles per year (national average) and gas costs $2.75 on average:

    25 mpg = $1,650 per year

    21.25 mpg (15% less than 25 mpg) = $1,941 per year

    $291 per YEAR is some pretty good pocket change, if you ask me. figure on six years of ownership, that's $1,746 in gas savings. and that's not even counting the potential for skyrocketing gas prices.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  13. #12
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    If someone can afford a $30-35k vehicle, $32/mo extra in fuel costs is insignificant. But we are recommending a $20k Mazda5 just to save $32 at $4/g, or $24/mo with your est cost. Eh.

    As I said, the Mazda5 a great vehicle. I'd consider one too, but coming from a V6/V8 van or SUV to the 4-cyl Mazda5 is not going to drive the same. You can get a couple V6 minivans for $22k street price that handle quite differently, but offer more space and have more low end torque for everyday city driving.

  14. #13
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    You can get a couple V6 minivans for $22k street price that handle quite differently, but offer more space and have more low end torque for everyday city driving.
    But the OP didn't ask for a vehicle that handles the same and has the same torque as her current Sienna. She asked for "under $35k, preferably under $30k," "up to 4 kids in car seats/boosters" and "good mileage? 23mpg+"

    I don't see how a larger vehicle with less mpg than she requested fits her list?

    And no one said "OMG you have to go buy the Mazda 5 today, its PERFECT, you'll LOVE it!" We just said "check it out." Worst case scenario she drives it and decides it's too "cheap" for her preferences - so what? It's not like she's wasted any money on it or a whole ton of time.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  15. #14
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    If someone can afford a $30-35k vehicle, $32/mo extra in fuel costs is insignificant. But we are recommending a $20k Mazda5 just to save $32 at $4/g, or $24/mo with your est cost. Eh.
    well, you're entitled to this opinion, but i disagree. the extra cost of gas can still be significant regardless of how much a person paid for a car, especially when you consider that a lot of people who are leasing or financing the $30-35k cars can't really afford them with much to spare. how can you judge which people driving $35k cars can afford them and which can't? a lot of people live beyond their means.

    again, you're entitled to your opinion about fuel economy and spending priorities, but the OP specifically asked for a vehicle that met a certain mileage requirement. let's respect it.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  16. #15
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Thank you all for your replies. I appreciate seeing both sides to this issue. For me, saving the money on the gas, while it is nice, isn't the only motivator for a more fuel efficient vehicle - there are environmental reasons too.

    I have not yet gone to see the Mazda 5 - but I thought I read something on here about it being difficult to install some seats in the rear? Maybe it was how seatbelts worked with boosters??? I can't find the link now. Does anyone recall what I am talking about?

  17. #16
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    If someone can afford a $30-35k vehicle, $32/mo extra in fuel costs is insignificant. But we are recommending a $20k Mazda5 just to save $32 at $4/g, or $24/mo with your est cost. Eh.

    As I said, the Mazda5 a great vehicle. I'd consider one too, but coming from a V6/V8 van or SUV to the 4-cyl Mazda5 is not going to drive the same. You can get a couple V6 minivans for $22k street price that handle quite differently, but offer more space and have more low end torque for everyday city driving.
    I agree with you completely...... it's like I hear all the time.. I want to buy this $40K to $50K car, but I just "can't afford" premium fuel...... so you can afford $40K for the car, but not 20 cents per gallon? in my opinion, they probably can't afford that car, and this is the out. but of course not many will admit that.

    I don't understand these ideas either....

    and as far as the mazda 5 specifically....... we looked at them before getting our odyssey...... and unless you put the third row seat down, it's pretty much seemed like useless space in the back. how do you pick up people with luggage from the airport for example when you need to use the third row for people? just wouldn't work for us... we feel our RDX is inadequate.... the 5 was worse......... the big plus for it was sliding doors combined with a manual transmission. but only on the low line model?

    no offense to the mazda 5 owner's here, as I know there are a few fans....

    we sided for the more usable odyssey. fwiw, we get about 19.5mpg with our normal driving in the ody but only have about 3K miles on it so far..........
    '08 RDX w/tech
    '09 Odyssey EX-L

  18. #17
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by seattlemom View Post
    I have not yet gone to see the Mazda 5 - but I thought I read something on here about it being difficult to install some seats in the rear? Maybe it was how seatbelts worked with boosters??? I can't find the link now. Does anyone recall what I am talking about?
    That would be me. The '09 models have corrected that issue, if not as well as I'd have liked, still greatly improved. If you had 3-4 kids instead of 2, I'd have made sure to warn you, but seeing as how you'll only be using that row occasionally, the issues with the 3rd row aren't likely to give you much headache.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevel View Post
    and as far as the mazda 5 specifically....... we looked at them before getting our odyssey...... and unless you put the third row seat down, it's pretty much seemed like useless space in the back.
    Oh, I'm right there with you on that one. I call that my "rear glove box." Still though, I'm more than happy to put up with that lack of space in order to get the other benefits. I don't like driving around more car than I need, just because once or twice a year I need a minivan/SUV. I can rent or borrow one for those occasions, yk? Or just leave the kids home with dh while I pick up the guests from the airport, etc. I know that's not going to work for everyone, but it's a reasonable alternative.

    no offense to the mazda 5 owner's here, as I know there are a few fans....
    Oh, you don't have to like my car. Just as long as you understand why I like it, and I'll try to do the same for you.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  19. #18
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by Defrost View Post
    But the OP didn't ask for a vehicle that handles the same and has the same torque as her current Sienna. She asked for "under $35k, preferably under $30k," "up to 4 kids in car seats/boosters" and "good mileage? 23mpg+"

    I don't see how a larger vehicle with less mpg than she requested fits her list?

    And no one said "OMG you have to go buy the Mazda 5 today, its PERFECT, you'll LOVE it!" We just said "check it out." Worst case scenario she drives it and decides it's too "cheap" for her preferences - so what? It's not like she's wasted any money on it or a whole ton of time.
    Re-read my first response. I listed the Mazda 5 first and some alternatives that also may meet OP requirements. Prior to my post, 3 recommendations for the 5 and one for a new Sienna. Since OP did give specifics and say, "I need 23mpg city," or "I need 23mpg highway", that leaves a lot of different options on the table. And everyone has more requirements than FE, or we'd all be driving hybrid and diesel vehicles. Of course, test drive the 5. As I said, it's a great vehicle. Just check out other vehicles. Crunch the numbers on what differences in vehicle types really costs. Determine the value for yourself. If the manual trans was available in the Grand Touring, the 5 would rank higher on my personal list.

    Over the last few years with gas prices doubling/tripling, many people downsized vehicles and sorely regret it.

  20. #19
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by APT View Post
    And everyone has more requirements than FE, or we'd all be driving hybrid and diesel vehicles.
    Perhaps this is my blind spot - we have a diesel VW and the 5, and the only reason the 5 isn't a hybrid or a diesel is that they don't make them in 6-passenger varieties we can afford.

    Of course, test drive the 5. As I said, it's a great vehicle. Just check out other vehicles. Crunch the numbers on what differences in vehicle types really costs. Determine the value for yourself.
    These seems to make your point more clearly than the first one - thanks for clarifying.

    If the manual trans was available in the Grand Touring, the 5 would rank higher on my personal list.
    Now you're just trying to make me drool.

    Over the last few years with gas prices doubling/tripling, many people downsized vehicles and sorely regret it.
    Now this one's got me... seriously? Again, maybe this is just my blind spot, but I don't know anyone who has done this regretted it. Maybe it's a class thing? Because I also don't know very many people who drive $40K+ vehicles, either. Umm... yeah, I know two. And one is a work truck, so not sure that one counts.

    OP, sorry for hijacking your thread!
    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
    Senior Community Member horsesitaly's Avatar
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    Re: Car/suv/van with good mileage & carry 4 kids

    I average 25 mpg city and 31 highway in my Mazda5. I've installed a Frontier and a Wizard in the 3rd row w/no trouble. I use Compass B510 boosters in the back as well, with no issues. Mine is an '06. Definitely worth looking into, especially with only 2 "full time" riders in the car! I've got three and the other seat is usually folded down for cargo (groceries, sports gear, etc). I love my car!
    Nancy
    CPST
    5/24/99 ds seatbelt, 12/9/00 ds seatbelt, 10/24/03 dd seatbelt or Graco backless AirBooster in a 2006 Mazda5 or 2011 Ford F-150 crew cab

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