I think we need a "new" car...



I think we need a "new" car...

Our Saturn SW2 is almost 2 years old (it's a '97, but we bought it in 2000). It is not payed off. However, there are many things about it that I didn't realize when we bought it.

It's a Saturn, so even though it's a Wagon, it has very little trunk space. Less than a family sedan, probably. And, because the rear wheel wells intrude into the trunk, much of the trunk space is worthless.

The tether anchors are on the back "gate". This means our tethers cross over the top of the trunk, blocking it off even more.

There is no real way to contain any cargo back there. If we were in a crash, our stroller would go flying into the backs of my kids' heads!

There are no rear head rests. The back seat is also very very narrow. I can put 3 carseats back there, but putting a passenger next to 2 of them is very uncomfortable. And, there's no middle shoulder belt.

So, now I guess I'm unsure where to start. I don't want to make the same mistakes I made last time. We're in Germany, which complicates matters. I really don't feel comfortable driving a mini-van over here (I have a hard enough time parallel parking in a car! let alone driving down narrow streets). There are American car dealers on base, and we'd have access to the German market as well (although we might have to make special arrangements to meet the stricter US emissions standards).

I haven't even started trying to convince DH on this one. ACK! Meanwhile, does anyone have advice on where to start? My main concerns are 1) Safety, 2) Price, 3) Space.



Passat comes to mind.

The ones in the USA are imported from Germany, so I assume they are pretty similar. Even a used one from 1999 has a nice assortment of safety features and can even be retrofitted for LATCH. New Passat wagons have tether anchors on the backs of the rear seat, so no obstruction. Don't know if that was true or not in 1999, the first year of the new design in the USA.

Other reasonable wagons include the Subaru Legacy (bargain if you want AWD) and Ford Focus. Base models of these might be the most cost effective.

Jetta is also a good choice. It doesn't come in a wagon in the USA, and the ones here are made in Mexico.

More ideas here:


Good luck!


About those tether anchors...

"New Passat wagons have tether anchors on the backs of the rear seat, so no obstruction."

I'm sure you're aware of the conversations on the CPS list & PP carseat board about tethering a Super Elite to anchors on the seat in Ford vehicles. I plan to get a SE for Roman in a few months, unless his opinion of the Star Riser changes drastically before then, so that tether location concerns me.

Am I really going to end up with a *lot* more space in a wagon than I'd have with a sedan? I don't feel comfortable piling stuff up high enough to block the rear window, and the lack of containment with a wagon really bothers me. Do you know of a site that will allow me to compare passenger & cargo room between vehicles?

In the mean time, I'll take a look at the cars you listed above. Thanks!!!


I'm SE Inept...

I confess no experience with the SE. I'd have to defer comments about the tethers to someone with practical experience.

DW drives our wagon, and likes it a lot more than her last vehicle (Cirrus Sedan). She uses the cargo space a lot for DIY projects. Containment isn't much different with a sedan. Heavy objects should still be secured, since they can punch through fold-down seats.

www.autosite.com has all the stats to compare. Many auto makers use their data for their own comparison tools. I don't know which site has the best side-by-side utility, though.

The Subaru tether anchors are in the ceiling of the cargo area. They obstruct visibility just a bit, but not cargo space so much. Still better than the floor in my opinion.

Keep me up -to-date:)


Family cars

If you have already chosen a new vehicle disregard. We have a '97 Camry which was the traveling vehicle before we got our van. I was able to sit comfortably in the back seat between two car seats. The trunk space is quite ample. We fit a pack n play, full size stroller and large suitcase in the trunk. I do not recall if the center back belt is a lap or lap and shoulder belt. The Camry may be pricier than some others. It does get good gas mileage though. A friend of mine has a Saturn wagon, and I feel sure it has less cargo space.


I was just telling my friend today...

That I think our old Camry (an '89 whose death led to the purchase of our current Saturn) had more cargo & passenger room than the SW2 does! I do like the Camry, but it didn't have *enough* room. I'm still undecided what we'll do. DH says if we get anything, it will be a minivan. I saw if we get a minivan, I won't settle for anything but the Oddyssey.

Thanks for your input.


I have a 2001 Passat sedan... more

I LOVE it! 3 rear headrests, 3 full lap/shoulder belts in back, and I can easily fit 3 car seats or 2 seats and a person back there. There is TONS of leg room, I haven't found a seat yet that won't RF back there even with the front seats very far back, and the trunk is HUGE. It's really unbelievable how large the trunk is. All in all, I absolutely love the car, and would recommend it to anyone.

Jodi, CPS tech in CA



Have you looked into the Passat sedan or wagon? When we were doing our research, this seemed like the e ideal family car: safe, well-priced, lots of cargo space. Wish we'd gone that route, actually!


Steel plated seatbacks

A safety issue not often mentioned is that loose items stowed in the trunk can protrude throuht the seatbacks in an accident. Our new Passat, as well at my 850 Volvo have steel plated seatbacks. I think this a future that is underrated, flying cargo could kill passengers in what would be a very survivable accident, so please check on your next car purchase for a car with steel plated seatbacks!


To underscore this issue-

I saw some grizzly photos of a case study where an unsecured tool box punched through a back seat and severely injured a child. Granted, the child was in an unsecured carseat on the floor of the vehicle, but the point was still clear.

Please tie down any heavy objects in your trunk or cargo area.

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