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small SUV or station wagon recommendations?

  1. MrsSCB

    pomelo / 5252 posts

    We recently bought a Rav4 and I looove it! It's plenty big. I just keep our B-Agile stroller in the back all the time, and there's still room for groceries and other stuff. I was switching from a Fiat, though, so it definitely feels super roomy comparatively

  2. nana87

    cantaloupe / 6168 posts

    It’s probably bigger than what you’re thinking of, but we just bought a Toyota Highlander in nyc and are happy with it! We have 2 dogs and typically take big road trips w everybody to visit mil in dc so we wanted a 3rd row and enough room for luggage. The second row is captain seats w 2 car seats so it’s hard to get to that 3rd row but it’s important for us to have still

  3. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    We have a Honda CR-V and love it. I think besides cargo space, we want a car that we know is safe, we can drive it to the ground and maintenance isn't expensive. We both like how Honda's drive/handle, and very safe in the snow with AWD. FYI we have 2 kids & 1 dog.

  4. krispi

    clementine / 904 posts

    Check out the Kia Sorento. I have a 2011 Sorento and have been really happy with it. I bought it when I was still just dating my husband and we had 2 dogs to transport. The back worked really well for that.

    Before buying the Sorento, I had a 2 door Accord for 10 years that I loved, and I was scared to replace it because I was afraid I would be unhappy with any other car. Test driving the Sorento won me over, because it drives just like a tall car. It doesn't feel big or bulky at all. I work in the city, and I have no problem getting it in tiny parking spaces.

    Now that I have a kid, it's still a great family car. The only downside is that it doesn't have latch in the middle rear seat. So I have a Britax clicktight so we can do a seatbelt install easily in the middle. A rear facing carseat does take up a lot of space, but in the center seat it hasn't been an issue. Behind the driver or the passenger seat, I think it would eat up some of the front leg room, but I think that would be the case with any car of that size.

    I liked the CRV, but it was a little smaller and wasn't available with a 6 cylinder, which I really wanted after my sporty Accord. We also test drove the Nissan Murano, but the visibility in the rear was awful compared to the Sorento. I've had mine for 6 years now, and I feel I made the right choice for me.

  5. jennlin821

    kiwi / 613 posts

    I love our outback!
    We need to upgrade our second car, and I want to get another one! We might just suck it up for another year or two to be able to get the Subaru ascent with the 3rd row.

    (I did not get a chance to read the rest of the answers, but good luck!)

  6. agold

    grapefruit / 4008 posts

    We have a jeep grand cherokee and I actually think it feels sort of small. I think it would be great for having two kids if you are okay with a tight feel.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on VW. I've been considering looking into getting one, but you've given me a good reason not to. And for sure I'd look into a volvo suv! Just a little pricey, I think. But I'd love one!

  7. youboots

    honeydew / 7622 posts

    We loooove our Ford Flex. It’s basically an updated wagon/small SUV.

  8. Amorini

    persimmon / 1132 posts

    I might sound crazy, but my answer depends on what size dog you are thinking as a “large dog.” Giant breed or like greyhound tall but curl up small or Labrador size? Also do you plan to take trips with 2 LOs, said “large dog” and a bunch of travel stuff?

    I have two BMDs (and one LO) so large is relative! One dog is 85 lb and one is 100+. Exchange one LO with one BMD and maybe things balance out? (Not quite since large animals need to lie down in the car, but they also don’t require strollers and diaper bags!) We just got a SUV with three rows and it is just about large enough for everyone now with the cargo space down. It’s definitely fine for day trips and getting around town; it has yet to be tested, but it should work fine for travel, too, with space for everyone and their stuff. I resisted for a long time getting such a large vehicle but what convinced me is that we have needed to evacuate our low-lying coastal area twice in two years. It has been a huge pain each time figuring out how to get us and our stuff all in one car and safely out of town. Before those experiences, I thought we should just rent the large vehicle when we needed it for trips/vacations. This could still be an option for you if you will actually only occasionally need the extra space — and not on an emergency basis like us!

    We had my Outback until recently. In terms of a good car sans dogs, it’s that plus AWD and a bag of chips. With DS’s car seat, first Cybex Aton II and then Chicco convertible, and daily getting around (occasionally with one large dog in the back), it worked fine. I miss the size of the Outback for all of the everyday, non-hurricane evacuation reasons. It fits in the parking garages easily and is just an easy car to get around in. I think I will never quite adapt to the SUV, but it’s serving a purpose as the Outback was just too small for the size of our family...mostly skewed by the fact that we have large dogs! With one large (70+ ish lb) dog plus LO, I would have fought to keep the Outback, but we definitely would have needed the cargo thing on top of the car for anything but day trips and we would have been packing only the umbrella stroller up with LO. For a dog that size (80+ lb), you cannot fit anything other than the dog in the back of an Outback....so you have to fit the kid and travel stuff somewhere.

    If you third row it, my favorite is still the Toyota Highlander. I lust after it! We got a Chevy Traverse which is the same size just less luxury, less $. My rationale is that this is practical choice and I don’t love it, but I’m not regretting it every time I pay the car payment. I hate car payments!

  9. LCTBQE

    nectarine / 2461 posts

    @Alba4: good to know, I'm definitely looking at the outback so I'll give the forester a look, too--I've never really gotten why the outback is more expensive when the forester is bigger (or at least taller?). going to check it out. thanks for the info on the level/package, we're moving to NJ, so, similar scene weather-wise.

    @Iced Tea: aww, not possible to lift front paws up and then hoist her rear half? also the only dogs that will use dog ramps are the ones in the SkyMall catalogue and they're only doing it because they're getting paid. it's on the same level as trying to brush your dog's teeth.

    @MrsSCB: cool, I was peering into one on the street yesterday after I read rave (rav?!) reviews from you and muffinsmuffins--looks like they fit the bill. also hahaha re trying to fit a child plus b-agile in a fiat

    @nana87: oooh all the space sounds luxurious but I'm too intimidated by that next-level-up size. also if I buy a car that big I'm worried my husband will try and make me take road trips to his hometown.

    @snowjewelz: yeah, I liked it too for size and practicality, but am I crazy or is there a big blind spot on the driver's side? like when I was trying to change lanes going to the lane to the left I couldn't see shit. I was driving a 2016 I think.

    @krispi: right, leg room is the big whoop for us because my husband and I are both really tall, and we'll have rear-facing bucket/baby throne convertible seats for the next 3 years, at least. our friends have one though, I'll check it out thx!

    @jennlin821: the ascent is the new SUV that's coming out? it sounds interesting but i'm not much of an early adopter. you're like the 90th vote for loving the outback though, on here and IRL!

    @agold: yeah Consumer Reports repair records will totally sour you on entire brands. what's amazing is how many luxury cars (like Audi) have total shit repair records. it's like, what are you paying for?

    @youboots: hadn't even heard of it! would you feel like it was enough room to add a baby in a bucket seat? (you have one boo right now, right?)

    @Amorini: we're getting a Lab likely a female, so not more than 65/70 pounds, and if we take any trips they'll just be 2-hour things to upstate cabins etc, no chevy chase stuff. I want to buy a car that's practical and works really well for the life we live 99% of the time and be uncomfortable the 1%, you know? I do think we're looking at a scenario like the one you said you'd have fought to keep your outback, though.
    What's a BDM? like a Mastiff?? I'm sorry to hear about the evacuations, I can't even imagine how stressful that must be post-baby

  10. Amorini

    persimmon / 1132 posts

    @LCTBQE: Bernese mountain dogs More human than dog!

    FWIW, the Forester drives like a SUV and has a truck body while the Outback drives like a sedan. It has a lot of comfy features that come standard, making it an overall nicer car.

    Oh and I consider us lucky that the hurricanes were just a big, drawn-out inconvenience. Some weren’t so lucky. Now that we have our evacuation plan and evacuation mobile,, we are ensured of never needing them!!

  11. youboots

    honeydew / 7622 posts

    @LCTBQE: plenty of room for 2 kids. We have captains chairs so it seats six but you can get a bench seat and it seats 7. I have a limited and it’s super fast. Test drive one!

  12. birdofafeather

    pineapple / 12053 posts

    @LCTBQE: the outback and forester also have the same volume of storage space (at least they did in 2013 when my sister and I got them!) but the outback is longer/shorter so for me, feels like more useable storage space.

  13. bubblegum

    pear / 1717 posts

    I just got an outback and its AMAZING! The trunk space is so incredible and it is super comfortable over all. Does amazing in the snow too (don't know if this is a concern for you)

  14. MrsSCB

    pomelo / 5252 posts


    This comment has been deleted by the original poster.

  15. caitlanc

    cherry / 156 posts

    After my 2003 CR-V died we got a 2011 Outback (because I also hated the CR-V redesign! ). I love it but I also agree with @Alba4 that it doesn't have great visibility (not a big deal as long as you have the backup camera) but I wouldn't mind it improving. It's brilliant in snow. (I live in CO, drive mountain passes year round and always feel very safe in it.) It very comfortably fits two adults, two kids and a large dog for day trips but we have a Thule box for when we're going skiing or long road trips. I might have considered the Forester but I wanted to go as small as possible while still being comfortable.

  16. Madison43

    persimmon / 1483 posts

    @LCTBQE: just a heads up - a Jeep might be too short for you if you're tall. We have a Jeep and ended up getting second car when #2 was born because my husband (who is 6"2) couldn't sit comfortably with a rear facing seat behind him.

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