April 03, 2013

What I Love Wednesday - My Car

I have been driving a Jeep Liberty for over 9 years now.  She's been good to me the whole time.  I've known her longer than my husband.  Some of my sisters tease me that it's so small and one of them calls it my roller skate.  It's been great in the snow and it still feels a like a new car to me.  


However, now that baby #3 is on the way the countdown has started.  I can't fit three carseats across the back.  There's just no way, so it's time to say goodbye to my loyal roller skate.

Frankly, I'd love some advice.  Here's the situation.  My husband is anti-minivan.  I'm not joking here.  It's a serious thing to him.  Plus, I'm not crazy about driving one in the snow and steep hills here.

We'll probably buy something used.  I've been looking at the Acadia, the Enclave, and the Toyota Highlander.  I want Rex to be able to get to the backseat easily, so I'm trying to find something with captain chairs.  

Do any of you drive the cars I mentioned?  How crammed are they with carseats?  Do any of you drive something you love and recommend with 3 kids or more?  I don't want to go huge (as you know I'm coming from a roller skate here).


I'd love to hear your opinions.  Thanks in advance and thanks for stopping by, too.

103 comments:

  1. I'm expecting #3 any day. We have an Acadia Denali. Love it! It has captains chairs. We out the baby carseat behind the passenger, and then we have the sunshine kids (slim profile carseats) in the back on the 2/3 section. We can still fold 1/3 down. We did that so it was easier to get my 2 1/2 year old (the oldest) out if the back. Yes, I'll have 3 under 3. We had one sunshine kid radian seat (now diono) and one Britax in the 3rd row. Didn't fit. There is only one anchor in te 3rd row. Had to do some rigging to make it all work. All in all.....we do love, love the car.

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    1. Thanks for the info, Katie! I will probably have it a little easier than you with the carseats since my kids are a little older. Glad to know you love it. Thanks for the review!

      Cheri

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  2. I had a minivan with 2 kids and downsized because it was such a waste of gas, especially seeing how it was only me in it during the week. I downsized to a Mazda 5 and love it. It has the sliding doors like a minivan which is FANTASTIC getting the kids in and out with no doors in the way. It seats 6 because it has easy access to a third row of seating. I only have 2 kids, but if ever we have a third, that back row is perfect for kids! I live in Quebec, Canada and just went through my first winter with it and I loved it. Handles really well especially with the traction control that comes standard. It's not one of your choices, but thought I'de tell you about it anyway.

    Thanks.

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    1. That's awesome! I didn't know there was anything with sliding doors that wasn't a minivan. I will definitely look into it. Thanks for our help!

      Cheri

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    2. I have always had a small car, and we are now expecting number three. We just bought a used mazda 5, and I honestly couldn't be happier. My 5 year old has no problem getting between the seats or opening the doors himself, and it is great on gas. It is the perfect step up, in my opinion. (I have no idea how it would do in the snow, however.)

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    3. Sliding doors cant be beat for getting kids in and out of carseats. Also, I am short so some of the SUVs are too high to lift kids up and down. I had six kids, so have been driving a minivan (Honda Odyssey) for 19 years. I have been looking for some thing smaller now that I only have 2 at home, but cannot commit to an SUV because of the fewer seats and less cargo room than I am used to. I still carpool and I love to pick up furniture off the street and garage sales/thrift stores. The Mazda 5 looks great, the Mazda 9 is bigger but more expensive.

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    4. We love, love, love our Mazda 5 BUT feel like we are outgrowing it. The plus side is that it gets great gas mileage, is comfy, has 6 seats, the sliding doors are wonderful with little kids and has quite a bit of storage space with the back seats down. BUT we have two boys (5 and 7) and a dog and are a single car family (my husband has a truck provided by his employer). We do a lot of road trips and now that the boys are using their leg space for legs its a very tight squeeze with everyone/thing packed in and the bikes on the back. It we did an occassional road trip or camping trip it wouldn't be as bad but the boys are only getting bigger and all their gear is getting bigger too. We are also looking at the GMC Acadia/Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave and Honda Pilot to upsize a bit without going too big. I am curious what you decide.

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  3. I saw a booster seat on Amazon that might fix your problem. It was inflatable and had no arm rests, so you can fit them better into a car. It had good reviews. Just a thought.

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  4. I always think it's funny when people are against minivans! I will have my minivan pried out of my cold dead hands. I drive a dodge grand caravan, and I can fit full sized sheets of plywood in the back of that thing, along with molding, furniture, drywall, etc. I like it so much better then a truck though for seating and the fact that the cargo is enclosed.. Because it's a V6 I can tow reasonably sized things, but don't guzzle gas like an SUV. It seats 7, with plenty of leg room for adults and kids. You don't have to climb up into it like you would an SUV, and it drives just fine in the snow (I had it in UT for 4 years, DC and VA for 7 years, and now Korea though the worst winter on record, and they don't plow snow here.) I have never seen cars as any sort of a status symbol, simply as a tool, so I guess the fact that it's a van has never held any sort of negative connotation for me. I've traversed the country 2 times in mine, and have put 130,000 miles on it, and shipped it here to Korea because I couldn't be without it!

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    1. I know! I've tried to talk my husband into the minivan thing, but I also want him to be happy with our purchase since it's kind of a big one and he'll drive it a lot too. That's so awesome that yours has held up through so much! Thanks for sharing your info! I really appreciate it!

      Cheri

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  5. We just got a minivan. The sliding doors are amazing! No worries about the kids hitting other cars in the parking lot. It is a beast (Toyota Sienna) coming from my previous car (Ford Focus) but I adore it now. We have the baby in the middle and the older two in the back.

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  6. I have an older Toyota Highlander whick I think is a 2001. First year they made them whatever that was. I have to boys both in big (britax) forward facing seats. I love love my Highlander but dont think it will be big enough for three. We would like bigger cargo space too when we have snother. So when the time comes we will most likely get one step up..the Toyota Sequoia. Is that how you spell it? Btw we started out in a jeep too which I loved and...I am very anti minivan too!!

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  7. Sorry for all the typos. I'm on my phone and should have reread my post. :)

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  8. I miss my mini-van, but alas, it would not pull the bigger, better camper that my husband HAD TO HAVE, so we had to get a Suburban. It's okay, but it's a beast. I would recommend the Chevy Traverse, or it's GMC counterpart. We also have a Chevy Equinox (my roller skate) and I love it, but to fit all 5 of our children plus my husband and I we need to take the truck. I wanted a Traverse, but the Equinox was supposed to get better gas mileage.

    I don't know if any of that makes sense...but we try to stick to American brands as my husband is a local union guy. Good luck with your decision, I know I cried when we got rid of my '03 Chevy Impala. It got the best gas mileage and was my first new car. I loved that guy!

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    1. I'll definitely look into the Traverse, since I think it's pretty much the same as the Acadia. Thanks for your help!

      Cheri

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    3. Cheri,
      We have a Traverse too. We have had it for 2 years and LOVE it! My hubby did a TON of research between the Traverse, Acadia and Enclave. The Chevy is the least expensive of the three and the car itself is virtually the same. It gets decent gas mileage and does great in the snow. I prefer to drive it in the snow over our F150. I always tell people it is a minivan disguised as an SUV.

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    4. Another Traverse lover here. We bought in May 2010 and have loved it. My husband and I joke that if we won the lottery, I'd still keep this car, maybe just get a new one! That's how much I love it! I was driving a Rav4 and it handled more like a truck. The Traverse handles like a car and the ride is really smooth. And great in the snow!

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  9. Honda pilot. I have had mine for 7 years. I have kids from 3 to 17 and we all fit. It seats 8, I have 5 kids. I can put 2 car seats in the 2 row and an adult (my 17 yo) sits comfortably in the middle. Gas mileage is decent. Awesome in the snow. I'm from Utah. 135k miles and no major repairs. Just basic maintenance. The seats are 1/3 2/3 split so Rex could easily get the back. Plus in ours the back seat folds completely flat and we have hauled mattresses. Lumber, bunk beds, more cost trips than I can count, tv stands. It's amazing what fits. I will drive that car until refuses to move one more inch. We love it. And I down graded from an Expedition.

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    1. I love my Pilot as well! The thing I love about the 3rd row seat is not just that it seats 3 and actually has some leg room, but that there are two pieces to it--you can pull them both up so you have your three seats but practically non existent trunk space, or you can pull up one side and just have 1 seat and a good amount of trunk space, or pull up the other side and have 2 seats with some trunk space. You can tell the designed it with moms in mind--the center console of the back seat (middle row) has a spot for a dipping sauce container between the cup holders, and there are hooks throughout the car for grocery bags (all these titled as such in the manual). I have a 2004. If you're looking at one that old just be sure yours was made after the transmission recall. Mine has 144000 miles on it and is running great! The thing to be sure you check though (with any car you look at) is how your baby carrier fits. With my husband's height, ours only fits in the middle. A friend of mine took her carrier with her when trying out cars and found that several she assumed would be great wouldn't have worked with where she wanted the baby placement.

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    2. I agree with the Honda Pilot. We are Honda people. Can't beat them with high resale and low maintenance.

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  10. We have a flex. It fits three carseats across the back (we have two kids but my sister has three and also has a flex). The gas mileage is decent, and it is AWESOME in the snow. We've had ours for three years now, bought used, and the only repairs we've had were covered under the original warranty and were done quickly and smoothly. It has tons of cargo space and you can pop up a third row of seats if you need it.

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  11. I have an Enclave and I really like it. BUT--- I find that if the back bench is occupied the trunk space is very small. Which isn't a problem for every day use, except if you have a stroller that is a little bit larger. Which I do have. We are usually able to keep the 1/3 row down and then we can slide the stroller in, but then it leave us with a very small space to store the rest of our goods. It works well for me- but I only have two children.

    I would see if you can find something that has in floor storage- that seems to be very helpful!

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  12. I have a 2005 highlander with a third row seat and I love it. It's nice to be able to shuffle the kids around as needed and to separate them on road trips. I also love that it's built on the camry frame so it isn't huge and drives like a car. Seriously, it has been the perfect car for us. We've hauled four kids and driven plenty of mutual activities and it hasnt let us down ever.

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  13. Great question! I'm excited to hear the answer. We know that I'll have to give up my Toyota Corolla when we get to 3 kids, but minivans just seem so expensive and maybe not the right way to go.

    So I'm excited to see what others say!

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  14. We have 3 children and we are very comfortable with a Ford Galaxy 7 seater. I hope you are helped.
    With this occasion I thank you for all your posts. You have been helpful for many times.

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  15. Are you selling the Liberty? We might be interested depending on how much you're selling it for. I don't know how much longer the 23 year old Acura, (that my parents bought the year I was born), is going to hold up... I love that car, but it sure doesn't feel new. ;)

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  16. I have 3 kids in the Pilot (1,3,5). I have really loved it and have been driving my used one since 2008. It drives fabulous in the snow (I live in UT) and has been great for carrying lots of people or our family and lots of stuff. I usually have all 3 kids sit across the middle seat and the fit just great. I have a really bulky Graco carseat plus a slightly smaller 5 point harness and then I used my infant carrier (with or without base) and now using a booster. My 5 year old even has enough space to buckle herself. We've tried another seating arrangement that works too: I put 1/3 of the middle seat down and then put booster and one 5 point harness in back and just one carseat in middle behind driver. That way I could leave the seat laying down for easy in and out for my kids. They love this seating arrangement, but I like them closer and having my cargo space a little more open.

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    1. I have to ask...What kind of booster do you have? I wish I could get a car seat, any car seat to fit in my Pilot's 3rd row. I have a 2004, maybe that is the difference.

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  17. I have a mini van and love it. You don't have to worry about the kids opening the car doors and accidentally hitting the car you are parked next to, or something in your garage. Also by taking out one of the seats in the 2nd row, it opens up a path to the 3rd row so my son can get it super easy. The last row of seats fold flat and give so much cargo room for any big project supplies you might need to haul. And our Honda mini van looks kind of sporty in my opinion, plus it gets better gas mileage than the SUVs out there. The doors, easy 3rd row access and better gas mileage than comparable SUVs is why we bought one about a year ago and I've loved it ever since. I blogged about it here if you want to check it out:http://controllingcraziness.blogspot.com/2011/12/luxury.html
    Best of luck in your decision. SUV's are cool and I'll go back to getting one when the kids are all grown. Mini vans are just so practical. OK, enough trying to persuade you to get one. :)

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  18. I only have my 2nd baby on the way - so I don't have much first hand knowledge. But my grandparents have a chevy traverse and my husband & I always said that if we have a third, that'll be the vehicle we get.
    It's amazing the space in there. We've only ever put the one car seat in, but my grandparents bought it to fit themselves, plus another couple and all the golfing bags/gear 4 people need, so I imagine 3 carseats would be no problem! My 3 yr old daughter can climb in & out of her seat - a big bulky graco nautlius - much better than she can in our Jeep and because they have a moon roof in their traverse, she thinks it's the best thing ever!!!
    I love my Jeep too (though it's a Compass) and it will be a sad sad day if I ever have to trade it in!

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  19. I have to say, I have a Chrysler Pacifica 2008 and absolutely love it!! The back seat has 2 captains chairs and the third row has seats that fold down when not in use. For me I have two girls and I loved the captains chairs as they are not on top of eachother. It has a DVD player along with headphones so I don't have hear where Dora is trying to go....the dash also has a rear camera to see things when you back up...love that. Also, the captains chairs easily fold down so anyone can get back to the 3rd row easily. Good luck with your search.

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  20. First we had a Montana minivan when all the kids were in carseats: pros: AWESOME on gas, I mean, we could go 1000 kms on one tank (I don't know what that is in miles), sliding doors were great for babies, tons of space in the trunk. (I am anti mini van as well, but for sake of ease I have to admit she was great)
    Last year we went car shopping again and we tested the Ford Flex, Honda Pilot and the GMC Acadia. The ford was my pick for being quirky and cute, but didn't hold enough in the trunk (we actually took both boys hockey bags to make sure they fit in the trunk with all the seats up) The Honda Pilot was a little out of what we wanted to spend, and same thing with the trunk. We settled on the Acadia 8 seater. (my kids are older so they can sit straight across now and fit nicely. Don't think it would be as easy with a carseat or two) The back row folds down completely, and you can get half your house into it quite nicely!
    The gas tank is smaller, but the mileage is comparable to the minivan. Good Luck!!

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  21. I'm a minivan girl because I absolutely refuse to spend (and we don't go into debt for cars) a fortune on a vehicle. I get the minivan hatred thing-- I take a lot of guff from my hoity toity neighbs. It's kind of a funny dynamic in Utah, actually.

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  22. I used to be anti mini van too, drove a Jeep, Honda CRV, and a Tahoe, and I have to say I am glad my husband had me try a van. I love my Dodge Caravan now, captain's chairs and stow and go seating are amazing. Wish he could have convinced me sooner. Maybe see if you can rent or borrow one, I wouldn't want my husband unhappy either but I know I had a lot of preconceived notions too and they are all gone now after actually using my van.

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  23. Okay so full disclosure is that I have a minivan and love it - I got a Honda Odyssey last year and it's been amazing for a whole ton of reasons. I was very anti-minivan for a long time but once I realized how much easier it is to get the kids in AND that it's tricked out like a rocket ship, I was in.

    Fortunately, as it turns out, because we found out recently that we are expecting twins (praise God) and we would NOT be fitting four children into anything else!

    But - all of that said - have you considered the late model Rav 4? We have one of those as well and LOVE it. You can definitely put three carseats across the back easily (have done it many times) and one of the things I love about it is that the back seats slide forwards a little bit to get you an extra 12" or so of trunk room if you need it (hellooooo strollers). I can put my bike in there as well as my 6 year olds without uninstalling carseats. The other thing is because the spare tire is on the back of the car (instead of inside) there is a whole ton of extra room in the trunk. We were shocked when we were looking for cars to discover that the Rav had more room in it than the Honda Pilot. It's also better on gas than some of the typical larger model SUVs.

    Anyway - just food for thought. Happy shopping :).

    xo

    Christy.

    P.S. I should add that I live in Ottawa, in Canada and we are NO STRANGER to ridiculous amounts of snow and ice and freezing rain and blah. Both of my cars - the Rav and the Honda Odyssey handle just fine.

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  24. Good luck on finding something! I personally LOVE toyotas. They do last a long time, and if you maintain them well, they will be very dependable for you. I drive a 4 runner, but only have one kid right now so I don't know how it would do with 3 carseats. The cargo space in the back is awesome though. I can fit a full size stroller (chicco) and a jumbo box of diapers AND a costco run in the back. It's awesome. I hope you share what you decided in the end!

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    1. oh and I have to say, I started out with a corolla---we called it the crayon---so I understand your "rollerskate," philosophy. :) The 4 runner feels small to me, even though it's an suv.

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  25. I love my Acadia! My husband is the same way about minivans. We call it our "mani" van:). You do lose trunk space having the third row in use, but I can still fit our travel system stroller back there. Also, like others have said, you can use the 2/3 up and 1/3 down. I have no complaints! Good luck:)

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  26. I knew I was only having 3, and I am very anti minivan. We got a Chevy Impala. It fits 3 carseats comfortably in the back seat, and the trunk is big enough for any big double stroller plus a cooler. Gas mileage is also very reasonable, considering it is a big car. I was also told by everyone that 3 kids means minivan. I think it just depends on what you want to do with your vehicle. I knew 3 was the max we would have of kids, that we like to travel to grandma and grandpa's more often(it is important to see those important people), and that I didn't want to be stuck paying for a vehicle and then not being able to REALLY use it.
    Good luck!

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  27. I have a Buick Enclave, similar to the Traverse and Acadia. LOVE it. however, I only have 2 kids. I thought I wanted Captains Chairs but so glad we didnt get them - picture this: Your newborn is screaming and you want to sit in the back with them , oh wait, you cant! There isnt a seat in the middle!!! Also as another person noted if you need the 3rd row for a passenger your trunk space gets very small - although they do split 60/40 so that is nice. The 2nd row is pretty big and if you got narrow seats you could put all three in the 2nd row. Good Luck with your decision!

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  28. If you are pro minivan and hubs is not, you may want to see if you can rent one for a day. My hubs was very anti-minivan as well. I too wanted him to be happy but he figured it was my vehicle so we decided to buy a van. The first time we loaded up and went on a trip in my Honda he looked at me in amazement and thought it was the best thing ever. No, I did not say I told you so. Driving a minivan feels like driving a car. It was heaven after struggling to park a Suburban for years.

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  29. When we were having our 3rd we tried to have 3 car seats across in my Chevy lumina but during the trial run my daughter pinched her fingers between the car seats....no go. We bought a Chrysler Town & Country...hubby called it the dork mobile but I love it....it was so easy to get to everything and everyone. He took it one weekend to a football game with 5 friends....he came back calling it the swagger wagon and loved it. No problems in the winter. We sold it a few years ago and got a honda pilot...I wanted another van but the kids are older and one of them might end up driving the Pilot. I love the SUV but it is not as easy to move around inside between the rows and with all three rows up there isn't much room in the back. We looked at Highlanders but there was even less room between rows and in back. My son is now 6'2" and has to always sit up in the front seat.

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  30. I know you're anti-minivan but I'm going to say it anyway: my Toyota Sienna is awesome! We only have two kids right now but we were often running out of space in our Liberty and decided more space were necessary. It's AWD and loaded with a dvd player, automatic doors, heated leather seats, and my favorite - two captains chairs. My kids carseats go there and the backseat is used anytime we drive other people, or more frequently when we take trips to Lowes or Costco. It drives wonderfully in the Utah snow and my mother insists it feels like she's driving her Lexus. Best of all, our gas and insurance rates haven't gone up from our days with the Jeep Liberty! I'm sure whatever you decide will be the best for your family. Good luck!

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  31. For car seats, there are several great ones that can do three across. Look at Diono Radian convertible seats, Safety First Go Hybrid harness to booster, Graco Turborider among other boosters and for an infant bucket seat, look at a Sungride 30 or Keyfit30.

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  32. I have a 2011 Acadia. I've had it for 1.5 years. Bought it used at Rand's in North SLC. They usually have a bunch of used ones for a good price. I bought it in 2011 with 27K miles for about 29,500. I could sell it today for 28k easy! So I am grateful I made the purchase because I feel like I could sell it easily with no loss.

    I love the captains chairs, I only have two kiddos, though. If Rex can belt himself in, then l would say go for it. If not, it will be a pain to climb in and put his seatbelt on. The third row is not very comfortable, but I love that it folds flat and we have it for when we have company. I love the back up camera.

    I am NOT a fan of the gas mileage. I live up a steep, long hill and I don't drive on the interstate often and I only get about 15-16 MPG. My dad gets better than that in his TAHOE. My friends just got a highlander and it gets much better mileage.

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  33. Love my Acadia. I am on my 2nd one. We bought our first one with 10,000 miles and made money off of it after 18 months. When I first started driving one my children were 20 months(twins) and 1 month old. I highly recommend the captains chairs. Now they are 6 and 4. I am thinking that we will need something with a bigger trunk once they have sports equipment.

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  34. All of you minivan haters are missing out!! :)You get a bang for your buck when you buy a minivan. Space and sliding doors are sooo nice!! And gas is not more than any of the other cars mentioned. If you do switch, go with honda odessey or toyota sienna. Very reliable. Seriously, go price mini vans compared to the cars you are looking at and at the very least test drive one. I feel very cool driving my mini van especially since we have NO CAR PAYMENTS. Had a big down payment and paid the car off in less than a year. Couldn't have done that if we choose a more expensive car. So I guess my real opinion on cars would be to buy a car that you can afford to pay with cash at best or be able to pay off quickly. Paid off cars are the coolest to drive.

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  35. We just purchased a '12 Acadia Denali. (I, too, am decidedly against minivans.) Although this is primarily my husband's car, we chose it for the third row and for carpooling. While we both really like it, it does not have near the giddyup and power as our old Chevy Tahoe. From a female perspective, it's great, from a hubby/man's perspective, it's lacking a bit in power/oomph.

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  36. My kids are the same ages as yours and we just had our 3rd a few months ago. We are here in Salt Lake too and had the same concerns you had listed. I wanted an SUV where I could put all 3 kids on the second row so I could reach them while I was driving if they needed snacks or drinks. I also needed a 3rd row to pick up an extra preschooler for carpool a couple times a week and wanted the versatility to put some of the seats down and carry large items while still having my kids in the car. We ended up going with a 2002 Ford Explorer because we were wanting to stay under $5000 and someone had told us we could get more car for the money with a Ford Explorer. It's a good size SUV, not too big and not too small. It's got a 3rd row if you need it and the 3rd row is actually a comfortable seat not just a jump seat. If you don't need it, it just folds flat for more storage space. I have 2 booster carseats in the back for the preschoolers that can buckle in themselves and just have one of the seats in the second row folded down so they can climb back. We have really enjoyed ours so I would recommend the Ford Explorer or maybe even a Chevy Trailblazer.

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  37. I had an Acadia as a rental and hated it. And I'm a GM girl! I was so surpised. It just felt crammed. I thought it was because I am tall but my small mom didn't like it, either, when she test drove one.

    My in-laws have a Highlander which we've borrowed at times and it's quite nice. Great for towing, etc. it felt roomier than the Acadia. And doesn't seem to need a lot of service.

    I, too, am anti-minivan (don't like being pegged as a minivan type) and we just got an Equinox which my husband digs. Both Highlander and Equinox would perform well on your mountain roads, etc.

    Good luck on your search! My Grand Prix coupe is ten years old and everyone scoffs at me not having a minivan for two children. But I like it. Just like you like your Jeep. :) and think of all the gas $$ we've saved! Ha.

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  38. I had an Acadia as a rental and hated it. And I'm a GM girl! I was so surpised. It just felt crammed. I thought it was because I am tall but my small mom didn't like it, either, when she test drove one.

    My in-laws have a Highlander which we've borrowed at times and it's quite nice. Great for towing, etc. it felt roomier than the Acadia. And doesn't seem to need a lot of service.

    I, too, am anti-minivan (don't like being pegged as a minivan type) and we just got an Equinox which my husband digs. Both Highlander and Equinox would perform well on your mountain roads, etc.

    Good luck on your search! My Grand Prix coupe is ten years old and everyone scoffs at me not having a minivan for two children. But I like it. Just like you like your Jeep. :) and think of all the gas $$ we've saved! Ha.

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  39. I drive a Ford Flex. We got it right before baby #2, and I have loved every minute of it, even now that we have a 5 yr old , almost 3 yr old, and a 10 month old. We have captains chairs, and the baby is in the passenger one, and then the preschooler and toddler are in the third row. The other captains chair flips down with the push of a button for easy access to the third row, or for me, when I need to sit in the back with the littles. It is so NOT a minivan, but also not an SUV, and gets great gas mileage. We have had it in the hills/little mountains of TN, and in the flat yucky-winter NW OH, and it's been great in both locations. Worth checking out, in my opinion.

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  40. As your Sister, I'm telling you DON"T BUY GM, FORD or CHRYSLER! We had BAD luck with all 3. I would go for Acura, Lexus, Honda, Infiniti or Toyota. All have great option SUV's with 3rd rows. We loved our Pilot and also liked the test drive with infiniti and acura.
    Jeff is kind of a car guru. He knows whats up.
    Best of luck.
    Love you all :)

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  41. As your Sister, I'm telling you DON"T BUY GM, FORD or CHRYSLER! We had BAD luck with all 3. I would go for Acura, Lexus, Honda, Infiniti or Toyota. All have great option SUV's with 3rd rows. We loved our Pilot and also liked the test drive with infiniti and acura.
    Jeff is kind of a car guru. He knows whats up.
    Best of luck.
    Love you all :)

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  42. Love love love my Mazda5 - it's a car pretending to be a minivan - sliding passeger doors, captains chairs for passenger row plus pop up third row of seats that can take carseats but it still feels like a car....not sure how well it would manage in the snow though.

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  43. I do the mini-van but if I could I'd get a swaggerwaggon--google it the commercials are FUNNY!

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  44. You probably don't want to hear this. I didn't like minivans either, but when we started looking at SUVs and compared them to minivans, I noticed one main difference: minivans are built for comfort and convenience! I tried out the back seats of the SUVs and the middle seat was always a little less comfortable than the front seats. The back seats are basically a hard board with some leather over it. I realized that if we took a road trip and I had kids on those seats, it wouldn't take long before they were miserable and making me miserable too. We ended up with a Honda Odyssey, and I love it. The new models don't look so minivanish in my opinion. you could almost mistake one for an SUV. Since we got it, we've had all 3 kids in the middle row so we can reach them. We easily have fit a booster, an infant seat (and the middle portion shifts forward so we had the infant easier to reach), and a combination seat in that row. Now, we have 2 boosters an a combination seat. They fit great. I love the features it has such as the navigation system and a USB in the glove box where I can hook up my iPod and use the car controls to navigate it-- even voice command.
    Plus, I no longer have to do the car door shuffle. I always had to help the kids out of the car and then have them move out of the way (but not too far so they weren't running out into a parking lot) so I could shut the door without smacking them in the head with it. I love the automatic sliding doors!

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  45. Toyota all the way! They are so amazing; we currently own 2 - one car and one SUV. Three rows, plenty of space, and great pricing!

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  46. I have 3 neighbors that drive Honda Pilots....very cute and stylish and not too big.

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  47. My husband is also seriously anti-minivan. We were in the same boat, not knowing what would work. I hadn't even heard of the Ford Flex, but we got one and LOVE it. It was a lot shorter than all the other SUVs so it doesn't look or feel enormous on the outside. It has 3-row seating or you can fold the back flat so you can make a huge trunk space, which is great for road trips. The middle seat folds all the way forward with the push of a button, so you could put the boys in the back and the baby in the middle row and everyone could get in and out easily. Good luck with your search!

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  48. I'm the anti-minivan one in my house. I know, shocking, a Mormon mom with three kids who is anti-minivan. We have the GMC Acadia and love it. While the trunk space isn't as large as a minivan, it is larger than other midsize SUVs we looked at, like the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot. We have the captains seats and have the baby in one and the 3-year old in the other since we still have to buckle her. Our 6-year old is in the back on the 1/3 side. The trunk fits a grocery shopping trip or a stroller and a few grocery bags. We can fold down the 2/3 side if we need more space for a Costco trip, an overnight trip, or bikes and scooters. We all love the built-in DVD player and wireless headphones for long trips. It drives well and has some nice features, our favorite being the seat memory. You can program your key fobs to put the driver's seat in different positions. It's perfect for my husband and me because he is 6'5" and I am 5'8" and we were constantly moving our seats back and forth in our old car, now it's automatic. My husband really likes that you can fold the side-view mirrors in, but I don't really use that option. Good luck!

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  49. We have 5 kids now, and looked at the Highlander and Pilot way back when (when we were having our third), but decided to go with a Toyota Sequoia..which we LOVE, but it is bigger, so maybe not for you. We have neighbors that love their Acadia, and also have several with Pilots. In my opinion the Highlander would be too small. We looked at one and the back seat is TINY..ok for little kids but not really anyone else. Good Luck!

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  50. We're an anti-minvan family as well. When we outgrew our Rav4 we decided to step away from Toyota (the only make I had ever driven) due to their increasing safety issues and we really wanted to buy American. We test drove the Acadia and found it just didn't have enough power. We live "at elevation" (about 5,000 ft) and we found it was just a slug when merging on the interstate. The other thing that I didn't love about the Acadia was all the crome around the console/steering. We live in a very sunny place and during the test drive all that bling was blinding me with reflective sunlight every which way. The Buick version was better than GMC in this regard since it has less crome and more wood. In the end we purchased the Ford Flex with the captain seat option. We got the EcoBoost version, so plenty of power (V8 twin turbo) and there are plenty of creature comforts too. I'm 5'4" and my husband is 6'4" so finding a car we can both driving comfortably is a challenge. I highly recommend you take it for a drive to compare. I know the look isn't for everyone (think Beach Boys style Woody crossed with a hearse) but it's super functional and the light colored roof really keeps the car cool when parked in the hot sun.

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  51. I was anti-minivan when I was pregnant with my third. My husband talked me into test driving all of them (I test drove a lot of things) and I still didn't want one till I drove the Toyota Sienna. I LOVED the way it drove. It reminded me of the Ford Edge we had before the mini-van. It drives more like an SUV then the other vans, it's a smooth ride. Having sliding doors makes a huge difference and my kids (now 2,4 and 7) have no issue getting in and out of it. Plus it's got plenty of room to haul stuff around, like a stroller and your groceries. We bought a couch from Ikea the other weekend (two hours away) and were able to get it, our kids and our luggage from a weekend away back home.

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  52. Alright I know your hubby is anti minivan. I get it. My husband is too, thats why we bought a honda pilot last year. Now, I love my honda pilot, she's pretty, rides smooth, has great space and isn't the typical mom car. However I so wish we had a minivan. We have two girls, 3 and 4 months. Both of our girls fit great in the car, but put a stroller in the back (with the seats down!) and there isn't much room for anything. But really what is the biggest bummer about the pilot and any SUV for that matter is the lack of sliding doors. I know I won't be carting my baby's car seat around forever but right now with her being so little I'm taking her car seat in and out of the car all the time. My three year old sits behind the driver seat and my baby sits behind me, plenty of room in between them which I love, but there have been times when a car has parked too close to my car and I literally can not get the car seat into my car. Since the car is too close, I can't open the door wide enough to get my carseat in and I can't get a car seat over my child's booster seat on the other side! I've literally had to wait in the parking lot, at church or inside the store until someone comes out and moves their car. Not the end of the world and hasn't happened that much but both times were super annoying and I just wished I sliding doors on my car. ;) Good luck! Getting a new car is so exciting!

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  53. I married into a family that does EXTREME research before making purchases (large ones) which can be slightly frustrating but I am very grateful for it. So that being said I too am anti minivan. I just feel like they're ENORMOUS, my pet car was a neon <3... So the thought of a minivan just never appealed to me. However when my brother-in-law and his wife found out they were expecting baby number 3 they knew they had to get a bigger car than their sedan. After all the researching they came to find out that the Honda Odyssey actually gets better gas mileage and is cheaper than most of the SUV's out there. Which basically means more bang for you buck. When the time comes even though I'd love a cross-over/ SUV for our gang (working on baby #2 right now) we'll probably invest in a Honda Odyssey. But the enclave is so beautiful! :D Thought I'd share what our research has shown :D So excited for you!

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  54. Look into a Volvo XC90. Super safe, seats 7 passengers but isn't enormous. Many of them have dvd's built in the headrests as well! :) Happy Car Shopping!

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  55. I don't know if you have them in the States, but here in Europe I am very happy with our Renault Kangoo. We only have 2 children, but there is enough space for 3 carseats (I didn't want the car to be a reason not to get another child ;) ). I love the sliding doors (no problem at parkings) and the height (inside space) of the car. There are also similar cars of other brands (Mercedes Citan, Volkswagen Caddy, Peugeot Partner,...).
    The Renault is not expensive at all - at least here in Europe.

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  56. We're big fans of the Toyota Highlander. It's really spacious and has a great option of third row seating. It's kind of an expensive option, but so worth it. My husband's only complaint is that it looks like a soccer mom car. However, at least it isn't a minivan. :)

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  57. We have a Buick Enclave and couldn't be happier!! Our 4 (almost 5) year old can open the door and climb into his seat by himself. The third row has ample leg room as my mom and I ride back there when my parents come to visit! It drives very nicely and doesn't feel huge..I can even park it! Good luck!

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  58. We have a Buick Enclave and couldn't be happier!! Our 4 (almost 5) year old can open the door and climb into his seat by himself. The third row has ample leg room as my mom and I ride back there when my parents come to visit! It drives very nicely and doesn't feel huge..I can even park it! Good luck!

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  59. We are anti mini van too, mostly because I refuse to drive a car that doesn't have good clearance and it must have 4wd... that rules out all mini vans. Anyways, I love my Durango... we just had our 3rd and just started using the 3rd row. My oldest's car seat is back there and he will climb through the middle pass and buckle himself in, it has worked great for us so far. The only negative is that I don't have trunk space anymore... which is why we are starting to think about going the suburban route, we want to have 1 more little one before too long and we will need the space then. Good luck choosing!!

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  60. My parents drive a Toyota 4Runner which fit 2 carseats and booster chair just comfortably. I drove the 4runner around after I got my license and it didn't feel as large as I thought it could be. I drive a coupe now, but being able the see the end of your car (without guessing how much my truck is sticking out) is the best thing ever. I hope you find the right car for you and your husband!

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  61. My two cents: We just had this conversation with a friend who just had her third. We both drive GMC Yukons. Yes it's big, but it's not too big. I LOVED my Jeep Grand Cherokee and was hesistant to get anything else. I felt the same way about the captain's chairs and they were a must. When you're buying used, sometimes lower miles outweigh wants and we ended up with a bench in the middle. I can easily fit 3 carseats in the middle row, or 2 carseats and an adult. When my oldest son moved to the back to make room, we just leave the 1/3 seat folded down and the other two are both in convertible carseats in the middle. I leave the other half of the back seat folded up to make room for groceries, dog, etc. My friend with the captains chairs was trying to get me to trade her our bench because now that she has 3, she wishes she could fit them all in one row. I actually looked into buying captain's chairs for awhile and found a lot of people with them were searching for the bench. In the end, I'm happy it didn't work out with the captain's chairs and we now have the extra seat when we take people. Also, you'll be SHOCKED at how much you can fit in the back with the back seat up. Good luck!

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  62. We had a jeep grand cherokee, and bought a GMC Acadia last November. So far, I love it! I loved my jeep too, and was sad to see it go, but we went from one kid to three when we had our twins. I love the captain chairs too because I didn't want to have to fold down any seats when picking up my older daughter from school, or have any dirty feet on my seats climbing over. I have loved the Acadia. It drives nice, and I love all the extra features ours came with (double sun-roofs, leather, dual ac control, etc.). We also looked at the GMC Yukon XL, but I just felt like I was driving a huge SUV, and it was hard to park. The Acadia drives pretty much like my Jeep. Gas mileage isn't great, but better than my Jeep was. Good luck!

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  63. We had a Jeep Liberty forever too! We had to sell it last year to help pay off a nasty NICU bill and I miss it so much! I would love to hear what you end up choosing for your car because we want a bigger SUV next time.

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  64. P.S. I love your new header! So cute!

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  65. I am a nanny, and work for a family that has an Acadia Denali. I drive it while I'm working. We fit 4 kids ages 2-10 years old in it very comfortably. At one point we had two car seats, and two boosters in it. It doesn't drive like it's a big car, and we can also pack a lot of stuff in it when on vacation (I've been on vacation with them twice). It really is a great car. So great, I wish I could take it home with me ;) Good luck with your choice!

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  66. Why oh why are people so against mini vans? They are fantastically practical and so roomy! In fact, I'm in the process of writing a post now on mini vans and the bad rap they have! Anyway...my anti mini van brother in law just bought the new pathfinder. They have 2 kids, but their nanny needs it for carpool stuff, so they upgraded to a bigger car. I think it has the bucket seats, and an easy way to get to the third row...shows how little I paid attention. I'm just rolling my eyes and wondering why they didn't get a mini van. :)

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  67. We have 2012 Highlander and it is great! It seats 8 and the middle seat in the first row can be pulled out and stored in a small compartment under the console so you end up having captains chairs to allow for toddlers/older kids to easily climb through to the third row. We went from a Kia Sorento to this and I was worried it would feel too much like driving a car vs an SUV but I love it. It is very very roomy. It get s roughly 25MPG. We live in the sweltering heat of AZ so I can't tell you how it drives in snow. Ours is a pretty basic model and we got it brand new for about 22K which I think is cheaper than some of the ones listed above (but I'm not certain) Good luck!

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    1. Wow, that's a great price. We got our 2010 used in 2011 for $36k!!

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  68. a friend of mine drives the Enclave. It seems like a VERY NICE CAR. She lives in the same area as you and it does well in the snow. All of her three kids have lots of space and it is a good way to go. So.. that's my advice!

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  69. I have a Buick Enclave and really like the way it drives. However, when the 3rd row is occupied there isn't much room in the back for a stroller and groceries. And if your child needs help getting out of his seat in the 3rd row it's really narrow between the captain seats. And if the captain seats both have carseats it's difficult to get to the 3rd row.

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  70. Another non-mini van, non SUV option you should consider: SUBARU! It will fit 3 across the back, you can reach everyone while driving if necessary, you still have space for stuff in the back and it isn't so gigantic that gas mileage is pretty decent. Not to mention excellent AWD for snow and other slick conditions.

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  71. We have a Highlander Hybrid and love it. It has 7 seats and it's not a van! :)

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  72. We went through the same purchase a few months ago, not wanting a minivan but wanting some of the flexibility and versatility of a minivan. We ended up getting the Mazda 5 and love it. Captains chairs in the second row make it easy to reach the back row, the back row splits so you can have one seat up and one down for more cargo room. Fun to drive and handle like a car. Downside is not great storage in the back when you have both of the back row seats up. But it's really inexpensive! We are super happy with it.

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  73. Ha Ha, I've had my jeep liberty for 9 nine years too! We only have two little ones right now but the time is quickly approaching that I too will need something different. Good luck with your search. I have loved my jeep. I'm petite and everything about the Liberty fit me well so I dread finding a car that fits me and my children.

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  74. Congrats on baby #3... I hope to find out that we are in your same position in a few weeks. ;)

    As to vehicles... goodness, it's a hard decision as they are so expensive. Just in the last year, we've made that decision, however, and here are my thoughts, for what they're worth.

    Our boys will be 5 yrs and 3 yrs in the next two months; they are 23 mos apart to the day. Right before our Emmitt was born we bought a Toyota Sienna as I had a GMC Envoy. I loved my van. VERY opposed to it for a long time, but we lived 6 hrs from family, and it was the most practical for the money. And it turned out to be perfect. Fast forward two years. We moved back "home", and although I loved my van, our boys were 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, and we thought we were done with babies so we bought a new Toyota Highlander... love, love, love it. My favorite vehicle ever. We haven't missed the room in the van one time. However... we want another baby. Soooo... in the fall, closer to the we've-said-a-prayer-for-a-winter-baby's arrival, we will trade for another van. The highlander is perfect for a family of four, but there's no way we could make it with three kids. Esp after having had a van.

    With that said, I would encourage you to do some homework on vehicle reviews, etc., and more importantly spend a day test-driving. It will help you make a smart decision that's best for your family.

    Good Luck! Your blog is so enjoyable, and I can relate so often having two boys. Hoping for a 3rd girl, but another boy will be great, too. God knows what we need at our house. :)

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  75. I saw your car post and have to tell you that I have a 2006 Jeep Commander; we bought it in 2009 with only 38,000 miles on it. With our kids grown up it's not a "daily" thing to have 3 kids in the jeep. But, sometimes we have 3 of the grands with us and since there is stadium seating with a 3rd row of 2 seats it seats 7 with no problem. We do have a sky box for the top of the jeep if we need it for extra storage space. But the kids/and us are comfortable and I really do enjoy the size/comfort. Granted, they are harder to find now. But jeep's are still really good for our area here in Utah.
    Jean C.

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  76. I don't usually comment but we just went through this same transition as you and settled on the Toyota Highlander. I love it. I live in the same city you do. My husband was anti mini van too and I really didn't care either way so we got the highlander. We were trying to decide between the Mazda CX7 and the Highlander and in the end the Highlander won because the middle seat in the second row comes out so I knew the kids could get back and forth between the last two rows with relative ease without having to slide the second row seats (which would have a booster on it) every time. That was really important to me.

    Other than that, I could have gone with any of them. But the more I drive my car the more I love it (except for the gas mileage, but it has helped me be more aware of the gas it takes to get places and now I am a lot more efficient with my errands). It handles like a car and has the most phenomenal turning radius (handy for parking lots). The only problem is that once you put the third row up, there is basically no trunk space. My sister solved that problem with hers by buying a car top carrier (they have four kids now) that they use whenever they go on road trips. And I know that people love Toyotas and it will keep a pretty good resale value. Except we are definitely planning on driving this puppy into the ground! :)

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  78. I don't drive one, cause I'm not at the point where I need a vehicle that large and I'm cheap, but bother my sister's in law drive GMC Acadias and LOVE them! My sister in law Hilary loves hers so much that's she sworn to never own another vehicle BUT an Acadia. I have to say, I went with her for the test drive and I really loved it too. Maybe someday. We just upgraded from our sedan to a van for the same reason as you, only we're on number 2 not number 3.

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  79. Another Vote for the Chevy Traverse! We got a used 2012 last summer and we LOVE it. It's got the captain chairs in the middle row and the back row is easy to access. It also does great in the snow here in Wisconsin.

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  80. We love our Enclave!! Easily fits the 3 kids, dog, friends, strollers. I would not trade it for anything! I've had it for 4.5 years and have had no problems mechanical,y or fitting in all of our stuff. It is awesome! Stability control has worked beautifully in the WI winters. Grown ups can fit in the third row fairly comfortably even with car seats in the 2nd row. I have sat in the way back a few times when we give Yaya a ride back home. Basically, it fits us, rides beautifully and I feel super safe. Good luck!! Let me know if you have any questions I can answer. Hugs from WI!

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  81. We have a Toyota 4-Runner and love it. I know it is not on your list, but we have three kids so I thought I'd share.
    I can fit two big car seats and one booster seat in the one row. Then it comes with a third row, which seats two. Hope this helps, we love it. It does great in the snow (we live in Alaska) and it's not too big, which I also love.

    I hope you find a good one!

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  82. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has 6 captain chairs, you can also get it in seven seats (seventh seat isn't a captain). It is awesome! Gets better gas mileage too. Good luck!

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  83. We were in your same position and went with the Acadia. I absolutely love it! The captains chairs have been awesome with a baby, 3 yr old and my 5 yr old sits in the back and can buckle herself. My mom has a toyota highlander which is nice, but it would be a big pain to have to flip the seat up and down if you need the back row. The middle seat in the middle row (follow me?!) is very small. Very small! It is pretty tricky to fit 3 carseats there. We are really happy with our choice of the acadia! Good luck!

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  84. I love my GMC Acadia,, the 3rd row is awesome. Bought it when we couldn't find a used Chevy Traverse.

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  85. Just an FYI, there is a brand of car seat that you can get to fit 3 across the back. I have a Mistubishi Outlander, and instead of buying a "new" van with $$ we didn't have, we invested in 2 Diono Radian car seats (my older son is in a booster). I think for 3 car seats you only need 52" across the back seat. For us, investing in 2 car seats versus a new vehicle made waaaay more sense. http://www.sears.ca/product/diono8482-radian-r100-shadow-stages-iii-car-seat/632-000883546-16620?extid=ca_1search_2en_3gogl_4Productfeeds_5kidbaby&gclid=CNzT0MfmwLYCFc9AMgod9z4ARQ

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  86. We are adding #5 and #6 to our family this year (twins) and have been driving a Honda Odyssey. I don't get why people are "anti-mini-van". You need to own one and see how incredibly easy it is to get kids in and out of it- especially with the sliding doors that you push a button to open. In fact, we have done a lot of research- since we will have to put 3 car seats across- and found that the widest cars for that are Toyota Siennas for certain years only. They are actually wider than suburbans or other SUV's. We tried the other SUV's and found that it would just be best if a mini-van could work. -Easier to sit in for long trips, and WAY easier to load kids in and out. It really depends what is important to you- but I say give a mini-van a chance!!

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  87. Hopefully I'm not repeating anyone else up there but I had to comment and share my experience!

    I have a GMC Acadia after my dream car (Volvo XC90) died on me.

    I LOVE the captains chairs with my kids. It's a minivan disguised as an SUV.


    BUT I've had crazy issues with the sunroofs leaking. MAJOR. And I have 4 friends with the same issues. So my advice is if you go for the Acadia to just not get sunroofs. They look cool but it is NOT fun for your entire roof to be soaked. And it can also fry the computer system! :) good luck!

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  88. I have a Honda Element and installed three radian car seats across the back.
    The radian car seats are slim at the bottom, and they fold up too. When the baby arrived, he was rear- facing in an infant seat in the middle, with his two brothers to look at! Perfect! Radian car seats can change your perfect Jeep Liberty into a perfect car for five.
    have fun!

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