At this time last year, we were shopping for a new car. When we planned for a second child, we knew we’d need to replace our Toyota Corolla because it wouldn’t hold two car seats. My main request was a car with power locks so I didn’t have to put everything down to unlock the car. Then when we found out we having twins, we knew we’d really need to do some serious car shopping. In fact when we told people we were expecting twins, they often replied with “so, I guess you’ll be buying a minivan.” With a brother-in-law with three kids who sells cars, we knew where to start. He assured us we’d need a minivan, so we test drove a couple of different minivans.
I’ve always driven small cars, and the thought of driving a huge minivan was scary. Plus, I didn’t really want to be a “minivan” parent with all that implied. I endured a few more test drives until we settled on a Toyota or Honda minivan as the best options for safety, layout, fuel efficiency, features, etc. We didn’t like the dealership after the test drive for the Toyota, so we decided to try another dealership.
In between, I was curious about car seat arrangements in the vans so I called the health unit to talk with the nurse who runs the car seat clinic. She answered my questions, including “is it possible to fit three car seats in a car?” She said that yes, in a full size sedan you can fit three car seats. I did some more research on the topic at http://www.car-seat.org. (They have a great forum where parents share questions and information about car seat safety. Many of the participants are trained car seat inspectors.)
So, armed with two borrowed baby seats and our son’s car seat, we headed to another dealership. We tried installing the seats in a number of different cars. And, guess what, it is possible to fit three car seats in a car. So, we abandoned the idea of buying a minivan and settled on a Toyota Camry instead.
Now, with 11-month-old twins and a three-year-old, the Camry is serving us well. There is room for three car seats and the double stroller fits in the trunk. We can pack enough stuff, including a playpen, for a weekend trip to visit family. But, we really look out of place at our local twin and triplets club events where we’re almost the lone car among the vans and SUVs.
I have to admit there are some limitations to having a car. We can’t take any extra passengers, adult or children. So, to make our playschool car pool work, I have to borrow our friends’ minivan. It has only been a few weeks, but I can already see the advantages of a minivan when come to loading and unloading children, and buckling car seats. The van doors that open with the push of a button are nice when you’ve got a couple of three-year-olds with their backpacks to get to and from playschool.
So, I’m guessing at some point, we’ll be back on the market for a minivan. Maybe it won’t be until the children are ready for hockey or some other sport that requires hauling equipment, or maybe it will be much sooner when the girls outgrow their baby seats and we have to figure out how to buckle in three children every time we leave the house.
What decisions did you make about vehicles? Did you buy a minivan or not? What suggestions would you have for other parents making this decision?