Having twins doesn’t mean you have to buy a minivan

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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?

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27 thoughts on “Having twins doesn’t mean you have to buy a minivan”

  1. Great timing on this post! I’ve got 2 year old twins and we are expecting baby #3 on Monday! Right now I drive a Toyota 4Runner. We’ve done the test and we can fit 3 seats across, but BARELY! As much as I would hate to get rid of my 4Runner, I’ve almost got my husband talked into a minivan, but he’s still not 100% convinced.

    I can’t wait to hear what everyone else has to say on this topic!
    .-= Shelley´s last blog ..Thanksgiving =-.

  2. You’re absolutely right, of course. You can fit two, and even three, carseats in many normal sedans or SUVs.

    That said, I went with the minivan and have never regretted it for even a split second. The remote-control sliding doors, the extra seating, the storage space… holy crap do I love that car. And we haven’t even used the DVD player yet. Blessedly, at 2.5, my kids still don’t know it’s there. I’m saving it for a long drive, before then we can just be blissfully ignorant. :-)

  3. We went with a minivan – right now it’s just our girls, but we plan on a 3rd (someday!)

    We hated giving up our small cars (we both had Mazda 3s) but we really can’t argue how much easier the minivan is, and once we switched from the infant seats to convertibles, we just didn’t all fit in the 3 anymore.

  4. We got a minivan because we are living in Japan. All of the other options were just too small–we’re talking size of a mini small. (Also, kids in Japan aren’t required to ride in car seats, so I am sure that space isn’t an issue for them.) The main reason that we did a van was the extra space for stuff and people. When we have visitors, we need to be able to get around with extra people. I don’t know what we will do when we move back to the states. I dread driving the mommy van, but what do you do when you have friends, family, and your children’s friends to transport? It really is a tough decision.

  5. When we found out 3 years ago that we were having twins, my in-laws offered us their minivan…for free. We had always said we would never drive a minivan, but a free vehicle is tough to pass up. Now with 3 under 3 and number 4 on the way, I’m glad we have it. I can’t wait to upgrade to a foreign model someday.
    .-= Joanna´s last blog ..Cute faces =-.

  6. I loved my Honda Accord and was saddened to trade for a Honda Oddessy but it has been so great! Plenty of space for all our stuff, grandparents, and now especially with Kid 3 on the way. The sliding doors are key! And I love that the big windows go down too (unlike old minivans).

  7. I could have written this post! When we discovered we were having twins, we too had to get a new car because three car seats would not fit in our Toyota Prius. We went to numerous dealerships with three car seats in tow and found the new 2009 Subaru Forester fit all three. I couldn’t face the thought of having to drive a minivan and it seemed to be a good compromise between a Prius and a minivan.

    Our Forester works well for now but I definitely can appreciate the virtues of a minivan now that the twins are here. We’re hoping in the next couple of years Toyota or Honda will come out with a hybrid minivan because getting a fuel efficient car is important to us.
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Babies =-.

  8. We were able to make due with two cars seats (first infant seats, then Britax Roundabouts) in the back of our 05 Toyota Corolla for 17 months. However, once we stopped using the double snap n go, there was no room for anything in the trunk except our Kolcraft Contours Options Tandem stroller (it is quite bulky). So it was impossible to do any shopping when I had the kids with me, and a pain to have to remove and store the stroller when I needed the trunk space. So this past summer, we did bite the bullet and traded in my husband’s old Celica for a Toyota Sienna. But we only did so because we found a great deal on a 2000 Sienna. It doesn’t have all the great features of the newer models, but it was well maintained by the dealership, it runs great, and I am loving all the room we now have.
    .-= reanbean´s last blog ..Oh Where Oh Where Have the Boy Baby Dolls Gone? =-.

  9. Like most of us, I vowed “never” to drive a mini-van, but I’m really glad we got it. We decided on a Honda Odyssey because though our twins are our first we’d like to have a third someday and with all the gear and crap for twins it just seemed to be the most economical option for both money and space. Plus, we don’t have a usable garage to store stuff so it’s nice to have the extra space for strollers, etc. With the back seat down we can fit a double jogger, double umbrella and a TON of other stuff. I never have to worry about space. Also, living in the city with lots of tiny parking spots and parallel parking, I love the sliding doors vs. doors that swing out. I had a lot of postpartum back/hip problems and not having to bend over to buckle the babies in was also a lifesaver. It also works GREAT for the few times we’ve gone on trips and needed someone to drop us off at the airport. I’m not sure what we would’ve done otherwise. I also like the option of flipping the back seat up to sit back with the kids if need be [keeping them awake on longer trips home so they will nap at home vs. the car — a HUGE plus!].

    I have heard great things about Toyota’s too. I’ve only driven Honda’s and the Odyssey drives just like my accords did [only a bit longer!]. You get used to it pretty fast.

    One non-minvan option I have though about is the Chrysler Pacifica. I believe it has three rows of seats and the back one folds down.

  10. My hubby was dead set against a minivan, so we compromised and I got the GMC Acadia. Even though I LOVED my sporty G6, we didn’t think we’d be able to make it work, and I didn’t look forward to all the bending over that would be required snapping kids into car seats in a low riding car.

    So, we got the Acadia, and LOVE it even more! There is a TON of cargo room for our jogger, two pack and plays and lots of other stuff, too. I can’t imagine how we’d begin to do it with a car…can’t even fathom it.

    Plus, we do have a third row of seats (that folds down) so if we need to take extra passengers, we can.

  11. My husband was against the minivan option. We chose a Kia Rondo. It’s an SUV/minivan crossover. It *can* have a third row seat, but we don’t have it. Even if we did, putting it in means absolutely no stowing room whatsoever.
    I like it, we got it for a good price, and it has pretty good room for the four of us, but I have minivan envy when looking at the Odyssey, much as I never wanted a minivan. Extra seating and extra storage would be super awesome.
    Going on long overnight trips now means trying to carefully decide between strollers, overnight bedding options, packing clothes lightly, figuring out how to live with boosters instead of high chairs, etc.
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..On Challah and the Blending of Traditions =-.

  12. We were fortunate that when we found out we were having quads a family member sold us his Suburban (he was getting ready to trade it in). It has been wonderful, but even with a Suburban we have no room for extra passengers due to the space the car seats take up. We’re going to be replacing Hubby’s Blazer (not capable of transporting our entire family) within the next year and I’m torn. I don’t even mind going the minivan route, but there still needs to be space for “stuff.” So while I know my family of six will probably never fit in a “car,” this was good post to read to get everyone’s ideas.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Trimming the Tree Preschool Style =-.

  13. We bought a minivan after our first child was born. We’d had a 2-door SUV which just didn’t work with the whole carseat thing. The minivan worked for us so early because we do a long-distance road trip once or twice a year and minivans are really comfy for long trips.

    Last summer, before we found out we were having twins, we bought a Nissan Versa….a tiny, sporty thing that the three of us could tool around town in. Once the twins factored in, the Versa was impossible. So we traded it in for another minivan. I was sad to let the Versa go, but the van works so nicely for the 5 of us. We’re comfy and have enough space.
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..Best Lungs in the South =-.

  14. We bought a Chrysler Town and Country about 3 months ago and I couldn’t be happier! I love my van! We ride around with the twins in the middle rown and with the 3rd row typically folded into the floor so its kind of like a pick up truck in the back. My double stroller, groceries, Christmas gifts, two dogs, kitchen sink, etc… fit without a problem. My husband was totally against it, but just the other day he actually said “why didn’t we get this van sooner?” ha!

    the automatic doors and back gate are essential to the life of a MoM!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..The Thankgiving Rainbow =-.

  15. Within six weeks of having our twins I was desparate for a minivan, but with the economy in the toilet, we decided to wait on an optional expense. We kept my 4Runner and I find that even though we still pack the car to the gills for a long weekend out of town it is manageable now that the girls are a little older and we travel with a little less gear. When they were six months or younger we’d rent a minivan for the weekend, if we were going to travel. In my mind, we are past the crisis point in crap verses space, but there is no doubt in my mind that as soon as this vehicle needs to be replaced we will get a minivan.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog .. =-.

  16. I had a Ford Taurus when the twins were first born. My husband said we have 5 butts in the family we only need a car that holds 5. Then the Taurus broke so we got a used Explorer, still a 5 seater but a bit roomier. I have to say I love both vehicles. They both have lots of room in the trunk and fit 2 car seats and my older daughter in the back just fine. We travel quit a bit and never had any problems fitting baby stuff in the trunk or cargo area. I vowed and still vow to never drive a mini van, hehe. My next car will be a crossover, Acadia or Traverse.
    .-= Staci Dauphine´s last blog ..Toddler times =-.

  17. We originally purchased an Acura MDX when we had our first child … I didn’t want anything to do with a mini van … and we needed a large back area to accomodate our dogs (we hike and camp with them a lot)… but 6 months after our daughter was born, I discovered I was pregnant with twins. My husband was adamant that the MDX would be just fine … turns out it wasn’t and we decided to go with the biggest car we could find that wasn’t an actual bus. We ended up with a GMC Yukon XL. This is the best car I’ve ever driven. I thought it would be hard to drive because it was large but the exact opposite was true. This vehicle is really made for women to drive … I’m 5’2″ and seeing over obstacles was challenging for me in other cars … so being up higher is much better.

    The DVD player I highly recommend. We travel a lot in the car and it is really a must for us. I even us it on short trips when I need a break from the ruckus. The extended space in the back gets used for strollers and stuff … and when we have our dogs with us we use a carrier on the top for the extra stuff.

    But … the only thing I wish it had was the mini van type doors … I can see a super huge value in the doors sliding open instead of swinging open … the kids have a tendency to push the doors open in to other cars next to us, so I constantly have to be on guard for that.
    .-= M´s last blog ..The Gift That Just Keeps On Giving =-.

  18. We have twin 18 m/o and a 5 year old. When the babies were born we swapped our Elantra for my mother’s Taurus and that fit the infant seats and the booster perfectly. When the babies went into forward facing seats, we switched back and everyone fits great and safely, but buckling in the booster is a bit of a pain – the toddler’s don’t like us leaning over to get to big sis. The only problem we have is hair pulling – the girls can reach their big sis and sometimes torture her for laughs (sigh). The in line double stroller fits nicely in the trunk and I can still fit groceries from a small trip. Big shoppings we have to take the stroller out. I look forward to the day we can get a minivan because it’ll be easier all around but this definitely works for now.

  19. We have twins plus one too…and have a minivan. We discovered this summer that the removal of one of the middle seats works wonders for the ease of getting 3 kids in and out…plus gives us a great deal more cargo space for groceries/stollers/etc. The newer vans with the seats that fold into the floor would make this even easier….that’s next on my wish list!

  20. I am in love with our Dodge Duragngo. We bought it used from a family with 3 kids while I was still pregnant with the twins. The thrid row fold down seats are amazing. Folded down the Dodge can carry enough baby gear for a 10 day trip to the in-laws (although who would want to do that;) and with the seats in use we can fit 5 adults and the babies and a dsng or 2 umbrellas strollers. It is a large vehicle and is perfect for our family. I am someone who keeps cars for a while and this will definitely last us through the next several years of (hopefully) more babies, playdates and pre-school trips.
    Trina

  21. prior to the twins, we had two sedans. since my partner’s car was the oldest of the two, and since she would be driving the new car the most, she firmly planted her foot down against a minivan. sure, we could have managed with two car seats in either sedan, but having twins sure made that Honda Pilot justifiable :)

    Having had that car for almost a year and a half now, I can honestly say that we would have NEVER managed trips to see family with just a sedan, as the SUV is chock full when we head out of town.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..It’s Kind Of A Big Deal =-.

  22. I have a PT Cruiser (seats 4 adults) and DH has a Pontiac Vibe (seats 5 adults). Both have been adequate for our family with 13mo twins, plus one medium-sized dog, and the cars have been paid off for several years, which is pretty important considering the crazy bills incurred by IVF and a twin pregnancy/delivery on a high-deductible health plan. We don’t take many road trips, but when we do, we use a rooftop carrier. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get a minivan or anything larger than a small SUV or crossover. Our house and garage were built in the 1920s, when cars were short, and it would be a huge pain to park and load/unload kids with city street parking.

  23. When we found out we were expecting twins, we were still driving a 1999 Ford F-150 and a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We knew one vehicle needed to be traded up. We traded the truck in for a 2008 Ford F-250. I switch back and forth between that and the Jeep. We are having another baby in May, and I cannot fit two Britax Roundabouts and one Graco Snugride in the backseat of the Jeep. It would be a booger to get the infant seat snapped in and out of the middle and it would take moving or wiggling otherwise immovable Roundabouts. I guess the F-250 diesel is going to be my new family vehicle, as all three seats fit nicely in the back seat. I don’t want to add another car payment on top of the hefty truck payment, so it’ll have to do.

  24. 4 weeks ago hubby and I found out we were being blessed with twins. We already have a 3 year old in a front facing seat. We have a 2009 Toyota Camry and need to fit 3 car seats in the back. For obvious reasons we would really prefer to have 2 infant carriers since it’s so much easier to transport the babies in the early months. Does anyone know if this is possible? I’m sure it would take putting our 3 year old in the middle and the twins on either end. A mini-van isn’t really an option right now since my car is so new. Any advice?

  25. Courtney, I don’t know the answer to your question, but I think that Jenna’s technique above might be useful to you. Borrow carseats from neighbours, or even go to your local Babies R Us and see what fits in your car!

  26. Courtney,

    Congratulations and welcome to the blog! We have a 2006 Camry. We looked at an 07, but the backseat space a few inches smaller. That’s why went with the 06. I think you should be able to fit three seats. We put our 2.5 year old son on the driver’s side for a few reasons: (1) it was easier to reach in to buckle him than it would have been if he was in the middle, (2) he could climb in and out by himself, and (3) he was the child who went on trips by himself most often. We couldn’t easily fit the infant seats behind the driver’s seat because the seat had to be moved forward. It wasn’t comfortable for my husband to drive that far forward. We fit 2 Graco infant seats (the standard size not the bigger size) and a forward facing seat. I don’t remember the brand we originally had for our son. We eventually bought him a Radian cart seat, which we paired with 2 rear facing Radians for the girls. Now they are all in forward facing Radians. The fit right now is tight. The seats were easier to put in with 2 rear facing. We are thinking about a booster for our son who is now 5 but I’m not sure how easy it will be to fit in a full back booster. I’m hoping we can put that off at least until the spring or summer. If you want to see pictures, or you have more questions, you can email me at hdydiblog AT gmail DOT com

  27. Ive driven my mini cooper ever since my twins were born! theyre three now and things are finally starting to get a little too tight. Time to car shop!

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