Wanted: a parents’ car that’s cool
Parents with two youngsters want a vehicle to carry a third adult as well as two child seats. We check the options.
My wife and I have a daughter, four, and one-year-old son, so we are deep into baby seats life. We'd like to fit a third person in the rear from time to time, and our current VW Passat wagon won't do this. We're changing our car seats to narrower ones, and want a second car, either a seven-seater or larger five-seater. We don't need 4WD or towing ability, just something cool to move people in.
Child seats are so big these days it makes squeezing an adult between two of them a battle, even in large sedans and SUVs. Getting slimmer child seats will help but in your case the smarter move would be an occasional seven-seat SUV. Why? You have two kids now, a third may come along and you don't want to replace your car yet again. Fear not, seven-seaters can be cool.
Mazda CX-9 Sport FWD, $47,990 drive-away
It's the entry-level CX-9 but its excellent standard kit - especially the safety suite - delivers solid value. Third row seats fit an adult quite well, while child seat tethers for the rearmost chairs means your daughter could ride safely. Smooth and effortless to drive, the CX-9 comes with family-friendly three-zone climate control. Goodies for you? Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, radar cruise control and satnav. Plus the 2.5-litre turbo ensures rapid, if sometimes thirsty, progress.
Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 132TSI Comfortline, $49,652 drive-away
The Tiguan is one of the sharpest looking and finest driving SUVs on the market and the longer-wheelbase Allspace is your seven-seat option. The two rear seats are cramped for adults but serve well for short trips. You'd have to wait for your daughter to be out of her car seat to use the third row, as it lacks child seat tethers. Great turbo engine is joined by such goodies as tri-zone climate control, power tailgate, navigation and Apple CarPlay. It's strong on safety features but servicing is expensive.
Peugeot 5008 Allure, $48,834 drive-away
Unconventional choice but it has the required coolness factor and it's one of the few that can fit an adult between two car seats in the middle row. There are three proper individual seats here and the two third-row chairs - kids-only really - will prove useful if your family expands. The 5008 looks gorgeous, there's a premium funky feel inside, a long list of active safety gear, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging, hands-free tailgate, nav and 360-degree camera. Five-year warranty appeals but resale value hurts.
Skoda Kodiaq Sportline AWD 132TSI, $51,490 drive-away
You don't need all-wheel drive but don't discount the big Skoda. As the kids get older, you'll be eager for adventures and the Kodiaq can get to those hard-to-reach spots. Main cabin space is huge but third row seats don't have child seat tethers and, as in the Tiguan, will be most useful when your kids get older. The Sportline trumps the rest for style with 20-inch wheels and Alcantara/leather sports seats, is strong on safety, quite economical, full of smart touches for family life and is a great all-round drive.
A strong list to choose from. The Skoda and Peugeot are your less common cool kids. The CX-9 probably suits you best now and for years to come with roomier third row seating that's good for adults and has child seat tethering.