Monday, July 24, 2006

On Disliking SUVs…

Sports Utility Vehicles are gas-guzzling, parking-space-hogging, freeway-crowding machines.

This being said, I am now starting to understand where one might be useful in my life.

Before becoming a parent, I was convinced that kids were small and could therefore fit inside my car. In fact, I believed that I could have up to 2 kids before I needed to upgrade from my 2-door Saturn coupe to a car that could seat more kids. The back seat of my car was small, yes, but remember, so are kids.

Even better was Dan’s 4-door Honda Accord. You could fit at least 3 kids in the back seat of that. And they didn’t even have to squeeze in through the 2 front doors. They get their own doors!

Needless to say, I was wrong. I forgot to consider car seats. I started thinking about this last year when I was pregnant. How am I going to get a car seat into my Saturn? My train of thought was short because it just was physically impossible to put a car seat in the coupe. So we got rid of the Saturn.

But wait, we still have the wonderful and expansive 4-door Honda Accord at our disposal. We can certainly fit at least 2 car seats in there! One behind each front seat, right? But, alas, the mechanics of it failed us again. Since Dan and I have long legs, we have our front driver’s and passenger’s seats moved back to a comfortable distance from the knee-crunching dashboard. And, since we have an “L-sized” child, we bought an “L-sized” car seat.

Practical "L-sized" car seat at a Pacific Ocean beach

It didn’t fit behind the seats. Our last option… putting it in the middle. This works fine. It fits well. So why would I ever buy a car larger than a 4-door Honda Accord? There are two problems with our current set-up.

The first problem is lifting the car seat in and out of the car. We have to lean over, grab the latch that disconnects the car seat from the base, lift up (while leaning over), and pull the car seat out horizontally. This worked ok in the beginning when Will was only 11 lbs or so. But it is not working so well these days when he is about 16 lbs. Those 5 lbs make a difference.

Perhaps you suggest that we leave the car seat in the car and simply pick up the baby. This has got to be easier since the car seat by itself weighs 13 lbs, right? Well, here we run into the second problem. Will enjoys standing. If we go to lift him up out of the car seat, he puts his feet under himself and pushes up. That gives us about 1 inch of maneuvering space between his head and the top of the car. Most times that we do this, we end up bumping his head on the ceiling, hitting his feet or legs on the car seat, or bumping his head on the door as we pull him out of the car. (When “sorry” ends up being Will’s first word, you will know why.)

This is why we now believe that we need an SUV. We need space for maneuvering the car seat out of the car. We need the head clearance for Will. Between now and October, we have to figure out what kind of SUV to buy. We are kind of hoping that we can avoid the SUV purchase, so if you know of a good car with better head clearance, perhaps we can consider that. If they weren’t so expensive, we would go with the slightly less gas guzzling hybrid SUV. Perhaps we will get one of those small, car-like SUVs (RAV-4, Vue). In any case, it looks like we will be joining the ranks of the large American SUV owners.

Avoid SUVs and get a mini-van, you say? Don't get me started on mini-vans.


watterflower said...

Hoo-ray for the Vue. Not only is it smaller, but (if you buy new) can get a hybrid. It fits a car seat in the middle quite well and still leaves room for two adults in the back.

Mayson Morrissey said...

We share your dislike of SUVs but found the same thing to be true last summer when we were in the states. Laura's mom's 4 door Prius worked but it was extremely awkward getting Rebecca and a car seat out and the middle was definitely the only option. Her uncle's Ford Escape was wonderful when we were in Seattle. Can't help much on what's out there on the market now though since the European models over here wouldn't be available in the states. I'll be interested to see the recommendations though, I've heard of a non-SUV car that has most of the SUV features but can't remember what it was.

Benjamin said...

What about something sexy like a Volvo wagon?

Anonymous said...

HI Angela!

May Rich and I suggest the Honda CRV. We bought one back in Dec. when my Camry died. I LOVE this vehicle!

Yes, no mini-van. Rich says that a minivan is at the heart of every traffic jam or accident.