Buying a car is hard, plain and simple. But pulling the trigger on which one to ultimately go with is a real pain and a cause for a lot of stress. Everyone’s checklist of what they need varies, so there’s really no definitive car buying book – it’s based on your family and your needs.
Here’s a few things we considered before ultimately choosing going with our Nissan Pathfinder.
- Minivan vs. SUV. We’ve got three kids, so we ruled out sedans completely. While we’ve got nothing against the minivan, we decided we liked the look of the Pathfinder and the functionality for our family. Our oldest was stoked he’d be getting the third-row all to himself and the two younger boys bookend the second row.
- 3-Row Seating vs. 3-Across. This one was pretty much a no-brainer for us.
- 4WD vs. 2WD. We live in New England, more specifically a hilly, rural town, so for us, we knew we needed 4WD. We’ve had 4WD vehicles in the past, and even with all four going, it’s still tough sledding on these hills.
- Budget. Because making mortgage payments and car payments can add up in a hurry. You don’t want to go to the poor house because you’re more concerned with having a status symbol as a car instead of one that’s within your budget and meets your family’s needs.
Believe me, there were plenty more but I didn’t want to bore you.
Here’s perhaps a more useful list with some of the real-life parental perks of having third-row seating.
- Sometimes, you can’t hear the complaints/whining coming from all the way in the back. As parents, we all know how it goes when you pile everyone in the car to go anywhere. As cliche as it seems, the “Are we there yet?” question is a real thing. Fortunately, thanks to the middle row buffer coupled with the muffling the headrests provide means you don’t always hear the question 1,452 times.
- Kids like obstacles. Our oldest loves him some American Ninja Warrior. Everything in the house – and outside – winds up turning into an obstacle course. The idea of being able to get a running start then jumping into the back still gets him excited to go places.
- Having two kids in car seats in the second row means there’s still some area between them, one that every adult typically dreads sitting in. And, as parents, we know that this space will ultimately be occupied by us. In our Pathfinder, this middle space is actually quite comfortable. Whether it be attempting to calm a crying child, handing out snacks, or to simply stretch your legs on a long road trip, if you opted to cram three across a standard SUV, you’d be doomed.
- Leg room is actually pretty ample in the third-row. Granted, the passenger in the back is only 4-feet-tall, but it’s roomier than some airlines’ seating options. And you’re guaranteed a window seat.
- Storage space is great. We don’t have one of those storage caps for the car, nor do we plan on getting one. Packing a vehicle – any vehicle – for extended nights away from home is like trying to do a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. However, the more times you pack for a trip the easier it gets to figure out what fits best where. For us, the standard pack is: at least one bag per person, a beach bag stuffed with towels (we like beach locales), stuffed animals, blankets, a bag full of snacks, a pack n’ play, diapers and wipes, etc.
So yeah, having third-row seating is pretty important as a parent with three kids. And if you’re a parent with only two kids, heed my advice regarding #1 on the aforementioned list.