Parenting & Family

Car options in Toronto: 3 children

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 21st, 2020 9:32 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
178 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto

Car options in Toronto: 3 children

Hi I’m looking to hear about the driving experiences of big car drivers in downtown Toronto (ideally minivans)

We’re a family of 4 (soon to be 5) that lives in downtown Toronto and currently does not have a car as most of our life is readily accessible to ttc or walking distance. When we do need a car we rent a compact SUV. I suspect this car-less lifestyle will be short lived, particularly with a third incoming.

What car options for living in downtown Toronto do people recommend for a family of 5?

How do people find driving newer mini vans in downtown Toronto (Dufferin/Eglington/dupont)?

Coming from a compact SUV (Kona) will the upgrade to a mini van be jarring?

Do I really need a car that big if it’s only going to be used on weekends? What other options are there?

Thanks in advance!
29 replies
Member
Feb 13, 2017
279 posts
122 upvotes
Mississauga
I can’t speak for downtown living but I can say that with three kids a minivan is best. We got an SUV (Santa Fe XL- 7 seater), but find that it’s kind of useless to have the extra two seats bc getting into the back row is a pain.

Kids fight ..(it’s reality) and it helps to have a minivan to split them up. The sliding doors also help. Every time we get close to the car I have to keep reminding them not to open the door cuz they might hit the neighbouring car.

I would vote for a Dodge Caravan if Toyota Sienna. I found that with the Odyssey it wasn’t as easy to get to the back row.

We are hoping to upgrade to the Sienna next year.
Member
Apr 9, 2004
347 posts
78 upvotes
London
lestat83 wrote: Hi I’m looking to hear about the driving experiences of big car drivers in downtown Toronto (ideally minivans)

We’re a family of 4 (soon to be 5) that lives in downtown Toronto and currently does not have a car as most of our life is readily accessible to ttc or walking distance. When we do need a car we rent a compact SUV. I suspect this car-less lifestyle will be short lived, particularly with a third incoming.

What car options for living in downtown Toronto do people recommend for a family of 5?

How do people find driving newer mini vans in downtown Toronto (Dufferin/Eglington/dupont)?

Coming from a compact SUV (Kona) will the upgrade to a mini van be jarring?

Do I really need a car that big if it’s only going to be used on weekends? What other options are there?

Thanks in advance!
I'm not in Toronto, but I've got 3 (13, 10 and 6) and have been driving a mid-sized sedan for the past 10 years (since before we had 3). We do have a minivan as well, but we've taken the car up to the cottage, to the airport, etc too. It's more or less whatever is at the end of the driveway for us. I wouldn't suggest anything smaller than a mid-sized car personally. You'll also need to be pretty selective on the car seats used in the car. For a tiny bit we were struggling a bit with buckling multiple boosters (2 kids using boosters, 1 in a harnessed seat). It wasn't terrible, but I had to help them out for a while.
Sr. Member
Dec 12, 2005
517 posts
87 upvotes
Richmond
Factor in the size of the stroller. I find that strollers these days are bulkier and occupy a lot of trunk space. Go grocery shopping or do an outing with the whole family, your trunk space is already full.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 13, 2010
6768 posts
1260 upvotes
Scarborough
Yesterday I’ve put 2 infant seats (on each side, rear facing) with a front facing toddler seat in the back of our corolla. Doable without upgrade to suv or van.
(Graco and safety 1st and evenflo) all from walmart
Deal Fanatic
Sep 21, 2004
8425 posts
1205 upvotes
Depends on your lifestyle. We used Mrs' STI (mid size sedan) for our 3 kids just fine. 3 cleks fit side by Side by side in the back. Trunk space was the big issue. We could fit only 1 hockey bag.

We got a sienna this year. Now we can (in theory) fit 5 hockey bags no problem. It's also nice to be able to throw the kids bikes in the trunk so I don't have to install the bike rack.

Again, depends on your lifestyle. Small road trips with not much gear? Sedan is just fine.
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
541 posts
374 upvotes
Why not rent a van for a couple of weekends and give it a try. After having a van for several years with three young kids and then moving to a sedan in the divorce, I lasted two years and just traded it for another Odyssey. I second the advice above about giving the kids space so they don’t fight, as well as cargo capacity. Also handy if you have family visiting or want to cart them around with friends.
Member
Mar 12, 2013
200 posts
76 upvotes
Edmonton
Arias1619 wrote: I can’t speak for downtown living but I can say that with three kids a minivan is best. We got an SUV (Santa Fe XL- 7 seater), but find that it’s kind of useless to have the extra two seats bc getting into the back row is a pain.

Kids fight ..(it’s reality) and it helps to have a minivan to split them up. The sliding doors also help. Every time we get close to the car I have to keep reminding them not to open the door cuz they might hit the neighbouring car.

I would vote for a Dodge Caravan if Toyota Sienna. I found that with the Odyssey it wasn’t as easy to get to the back row.

We are hoping to upgrade to the Sienna next year.
that was the same experience i had... will plan for a sienna next year. Toyota vehicles give a good mileage even though they are expensive but on long term, it will be useful
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
178 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto
I like the advice to rent a van, I’ll definitely do that before I make any purchase.

If I lived outside of downtown Toronto (suburbs, smaller towns etc), id probably get the Sienna. But because of living downtown, I’m considering the Forrester.

I feel that realistically whatever car we get will see the following use (weekends only)

1. Weekly: Grocery store run / visit in-laws in the same Neighbourhood. Downtown Toronto (10 minutes in the car)

2. Every two weeks: Go to a big box stores. Downtown Toronto / Highways (30 minutes in the car)

3. Once a month: visit out of town friends / excursions (1 hour in the car)

4. Couple of times a year: Cottage with out of town relatives. Downtown Toronto / Highways (2 hours plus)
Deal Addict
Jun 24, 2015
3933 posts
1154 upvotes
Woodbridge, ON
haivng 2 kids is great but having 3, people don't always realize thats a big life changing thing, you need to sell your car or trade it in and get a mini van or SUV now, you have to drive 3 kids to school in the mornings instead of 2, its a big life changing things so i thought hard and long and stopped trying to re-produce with my wife, im happy with my life with 2 kids right now but its good knowledge to know what to expect for sure
Hi
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
541 posts
374 upvotes
lestat83 wrote: I like the advice to rent a van, I’ll definitely do that before I make any purchase.

If I lived outside of downtown Toronto (suburbs, smaller towns etc), id probably get the Sienna. But because of living downtown, I’m considering the Forrester.

I feel that realistically whatever car we get will see the following use (weekends only)

1. Weekly: Grocery store run / visit in-laws in the same Neighbourhood. Downtown Toronto (10 minutes in the car)

2. Every two weeks: Go to a big box stores. Downtown Toronto / Highways (30 minutes in the car)

3. Once a month: visit out of town friends / excursions (1 hour in the car)

4. Couple of times a year: Cottage with out of town relatives. Downtown Toronto / Highways (2 hours plus)
I really liked the Highlander when I was trying out cars. It has 8 seats, but not near as practical as the van for me so I went the van route. If you’re thinking Forrester, give the Highlander a try too. I also tried the Pilot, but really didn’t like it.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
178 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto
GoodFellaz wrote: haivng 2 kids is great but having 3, people don't always realize thats a big life changing thing, you need to sell your car or trade it in and get a mini van or SUV now, you have to drive 3 kids to school in the mornings instead of 2, its a big life changing things so i thought hard and long and stopped trying to re-produce with my wife, im happy with my life with 2 kids right now but its good knowledge to know what to expect for sure
I think its a matter of each to their own. Sounds like you did what is best for your personal situation.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
178 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto
dolfan1980 wrote: I really liked the Highlander when I was trying out cars. It has 8 seats, but not near as practical as the van for me so I went the van route. If you’re thinking Forrester, give the Highlander a try too. I also tried the Pilot, but really didn’t like it.
My only concern with a minivan is the dimensions, as the 3-row SUV's are essentially the same size, I am not considering them as I believe there are more positives to the van over the 3-row SUV, perhaps if we did a little more out of town driving, I'd have a different option.

I like the Forrester because based on my research (google), it was one of the few 2-row SUV that could fit 3 car seats comfortably.
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
541 posts
374 upvotes
lestat83 wrote: My only concern with a minivan is the dimensions, as the 3-row SUV's are essentially the same size, I am not considering them as I believe there are more positives to the van over the 3-row SUV, perhaps if we did a little more out of town driving, I'd have a different option.

I like the Forrester because based on my research (google), it was one of the few 2-row SUV that could fit 3 car seats comfortably.
Fair enough. The Highlander is a lot shorter than a van and far tighter in the back rows, but take your point that it’s perhaps still bigger than what you want. Unfortunately if you have three kids and ever have hockey bags or friends in tow, you need to leave ppl behind, two cars or go bigger. Everyone is different. We had a Ford Escape that we found too tight with two kids, so when the third was on the way bigger was the only option.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 21, 2004
8425 posts
1205 upvotes
GoodFellaz wrote: haivng 2 kids is great but having 3, people don't always realize thats a big life changing thing, you need to sell your car or trade it in and get a mini van or SUV now, you have to drive 3 kids to school in the mornings instead of 2, its a big life changing things so i thought hard and long and stopped trying to re-produce with my wife, im happy with my life with 2 kids right now but its good knowledge to know what to expect for sure
LOL. It's not THAT drastic. We have 1 car that sits 4, 1 that sits 5 and 1 that sits 7.

On an average day (non-pandemic) with 2 working parents, it's actually not likely all 5 people are in the same car. Most cars will work just fine. I do drop/pickups of my older 2 in my coupe and Mrs handles the littlest. Even the 3 row SUVs will manage on road trips if you have 3-seat 2nd row.

What got us was the dog. 5 people fits in most vehicles but where does the dog go!?! Ironically, we got the minivan and covid struck... The dog has never been in the van.

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