Parenting & Family

Car options in Toronto: 3 children

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 21st, 2020 9:32 pm
Newbie
Dec 15, 2007
59 posts
35 upvotes
Vancouver
We have 3 kids under 5.
OP in situation I'd do a minivan. Don't even consider anything else. Used Honda or Toyota since you won't be driving it everyday.
We have it set up so our 2 older ones are in the back row, with baby in the middle by herself. With all 3 in the same row, it makes it hard and distracting for baby to fall asleep for longer drives.

And the fact that you live downtown is a huge reason to get a minivan.
No way I'd want to deal with loading both kids into the backseat, then baby and seat into the same row when there's not enough room to open the doors all the way.
I've had friends who's kids open the door themselves and swing it into the cars next to them.
Sliding doors are the best with young kids.
The upsides to a minivan with kids far outweigh the downsides to manoeuvring and parking downtown.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
Stock R wrote: 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.
Two good points there, the truth is at most we'd have 5 or more bodies in the car probably 50% of the time but we are a family who have a dog.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
JqC018 wrote: We have 3 kids under 5.
OP in situation I'd do a minivan. Don't even consider anything else. Used Honda or Toyota since you won't be driving it everyday.
We have it set up so our 2 older ones are in the back row, with baby in the middle by herself. With all 3 in the same row, it makes it hard and distracting for baby to fall asleep for longer drives.

And the fact that you live downtown is a huge reason to get a minivan.
No way I'd want to deal with loading both kids into the backseat, then baby and seat into the same row when there's not enough room to open the doors all the way.
I've had friends who's kids open the door themselves and swing it into the cars next to them.
Sliding doors are the best with young kids.
The upsides to a minivan with kids far outweigh the downsides to manoeuvring and parking downtown.
Thanks for the comments based on your similar experience. The sliding doors seem to be a huge benefit of minivan life, everyone who I've spoken to about minivans mentions the sliding door almost immediately.

If we go the minivan route, I was probably going to purchase a new version to get the advanced driver-assist functions, in particular the 360-degree camera.
Deal Addict
May 10, 2011
1368 posts
431 upvotes
Ottawa
OP how old are you kids? I only have 2 kids but we have a van. The best thing about having the extra seats is that you can take their friends as well, so I routinely have up to 6 kids in my van. A short trip to DQ, the trampoline park, or even a ski trip to the local hill is not a problem with the minivan. A sedan/suv will normally only fit 3 kids until they reach the age to be able to sit in the front seat safely.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Sep 1, 2005
10807 posts
5878 upvotes
Markham
The stow and go seats of Dodge van's is a big plus if you ever need to move stuff/buy large stuff etc. As you live downtown, pretty sure you wouldn't find it easy to store a bench seat/captains seats. The Dodge van second row and third seats fold into the floors for a flat floor. Hugely convenient IMO.

Save that extra money on a Dodge van as you have a lot more expenses in front of you with three kids (RESP?)
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
Deal Fanatic
Mar 17, 2004
5091 posts
476 upvotes
We only have one kid but have a honda odyssey. He's a toddler but the sliding doors help a lot. I can literally pick him up then bend over a bit and just walk into the car with him. Extra space is also helpful for all that stuff you might have to bring with you and if you want to have grandparents come along too. The person who said they fit 3 kids in a corolla... sure maybe you can do it, but then you have a stroller too. If you buy groceries where are you gonna put it? Buy a pack of paper towel and now you've got no space.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
csi123 wrote: OP how old are you kids? I only have 2 kids but we have a van. The best thing about having the extra seats is that you can take their friends as well, so I routinely have up to 6 kids in my van. A short trip to DQ, the trampoline park, or even a ski trip to the local hill is not a problem with the minivan. A sedan/suv will normally only fit 3 kids until they reach the age to be able to sit in the front seat safely.
Newborn, 2 and 5.

It's either squeeze into a Forrester, get 3-row SUV or get the minivan.

I'm leaning towards a van over 3-row SUV as the dimensions seem to be similar (width and length). It's more a question of do I need to go that big if I'm only going to drive it on weekends and what is the learning curve associated with driving such a big car in around downtown Toronto.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 26, 2003
1212 posts
186 upvotes
Get the minivan, you'll thank yourself later. They are 1000% more useful than an SUV. You seem worried about drivability and size as well in DT - no matter which brand you choose, they all basically drive like cars and are pretty maneuverable with excellent visibilty all around.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
camzie wrote: Get the minivan, you'll thank yourself later. They are 1000% more useful than an SUV. You seem worried about drivability and size as well in DT - no matter which brand you choose, they all basically drive like cars and are pretty maneuverable with excellent visibilty all around.
Thanks for the feedback, seems to be consistent with what others have provided.

I've driven midsized SUV's before in the city, the jump to a minivan is probably not as big as I am expecting.

I'll probably wait on the 2021 Toyota Sienna and dive in.
Deal Addict
Apr 13, 2005
1028 posts
830 upvotes
Markham, ON
As someone who went from a Honda Accord with 2 kids to Toyota Highlander with 3 kids, to now a Honda Odyssey with 4 kids, a minivan is the way to go.
All that space, where kids can sit anywhere they want. Bring your in-laws on long road trips.
Multiple large (full size) suitcases and strollers in the back without a blink of an eye.

External length & width-wise, the Highlander and Odyssey are pretty much the same, But the interior is so much more spacious in a money van.

And as someone else said, it drives like a car.
FIDO, Koodo, Public Mobile, TELUS customer.
Sr. Member
Mar 28, 2011
780 posts
548 upvotes
Toronto
I don’t own a minivan but driven several and it’s much easier to drive than you think, I actually like driving them more than mid/full suvs

Wife hates the look of minivans but I always rent it for trips lol (just so practical for spacing out and all the gear you need to bring along)

The parking is so easy since it’s a flat back and you can judge how far back to go. They drive like a car since they are not based in any truck frames.

The caravan is one of the cheapest you can get and should do the trick (you will feel it’s cheapness once you also drive a sienna)

And yes sliding doors are so useful with kids
Member
Aug 31, 2014
308 posts
160 upvotes
Toronto, ON
We’re two kids and a dog in a sedan and seriously considering a van. This has to do with lifestyle and a toddler who prefers a stroller. We like to explore different parks/neighborhoods of the city as a family. For example, this week we went to two different parks to look for salmon runs with him, and the stroller and our stuff takes up the whole trunk. We wouldn’t have been able to pick anything up from a store If we wanted to. Costco runs will have to be pre-planned to clear out the trunk space first.

And then the poor dog went from sitting on my lap as a puppy, to sitting on the front passenger seat, to the back seat (one kid), to now on the floor in the back (two kids). It’d be nice if he can look out the window too lol
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
Some great feedback in this thread.

I think we're going to go with the new sienna next year (after winter when we won't get much use out of the car) and then keep it for 10 years under the lofty assumption it'll be the last car we own (that isn't self driving ;)).

I've spent a fair bit of time moving through the options (without test driving) and settled on the following

1. Sedona: Seems to always run a distant third to the Odyssey and Sienna from a driveability perspective.
2. Odyssey: More in-car functionality but appears to be bloated and I've read conflicting reliability reviews.
3. Pacifica: The most bang for your buck but the brand has reliability issues and terrible resale (assuming we have to sell for some reason)
4. Sienna: They seem to last forever and I really like the sound of the new Hybrid option
5. Transit connect passenger: Very hard to find much information on this vehicle, based on what I've read, if the engine had better performance, I may go in this direction as it seems to be better for city driving.
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
521 posts
351 upvotes
lestat83 wrote: Some great feedback in this thread.

I think we're going to go with the new sienna next year (after winter when we won't get much use out of the car) and then keep it for 10 years under the lofty assumption it'll be the last car we own (that isn't self driving ;)).

I've spent a fair bit of time moving through the options (without test driving) and settled on the following

1. Sedona: Seems to always run a distant third to the Odyssey and Sienna from a driveability perspective.
2. Odyssey: More in-car functionality but appears to be bloated and I've read conflicting reliability reviews.
3. Pacifica: The most bang for your buck but the brand has reliability issues and terrible resale (assuming we have to sell for some reason)
4. Sienna: They seem to last forever and I really like the sound of the new Hybrid option
5. Transit connect passenger: Very hard to find much information on this vehicle, based on what I've read, if the engine had better performance, I may go in this direction as it seems to be better for city driving.
Great choice. I went Odyssey this year, but largely based on the fact that the 2020 Sienna was being discontinued and was quite dated in design, not to mention the Odyssey can drive circles around them all in terms of drivability. I'd be interested to try a 2021 Sienna to understand how much different they are, I suspect the Toyota has made up all the ground in terms of design and tech. Sienna's have always had the best reliability of the lot and no reason to expect that wouldn't continue.

I hope you enjoy it.
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2006
4877 posts
1318 upvotes
Toronto
lestat83 wrote: Newborn, 2 and 5.

It's either squeeze into a Forrester, get 3-row SUV or get the minivan.

I'm leaning towards a van over 3-row SUV as the dimensions seem to be similar (width and length). It's more a question of do I need to go that big if I'm only going to drive it on weekends and what is the learning curve associated with driving such a big car in around downtown Toronto.
Can't comment on driving in DT-Toronto with minivan, have to rent and try yourself.
But from vehicle choices alone with 3 kids at those ages, definitely mini-van. Sure bigger sedan and SUV *can* work, but it won't be anywhere close to usefulness of minivans. 2 adults, 3 kids, their fancy carseats and I guess 2 strollers or a bigger double-stroller, if you still want any space for shopping or trips, grandparents showing up, etc, you'll need minivan.

Got a used Odyssey myself early this year, so nice.

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