Buyer's Guide: More room for three kids and the gear
The budget: $6000
Bob and Natalie have recently expanded their family and have three children under the age of 6.
Their current family vehicle is a very high mileage 2006 Toyota Corolla station wagon. They also have a single can work ute on hand.
Their dilemma is trying to decide whether to upsize to a bigger vehicle on a limited budget, and a single income, or try and make the best of what they have.
“We can fit the three kids across the back seat of the Corolla at the moment but it’s the extra gear required on weekend outings that creates a problem,” said Bob.
There are certainly other vehicles out there that will do the job, but the problem is they could be older than your Corolla, some will have travelled reasonably high kilometres and the risk of spending money on unexpected repairs could be very high.
The model Toyota Corolla you have is as bullet-proof as a vehicle can be in this age bracket as far as reliability goes. There are no guarantees the same will apply if you change to another vehicle.
Learning to pack smart and investing in less bulky pushchairs to help make the best use of limited cargo space are a couple of ideas that may help.
Or a second hand roof storage box and rails that will fit the Corolla. It’s amazing just how much extra gear they can absorb.
It’s always going to be a tight fit for three child seats in one row regardless of a vehicle’s size, while extra seats can often mean limitations on cargo space.
If you believe the upgrade to a more spacious vehicle is the better option, then look very closely at the positives and negatives between buying from a reputable dealer or purchasing privately.
Dealers must sell a vehicle that is fit for purpose which means you have some possible comeback against an unexpected mechanical failure for a short time after purchase. Buying privately you should pay less as there are no warranties or guarantees. It’s very much buyer beware. Get the pre-purchase inspection from a trusted source.
Toyota Ipsum (2003)
The Ipsum is a 7-seater but not overly big. Like all multi-seat vehicles it creates the opportunity to move the passengers and gear around rather than provide too much more overall additional space. The 2.4-litre engine takes away any issues with lack of power when loaded, and it’s a well proven power unit.
Honda Odyssey (2003)
The Odyssey has long been a popular vehicle for young families. It’s spacious, retains car-like features and is easy to drive. Keeping it simple is the key however. Maybe look at the 2.0-litre 7-seater Honda Stream, as an alternative.
Mazda Premacy (2004)
Also a popular people mover. Sliding rear doors can be an advantage when loading and unloading the young ones. Some models have electric powered sliders but I would avoid anything that may cost a lot to repair if future problems developed.
Don’t rush into changing vehicles just yet. Having an extra vehicle on hand does provide you with options at times.