Cars for twins, the other kids AND all the extra stuff you need

choosing a car for twins

Author: Jodi Collins

My two, his two, our two.  Between us, my husband and I have six kids.  Thank God, only the twins are in car seats.  But still…  that’s A LOT of bums on seats!   

So, shopping for our plus-size family car was a sobering exercise in ‘if you find a shoe (or in my case, a car) that actually fits, just bloody take it!’

What I wanted was…  a car with enough room for the eight of us, four school bags, a double pram and a shopping bag or two.  USB ports and lots of cup holders. Oh, and, anything BUT a Kia Carnival. 

SPOILER ALERT!  What I got was… a Kia Carnival.  And a nice surprise!

boot space for twins
Mountain bike – That time I decided to take three boys and two babies mountain biking!  But… we fit!

If only our biggest challenge was three across the back!

Straight up, with a goal to buy near-new, second-hand we were priced out of the eight-seater SUV market. 

With six kids and a single income there was no way a Nissan Patrol, Lexus LX, or a Toyota Land Cruiser was going to park-up, permanently in our driveway.

For the record, if the price hadn’t put me off, the boot would have. 

With the third row in use, I would have struggled to fit (let alone lift) my Baby Jogger City Mini GT Double into the boot of most of these tonka trucks! 

With the eight-seater SUV’s scratched from the drawing board.  Our list of (realistic) hopefuls looked a bit like this – Toyota Tarago, Hyundai iMax, Honda Odyssey and the Kia Carnival.

People movers – Are they the perfect cars for twins and more?

I won’t lie.  At this point I ready was to consider strapping at least one child to a roof-rack in order to squeeze into the sexy, seven-seater SUV category…  Audi Q7.  Mazda CX-9. Toyota Kluger. Kia Sorrento.

Carsguide.com.au described the Audi Q7 as ‘five-star’ and even suggested it should come standard with a ‘do not disturb’ sign for the door handle!  Sold on the promise of 10 minutes peace… Surely Master 11 can ride up top?!?

By comparison, the vehicles in the people mover category were described as ‘family-friendly, practical and comfortable’.  Basically, a pair of beige Bonds cottontails on wheels!

Two years ago I drove a Toyota Corolla.  I could park it anywhere.  It cost $60 to fill from empty.  But, then again two years ago I didn’t tuck my leftover twin-tummy into high-waisted jeans.  Oh, how the great had fallen!

According to motoring journo, Craig Duff, people movers are generally bought when there are no other options and held on to until they’re falling apart.

And I, my friends, was out of options!  

car to fit double pram and luggage

Reluctant buyers

Early into our search for the ‘perfect’ ride, I learned that OSFA (one-size-fits-all) does not apply to cars…  Because TRUST ME not all eight seaters are created equal!

There’s a lot to consider when you’re in the market for a new set of wheels!

First up, how many kids do you have? How old are they?  How many do you have in car seats?  Rear facing or forward facing?  Do your kids’ have friends that you regularly taxi about?

How much time do you spend in your car?  Do you travel long distances?  Do you need a four-wheel-drive?  What about towing?  Do you have a fuel preference?  How much ‘stuff’ (bags, prams, sports gear) do you need to transport?

My advice… answer the questions, be the passenger, sit in the third row, take a pram and put it in the boot!

8 seater cars for large families

Toyota Tarago

We started with a test drive of the Toyota Tarago.   My pick of the bunch when shopping for cars for twins plus our other 4 kids.

It looked great on paper.  Ticked all the boxes.  Eight-seats.  Decent fuel economy.  A Toyota.  Parking sensors, reversing camera. Not too big.  Not too ugly. 

But, in reality, with four (rapidly) growing boys it wasn’t the right fit for us. It just wasn’t big enough.  

While the captain’s chairs in the second row would have made travelling feel a little bit luxurious, someone would always be squished between two car seats in what was a very ‘slim’ backseat.

And with a third row about as comfy as a church pew we couldn’t do it to the boys.  Or ourselves.  Imagine the whinging?!!?

Hyundai iMax

The iMax is Hyundai’s same-same, but different version of it’s tough, robust and dependable commercial van – the iLoad – the ultimate tradies’ toolbox!  

It’s big. Really big. Can pull.  Has generous, grown-up size seats.  A boot you could get lost in.  Second and third row air conditioning. Isofix anchor points. Heaps of head and leg room.  A touch-screen multimedia system.

And while I’m usually all about what’s on the inside.  To look at, the iMax is just a bit too airport shuttle and not enough school run for my liking. 

It also drives like a truck, sounds like a tractor and is a real bugger to park!

Just. Not. A. Fan.

Kia Carnival

Let me be clear.  This post is NOT endorsed by or paid for, by Kia.  But it has been written by a convert.  A very reluctant convert.

If I’m honest, the very first thing I did when I drove out of the car dealership was organise the darkest, street-legal tint to be fitted on the windows.  Oh the shame!

What I didn’t expect was to actually a) enjoy driving it, b) be able to REVERSE park it, or c) fit all our crap in it! 

You can watch Jodi and her family load their Kia Carnival in a time lapse video HERE.

Kia Carnival hacks!

Now what do they say about necessity being the mother of invention? 

It didn’t take me long to realise that with a few simple hacks the Kia Carnival’s second and third row easily transform into a comfortable and convenient baby feeding/changing station.  Wanna know how?

Set yourself up in the third row, I found the My Breast Friend tandem pillow was a perfect fit, one baby either side, from there you can lift your babies up onto the nursing pillow safely and solo.  Another reason why it’s the perfect car for twins and more!

Then when you’re finished pop bubs back into their rear-facing car seats or capsules, collapse the middle seat (in the second row), use a folded towel to provide some cushioning and VIOLA a change table! 

Keen to take this hack next level?  Finish it off with a car seat caddy stocked with nappies, wipes and hand sanitiser!

family size car for twins
Baby change – See!  It really does work!

Other things I love about the Kia Carnival include the sliding rear doors, comfortable seats, cavernous boot, decent stereo, heaps of cup holders, USB port in the second row and decent third row air conditioning.  

The capped price servicing and seven-year warranty were also huge budget bonus when looking for cars for twins and more.

But if I can finish with a suggestion for the manufacturer…  Please make car entertainment systems come standard (twin headrest screens would be lovely!) because my recipe book holder, iPad and cable tie hack really isn’t cutting it!


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