Car seats are tricky. When Chloë was smaller and rear-facing, we had to have her car seat in the middle of the back seat. It didn't work next to a window because either the driver or passenger would have to have their seat almost all the way forward. Not very practical. So when we found out we were expecting Baby #2, we knew we would have to start looking for a "family" car.
So we spent all summer eyeing car lots, browsing Craigslist, and thumbing through Wheels And Deals ads. We knew we needed something with 4-wheel drive or All Wheel Drive. Since we live up a bit of a hill, the roads are rather treacherous for about the half of the year. Because we're on the edge of town, we live in a very limited-access area, with only a few roads as options to get home; all of which have an incline. There were several occasions last year when we simply could not get home. So we would park at the bottom of the hill and walk home. Not too horrible with a 6-month-old, but we really didn't want to be doing it with a newborn and a toddler. So we decided we really needed something that could get around in the snow.
Then we considered how soon we would want to be car shopping again. Lord willing, we anticipate having more than two kids, which means there is a possibility that we would outgrow something like a Subaru within a couple of years. Even though mid-sized cars like that seat "5," they wouldn't fit 2 car seats and a booster seat. But, we weren't sure if we wanted to take the dive and jump into something big. We like the Toyota Sequoya, but not only are the expensive, but they are quite the gas guzzlers. And even though there are some great mini-vans out there (which we were both willing to swallow our pride and consider), there are very few that have all-wheel or 4-wheel drive. So.... we knew we really like Toyotas, and have been impressed with Nissans, Hondas, and Subarus,.. so we looked and looked and loooooooked at our options.
We finally decided on the Honda Pilot EX-L, and bought this beautiful 2003 with under 100,000 miles. (The "L" stands for leather, which means I have leather seats, which makes me feel spoiled.) We got a great deal, and are hoping that it will last us for many, many years.
If we fold up the far back seat, it can seat 8. The seat is split, so we can have just one or two of the seats folded up, which is a great option. A couple of days after we bought it, we had 7 people plus Chloë in her car seat for a couple of hours of driving. The people in the far back were a little tight, but it definitely worked. It was advertised to get 21 highway mpg, but after driving it home from Spokane, we calculated that it got 25 mpg, which is fantastic.
I love my new car. I really do feel like a celebrity driving it around.