January 30, 2005

Edmunds' Top 10 Car Seat Cars

There's a hi-larious insurance commercial where a young black guy is trying to fit a giantic car seat into the back of an old Volvo coupe as his very pregnant lady watches on. When he gets himself wedged in and pressed up against the window, she says, "Should I call my dad?" and he shouts "No!" I'm reminded of this 1) because we have an old coupe that's bigger than the Volvo, but still requires some acrobatics to get the car seat in and out, and 2) because Edmunds.com published a list of the top 10 cars for using a car seat, and there's not a single coupe on it.

As you'd expect, deep, flat seats, wide door openings, proper belts, and a close reach from the front seats are all key criteria for deploying a car seat.

What I didn't expect was the boringness of the cars on the list: there are two minivans, one mini-SUV, five US manufacturer cars I don't know or care about, two boring old-standbys(Accord and Camry)--and the Toyota Scion xB.

Now I'd imagined if you asked Toyota's target xB customer if he had any kids, he'd look up from polishing his spinners and be all, "heh, not that I KNOW of, bro." Scions--especially the xB are marketed as stripped down bases for tuners who'll presumably work double shifts at Banana Republic to buy and install LED versions of the accessories most people think of as standard equipment.

But even though I'm probably already twice as old as some Scion drivers (at a measly $15,000, it's being pitched as the perfect first--or fourth or fifth car), I have to say, I'm tempted to try one out. It's goodlooking and seems like the perfect cool, no-nonsense car to drive around the city.

Top 10 Cars for Kids in Car Seats [edmunds.com]
"Old" people buying cars originally meant for Gen Y [forbes.com]


I've looked at the xB while hanging around at the Toyota dealer waiting for my minivan to get out of the shop (d'oh!) and it is pretty nice. Lots of room inside with good looking materials, reasonable price, and best of all, not a minivan. You can get a factory installed subwoofer (although I hear it takes up a lot of the luggage space), for blasting those Nirvana CDs. One odd thing that would take getting used to is the very vertical windsheild that is about 2 yards away from you when you drive.
The main problem with having one of these (like most compact cars) in NYC is the small wheels, which would tend to have a hard time with rough pavement and potholes.
The xB, I hear, is being bought by your 20-something customizers, but also by sensible Daddy and Mommy-types as well, for the practicality. Thus reducing the hipness factor a little.
Honda had the same problem with the Element. Designed to be the gen-x transport vehicle for gnarly extreme sports dudes, thereby making Honda a little hipper of a brand, it turned out that the average buyer of an Element was a 40-ish Mom with kids.
D'oh! (says the Honda marketing department).
Here's a review of both by Mickey Kaus in Slate:
And yes, I did find that Edmund's list did skew heavily towards the boooooring.

Oops,I commented before I read the Forbes article, which basically says the same thing I did. D'oh! again.

Yeah, you busted me without knowing it. I wrote almost the same thing about the Element in 2003, pre-kid:

Badass Buddy Icons and The Honda Element

From the reviews, the Scion's engine is about as gutless as we found the Element's to be. V6, people.

And as for the tires, I've already got my mad 17" Pirelli's picked out, yo.

xB - not just for 20 something's. My Grandpa is 90 years old. He just traded in his 1988 Ford Aerostar for an xB. The main reason is it is the easiest car/van/whatever for Grandma ( 88 ) to get in and out of. She doesn't have to climb up into it or up out of it; merely lean against the seat and turn onto it. Gramps is saving $50 from each SS check to get the mods. Spinners and a wing are on top of the list.

Actually, there is another car worth taking a look at. The "dare-I-say-it" Dodge Magnum. A monstrous V8 powered AWD stationwagon. It looks cool, is reasonably priced (especially compared to most SUV's) I saw it at the SF carshow and there are tuning opportunities.

I was dissapointed with Volvo, the rear seatbelt were too short to comfortably fit the Maxi Cosi. Which brings up another question. Do cars for the US market have shorter seatbelts? I have not heard about this problem with Maxi Cosi in Europe. But I have had a hard time fitting the seat into several cars here. And people are supposed to be bigger here??

Any ideas, Greg, anybody?

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