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Hey Tertia,

Firstly, good luck with this. It is a hard sucky decision to make. I am sure you will make the best one. The only advice I can give you on any of those is the Honda CRV. One of my fav brands but my friends dad had one and it was a dream for the first year. He wasn't happy with the maintenance cost (tyres etc) and had a few small nigly problems after a year (although you're lucky if you don't these days on any car)
As far as the others go I have no clue but I'm pretty sure my hubby will say the merc is a good option :)

Good luck.

I'd go for the Merc too!

I'd go for the Honda, but that's because Hondas are all I've ever owned and they've all been fantastic cars!

With three small kids who will become three bigger kids, go with something that has a roomy interior, you will be thankful in the years to come. I like the Touran, you could go with "wild cherry metallic" as your colour, adds to the sexiness of a non-sexy car.

I say go for the C180. I had one and it really is great car to drive.

We looked into the CRV, but once we put car seats in it, it felt unbelievably SMALL. We also looked at the Toyotas in question and decided if we bought, we'd have gotten the Toyota. Better overall performance and customer satisfaction based on Consumer Reports, etc.

I ADORE my CR-V. It's 10 years old with 125,000 miles on it and it drives like the day I bought it, with only 1 trip to the shop ever. Even that was less than a day and under $300 bucks. I'll drive it until it won't drive no more. And I've had no problem with car seats and tall people in it. Mine has "realtime 4WD" so it doesn't drive like a regular 4x4 and gets really good gas mileage for a car that size. I want Honda to come out with a hybrid version.

Test drive!!! All of them. You'll know which one is right.

I'm a bit biased because I come from a family of Honda drivers - at holidays the driveway starts to look like a Honda dealership. That said, I love my Honda - runs well, basic maintenance has kept it running wonderfully at 15 years and 130K+ miles, and I *DO* think the CRV is sexy.

The Touran, with the optional 3rd row. With 3 kids, you'll want the option of having the 6th and 7th seat in the car for play dates or other family members riding along. They are fine for kids and teens -- a bit uncomfortable for adults.

Embrace the mom car. It is what it is.

(no hybrids on the list?)
hmmm. which one is greenest/ the most fuel-efficient?
that's what i would get, but that's just very important to me.
maybe you should cut the list down to three and ask the internets again...
(i like option number 1 at this point. safety over sexiness?)

Get the volvo XC90, I have that (but I bought used and probably more affordable here.) Love it, very well made, practical and fun (get lots of comments.

sorry, but you need a mini-van. I know you think they are non-sexy, but the ones with automatic doors and trunk are a must-have. Get one with leather and a great DVD player and you will wonder how you ever drove anything else. There are no true sexy SUV's. You are fooling yourself. Once you have a mini-van, you will wonder why you ever tried to drive anything else. They rock.

I'd go with the larger Toyota. I drive a similar Toyota SUV, and I love it. The space is great, and with kids, its worth it to me. Plus, I like the truck-base. Test drive it and see.

Give up food and heat for a couple of years and buy something really sleek and zippy that belongs on a race track!

"There are no true sexy SUV's. You are fooling yourself. Once you have a mini-van, you will wonder why you ever tried to drive anything else. They rock."

I'll second this, for when you're carrying loads of people in the car. It's so much easier for the kids to close the minivan doors (hey, push the button). That means they can jump in and take care of themselves. You still have to manage the little, but the older ones become independent very quickly. W/ the regular doors of a regular car, you either have to nervously let them slam the door shut, and hope that no-one gets injured, or you have to do it for them, both bad choices.

We went through exactly the same decision tree -- looking for an SUV 'cause a minivan seemed so terribly mom-vanny (especially a problem for my husband). But then, we tried to load everyone into the relevant SUVs and then the minivan, and went with the minivan. It's now been 5 years, and we don't regret the choice for one single second.

In NZ European cars are very expensive to maintain. If we have a minor issue with our VW it always costs a lot to get a tiny part shipped in. The Japanese cars are much cheaper to maintain. The warrants and services are usually just half the price...

Drive the CRV and see what you think...

...is Hyundai an option? I have a Santa Fe and I absolutely love it. Very nice body style, runs and drives great. I've let folks borrow it and they rave about what a nice ride it is. I got it pretty cheap too, and I've had it since 2003 with only regular maintenance (oil changes, brakes) and only one repair - fuel sensor issue.

Wouldn't drive a minivan with a gun to my head, but then again, my General Motors/Buick SUV carries more people and has more storage space and uses less gas than any minivan on the market so I don't have to.

I will say that with three kids, you need a third row, because of playdates or friends or cousins, and it's unlikely any car/van or SUV will fit three car seats/boosters across in the second row, based on my experience. Whatever you do, DON'T TRUST THE ADS. They all lie and say you can fit more than you really can. The Honda minivan here in NA actually listed three across with this bridging thing in the middle pulled down between the captain seats, but the seat in question was 7 inches across!

The ultimate test is the one described above. Bring car seats and boosters and try to install them, then put a bunch of knapsacks, groceries, or whatever in the back that looks like your typical load of stuff.

If it fits, buy it, if it doesn't keep looking.

We rented a CR-V for a weekend trip and I loved it. Moving the car seats in and out were easy-peasy. I currently have a jetta, so it seemed really spacious to me.

The Honda! One of the parents at our school has a black one and really it is SEXY as hell!

So my decision is based purely on apperance ;-p

Tershie not sure if they have these in SA but we had a Hyundai Sante Fe in Korea and it was a great car, eveen better but more expensive is the Hyundai Vera Cruz. Both are seven seaters and drive really well. I loved my car.

Hi, don't post often but just been through the car thing so feel qualified to comment.

Out of the options you have listed I would say definitely the CRV. Have had one (previous model) and it was fabulous. Honda give very good service, especially in SA and have very good resale/trade in value. Parts and servicing may be a little more than say Toyota, but definitely worth it.

I do have a few other car suggestions - hope that is doesn't confuse you more. What about a Mitsubishi Outlander ( I have one - comes in a 7 seat version) Excellent quality - and I think it is rather stylish. The other option which you have not mentioned is the Chevrolet Captiva - that would be my choice if we lived in SA still. Extremely sexy !! My friend has one and has 3 kids and absolutely loves it. Also has a 7 seat option - right in your price range. I think with 3 kids a 7 seater would be the best option. Once they get a bit older and want to have friends over from school etc you always need those extra seats. Anyway good luck and let us all know what you decide.

I had a CR-V and was very sad to have to sell it. I'd like to get another one but don't have the $ for it. It's definitely a girl car.

With 3 kids, not sure how well they'd fit into the CR-V, especially if they are all still in car seats.

Happy car shopping!

Ask your friendly local car mechanic which car is the most reliable and the easiest to get spare parts for. At the end of the day, forget looks (sorry, but a family car for 2 parents, 3 kids and a Rose is never going to be sexy without being a compromise). Get one which won't spend most of its time in the garage being repaired or waiting for parts to be shipped in. PS - Sliding doors are v practical when getting kids in and out.

There are more than one Renault dealership. We have two Renaults and we have had them for a long time!!! We had to shop around for decent service but it was worth it. We havent paid more than R2000 for a service and then we needed new brakepads as well as a few other things. our cars are reliable and they are a pleasure to drive. the bonus is that the space inside is wonderful. a good rule of thumb is to go with what feels right but check the boot area for pram suitability!!!

We have a new CRV and LOVE it, that said we do use the 4 wd and have only one toddler. I have already told my DH that when we have 3 + children, we will get an odyssey. I love the reliability and affordability of hondas. I would avoid the vws, I have had bad luck with them mechanically. Good luck with your new car!

A few things we learned while car shopping in SA:

The features on the European and US models were not always available in SA. The size also seemed to very.

How much to get parts? We were looking at one model and discovered that the SA factory had closed and now all parts had to be ordered from Europe making the costs sky rocket (and time to get it fixed obviously lengthened while you wait). (btw - I think this is the problem with Renolds, but check.) It also means if you break down outside Cape Town you may struggle to even find a place that even knows who to contact for parts etc...

Petrol usage was also a biggie for us. Prices may have gone down, but indication is that they will start jumping up in the next few years to those tear causing levels.

A Merc station wagon can be sexy, yes. Is it new or used?

Me? I'd drive both the Tiguan & Merc on the same day & compare buttons, knobs, seats, latches, storage space, etc. I'd also consider asking if you can do an overnight test soon after with each to see if you prefer one over the other in night driving & you can put kids' car seat(s) in to see if one is easier to deal with these things over the other.

What does maintenance cost for comparable things - oil change, air filter change, new brakes. I've had both brands in my life and the VW line is less to keep running once things are out of warranty.

And then get the one that feels like the best fit after that comparison. These are the only 2 that I'd consider given what you've shared about cars, so far.

hi tertia, have you looked at the citreon c4 picasso 7 seater? its a lovely car and very eco friendly. i wouldn't advise you to go for a car with less than 7 seats as you won't be able to transport any of the childrens friends / cousins etc if you don't have the two extra seats?
best of luck deciding

I never comment but had to say with three kids you need 7 seats. As well as nieces and nephews that may end up tagging along places with you once your kids hit school you are going to have play dates to deal with and it will only increase with time. I just wish the VW Touran was available here, as we need a new car soon and my stupidly tall husband can't get both legs into most cars, VWs being one of the few exceptions.

We have a Touran and are really content with it. For a family, it's a great car. My parents have a Ford Galaxy, a bit sexier and spacier, but we are quite happy with the Touran. For young children like yours, take a car where they see something when they look out of the window.

Merc C180 Estate get's my vote.

My husband has a CRV and we are really happy with it. Drives lovely and is really spacious. They are now available in a sexy metallic red.

Take a look at the Fiat Multipla too. Hugely spacious, maybe not sexy but has a unique character. At the lower end of the MPV price scale but comes with features seen as extras by some other makes.

I just found your blog and happened to have bought a new VW last week. I had the same issues. I drive a zippy Saab sedan normally. Sexy car and I'd say I'm a as-sexy-as-a-40-year-old can be girl. So I had these same issues. I'd rather DIE than drive a minivan. Where I live, a minivan screams "I've given up!" and "I'm JUST a mom. That's. It. No. Other. Life. Whatsoever. All that...the van, the giving up...was so alien to me. And it was devastating to realize I might have to go this route. So I hemmed and hawed for the last year over what to get. I have 3 kids: 9, 6, and 9 months. My back seat was a cram with the baby seat and booster and the kids were going to kill each other back there (or we'd kill them). Every car ride was me screaming at them to STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER and stop poking and stop breathing and stop stop stop.

My first choice, which I couldn't afford, was a Merc R series. The bloated station wagon. At least it had the third row and captain's chairs for mid row. And it was really nice. But it was, like, US$40k. No way could I afford that, the insurance, or the maintainence.

Absolutely needed a third row and one that the kids could access easily even with the baby seat parked in the mid row (thus the appeal of mid row captains chairs). So two weeks ago we walked into VW and bought the Routan SEL without really doing any research but knowing that any other van would just make me gag. We got the top model. Got US$11k off sticker of $34k. And you know what? I love the freaking thing. I still have my Saab and use that when I'm going out alone. But the Routan is so easy and drives so nice (German engineering) that I no longer give a shit about it being a van. It's big. Big. It's a learning curve. But my life is so much better. Go drive one. Just to see. Drive it with your entire family. And I agree with everyone that you should put all the car seats in whatever car you are thinking about.

My vote for what you have listed is the Merc (or the Tiguan if you win the lotto). I had a Saab wagon before (not to be confused with the sedan I have now) and loved it, but it wasn't any sexier than my Routan.

I'm leaning towards the Merc as well

C-Estate is a great idea actually, have never looked at them, but all Mercs drive like a dream, doubt that you'll be sorry buying one.

Hey, we are not in your price range, but am also trying to flog the dumb Renault (Grand Scnenic). We are considering the Honda FRV - have you had a look at it yet??

Servcing and parts are serious money on the Mercs, we have one. Have you looked in the Misti range at all?

IMO none of those will adequately tote a family of six (counting Rose). You could actually never go anywhere all together in one vehicle.

I vote mini van, too, for all the reasons already stated.

The SUV thing doesn't change where you are in your life and I'd put the handling of my odyssey up against any truck like driving suv out there. My van accelerates, corners and parks like a car, you can't say that about suvs.

Have fun shopping!

I would sooner have died than drive a mini-van when my kids were little and then I ended up renting one when my daughter got married (because we had a million guests to drive around) and I LOVED it! I could not believe I denied myself it's mini-van fabulosity for all those years when it would have come in so handy. So try one - you might like it.

And let's be honest - unless you can drive a Jag or a Porshe or something like that no car is all that sexy. They just aren't.

Practical and sexy? I think we have many things in common. I have a CRV. I love it but it is a little small. However nothing beats a Honda on resale. You need to go with your gut on this one. The Merc sounds great.

Have a look at the Mazda 5, Tertia. The sexiest sexiest part about it is that the back doors SLIDE open.. I think that is a huge bonus in itself when struggling to get kiddies in and out of the car. Not bad on the pocket either...

My husband drives a Honda CRV and we love it. He is involved with Boy Scouts and drives a lot of kids around. It holds our 19, 16 and 12 year olds in the back seat, not super comfortably but adequately. Not sure how three car seats would do. In the five years we've owned it, it's been in the shop for more than an oil change once, for about two hours and a couple hundred dollars. Cannot recommend highly enough. Not sexy, though. Sorry.

I drive a Toyota Sienna, and love it as well. Again, not sexy, but oh so practical for field trips, outings, extra friends. Super reliable and low maintenance. With three kids and a Rose, I'd really consider the minivan.

I don't know if you have the option, or what the price is there, but I just bought a Subaru Forrester. It is about the same price as a Honda CRV here, and the same type of car. I love it for many reasons, but the manual transmission makes me VERY happy. The only other car in its class here in the USA that offers a manual tranny is the X3. I test drove the CRV, the Toyota Rav 4, the Nissan Rogue, and the Forrester. You can get the CRV without four wheel drive. The Forrester is all wheel drive standard.

The Honda!!!! I am also looking at the Honda, not new though as my noddy van is getting too small. HOur neighbours have 3 kids and they say the Honda is the best thing that they have ever bought.

Buy a 'manufactured in SA' - because of the price of spares. VW, or Toyota.

Do you intend taking 22 children anywhere? I think not, stay away from that 'van' idea then.

Passat? Very smart, very grown up, and sexy, I sigh when I see one!

Why not buy a two seater sports car and buy 3 bikes for the kids? Ha ha!!

Did you see Cecily's post when they were to buy their Hyundai? There were some great tips in the comments on how to get a better deal. eg. go in late in the month, when people are needing comission sales. Tell the salesman on the QT that your husband fancies another type of car, he is only here to please you. Tell the salesman you have been offered x% interest as a loan deal at another dealership. etc, etc.

Take it slowly, you do not need to rush.

(Hate the idea of G&D you driving an estate, too old for you)!

Take the Merc. I have one and 3.5 years later, still drives like it's brand new, no problem. It's safe, spacious, fast and sexy. What more could a girl want?

LOVE LOVE LOVE my Verso!!! Awesome drive and space for everyone and their paraphenalia. Plus serice is good and they hold their value well.

Oh, and the Scenic has no boot space, we went to Warmbaths; 3 adults and a baby, we could not fit the pushchair and a wheelchair in the car! And they should have fitted if you look at the space, but no way.

tiguan or fortuner... stay away from the scenic, endless problems.

As the owner of a VE Touran I must ask, how can you say it is not a sexy car. I love it.

We also have twins and it is lovely and roomy although I would second the suggestion of the 3rd row for transporting friends.

I would also recommend going the seven seater way!

Tertia I am gobsmacked that people say HONDA. We have one and it is a NIGHTMARE because there are only 2 places in the whole of Cape Town where you can get it serviced and it is gobsmackingly bad. Once I took mine in to get the window switch changed which broke inexplicably - not the main driver one- and it is not the kids using it since i put it on window lock. (it costs over two grand btw for a tiny switch)and the guy called and said btw way we found something wrong with your clutch and that will be 8 grand. Iwent to chat to the mechanics who said there was NOTHING wrong with the clutch - they were trying to get money out of me! A year later I really did replace the clutch (more than 10 grand) and HONDA had no clutches in SA and I was told they don't keep clutches. They shipped it from Belgium which took several weeks. They refused to send it express. 1 year later they did it again said i have to get a new clutch. Do yourself a favour phone the service guy and ask some basic questions and tell me if you can honestly put up with that. It makes TELKOM service seem like staff at a 5 star hotel in Dubai, and Renault service a DREAM compared to HONDA. If bad bad service or wasting tons of money doesn't bother you go for it, but if it even slightly depresses you, GO FOR THE MERCK or the VW or an AUDI or a SUBARU.

A Mercedes is always good value for money,just make sure you can fit all three car seats. With 3 kids a 7-seater would probably be a better option. Just stay away from Renault! Their service sucks and is VERY expensive. Have you considered the Chevrolet Captiva? I love its looks and have heard very good reviews about it. Good luck with the decision!

Mitsubishi Outlander! Brilliant cars/SUVs. Very reliable, very stylish and very farcking cool! I have one - you may have noticed, I quite like mine :)

baie beslis die Honda! Uitstekende na-verkope diens, altyd professioneel. Ry nou al self 'n Honda van 2000 af en sal nooit weer iets anders ry nie. Nog absoluut geen probleme met hom gehad nie - net elke 15000 km vir 'n uitstekende diens gevat en nog niks vervang/oorgedoen nie. Baie beslis Honda!

Well, I drive 'n Renault Scenis - LOVE IT!! Dont need to motivate why... Test drive one Tersia!

Toyota or VW all the way. The parts are available and the services affordable (if you don't choose a maintenance plan). I love the Toyota Verso which I think might not be "sexy" as in "s-e-x-y" but it's an "adult sexy" car.....

Tertia, I know secondhand can be risky, but in today's economic climate, it makes a lot more sense than new. You will have a much bigger choice. As my financial consultant always reminds - the car depreciates in value before you drive it out of the showroom. Cars are not assets, but unfortunately in SA, a necessity. I had a Scenic (previous generation) and really loved it. Service is however a problem. My husband bought a secondhand Subaru Forester last year. Excellent performance and value for money, yeah, I know, not sexy at all but it grows on you. Great versatility, space and safety to boot. But you must be happy in your car, so test drive as many as you can. You'll know what feels right for you - us tall girls need good ergonomics - another reason why I loved my Scenic so much.

The Merc!

I would strongly suggest that you stay away from the Renault Scenic. We have had 2+ years of buyer's remorse since getting ours!

I'm a fan of the CRV myself. I think you will like it! it is great quality for the money. You basically can't go wrong with Honda, Toyota, or Nissan.

YOU define you, not your car. How sad that people would "never" drive a mini-van for fear of something thinking they are "just a mom".

Well, I am a mom, and a woman, and employed full time and many other things. And I love LOVE my mini-van - Honday Odyssey. The 8th seat is small (it's really about 10 inches - but it fits 3 across - giving you 8 actual seats. The 3rd row also disappears so you could carry stuff in the back like when you go the the Woolies sale. Even when the 3rd row is in use, there is still plenty of room for groceries, a stroller, etc in the back. Also - automatic sliding doors. SO VERY handy in the rain!!!!!

My friend who has 10 kids (all under 10!!!) had a custom made Honda. It has an airplane type aisle down the center. She bought a Mustang convertible for her "sexy" car - obviously when she's alone. Who cares if they are sexy when they are hauling 2, 3, 10 kids around!

have you tried out the Chev Captiva, sexy, big and spacious and has extra seats in boot are like Fortuner. i personally woould take the Honda or Fortuner, station wagons are not for me, not a nice sexy mommy car and it's way too long - good luck, you are so blessed to have such a nice budget for a car

I just bought a Honda CRV and love it. I've got the version with the leather seats and all the other bells and whistles and it is v.luxurious and makes me feel v. sexy driving it, plus it gets great mileage. Not sure if you could get three car seats in the back, which is the one reason I may have to give it up as we just found out we are expecting triplets.

Keep the old car and donate the R350K to those that (obviously) need it more than you

None of the above. I have 3 kids also and unless you are never going to put the children in the new car, none of those are going to be big enough in a few years. Sorry to be a party pooper but there are no sexy cars for families of 5. Give in to the minivan.

You can't get 3 carseats in the CRV. I don't know about the rest - but that should be the most important factor.

I *loved* our Touran, but hubby said it was boring to drive (I've never bothered getting a drivers license). I loved all storage everywhere, the space, the comfort and the mileage (runs on air, or almost!). It's a safe car and a great brand.

I'll third on the Hyundais- if they are an option in South Africa, check them out. I also agree on the third row seating- you'll definately want it!

CR-V - Test drive it. You may like it. I don't know many who dislike it.

The new VW Passat is GORG! And roomy, too!

What about an SUV from Hyundai?

I'd go for the merc too. I love mine and it's almost 10 years old and drives like a dream.

I vote for the merc if you want anything close to sexy. The CRV will seem really small after car seats/boosters. We love our used Volvo S80, but I test drove an XC70 and they had to wrest the key from my hands. Don't know if used is an option, but dear Lord, please don't cave to the minivan! (This is based purely on the fact that my husband thinks I need one-but he gets to keep the V8 S80-I'd rather stick with my clunky old Grand Cherokee before one of THOSE things parks in my driveway!)

I vote Chev Captiva!!!

I will say I love my Mercedes. I have an E320 sedan, which I can drive all 3 kids, but no other passengers. We use our SUV for transporting the whole family. I love my Merc because it drives so smooth and it's lasted a long time. It's 8 1/2 years old now and still drives like the first day I got it.

I'm dying to know what you've decided. Update! Update! :)

If you are making a practical decision and don't want to have to maintain your car every 3 months, I would go for the Honda or Toyota. However, I am not very practical when it comes to cars (you can thank my husband and Dad for that), I would go for the Merc or VW. If you want a little sex appeal then the Merc is DEFINITELY the way to go, even as a wagon. I have an Audi Allroad 2003 and I feel pretty damn sexy in it (ha)!


She is pretty HOT!

As far as mini van status, I would not consider caught in the American version of the mini van, whether a Honda, Chrysler or Dodge, just not my cup o tea. However, I would not consider a VW, a mini van. A van, yes, but not a mini van!
There's my advice, whatever it's worth!

Good luck my dear!

Do you have Citroen in SA? I drive a Citroen C4 Picasso with three kids. It's like a Scenic, only much better. It has a sexy spaceship interior as well as being practical (has 7 seats, the back row fold into the floor).

We have triplets and a "Rose" and family that live nearby whose kids often tag along on outings. So the reality is - you need a car that can hold atleast 7 people comfortably, and none of the ones you are looking at do. Try (and I KNOW they are not glamorous) a VW combi or a Merc Vito - you will never look back! Just wait till they start having friends tag along or you want to go somewhere and take your parents with - all in one car?

One thing on the Honda CRV... My boss has a new one and just had to replace the tyres... at R3000 per tyre!!! I think that's hugely expensive!

Has to be the Honda - I drive a black CRV and I LOVE it...no other car for me - Honda reliability and the girl looks good in black :)

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