Move the masses

Life with four kids in­tro­duces a new chal­lenge – your next car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - NEIL DOWL­ING neil.dowl­ing@cars­guide.com.au

WITH the broad­est of grins, she tells you that she’s – no, we – are preg­nant. We are ex­pect­ing child num­ber four.

It is one of the best days of your life. Or should be be­cause through the eu­pho­ria comes Mr Logic. He’s been nap­ping in your head for the past year or so and is now very much awake and wants to know where you’re go­ing to put the ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated new ar­rival.

That’s an­other bed­room and a big­ger car. You won’t be able to cart ju­nior in the car with the other three, he says.

So­ci­ety is com­fort­able with designing one-size-fits-all boxes. The sedan car holds five peo­ple and homes have four bed­rooms so the max­i­mum ac­com­mo­da­tion that so­ci­ety builds for us is five— two adults, three chil­dren.

Chil­dren, lots of them, pro­duce un­com­fort­able squirms in house and car de­sign­ers. Now, I’mgo­ing back more than a few years. Back to a time when you had pre­cious lit­tle choice about peo­ple movers. To­day, there are spe­cific ma­chines made for lots of bod­ies. Lucky you.

In my case, child num­ber four led to a Nis­san No­mad, a com­mer­cial van that en­tered the realms of au­to­mo­tive decadence by re­plac­ing the bare-metal ex­panse in the rear with two ex­tra rows of seats to ac­com­mo­date up to six chil­dren. A fright­en­ing thought to­day.

But the No­mad grafted through its ten­ure at our house, safely carted our kids and their friends to var­i­ous sport and so­cial func­tions and even dou­bled as a fur­ni­ture pick-up truck. It broke down a few times (ra­di­a­tor hoses, mainly) but gen­er­ally was a con­tent fam­ily bus.

It was loved, hated, crunched, thrown up in, be­came an oc­ca­sional bed and nappy change-room, and was fi­nally sent to an­other home to re­peat the ex­per­i­ment that is child rear­ing.

It was spe­cific in its task of mov­ing a load and there was scant re­gard for safety, road hold­ing, power and com­fort.

Times change. While the logic of a van-like fam­ily mover dom­i­nates, the heart of the Aus­tralian breeder is less ra­tio­nal. Peo­ple movers don’t top the au­to­mo­tive style list and— for mother and fa­ther — solely in­di­cate that you have a fam­ily. Which is, err, what you are but not what you al­ways want to por­tray.

And it’s not just those with a sur­feit of chil­dren of their own look­ing for more space. Par­ents do­ing the week­end footy run of­ten cart half the team around.

Don’t buy just on price— yes, we know that’s hard but safety is the pri­or­ity and you are go­ing to be car­ry­ing an ir­re­place­able load.

You also want some­thing that has win­dows at the right height so kids have a view. It doesn’t have to be flash, ei­ther. Even af­ter-mar­ket DVD play­ers main­tain par­ent san­ity.

So here, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, are our choices for best new and used fam­ily haulers.

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