Admittedly years ago people had mostly cars/wagons. But car seats were just boosters not today's monstrosities that require you to be a gymnast to get the kiddo around the sides.
I/my family is short as well, and rear facing seats behind passengers is a pain in the butt. I am talking from experience in a mk4 Golf, mk5 GTI and Rabbit, mk5 Jetta Sportwagen, b5 passat wagon, and a 2005 Saab 9-5.
Rear facing in this size of car, you basically need to center mount the seat so it can fill the void between the front seats... and doing this is less safe because you have to steal a Latch connection for either side, will likely not have a good place to straight down top tether the head portion of the seat... and the car seat then creeps into both side rear seat occupants space.
It's just not ideal.
If you want to head down the smaller car path. You really need to get into searching out smaller rear facing seats asap, so you can get one purchased and mount it in any perspective cars you are shooting for.
Check out Clek, Combi Coccoro, Maxi-Cosi and Diono for some more space saving options.
If you can find a large sedan/wagon... that will help. Since you seem anti-SUV, I assume that would mean anti-minivan as well. Not saying with 1 kid you should even get a van. But with grandma there a LOT, plus a dog or two... especially if you have any plans for a potential 2nd kid.
A lot of your constraints really lean toward getting an SUV.
We crammed and managed with two wagons, wife had the passat wagon then a sportwagen, and because I wanted one I had a 9-5 wagon... but once we had a 2nd kid and got about a year into 2 kids... the hassle just got the best of my tolerance, and I bought a used minivan for family hauling duty. Great decision. Sliding doors are awesome, so easy to jump into the van when the weather is being crappy. Room for all the activities, then some. And seating for 8, plus still a bunch of crap, if needed... I can(and have) use the back nearly like a pickup as needed.
Why do you NEED to buy TWO family cars?
I have a miata as well.
I have two kids, a wife, and two 50# dogs. And grandma is our nanny so is around quite often.
If we need to take the family car... we do just that. We don't act foolish and expect the miata to work.
Last edited by unhappymeal; 03-05-2019 at 06:24 PM.
How tall is she? I would consult Cars.com's car seat check to see how well car seats fit. A lot of those RWD compact crossovers suck in the leg space compartment
I think the bigger compact sedans are OK. My lowered G37 was no harder to get my daughter into than my wife's MKX. Optima is a little harder because the door opening is smaller. Something upright with a decent back seat like an A4, Q50 or 3 series should work fine.
I change my vote:
Car 1: Mercedes C43 AMG wagon, screw your wife's aversion to German cars
Car 2: whatever you can get for your remaining budget. GTI if it works and two German cars won't send your wife up the wall. A Hyundai Elantra GT N if you need something Asian to balance out the Merc.
We made rear facing child seats work in a Protege they've got to work in these cars.
Last edited by unhappymeal; 03-05-2019 at 06:34 PM.
Just buy a VW Golf Alltrack.
There's no way you're going to find something that checks all the boxes on your list unless you either get an SUV/CUV or get a German wagon.
You've got to give somewhere.
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For the wife, I would look at an Alfa Stelvio or Giulia. You can easily find new leftover 2018 for under $35,000. With a baby, the Stelvio would be better due to the larger rear storage space that can easily accommodate a Peg Perego stroller.
For you, keep the Miata as long as you can. Adopt the Stelvio for yourself when you have more kids and the wife moves on to a minivan and make the Miata a third car.