Car Choice: In need of a bit of extra legroom for grandad

Jane Beale's father has a hip problem which means that he can only fit into her Volvo V70 in the front passenger space with the seat pushed back as far as it will go. If Jane travels in the back of any car she is sick, so her husband, who is 6ft 2in, has to sit behind the driver's seat – leaving her two teenagers with precious little room behind their grandpa. So, is there anything that will take all of the family in comfort and safety within a budget of £10,000?

A car for the head

People are getting taller, and it is easy to sympathize with Jane, because growing teenagers plus three adults can easily cause accommodation problems. Perhaps the most obvious solution would be a full-size people carrier. Clearly, a large conventional estate won't do, but a people carrier would offer more options. My initial thought would be a Chrysler Grand Voyager. One reason it is worth thinking about is that the clever seating arrangements could provide a good solution. The second row comprises just two seats, rather than three, while the third row is of so-called "Stow and Go" seats, one or two of which can be folded into the floor for maximum luggage space. I would propose that the family spread themselves throughout the three rows to maximize the available room. Grandad could be in the second rear row with the seat fully back, or the centre rearmost seat because his legs could go right through the middle of the second row. It sounds complicated, and I do have concerns about access – although the sliding rear door helps. The £10,000 budget would buy a 2006 diesel example with less than 50,000 miles on the clock.

A car for the heart

With any vehicle suggested here, it is essential that the whole family turns up for a bespoke fitting. This is going to be the only sensible way to decide the matter. So what other people carrier would fit the bill? Well the Toyota Previa, inset below, could be the answer. It comes with seven seats – and five of them in the T3 and Spirit models can be completely removed. So, I do think that there must be a configuration here that would suit the Beale family. Having a sliding rear door will always help access, and I am sure that they can work something out – putting grandpa in the centre section of seats, or again at the rear. What the Beale family will have is a very well built and flexible vehicle that has plenty of room for five people and their luggage. Opting for the diesel version with the 2.0 D-4D engine will mean that there should be a return of getting on for 40mpg, which is very good for such a large vehicle. However, if Jane does not cover a large mileage, then the petrol 2.4 being a Toyota it will be very reliable and easy to live with. Her £10,000 will buy a 2003/4 60,000-mile diesel or a 40,000-mile 2.4 petrol.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested and your budget.

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