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Let's talk VANS.


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  #1  
October 16th, 2012, 11:48 AM
MarlowesMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Who drives 'em? What do you know about them?

I'll admit - I've got van-envy. I honestly never thought I'd be a van person, but having attempted the two car seats in one Jeep Liberty thing, I’m quickly becoming convinced that this is just insanity. I HAVE to put the rear facing infant seat behind the driver’s seat (mine) because I’m the only one that doesn’t mind physically hugging the steering wheel when I drive. With a toddler seat in the other spot, I have literally no room for anyone else apart from perhaps a very small midget in between the two. A very small midget with a very small bum.

My next car is definitely going to be a van. But here’s the rub: they don’t make very many AWD vans, do they? You guys have seen where I live…a 4WD or AWD vehicle is mandatory in my area, let alone to get out of my driveway. And as tempting as becoming a shut in is...

So who’s a van owner here? Any suggestions/comments/beefs? Anyone who swore they wouldn’t ever own a van and is now a proud card carrying Van Lovers Forever member?
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  #2  
October 16th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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I drive a van, a 15 passenger Chevy Express van!! It is huge, but honestly I LOVE it, it is a Rear Wheel drive though, but I do think they make an AWD version. Before that we had a Chevy Venture minivan, which my 16 year old now drives. I love driving the minivan too and I honestly can't see myself driving a car again even when the kids are all grown.

I thought Chrysler made an AWD minivan, but I am not sure. I would love to get another minivan as our second car and would like a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna.
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  #3  
October 16th, 2012, 12:13 PM
MarlowesMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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In all honesty Wendy, I'm surprised that you haven't invested in your own school bus yet.
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  #4  
October 16th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarlowesMum View Post
In all honesty Wendy, I'm surprised that you haven't invested in your own school bus yet.
LOL!! Actually on the inside of the van door there is a sticker that says vehicle type: BUS (not a school bus ) It cracked the older kids up when we had them read it.
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  #5  
October 16th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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I've been thinking about getting a minivan too! I never thought I would even consider it, but it's looking like it would be a great option now. My hubby wants to try one out when we visit my family next, so probably January. In the meantime, I'm going to have to figure out seating for 3 in car seats in our Pilot. FYI - If you don't end up finding a minivan that works for you, the Honda Pilot makes an AWD and it has an extra row of seats if/when you need it.
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  #6  
October 16th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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I drive a caravan and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I still don't like the way i will have to arrange three car seats in it but I'm just glad they will all fit.
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  #7  
October 16th, 2012, 01:42 PM
MarlowesMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Are you able to fit 2 car seats in your pilot comfortably? I think Hondas are some of the best vehicles around - quality wise (DH works in the automotive industry and says these people crazy care about their quality) but they don't appear to make an AWD van. In fact, the only company that I can find that DOES make an AWD van that isn't the size of a van to carry Wendy's family around in is Toyota.
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  #8  
October 16th, 2012, 02:40 PM
** Tay **'s Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Im in the same boat- (i have a gmc envoy) I want the extra room-BUT I do not want a van.....

I'm leanin more towards a Yukon xl or suburban type rig- or an Acadia, I love those!!! I definitely want captains seats in the center row and really want third row now bc, like you said- no room for anyone else now with two car seats.....

Would a bigger SUV be a better option for you? 4wd is more standard with them isn't it? (Or maybe not??- I'm jut assuming)
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Last edited by ** Tay **; October 16th, 2012 at 03:23 PM.
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  #9  
October 16th, 2012, 03:14 PM
gardenbelle's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarlowesMum View Post
Are you able to fit 2 car seats in your pilot comfortably? I think Hondas are some of the best vehicles around - quality wise (DH works in the automotive industry and says these people crazy care about their quality) but they don't appear to make an AWD van. In fact, the only company that I can find that DOES make an AWD van that isn't the size of a van to carry Wendy's family around in is Toyota.
Yeah, it's not too bad with two car seats. They kind of creep into the center seat a little, but then again, I have pretty massive car seats. My MIL who is overweight can fit in the middle seat though, so there is definitely room. I love Hondas too - my hubby drives a TON for his work and his last car which Honda Accord put on 350,000 miles in 7 years before he retired it. AND we actually sold it for $4000!
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  #10  
October 16th, 2012, 03:17 PM
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we have owned Dodges/Chrysler vans since our first was 6w old. We needed a bigger car and went straight for biggest trunk. Never regretted it. It's actually great in the snow. Before we replaced our last one (2 yrs ago), I did look at the Sienna AWD but couldn't justify the gas difference for the 5-6 days I really need it. (I work at home when I know it will be snowing all day).

Our family car was a 15 passenger Dodge Ram but we downgraded to a Suburban a year ago for towing capacity. I hate driving/parking it but it holds all of us. Gas mileage SUCKS though.

My 16 year old prefers the minivan over a small car her grandparents gave her so she'll be driving mine in a few weeks when she gets her license. (It's safer and better visibility).
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  #11  
October 16th, 2012, 03:27 PM
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I have a kia sedona and loooooove it. Even my husband, who was an extremely hard sell, now will admit it's wonderful. I don't know how it would really do in snow though!
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  #12  
October 16th, 2012, 03:30 PM
*treefrog*'s Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I had a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country....I loved the thing. (we traded it in for a GMC Yukon because we have a popup and it wasn't so good in reverse with a popup attached to it). It was not all wheel drive though. And honestly as much as I loved it, I wouldn't recommend it for where you live. We really had trouble with it in campgrounds with the wet ground and all.
What about a GMC Acadia?...that will give you the AWD or 4WD and if you get captains seats in the 2nd row it is similar to the minivan. I LOVE my Yukon, but it is a BEAST on gas.
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  #13  
October 16th, 2012, 09:25 PM
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We have a Toyota Sienna. I really love it. Of course, I've wanted a minivan for awhile now. Im just weird like that. My old car was a Ford Focus, though, sooooo yeah, anything was an upgrade from that! ha! But there was no way that 3 carseats would fit in that car so we got this van. LOVE it. We looked into SUVs but I just couldnt swallow the gas guzzling part.
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  #14  
October 16th, 2012, 10:13 PM
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DH is researching now since we'll likely have to buy a new vehicle sometime in the new year. So far he's leaning toward either a minivan or a good station wagon, probably a Subaru. I'd be happy with either one of those... We had one of the first Dodge Caravans when I was growing up. In fact it's the car that I totaled when I was 17. But I remember really liking it, even back then. Good snow driving is an absolute must here too, and a lot of the cars we're looking at come with snow tires.
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  #15  
October 17th, 2012, 02:14 PM
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I had a dodge caravan and HATED it!! it was cramped and kids were always complaining about the air/heat either to hot or to cold! then we upgraded to a Honda Odyssey and I LOVE it!!! It seats 8 and has the dvd in the back! everyone has their own air vent and tons of trunk space!! Absolutely LOVE it!!automatic doors and everything LOVE IT!!! lol
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  #16  
October 18th, 2012, 05:57 AM
MarlowesMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I don’t have a problem with larger SUV’s per se, but it’s the gas guzzling that bothers me. I have a long drive into work…and this is really an issue for me. I guess I kind of assumed that a van would be better on gas mileage than a larger SUV would be – but then who knows? Maybe an AWD van is just as bad. Since I can only find the one (Toyota Sienna) that comes AWD – it may be a moot point. My mom has an Acadia, but it apparently is the one without captain’s chairs or the optional third row, because her Acadia is pretty much just as cramped as my Jeep Liberty – and it sucks on gas mileage. It’s a good car otherwise (and AWD)…but just doesn’t have the features that I want. Suburus are great cars too…I had one “on loan” a couple of years back when my neighbors went to Florida for the winter, and I loved that beast. It went great in the snow, and it had HEATED windshield wipers…I guess you never know how great those suckers are until you have them. Now everytime we have an ice storm, I long for those heated wipers…

Has anyone had any experience with the Chevy Traverse? I saw an ad for these in the paper and they were talking about how they are 7 passenger vehicles – which makes me think that they come with the third row, and I know they come AWD. But then again, I don’t know how they are on gas. I guess I’m looking for a miracle here….but seriously, there are people out there (like me) that will pay for 1.) a larger vehicle that comfortable seats more than 2 adults and 2 car seats at a time, which is 2.) semi-decent on gas mileage and 3.) has the option for AWD/4WD. I can’t be an anomaly!

Tara, your hubby’s in the car business right? Hook us up with details.
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  #17  
October 18th, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Love my HOnda Odyssey!!
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  #18  
October 22nd, 2012, 08:34 PM
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I had a Subaru Forrester that I loved -- AWD, got good gas mileage and was a powerhouse in the snow. However, it would not fit three car seats across the back seat. When we realized this, we went on a hunt for an AWD vehicle that would sit 3 (or 4) car seats and not get the absolute worst gas mileage ever.

We ended up with an AWD Sienna. The contenders were Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Subaru Tribeca, Chevy Traverse, Mazda CX-9.

We ruled out the CX-9 (even though it was one of the ones that I liked the best looks wise) because it was ruled as being one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road over the summer (I can't remember who led the report, but there were 9 vehicles on it, with the Mazda being one of them).

The Tribeca we ruled out because there wasn't much more room across the 2nd row so there would have to be 2 seats in the 2nd row and then 2 seats in the third row and that then left zero trunk space. And for being one of the smaller chassis wise of the options, it had the worst gas mileage!

We didn't like the Chevy. We honestly didn't even look that far into it. We looked at one briefly and decided we just didn't like it - not for any specific reason, just didn't appeal to us.

The Explorer would have worked, but getting to the third row wasn't the easiest and we didn't care for it when we test drove it (we have always had wagons, sedans or our Forrester so the larger sized SUV was new to us).

That left the Pilot & the Sienna. My girlfriend has an older Pilot and I have put my car seats in her third row before to travel with her to music classes. Again, it was a pain in the butt to get to the third row. I would struggle with getting the baby buckets from back there and I would have to essentially crawl over the seats to get the older kiddos unlatched from their seats. I also did a bunch of research on them and while they are great vehicles (I would have preferred the Pilot over the Sienna at the time), they have had some brake and starting issues with the latest models. Honda is addressing them, but it still turned me off when I was reading the Honda forums and saw all the people complaining about them. With that being said, I think it is tough to use that as a sole measure of quality because in a forum environment and review environment, people tend to only leave reviews when something is bad, not when something is good. But, it still concerned me.

So, we went in July and test drove the Sienna. I wasn't thrilled with the gas mileage, especially since we live 30 minutes from any suburban area, but I loved the way it drove. I loved how easy it was to get in and out of the car and I loved the space. We ended up buying it and I still love it.

I have two complaints about it.

1 -- the mileage. I get an average of 20.5 MPG, which is low. I was getting 26-27 in my Subaru and about that in my previous Passat wagons.

2 -- in the 2011 redesign that they did, they removed the extra latch in the van. So, it now only has three latches in it. Which I knew going into it but wasn't overly concerned because my 4 year old is too large for the latches anyway and his seat has to be installed with the seat belt. However, what I didn't realize until about a month after we bought it -- there are only top tethers on the seats that have latch. SO, any forward facing car seat that needs a top tether can only go in either one of the captains chairs or the middle back position. This limits car seat arrangements massively. Luckily it is ok for me since I can have my 4 year old in the back middle, top tethered, my 2 year old in one of the captain's chairs, top tethered and then the two babies (mine and my SIL's) in other locations -- one using latch and one installed using the seat belt. And really, that will work even when they move to rear facing seats because they don't use the top tethers. By the time they need the top tethers, my oldest should be in a booster and it should be ok. It is just frustrating that I am driving a vehicle that is made to move children around, but I am limited by the age and arrangement of car seats because they decided to take the extra two top tethers out. And really, is it that difficult to install two metal tethers in a vehicle during production?

Otherwise, though, I love it! I can't comment on how well it does in the snow yet because we bought it over the summer but the ease of getting the kids in and out is SO wonderful! And we do a lot of camping so the amount of space we have is amazing!!! We no longer need our rocket box for the roof like we had to use with the Forrester.
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  #19  
October 23rd, 2012, 11:04 AM
MarlowesMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Wow, thanks Nicole! This is exactly the info that I was looking for! I love it when someone else has already done all the research for you.
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  #20  
October 23rd, 2012, 12:17 PM
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I'm glad I could help! Good luck with your search! It was a frustrating and stressful one for us and I am glad it is over!
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