Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Van

I always knew this day would come. The day when we looked at the back of our Toyota and said: "There's just no room for another car seat." As it is there's hardly room for the one's that we have! I sit with my knees practically touching my chest so that Mae's car seat can be rear facing (and with the new research it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon).

And so I begin to scan the classifieds in Florida for a dependable, running mini-van. Thankfully, it seems, that many people are getting rid of their mini-vans.

Does anyone have a type of mini-van that they love that they would strongly recommend? So far I found a used Chrysler Town and Country from a dealership that was pretty reasonably priced ($4000) and looked like it was in good shape... Then again it's not like they try to make them look bad in the classifieds...

14 comments:

  1. When our car was totaled by a young driver last Nov. we started researching vans. My husband researched every possible van he could. He was a Ford mechanic for a few years and knows a thing or two so I left it up to him. We bought a used '07 Chrysler Town and Country with the extended cab and stow 'n go seating. That, if possible, is a must!! I am going to have the same as you (3 little ones in carseats!) and we need all the extra space for groceries, double strollers, etc. We got an amazing deal and the car was in good shape. But the dealbreakers (now that I've driven the van for 6 months) would be the extended back and stow and go seating. Both have been lifesavers for us! Good luck!

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  2. We have a 2005 Dodge Caravan and we love it, especially the automatic doors (very nice to have with hands full of kids!). Also, all the seats fold down so you can use it for transporting furniture or large items if need be. It's also equipped with the LATCH system, making car seat installs easier.

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  3. You cannot beat a van as transportation for a growing family. We have had 3 vans over the years, as well as an SUV, and I can say that without a doubt, my favorite van of all time (so far!) is the Honda Odyssey.

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  4. Honda Odysseys are really safe and drive well plus they last forever. We will be in the market for one once we get our next children.

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  5. Honda and Toyota have fantastic reputations for minivans, I don't know anyone who's been unhappy with theirs.

    Although--I believe they only hold 5-6 kids and two adults, so perhaps you'll want to look for something a bit bigger :)

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  6. Hmm, we have a used 06 Dodge Grand Caravan which is basically the same vehicle. We like it a lot (it was a stripped down model for 10K, meaning no power locks or power windows, but a cd player and stow and go seating). Something you have to watch out for however is leaks in hoses like coolant and oil.

    Things I don't like about it, is that it makes funny noises sometimes when it gets wet. (Been outside since we bought it last year). Ours doesn't have power locks=( and the back cannot be opened without a key. (We also had to replace the lock cylinder as it stopped working after a NY winter). We have bench seating in the back and little "captain" seats in the middle, and those don't look like good big people seating, but make nice car seat seats. (I rode in my mother's 8 passenger 2010 honda odyssey, which had really nice big person seats, but the back seats were inaccessible for car seats or would become inaccessible for anyone if you had car seats in the middle).

    Stuff I really like: it rides nice for a 06, there is lots of space for the double stroller, and I absolutely love the stow and go seating. It holds a lot of stuff and is really nice for putting the kids in their car seat. no bending over or stooping. (As a reference, I was climbing into the back of a 2 door chevy cavelier, to put an infant seat there). We don't have kids in the back, but t is big enough for me to climb back there if we did.

    Sorry if that was rambling.
    Good luck on your search.

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  7. I have a 2005 Toyota Sienna and I love it. I could easily put four car seats in my van. I doubt five would fit, not that you need five car seats at the moment.
    The rear row in my van is bench seating with a 60/40 split. The seats fold flat into the cargo area to create a nice sized area in the back of the van. With the bench up, I can fit two soccer mom chairs, a folding bench for my daughter's soccer team, and a bunch of other junk I can't believe I tote all over the place with me in the cargo area. I don't have a double stroller, but I'm sure one would fit back there. I had no problems putting a single compact or a single full sized stroller in the cargo area when my youngest was a baby. I have yet to see how the stroller will fit with all the soccer stuff once our new little one arrives. I'm sure it will all fit.

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  8. The Town & Country looks like a winner. From 9/87 until 12/07, I was a minivan mom - I went through 7 (bought new) of them. Most (Caravans and Voyagers) were fine. The Windstar was always needing repairs - I was glad to say good-bye to that one. The Montana was ok, except that it was the worst, by far, in terms of mileage (I swear, I must have been getting 12 mpg). You are going to LOVE!!! having a minivan!!! You can fit people AND groceries, or toys, sports equipment, etc. . .

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  9. We have a Honda Odyssey and love it. My only complaint is that we are at maximum capacity with 4 in booster/car seats. I'd hate to have to get rid of my van, but one more baby and we may have to get a bigger vehicle. Our van is just over 4 years old, has 45,000 miles on it and has never had a problem. I love the way it drives and the comfort it affords - plenty of pockets, cup-holders, space, etc.

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  10. We have a Kia Sedona and love it. Our is a 2005, bought used in 2008. We are able to fit three carseats, if needed in the back row and two in the middle row. We have a bench seat for the middle, something I really like as it makes getting kids buckled in very easy.

    We have never had any major problems with the van either, just the usual repairs. I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

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  11. We're in the same boat as you. Currently we are borrowing my mom's Buick SUV which fits three carseats straight across. I have high hopes of my husband receiving a raise so that we can afford a used Toyota Sienna.

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  12. You're going to love having a van! I made the switch to a Toyota Sienna about a year ago, and it's so nice to have an automobile that is designed for a family. They really do think of little things to make it nicer for parents and kids.

    You might want to look at the Kia minivan as well. It has the highest safety rating of any minivan, and I imagine the resale would be affordable.

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  13. Though I'm not a mother, my parents gave me our 2002 Honda Odyssey when I left home; it's nine years old and hasn't given me a lick of trouble (besides the usual tune-ups and maintenance). One of our friends, who is big into cars, *loves* the Honda Odyssey. He said that will be his van of choice once he and his wife have children.

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  14. My last mini-van was a Toyota Previa and I LOVED that van. I have a friend who keeps buying used ones and cannibalizing his old ones to keep on having one to use.

    My current Toyota is an Echo and there is NO room for more than two car-seats. But if we need three, we'll have to make the pick-up our family vehicle because that back seat will easily take three car seats.

    I MISS having a mini-van. That was a wonderfully useful vehicle!

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