Saturday, April 25, 2009

The search for a van

With the addition of two more little ones, we have officially run out of room in our car (or will, as soon as they're home). In the decision for what type of vehicle to get next, it was decided that our best bet was a minivan. While some of the SUVs seat 6 (4 of whom are in carseats!), most of them do not then have any room for the 2 dogs that travel with us on many of our road trips.

Thus, the minivan search began.

We (really, Mark) researched several different vans, test-drove a few, and decided our top choice is a Toyota Sienna, with seating for 8 (just in case, you never know ;)). Since our decision, we've been hounding dealerships and Craigslist looking for our new van (which will not actually be new, but new to us). We've found a couple of good candidates (one of which sold yesterday and we were supposed to go look at it tonight! :( ) but have yet to find the one.

If we can find an older one at a good price, we can buy it before we go back to get the girls. If we have to buy a newer one (2007 or 2008) we'll need to wait until we get back since we're not willing to shell out the cash before our second trip. While we're pretty sure we know about how much money we'll need for the upcoming second trip, it would be horrible to get to Ukraine and find that we are a few thousand short because we bought a car!

We're not completely limited to the Toyota Sienna, but it meets our needs, plus it has a few bonus features, one of which I'm in love with. :)

It has blue dashlights.

What?!? I can hear all of you saying that, by the way. See, the problem is that I've gotten a little attached to the Volkswagens which have blue dashlights. Now I'm a little too partial to that feature, and since I look at the dash quite regularly when I'm driving I'm having a hard time reconciling myself to another color of dash lights. But hey, if it drives and it fits our family, I'll adjust.

I have been highly amused by some of my calls to the dealerships regarding postings on Craigslist. I called two different dealerships yesterday to find out if the vans they had were 7 or 8 passenger. Both of them had the same response:

"How can you tell if it's 7 or 8 passenger?"

In general, you can count the seats. ;)


Sarah said...

We have a Sienna and it is by far the best vehicle we have ever owned. We searched for MONTHS trying to find a used one but none ever came available in our area. So we settled on buying new...and we still had to drive 3 hours to find a new one!!! It was totally worth it though!

Diana said...

Seinnas have a nice ride, but are short on both leg room and cargo space...and I think over priced for what you really get out of them. We have a Dodge caravan. It's been ok. No real big complaints with it. We love the stow and go and the extra cargo room, though. It also has two captain's chairs in the second row instead of a bench seat (which is where the really skinny 8th seat comes from.) 2nd row captain's chairs are definately the way to go! It makes getting in and out SOOOOOO mch easier, especially for SN kids, or if mom needs to help with car seats or simply as kids get bigger.

We recently had a rental Kia Sedona. We really liked it. In fact, it would be at the top of our list of favorites if we were in the market currently. We also had a rental 08 chevy uplander which was a total piece of junk! Are the Mazda MPV's still around? They were rather unique. The ride in front was great (one of the best) but the back was really rough - kind of like riding in the back of the bus. They were definately front heavy as well. But their rolling side windows were awesome!

Good luck in your search!

schoolmother said...

Good luck in your search. We are going to fix up our older suburban for when we ALL are in the car(8) Otherwise our Dodge Caravan (7)sounds pretty much like the one above. I like the extra space of the 2nd row separated seats, too and the deep cargo space in the back. Also side doors on both sides are great.

Tami said...

I agree with Diane that the middle row captains chairs are definitely the way to go. Not only are the bigger kids able to get in the back without climbing over seats and tripping over seat belts, it keeps the middle kids seperated which cuts down on the arguments.
We've had a Ford Windstar for the last five years or so and we've loved it. Remote keyless entry is by far the best thing ever invented! Our rear doors open with the push of a button...a must for a mom with four little kids. ;)
We're just now beginning our search for the next vehicle - our van was used when we bought it and is starting to nickle and dime us...and since the kids are older, we're starting to look at going for an SUV. I'm excited!!! :)

Meredith said...

Aww... c'mon, just make the jump to the E-350 12 passenger! Take out the back row (4 seats) and you have plenty of room for dogs, cargo, 4 carseats, and even a grandma or babysitter to come along :) :)

And in our case, you can then keep adding children and not have to 'up' it again AND it fits the triple stroller WITH the wheelchair in the trunk... see?? It's awesome! :)

I hope you find THE ONE for you all!!

his wife, their mama said...

I had to look up the Sienna to remember what it looked like! I looked at so many in the months before making our decision!! If I saw correctly, the middle row is like our Odyssey where you can adjust the configuration. I LOVE that. I keep the 2 seats close together, for now, so Ivie has easy access to the back and, more importantly, that I have easy access to buckle her in. Elly loves having Alden so close by and he seems to love the attention she gives him. I also have to say that the back "trunk" space is awesome. We anticipate ease with cross-country travelling, especially since we're adding a pupster to our brood this week. I, obviously, would recommend the Odyssey to everyone, but I know we all have different needs and you and Mark have found what will best suit your family. We'll add your van hunt to our prayers and hope you'll be able to find exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. Oh, there's nothing wrong with you being super excited about blue dashlights! It's the little things that can sometimes put the biggest smiles on our faces!

Leah said...

I'm all for "the more seats the better!" because as kids get older, you need to have room for friends to come along too! Just think of those birthday parties w/friends that are not that far away for you!

Erika said...

I can remember being very picky about cup holders and back in the 90s when cars had head lights that popped up I thought that was the coolest thing ever so go on with you blue dashlight lovin'! Also, we just got the Consumer Reports car buying guide and the Sienna had the best resale value and best reliability rating and was their overall best minivan pick. We have a password at their website if you would like to borrow it for your new car info.

Stefanie said...

I personally am a Honda fan! I will admit I am a bit biased as I have been my employer for almost 16 years! I love the way the Odyssey drives as it feels like you are driving a car! I am currently driving a new Touring (inc. Navi and Rear Entertainment) which is a beautiful vehicle, but my vote is still with the Touring Odyssey! One suggestion: Do not get the PAX tires. They do not a long life and they are VERY expensive to replace!
Oh yes, and most importantly, Congratulations to you and your family! Welcome to the world of having 4 children! Stefanie

jena said...

As a mama to 6, I gotta say, I LOVE my 8 passenger van! I loved it before we adopted our two new blessings and I really love it now.

But, if our family should expand again... it's gonna be a limo. Don't laugh. I told my husband that was the trade off. More than 6 kids equals a limo to haul my precious cargo!

Love reading about your family! The Ukraine info will come out April 30th. THANK YOU so much for letting us link to your blog.


Kevin and Tammy said...

We just also took the plunge and bought a new Chrysler Town and Country. We searched for the one with the most room also. The swivel seats in the second row are a definate plus. There is a table that goes in the center for long trips that the kids can play games on. I have to say I did not want to become a mini-van mom again, but it was the only choice with four small ones at home.
Happy Car Hunting

Anonymous said...

When I was in 7th grade, my Dad made a list of what we needed in a van and we began praying for it every night ... 2 months later, we had a van with EXACTLY what was on our list - AND NOTHING ELSE! (We forgot to pray for a radio, and it didn't even have wiring for one!) Lesson learned - be sure that when you ask God for something, you ask him for exactly what you want/need!