Mommy SOS - Taking The Plunge And Need Advice

I've mentioned it on facebook, but I need more help. I have a 2008 Ford Escape right now and I need a larger car.  I have a much younger sister that often rides with us and she can barely fit between the car seats.  We plan on trying for #3 soon and there is no way I'll be able to fit 3 carseats in my backseat!  I was going to get a larger SUV and have sworn I'd never own a van, but with gas prices going up, it seems like the most sensible thing to do.

SO, I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to buy a mommy van. At 25 years old, I'm going to turn into a soccer mom...

Here's where you come in. I need help deciding what kind and what features are a "must have" and what I can do without. I think I've decided on a Grand Caravan or Town And Country, but I'm stumped on some of the features. I know that I want a DVD player and stow and go, but other than that, I'm not sure. I think that I want power sliding doors, but I'm seeing that usually means several thousand more. I need your advice!!


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30 comments:

LeeAnn said...

I can't really give you all that much advice because I still can't do the minivan thing. I drive a big gas guzzling Nissan Armada and I LOVE it! That said, my parents drive a Grand Caravan and it is really nice. I would definitely go with the power sliding doors...they do come in handy.

Anti-Supermom said...

You want sliding door, for sure, I'd don't think I culd go back. I also like our Mazda MVP because the middle seats slide side-to-side, which makes it super easy to get to the back row, love this!

I think you compromise comfortable seats with the stow-in-go, because they are thin by necessity, but that's my opinion only.

And minivans are awesome, you'll be shocked how much you will love it after you have it.

Anti-Supermom said...

Gee, tons of spelling errors above... that's what I get for typing this during lunchtime, sorry :)

Jenny said...

I love minivans and can't wait to get one! We only have 1 child, but I'd love to have a bigger vehicle for traveling and for taking my nephews along with us on field trips.

I'd say you'd want the power sliding doors. A must have for me is a sunroof. I've always had one and I can't imagine not having one.

I'm thinking a power rear door would be good too.

Krystyn said...

We have the honda odyssey. No DVD player (but we have one we can use...we didn't want them wanting to watch it all the time).

The electric sliding doors are really super handy. You can open doors while going to the car with a remote (like if it's raining).

I wish we had stow and go seats. Our spare is in the space (and honda didn't/doesn't do them).

Kelli @ RTSM said...

I'm so not a minivan person either...are you sure vans get that much better gas milage than an SUV?!? We have a Honda Pilot which I think is considered a midsize but it still seats 8! I LOVE it. Regardless, I would say you want a DVD player for sure. I think it may have been about $2000 extra, but it is so worth it especially if it comes with the cordless headphones!

Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

We just went from a 2006 Dodge Durango (V8) with a DVD player to a 2011 Toyota Sienna SE without a DVD player in November. We were planning to have one installed but the kids have actually done just fine without. I just bring their DS or Leapster or let them watch a movie on my iPhone. Most of the time they are content listening to music.

We researched all the vans on the market & went with the Sienna SE because we like the sporty look & that it handles like a car. Dodge usually has excellent rebates though. I don’t think there is a much of a difference between the Caravan & Town & Country besides $$
Power sliding doors & rear door are a god send. Mine just stopped working & I miss it. Hopefully I can get it into the dealer for a repair soon. I also love the Sat radio which isn’t a must but where we live the radio stations are awful. Oh & the back up camera is another extra I’m in love with. I also wanted something with tinted rear windows & window shades to keep the sun out of the kiddos faces. This is another must for me living in the south.

Our third row stows & I do like it. The middle row doesn’t but it slides which is kind of cool but removing the seats on my own isn’t going to happen. We had a 2008 Caravan but after a year I got rid of it. It was very basic & taking the seats out & putting them back in was a pain.

Best of luck with your decision. Car shopping stressed me out :) Maybe take a look at the Nissan Quest. The new model wasn’t available when we were shopping, but lots of extras on other vans seem to come standard on Nissans.

Lisa Noel said...

I have a grand caravan and its been a nightmare of repairs but I'm told it was just our model year ('04). We don't have stow and go, it came out just after we bought. I hear it makes the car noisier but I think it'd still be worth it. If the DVD player doesn't come standard its WAY cheaper to get installed through one of those audio places. I have the auto doors and LOVE THEM. They were standard on the model we needed for the captains chairs in the second row (my only real requirement when we bought) so I have no idea how much they 'cost' me but I would have a hard time doing without them. One is broken and we don't use that door very much at all now because of it.
My ideal minivan would be the Odessey but it's pricey.

Mighty M said...

A sliding door is a must if you're getting the van! You won't regret it!!

*Mirage* said...

I'm very anti-minivan myself but with 3 kids I had to ... or so I thought. Then I got a crossover. I got a Ford Freestyle. It gets good gas mileage and seats 7. It's halfway between a station wagon and a minivan. I actually really love it and I HATE big vehicles and I HATE automatics but it's such a nice SMALL big car that I totally fell in love with it. It was very easy to get used to driving and handles awesome. It has alot of power- I never have to worry I won't make it if I have to pass and I'm totally paranoid and avoidant about passing so that says alot.
It doesn't have sliding doors. It's a 4 door and the 3-person bench is the middle row so to get to the back row you have to put one of the middle ones down. I have 3 kids though so they fit (barely with all in carseats) across the middle row so I have TONS of room in the back with the seats down for any stuff we need to haul. When we have friends in the car I put my oldest and her friend in the very back row because she's 4 1/2 and can buckle and unbuckle herself with a little help and her vacated middle row seat is left empty to fold down, OR if the friend I'm with has 2 kids we put her 2 in the back row and leave my 3 in the middle row because my oldest's booster can be pushed aside to fold the seat down for access to the back row and then pushed back for her to sit in. I do wish it had a sliding door when we have extra kids in the car to make it easier to get to the back row, but when it's just my three it doesn't matter because we just fold the back row down anyway.
It has pockets on the backs of both front seats for my toddlers' car toys. It's got a 6-disc cd changer. Tons of cupholders. Cell phone cigarette hole plug inside the center console so you don't have that pesky thing hanging out over your cupholders!!! The center console has a little notch for the charger cord in case you want to have the cell outside of the center console but still be charging it. Very handy. It's awesome. I love it.
If you're getting a minivan I'm sure the automatic sliding rear door(s) is/are super handy. Make sure to get one with lots of cupholders. I don't think there can ever be too many cupholders! Lol!

caydensmommy said...

The power sliding doors are a must!!! When getting into the van with 2 kids (holding one of them and holding the other's hand) you just press the button and the open up for you... its amazing!!! You could always just buy a portable DVD player... so they have it for long trips, but no everyday driving. The van I have (Toyota Sienna) has a built in blue-tooth in the steering wheel, so if someone is calling while you are driving you can talk to them right through your speakers, and you pick up the phone just by pressing the button on the wheel!! Amazing!! Happy Shopping!!!!

Shawn Ann said...

I don't own either of those, still in an SUV, however I have been wanting to upgrade and if and when I do it will be to a town and country. They are the best minivans around and supposed to be the ones that are the safest.

dannyscotland said...

I was going to suggest a crossover. If I had to get rid of my beloved, plain old Corolla car, I would go the crossover route. I like the way they look, too; not too big. And I can see around them better than other vehicles when I'm driving, which I also like. SUVs are impossible to see around, which makes me nervous when I'm driving my little car. I also can't see when I'm backing out of a parking space and I'm next to one. So I really concur with Mirage above and say I like the idea of a crossover!

Nikki said...

Power doors are a must!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you are getting a van! Makes it soooo worth it!

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

When we had #3 we decided a mini van was the way to go - and I couldn't be happier!! We bought the Grand Caravan (used but in great condition) I don't have the DVD player (figured that is something I could get later and I don't want it to be a thing they want to use everytime we get in the car, and I don't want it to be a fight I have with them either). The stow and go seats are fantastic, right now we always have the seat behind the driver folded down which makes bulckling the boys into the back seat very easy - baby girl sits behind the passenger. I don't know what I would do at this point if I didn't have my automatic sliding doors - its great when walking to the van trying to carry the infant (seat) and other things (diaper bags, shopping etc) The only down side to those are that the boys have gotten their hands on my keys and opened the doors in the evening & we didn't notice until the next morning (locking the doors every night will prevent this)
I don't suggest getting a van though if your main concern is gas - it really isn't a savings, and if you aren't planning on a 3rd the extra space may not be worth the added expense.

I did look into the crossovers - from what we saw, trying to fit all three kids with their carseats and helping them buckle in would have required much climbing which was something we didn't want.

Lloyd Family said...

I love my Grand Caravan with power sliding doors and stow & go seating. When we were van shopping my husband's must was the stow and go and my must was the sliding doors.

NHmommy said...

sorry...no minivans here either..ever. We just bought an '07 Nissan Pathfinder yesterday. IT has the third row seating and is 4WD, which is a must for NH winters. good luck!

Melissa said...

I just got one two weeks ago and I love it. I got a Town and Country. its like a bunch of moms designed it-everything is so convenient! Power sliding doors and rear hatch, Double DVD screens for second and third rows (they can even watch separate programs!), a little flip down mirror below the rear view mirror that lets you see the kids in the backseats!, the stow and go seating-I was able to fit an enormous amount of furniture in the van last weekend because my third baby isn't here yet and I was able to fold down the third row flat, gosh I could go on and on.

I never thought I would be a minivan kindof girl but I absolutely love it and bottom line is it makes family life WAY easier!!

(Oh, and if you're buying used just keep looking around and comparing, ours is 3 years old and I ended up driving an hour to buy it but got an awesome price for a great one with low miles.)

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blueviolet said...

I'm absolutely clueless on vans, but your gas concerns are more than legitimate!

One Savvy Mom! said...

Hi:)
I have a Grand Caravan...great on gas mileage, I have the dvd ( great for long trips ) though i would definitely advise AGAINST the power doors! It's a pricey upgrade, and when they break they are even pricier to repair!

linda r. said...

I had to laugh when I read your post about being just 25 and having to become "soccer mom" by getting a mini-van. I just have to say, we got our first mini-van....get this 18 years ago when we had just two daughters....fast forward and we have owned just 3 different mini-vans through out the years. Then we were forced into a 12 passenger for a few years due to the size of our family. Now I am much much older than 25 having my 10th child this year and STILL driving and loving a mini-van!

Kimberly said...

You are very wise to just bite the bullet and get the van. I wish I did. I have a Ford Expedition that I love but it is so hard for the passengers. You must be very agile to get into the back seat and it is hard to twist your body (at least for me) to buckle up small children. I also get terrible gas mileage, my husband's truck gets better mileage. Enjoy your van.

BethElderton said...

I was like you with the minivan thing. But I bought one as a second car when my Acura wouldn't hold boys, guitars, coolers for the beach, etc. I love it and still have it though it's about 8 years old now. Talk about handy! We recently bought a 55" TV and TV console/stand--thank goodness for the van! When we moved, all computers, TV's, electronics, guitars, etc were moved more gently with the van rather than the moving truck.
All in all, it is one of the most useful buys I ever made. I haven't done any research on how the gas mileage compares to an SUV, but I can say that it compares favorably with my mid-sized car with a 6-cylinder engine.

Chrissy MacCEO said...

I have a mom van, and was 26 when I got mine. As much as I hate it and swore I'd never get one...I LOVE IT:) I have the DVD player and the automatic doors, which I personally think are a must-have on minivans. We bought ours directly off lease so we did get a little extra with really paying for it--leather interior, heated seats, etc. The only thing I WISH my car came with, or had the option for, was to lower the middle windows. Some of the minivans now come with that option. Others don't. The van gets HOT in the summer and the air takes a while to go through it.

Jenn @ Beautiful Calling said...

I have a Montana and am very happy with it. I tried to go basic where at all possible. The more "mechanical/electronic" stuff, the more that can break. LOL. I'm a basic girl. I do have power windows/locks since apparently that is kind of standard now. LOL. I'd have chosen hand rolled down windows believe it or not!

Little BGCG's Mommy said...

My Mom has a Honda Odyssey and it's great but that's as much as I know about mini vans. I like it though the most important thing for us is the DVD players. The automatic sliding doors are nice but are they necessary? I don't think so!

Anonymous said...

If you live in town expect about 12 to 14mpg in a Grand Caravan. 16mpg on the highway. Except to get 17 gallons twice per month.

Mommy Posh said...

We have a Honda CRV now which is fine for one child, but if we have number 2 I think we will look at the Honda Pilot - good power, great in weather, 3rd row seating, not too big, and solid gas mileage.

Good luck!!!

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