Monday, April 29, 2013

The Epic Question. Minivan or SUV?

It would seem that I'm in need of a new vehicle. I've been driving my sedan for 10 years now. It's pretty leather seats have been trashed with spilled juice cups and car seat indentions. I'm really fond of it. Unfortunately its not going to work for our family that is soon to become 5.


This is a shot of Collin's preschool. As you can see, there seems to be a "family car" trend. In fact. I'm pretty sure I'm the only mom with a small car at drop off.

8 years ago, before I was a mother, I thought I'd never, ever, be caught dead owning a minivan. However, my friends who drive minivans seem fully converted, so there must be something to it. In fact, I was convinced a Honda Odyssey was in my future....


But then Shane brought home a Suburban to try out one weekend and I remembered how fun an SUV can be.

I'd love your advice.

Mini-van or SUV???


I'd love specific models that you like (or don't like).  I'm ready to start test driving. 
I just need to know what to ask for :) 


post signature

27 comments:

Push Pop Mama said...

I LOVE my minivan!

The Thomas Family said...

Must test drive the new swagger wagon! You've seen the youtube commercial video's right?!?!{Toyota Sienna}

There's a reason that car is pictured more than any of the others in your pic.

We love ours :)

Automatic "drop" off sliding doors are a must with sleeping children, or with ones that couldn't do the door otherwise - i.e. Collin..and just overall VERY convenient curbside. Not to mention they don't dent the car next to you like a wide SUV you have to be careful getting kids in and out of.

Happy Vehicle Shopping!

Cari said...

It totally depends on what your needs are. For us, we travel a ton, and three kids in three car seats is nearly impossible to fit in any suv (except maybe the suburban, but that's way too big of a car for me). I hung onto my Santa Fe as long as I could, but finally went with the odyssey and love it. It drives like a car plus has all the essentials (heated seats, mirrors, dvd etc), automatic doors are essential when your arms are loaded down with a car seat, the kids are close but not close enough that they have to touch one another (essential for road trips!) and there's no climbing over the seats. If you needed to fit adults in the back, they could do so comfortably. Of course, living in Europe I wish our family could fit into something smaller, but it's just not possible.

Test drive them all, and put all three car seats in them to see how they fit- some cars are just not built for car seats (especially three).

Madsen Family said...

Get a minivan--either the Odyssey of the Sienna. They are rad. Those cars are MADE for families. That being said, we have a Toyota Highlander and I LOVE it, but we are probably only ever going to have two kids (what with all my fertility issues). I had a Kia mini-van for a short time and while I didn't like the van itself, the sliding doors were worth their weight in gold. In gold. I miss the sliding doors EVERY DAY. But where we live, you HAVE to have four-wheel drive, so we went with the Highlander. You CAN get the Sienna in four-wheel drive but they are hard to find unless new and we couldn't afford brand new. But we test-drove everything and the Sienna was hands down my favorite. I love Toyota. Good luck!

Julie said...

We love our Honda Odyssey! You can't beat the sliding double doors! I've had friends comment on how tough it is to get an infant carseat out of an SUV if there are cars parked next to you. So they end up parking far away where no cars are around.
I was the same way as you. Swore I'd NEVER drive a van. But I was in high school then, and thought vans didn't look cool. And then I had my third kid ten years later and just love all the space for the kids and all their stuff! I highly recommend it! Now I really don't care if I look cool in my car! I just want the space and convenience!!

Rorie said...

My husband swore up and down he'd never own a minivan. Then I got pregnant with twins. We got the minivan. It was wonderful and had so much storage (a must when all the major stores are an hour away). Until we had the twins. Now, with 4 kids in booster or car seats, the minivan is too mini. We are contemplating an upgrade. Again.
So if you're planning on having more kids after the one you're currently baking, then go with something bigger. Otherwise, minivans are cool. :)

Bidwell said...

I wasn't emotionally mature enough to bite the bullet and get a minivan but we probably will in a few years. The best minivans I saw when test driving were the toyota sienna and the honda odyssey. Since you can't really fit into a "small suv" comfortably with a family of 5 I vote the minivan. Big SUV's are cool but I can't imagine having to maneuver and park that thing on a daily basis.

Shelly Dolen said...

We have a Yukon Denali XL and it's huge but I do love it. I can take all 3 of the boys plus friends and go to Costco, Target, & where ever else I want to go with plenty of room. It's perfect for ski season with all the wet gear in the back on the mat.
Down side it's tough to park in the city when we go but I just make my husband drive to Seattle. It took me a while to feel totally comfortable parking the great white but now I'm good at it and I kind of love it's power! *If you go SUV consider getting a bigger one with captain's chairs in the middle row. The kids can walk in between the seats instead of climbing over. I know they make the seat that leans forward but kids will climb over before they lean a seat forward.

Canadiachik said...

A year ago we chose to go with a minivan over a suburban (previously had a smaller suv) and I surprisingly love it. My first choice was a Sienna, but I hate debt more than I liked it, so we went with a loaded Town and Country. It was a great choice for us. The sliding doors and remote trunk are a life saver and make car pools so easy. My 4 kids (ages 3-10) can load themselves which is SO nice, plus it really is great not to worry about the little ones opening doors into neighboring cars, which was always a worry with our other suv.
I really like side windows that roll down, and the stow and go seats (use this more than I would have ever thought. The seats are less padded than with other vans which was my biggest negative, but it's been fine because we still use car seats). We do lots of road trips to see family so I love the mileage (we get on average 25mpg going 75-80 mph on the highway and this is carrying a full load). We use a thule on top for long trips or skiing which holds more than you'd think and works great. A suburban is most likely in our future when teenage bodies need more space & comfort on long trips, but for now at this stage with my kids, the minivan is awesome and I'd do it again.

How is that for a detailed post? I wish I would have had similar input when I was trying to decide.
Good luck!

Laura said...

I have 3 kids and drive the Honda odyssey. Hands down, a mini can is the best car for little kids. Period. You won't regret it when those doors slide open with a push of a button and there is no whacking the car next to you. Not to mention how much can fit in the trunk of the car. I figure in 10 years when the kids are bigger I can get a cooler car. For now u need anything that will make my life a little easier

The Clawsons said...

I am under sacred oath (with several very special girlfriends) to never, EVER drive a mini van. We got a Buick Enclave last year and I am soooo in love with it. It's really sleek, not near as big as a suburban, but still seats 7. My second row has captain's chairs, so it's minivan orientation without the minivan! I don't have to hassle with folding seats up and down, my oldest (9) is happy in the back by herself and the other two (4 and 6) don't have to touch each other. Good luck!!

The Clawsons said...

I am under sacred oath (with several very special girlfriends) to never, EVER drive a mini van. We got a Buick Enclave last year and I am soooo in love with it. It's really sleek, not near as big as a suburban, but still seats 7. My second row has captain's chairs, so it's minivan orientation without the minivan! I don't have to hassle with folding seats up and down, my oldest (9) is happy in the back by herself and the other two (4 and 6) don't have to touch each other. Good luck!!

Savannah said...

Here's my input as the youngest child in a family of five. My mom also swore she would never drive a minivan, so we had an SUV. We had a Mercury Mountaineer that I always loved. Most SUVs seat just as well as a minivan, even on long road trips. I really don't recall the door thing ever being a problem. I have a friend who drives a GMC Acadia that I really love; it's super roomy but not quite as big as a Yukon. My vote is for an SUV!

Jessie said...

I have an Odyssey and love it. When my husband mentioned getting it when I was pregnant with my 2nd I was all for it. We had an Expedition at the time and it was a gas sucker. Now that my 3 kids can get into their own car seats and get buckled in I would totally love a Suburban but then I talk to my girlfriend who has one and she tells me how much it is to fill her tank and how far it goes (not very) and I fall in love all over with my van :) Good luck with your decision, both are great vehicles!

Kara said...

I have a ford expedition. The two biggest problems are that is uses a lot of gas and I don't love the seat arrangement for three kids. If you go with an SUV I would recommend bucket seats in the middle row. With a car seat and two boosters, plugging the seatbelts in for the two boosters is a total pain if they all sit in the same row because the part you plug the belt into is alwsys partially covered with another carseat. So one of my kids Iin a booster is always in the back row. However, since I have car seats on both window seats, folding them up for access to the back row every time we load and unload is a total pain.

Kara said...

I have a ford expedition. The two biggest problems are that is uses a lot of gas and I don't love the seat arrangement for three kids. If you go with an SUV I would recommend bucket seats in the middle row. With a car seat and two boosters, plugging the seatbelts in for the two boosters is a total pain if they all sit in the same row because the part you plug the belt into is alwsys partially covered with another carseat. So one of my kids Iin a booster is always in the back row. However, since I have car seats on both window seats, folding them up for access to the back row every time we load and unload is a total pain.

dougandcheryl said...

My husband and I even pinkie swore that we would never own a mini van when we first got married... and now I drive one. :)
We only have two kids but I found that whenever we had family around or friends we just couldn't fit the amount of people we wanted to. We also go on a lot of road trips and I knew I wanted space to fit whatever we wanted to into it.
So when our car started acting up and we knew we would need to go to two vehicles soon I looked at a lot of things.
I really wanted an MDX or a Highlander but the space just wasn't as big for things like trips with families.
Finally I started looking at mini vans. I didn't like most of them that I test drove but when I got into my Dodge Grand Caravan I loved it.
It is the mini van model with a more square look to the front and back and a cooler looking dashboard.
I don't feel like I am driving a van in this one.
I LOVE it.
I thought I would like it but I never knew how much I would love it. It is so convenient and has come in handy SO many times.

Ms. B said...

We bought a Toyota Sienna last year. It is wonderful. They say if you take good care of them you can get an easy 200k-300k miles out of them. I have plenty of friends with the honda as well. I think it just depends on your preference. You definitely want the remote doors. Great for when your hands are full.

Julie Thompson said...

I too swore up and down that I would never, ever under any circumstances own a minivan. After moving from Texas to NY with a kid in a carseat and a black lab in a Camry I changed my mind. Less than 2 weeks after the move...we didn't even have an address yet as we were living in a hotel waiting to close on our house, we bought a Toyota Sienna. I am on my second one and with 2 kids and lots and lots of road trips, it is totally worth having the Mom-mobile. The gas mileage is great, it is super comfy and can haul loads and loads of gear. We do have a Thule cargo carrier for it as well since we went on a super long road trip to the mountains and the beach and needed the extra space. You won't be sorry with a van!

Alex and Jill said...

We love our SUV. We have a full size Cadillac Escalade. I never thought I could drive something that big but now I don't think I could ever go back. I also know lots of Mamas who have minivans and love them, so I think either way you go, you'll be happy. I just love having the extra room in the back when we're traveling, shopping, things like that. We have two children and have plenty of room to carry friends and family if needed.

kristi lee said...

I like my suburban. It is huge. I like that. The trunk space is awesome. Parking isn't really an issue to me and I like that my kids know how to open a door and not slam into another car.

That said, it does take a lot of gas. For the infant carrier I have (britax...which is huge), in order for the handle to fold down the front seat has to be moved up REALLY far...when I'm riding in the passenger seat I have to sit sideways. This is only for a short time so it doesn't bother me too much but I did not expect that to happen in a vehicle so large.

We bought ours used from a friend so it was cost perspective thing for us over a new van & car payments. They are a popular sought after vehicle that hold their value well. I know I can easily sell it if I change my mind but I don't intend to.

I can easily get over myself and drive a van no problem. I won't lie though...it looks way better!

Beth said...

I have four children (3 in carseats/boosters still) & we are on our second suburban. My husband also drives a suburban. I love mine. It is so much roomier than a minivan & lots more room for storage. The gas mileage is a little worse but the exchange is worth it for me. We travel with family that has a minivan & it's amazing how much more we can fit in...which is necessary with small kids:) Anyways, that's my experience! Good luck with your choice!

Stacie and Jared said...

I have a Ford Edge (too small for 3kids in back) and love it. Before that I had a Tahoe and I LOVED it! Ours did not have a 3rd row which was a bummer, but it had a ton of room in back, was comfortable, and I loved the way it drove!

beba said...

Rob and I were in love with a Tahoe two days before we bought a minivan. The seats for the drivers were paradise, but the cardboard third row was less than desirable. But here's why we changed our mind after test driving burbans and other SUV's before the Odyssey: We wanted 3 latches across the middle seat. That was because of the ages of our kids and also where we wanted them to sit in relation to each other. In SUV's the latches are usually the middle and side seat. I wanted to separate the youngest two. (Of course you can install seats without latches, but I prefer them). Lydia & Collin may be old enough that doesn't matter cause they may both be in boosters by now.

The real kicker was reading about safety, and it seemed like vans were safer. I'm not consumer reports so maybe that isn't the case anymore, but it seemed to be when we were making the decision.

I used to have Kate in the back row of the Odyssey but I moved her up with the other kids to the middle row because I can hear her better. It fosters better conversation when we're not yelling at each other. In the Odyssey, I do like the sliding doors and low entry A LOT so the kids can get in on their own.

But I get the SUV thing, esp. because your other kids are getting older.

amydear said...

We've had a Sienna for 8 years. Very comfortable and reliable. I love the automatic sliding door. Turns and handles better than many sedans. We might change to an SUV in a few years when we don't have any more car seats, but I haven't regretted the minivan one bit.

The Wheeler's said...

So I'm curious to know what you ended up getting! We just had to sell our car because baby #3 will be here in January and there was no way to put 3 car seats in our car. My husband refused to look at minivans. He really wanted a big SUV but I was worried about gas mileage so I talked him into a Chevy traverse. I love it!! It seats 7 because we went with one that had bucket seats in the middle so we didn't have to fold seats down to get 1 kid in the back. Anyways just curious to see what you liked

Suzanne Kamper said...

Minivan is more energy sufficient, but an SUV looks better if you ask me.

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