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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Oct 2011
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    116

    car recommendation for large family

    I just found out we are expecting baby number 6 which means we will have outgrown our 2007 Toyota Sienna. I am leaning towards an 8 passenger minivan to buy me some more time with greater gas mileage before we need a bigger vehicle that guzzles gas.

    I have been doing some reading on the 2011 Honda Odyssey versus the Sienna and the Odyssey is winning so far. My question is this:

    If all positions have child seats, how do you access the third row for a FF child?

    Second, I have looked at the larger vans and their safety ratings scare me. I thought I wanted the Nissan NV but the mileage on that is horrible. Any other vehicles I am missing?

    My kids are currently as follows:
    DD, 7 high back booster Kiddie ProX
    DD, 5 ff Radian (probably will outgrow that seat in the next 6-12 months as she is just under the top strap position.
    DD, 4 RF Radian (she is tiny and could rear face FOREVER at the rate she grows)
    DS, 3 RF Radian
    DD, 18 months RF Radian.

    My current configuration is 2nd row DD FF Radian passenger side and DD RF Radian driver's side
    Third Row is (passenger to driver's side) DD Booster, DD RF Radian, DS RF Radian.

    My oldest walks in the aisle and buckles herself. I load the RF kiddos through the trunk.

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  3. #2
    CPS Fanatic MommyShannon's Avatar
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    I agree with the Odyssey except that I've read a few people mention issues with installing seats in the 3rd row center. I love that the 8th seat is so big and that there are top tethers for all seats. If you put 3 RF in the 3rd row, you could still just access through the back. Another member here added some light weight animal steps in the trunk to help kids climb in. Otherwise, you can keep a LATCHed seat in an outboard chair so you can slide it as far forward as possible. In our older Ody, my kids can squeeze through that space. Another option is to put the oldest in a no back booster that still allows the seat to flip forward. The annoying part is that the seatbelt comes from the wall so you have to make sure it's not looped around an armrest first.

    I'd also consider an 8 passenger Sienna if it's the previous model.
    ~Shannon
    DD (11.5) Seatbelt; DS (9) Incognito; DD2 (7) Britax Parkway; DD3 (4.5) Graco Nautilus

  4. #3
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    Rockford, IL
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    I do think an older Sienna or Odyssey is your best bet.

  5. #4
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Salmon Arm, BC
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    Mileage and safety ratings are going to look worse on big vans because they're big! It's really not fair to compare them to cars. You can't expect them to drive like cars. If you handle them like the large vehicles they are, you'll be fine. Stability control has improved leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. The difference is unbelievable.

    I've made emergency maneuvers in my GMC Safari (old-school, no stability control) and Chevy Express (with Stabilitrak). They both handle fine. I do donuts and drifts in the winter with my Safari and it stays upright LOL! DH has a Toyota Tundra which has more advanced stability control, like what you're probably getting in a Nissan NV or Ford Transit, and it's really hard to get it to slide at all.

    Besides the Nissan NV, the other large van to look at is the Ford Transit.

    Are you planning to have more children? If you're staying at 6 for a while, I would definitely recommend an 8-passenger. It's so much more convenient than hauling around a giant van. I have 8 kids and still use my 8-passenger for pretty much everything. I'm ridiculously attached to my Safari. If it died I would almost want another one. But if I was told to pick any 8-passenger van, I would probably pick a 2nd gen Sienna (04-10).
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Oct 2011
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    More children is definitely an option. I learned to drive on a fifteen passenger Dodge way back when, so I have driven them before and could probably do well. I hate how the seat belts have to be crawled through and the lack of headrests and the lack of things like airbags and whatnot. I also hate the idea of sliding on hills with the van. That used to scare me as a kid whenever it would snow...

    Thanks for the ideas .

  7. #6
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    Depending on how many children you're planning on having, you might also want to consider short school buses. You can pick them up at comparable prices to minivans if you search carefully. They lack creature comforts and tend to be noisier, but the cargo space is unbeatable.

  8. #7
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    Quote Originally Posted by knlrachel View Post
    More children is definitely an option. I learned to drive on a fifteen passenger Dodge way back when, so I have driven them before and could probably do well. I hate how the seat belts have to be crawled through and the lack of headrests and the lack of things like airbags and whatnot. I also hate the idea of sliding on hills with the van. That used to scare me as a kid whenever it would snow...

    Thanks for the ideas .
    Nissan NV and Ford Transit both have shoulder belts & headrests in all positions and the seatbelts don't cross the aisle anymore. NV failed slightly in the tether anchor department by not putting anchors on the drivers' side outboard seats.

    If you're dealing with snow, I think you can get the NV with AWD. Ford hasn't brought that here yet for the Transit, but AWD is an option elsewhere in the world so maybe they'll bring it here soon. We can hope. The Chevy Express comes with AWD, but installing car seats in it is a PITA because the outboard seatbelts are all waaayyy forward-of-the-bight. Your Complete Airs would work RF outboard. Your Radians would have to be installed with LATCH or in the centre. I had headrests installed in my Chevy Express. In the end it was really no big deal.

    If you can get another couple years out of an 8-passenger, there will probably be used NVs around when you need to up-size.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Oct 2011
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    Does anyone know when the Ford Transit connect is coming out? I heard they are getting a twelve and fifteen passenger version is coming out? It looks awesome, but I'm not sure it I will be available in time...

  10. #9
    CPS Fanatic Keeanh's Avatar
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    Re: car recommendation for large family

    Quote Originally Posted by knlrachel View Post
    Does anyone know when the Ford Transit connect is coming out? I heard they are getting a twelve and fifteen passenger version is coming out? It looks awesome, but I'm not sure it I will be available in time...
    It's the Transit you're looking for. The Transit Connect is a completely different little ugly thing LOL. The Transit (which I think will be the T-250, T-450, etc. in North America) was supposed to show up sometime last year. Now they're saying "early 2014".

    There's a 12p, 15p, and a MONSTROUS 15p + cargo space version.

    If that's your dream vehicle, you could sell your current van privately and buy an 04 - 07 Sienna for the same or less, or maybe even an Astro to tide you over a couple years. That way you're not out any $$, and you're not down to the wire waiting for the Ford to be available.
    17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs , 9yrs (58", 75lbs, Incognito), 7yrs (46", 50lbs, Dreamtime), 5yrs (41", 35lbs, RN), 3yrs (30lbs, RF Marathon), NB (Peg 4-35)
    '14 Mazda5, '06 Chevy Express, '08 Toyota Tundra

  11. #10
    CPST Instructor
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    Mar 2008
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    603

    Re: car recommendation for large family

    I am also pregnant with my 6th and we are seriously considering a NVP. We currently drive a suburban and I love it, but it will be very cozy with 8 people in it. We are still on the fence, but leaning that way. I have to have something a bit beefier than a minivan. My 'burban is basically my truck on steroids I have to be able to drive through fields and tow and haul things
    Jess, CPST and mom to 6 girls
    W(7/28) is rocking an Aton, S(3) rides in a Nextfit or RXT, O(6) has a Frontier 90, the big girls (9, 11) have Monterey Boosters and incognitos, and the oldest is 15, wears a seat belt and is driving!

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