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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    My Suburban may have to have some work done soon. I don't know how extensive yet. So I'm planning my back up plan...

    I swore off minivans after I drove a Dodge Grand Caravan for 10 months. I hated it. However..... I see how much people love the Odyssey and Sienna. I am totally in love with the fact that you can arrange the second row seats a number of ways and that it was made for car seats!!!!

    What's your opinion on these two vans? Any other 8 passenger vehicles that you would recommend? I currently have 4 car seats. I may have 5 or even 6 before this phase is done. I also would really like for my two cousins (also in boosters) to be able to ride with us a couple times a month.

    Any advice is welcome.
    Thank you for reading!


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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    I have an 08 (models 05-10 are the same I think) 8 passenger Sienna. I regularly have 6 seats/boosters/children in the rear seats.


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  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dillipop View Post
    I have an 08 (models 05-10 are the same I think) 8 passenger Sienna. I regularly have 6 seats/boosters/children in the rear seats.


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    Thank you! How is access to the third row? Are you happy with the width of the rows of seats? Could adults ride in all positions?


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  5. #4
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    What's your budget?

    The 2011+ Odyssey has a much more usable 8th seat than the earlier generation of the Odyssey. The 2006(?)-2010 Sienna also has a very usable 8th seat.

    The 2011+ Odyssey has 6 tether anchors, and 5 sets of lower anchors. That gives you almost full flexibility for deciding which kid goes where. Getting 3 across in the 3rd row of any minivan will be a bit of a challenge, but not a huge one in this vehicle, and 3 across the 2nd row is ridiculously easy.

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Quote Originally Posted by lgenne View Post
    What's your budget?

    The 2011+ Odyssey has a much more usable 8th seat than the earlier generation of the Odyssey. The 2006(?)-2010 Sienna also has a very usable 8th seat.

    The 2011+ Odyssey has 6 tether anchors, and 5 sets of lower anchors. That gives you almost full flexibility for deciding which kid goes where. Getting 3 across in the 3rd row of any minivan will be a bit of a challenge, but not a huge one in this vehicle, and 3 across the 2nd row is ridiculously easy.

    THAT'S what I needed to know!!! I see where people are installing car seats in the eighth seat but to my eyes it has seemed very tiny in pictures. I looked at one in person yesterday (2011) and I thought, "oh you could put a seat there."

    So it's been a little confusing... Thank you for the clarification!

    Do you know if the Sienna's seats can be configured in any way? What I mean is, can one seat be removed to make an "aisle" like in the Odyssey?


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  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    As far as budget, it would be great if we could stay below $20. We could go up to about $24 at the highest.


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  8. #7
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    In the pre-2011 Sienna, each seat in the middle row can be removed. The 2 outer seats easily tumble for third row access, as long as the seat on them is a backless booster or empty. I've also seen a friend have a rearfacing seat in their outer seat and the are able to move the seatback just far enough forward for her kids to get through with the seat pulled forward. Each seat in the middle row is on a track and can move back and front. The middle seat in the middle row can be moved entirely forward of the rest of the row by about 6 inches.

    The third row can not be removed but does fold flat into the floor.

    The middle row is pretty comfortable for adults. I have done many long trips in the outer seats. The center seat is a little smaller than the outer but I can still fit. Not sure I'd want to do a long trip in the center but it's doable.

    The outboard seats in the 3rd row are fine. I've sat back there before as well. Not as comfy as the front 2 rows but adequate for an adult. The center of the third row is narrow and I have not tried sitting there. I would imagine it would be a bit smooshed for an adult.

    Overall, I love our 08. I currently have 2 harnessed seats with a skinny 5 stepper in the third row and 2 backless boosters and a rfer in the middle row. I've had 4 harnessed seats and 2 boosters. We've Done 2 harnessed, 2 boosters and 4 adults. The combinations are pretty endless, IMO.


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  9. #8
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    It looks like a 2011 Odyssey EX (lowest trim that includes the +1) is well within your price range, at least near me.

    The Sienna was redesigned in 2011, too. I know in the current generation you can remove the jump seat for a center aisle. I think you can remove a captain's chair, too, but it seems unlikely that you'd want to. I think the earlier generation of Siennas can have any combination of 2nd row seats removed.

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Wow. This is some good info. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all this. Would've taken me weeks otherwise!!!

    Sounds like I will have to drive both and spend some time playing with seats in both.


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  11. #10
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Quote Originally Posted by lgenne View Post
    It looks like a 2011 Odyssey EX (lowest trim that includes the +1) is well within your price range, at least near me.

    The Sienna was redesigned in 2011, too. I know in the current generation you can remove the jump seat for a center aisle. I think you can remove a captain's chair, too, but it seems unlikely that you'd want to. I think the earlier generation of Siennas can have any combination of 2nd row seats removed.

    Yes! I actually found a 2012 near me for a great price. That's the one I was looking through the windows at yesterday. (The dealership was closed, but you can still drive around and look. )

    We are going to have to drive our Suburban for a while longer yet, but I'm definitely beginning to look around. I want to do as much research as possible this time so I don't make the mistake we made with that stupid Caravan!!!!! Argh!!!!


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  12. #11
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    I recommend showing up at a dealership with a couple of car seats and trying them out. I totally lucked into my Odyssey. The salesman at the Dodge dealership was a jerk, but I like to think I would have disliked the T&C anyway. I was leaning Sienna until I realized there was only one top tether in the 3rd row, which was after we had come home from a day of test driving minivans.

    I was smarter a year later when we were looking at replacing the other compact car that we were fitting 2 children into regularly with a 3rd on the way. Mazda brought around a Mazda 5 so my kids could play in the 2nd row while I played with the Radian in the 3rd row.

  13. #12
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Quote Originally Posted by lgenne View Post
    I recommend showing up at a dealership with a couple of car seats and trying them out. I totally lucked into my Odyssey. The salesman at the Dodge dealership was a jerk, but I like to think I would have disliked the T&C anyway. I was leaning Sienna until I realized there was only one top tether in the 3rd row, which was after we had come home from a day of test driving minivans.

    I was smarter a year later when we were looking at replacing the other compact car that we were fitting 2 children into regularly with a 3rd on the way. Mazda brought around a Mazda 5 so my kids could play in the 2nd row while I played with the Radian in the 3rd row.

    I have been on a vehicle journey for the past few years!!!! I had a Tahoe when I had my first two babies. True love!!! But a big price tag. So we needed something cheaper when #3 came along. We were exhausted from a day of car shopping which is why we settled on the Caravan. Anything just to not have to look anymore!!!! And I did test my then 3 seats in it. They fit pretty well. Well the thing was possessed!!!!! (Turns out it had electrical problems.) And I hated the back seat. It was torture to try to install and uninstall!!!!

    So I went for the Suburban. I had wanted one for forever and I found a good deal. Cargo room is great obviously. But here comes Baby #4. And we have captain's chairs. And there is one tether in the back. And not every seat will install on that back bench.
    So I give up!!!! I will raise the white flag and drive the car seat paradise Ody if I can find the right one!

    I just have to pay down this Suburban more first. And hope the repairs are minor and not expensive.




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  14. #13
    Carseat Crazy
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    Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    I have ridden in the center second row of a 2011+ Ody for 2 hours each way in the same day. I am about 5'7" and 130 lb. I have a slightly long torso, and the head support was barely tall enough for me, but it was fine. I was next to a Pinnacle, so that shoulder was a little squished, but there was a RF Advocate G3 on the other side that was fine. I have seen my SIL ride there, and her hips are wider than mine.

    Edit: my DH and FIL rode on the 60 portion of the third row apparently comfortably. DH is very close to my size and rode center. FIL rode outboard and fell asleep, so I guess he was reasonably comfy even with is super long legs. They went in through the trunk.
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  15. #14
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Well. My DH (D doesn't necessarily stand for dear in this instance. ) has adamantly stated that we will NOT buy another van.
    I still have time to work on him but he is very set against it right now.
    I have been looking at other options.
    Has anyone had any experience with the Chevy Traverse? The back row looks narrow but I have seen a YouTube video today that had a rear facing convertible in it. The leg room between third and second rows looks to be more than my Suburban has right now.
    (We swung through the dealership lot after church this morning.)


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  16. #15
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    What's his objection? Just that he hated the Caravan? The Caravan is definitely hate-worthy, but it's not representative of the entire class of vehicles.

    I'd tell him that you're not buying anything until he at least test drives an Odyssey.

  17. #16
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    Quote Originally Posted by lgenne View Post
    What's his objection? Just that he hated the Caravan? The Caravan is definitely hate-worthy, but it's not representative of the entire class of vehicles.

    I'd tell him that you're not buying anything until he at least test drives an Odyssey.

    This was my thought also.
    It is partly the Caravan fiasco and partly because he thinks I won't be happy with it. (We are a truck family. I have always driven trucks. I used to race a truck, even.)
    He isn't the one stressing over car seat installations. (Although he will do it if I ask. And does it correctly.)
    He isn't the one wanting to carpool on field trips. So he doesn't see the need and thinks I am crazy for considering it.


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  18. #17
    Senior Community Member jwilliams's Avatar
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    My parents had a Caravan (which they bought new and experienced extensive and serious issues with, starting soon after purchase) and were ready to swear off vans...until my mom tested a 2012 Odyssey.


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  20. #18
    CPS Technician SnoGurl's Avatar
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    I have a Chevy traverse for a program I work with. No centre head rests. Getting in the back row is a PITA. The back row has limited leg room. I can't imagine getting a RFer in there, although you guys have more options for that then we do up North here.
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  21. #19
    CPS Fanatic Dorothy's Avatar
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    Re: Recs for an 8 passenger vehicle?

    I drove a big crew cab pickup for 10 years, so I kind of know where you're coming from. DH wanted a Buick Enclave when we were looking to change, but I vetoed based on the limitations of the third row. Briefly, I couldn't fit our rfer back there and was very disappointed by the nonadjustable headrests. We ended up with a 7 passenger Ford Flex. With two kids, I don't need the third row often. If I did, I'd insist on the Ody (even though DH swears he'd never agree).

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