Last week Albert and I started really talking about getting a van. We loved our Traverse, but it was really hard getting in and out of it with the infant car seat and kids on both sides of the car. With just Quentin I would park so I would have ample room to get him in and out, but with two kids it was almost impossible to have enough room on both sides to get everyone out without a great deal of stress as most people have large vehicles in this area and our garage is pretty small. It's also really windy here and it is hard to maneuver the cart with two kids while trying to find the keys. Despite the fact that I was so vehemently against getting a van, I found myself wishing we had those sliding doors.
Albert has always loved vans. In fact when we first met he was driving one for work and would go on and on showing me all the features. So he was more than willing to toss around the idea. We originally went to the dealership just to check them out, we hadn't decided that we wanted to get rid of our Traverse. On Thursday we went to the Chrysler dealership and when they saw our Traverse they were really interested in making a trade. So much so I thought we should probably hang onto our car since we obviously had something good.
When we talked to our parents that night they were in consensus that we should not trade the Traverse. They all loved it and had very poor opinions of vans even though both owned vans when we were kids. My dad was worried that we wouldn't have AWD in bad weather or to drive out in the middle of nowhere to go shooting. I found those to be bad reasons to hang onto it since we don't have bad weather in New Mexico and I would never take a nice vehicle like that one out on a dirt road. Besides how many times have we been out shooting during our five years of marriage...um never. How many times to I take the kids in and out of the car every day? At least four.
So Albert did a lot of research on the top mini vans and we ended up going to four different dealerships to check them out. Here's what we thought of them:
Chrysler Town and Country: We had some friends that have this van so we thought we'd check it out. It has a lot of cool features that come standard. Maybe too many. I was a little nervous that something would break on it. I really liked all the storage, the two DVD players, and all the electrical outlets. I had no idea that they put electrical outlets in cars these days. It's like an airplane on that thing. It also came with a push start button, which allows you to unlock the doors without getting out the key (one of my must-haves) and stow-n-go seating. The leather seats weren't good quality and the interior felt cheap. Also it felt a bit rough driving, but I'm not sure if that's because we were comparing it to the Traverse. The back up camera wasn't very sharp either. The dealership was so interested in our Traverse they kept lowering the price and calling us almost a week later when we told them we already bought a different one.
Honda Odyssey: This van is ranked #1 on some rankings and we had also got good reviews from friends who owned them. We liked the way it drove and I really liked the seats. They had a nice lumbar support even in the passenger seat. The interior seemed nice. The back up camera was sharp, but had a terrible glare that really bothered Albert. You have to get the top of the line model to get any options and even then it didn't offer the push button start in the 2013 model so you have to get the key out to open the door. The dealership we went to didn't seem to interested in negotiating with us so we figured if it didn't work out with any of the other ones we'd go to a different Honda dealership across town to see if they were more willing to work with us.
Toyota Sienna: Lots of our friends own the Toyota and love it. We liked the quality of the drive and interior was comparable to the Honda. They do offer the push button start and a large back up camera monitor, but to get them and other options we wanted you have to have the top of the line and then pay extra to add them on. I figured we would be paying a bunch more money to get the same features we already had with our current car. When we drove home Friday evening I figured our search was done and we'd just hang onto our Traverse.
Nissan Quest: Saturday morning we went to check out the Nissan. The night before made a list of must haves that would make us want to give up our Traverse and we set a limit for what we wanted to pay. When we told them we wanted to look at the vans they immediately directed us to a top of the line, fully loaded 2012 model that had been driven by the owner's wife as a demo for six months. It didn't have the 360 camera that Albert loves, but we got a heck of a deal on the trade-in because they wanted to get rid of the van. The push button star comes standard and we have a double sun roof, a DVD player, and navigation. The interior is really nice. The leather is soft and it has piping and has been compared to the Infinity. The seats are really comfortable too. It doesn't have as much storage up front as I would like, but it does have an electrical outlet.
Since we got such a great deal and it had everything we wanted. Albert said that we could always buy another Traverse down the road if we really wanted and I realized that I wouldn't miss the Traverse after all. It has been so much easier with the kids and it's a smoother ride than the Traverse was.