I had long been asking for one, but the husband refused to ever drive one (never mind that he drove a Subaru Outback, a station wagon, for many years). So, we got the Tahoe, which was fine for the two kids. It carried us safely through a hurricane evacuation and on a trip from Houston to San Francisco and back, and was beautiful and comfortable. But, the impending arrival of baby #3, combined with my lack of vertical endowment (I barely scrape 5’4” on flat feet) made it clear that the Tahoe would not work.
I convinced the husband to look at some and slowly he converted to accepting (perhaps not loving) that the MV was the way to go. After awhile, we found the perfect one: one year gently used, black exterior, tan leather seats. That’s about as cool as you can get in the MV world. I refuse to drive what I refer to as the old people colors – all the different shades of drab, dull tan. Ugh. So, we lucked out with the black one!
The fabulous benefits may not immediately present themselves when just thinking about it because one can justify anything to themselves in their mind (oh, I won’t mind opening the doors for both kids, lifting them up, securing them and then reaching over the kids to somehow install the baby in her seat!). All the experience you need is one afternoon of driving with two toddlers and a baby while making various stops where everyone must get in and out of the car multiple times.
The biggest awesome feature that I don’t think I could live without now is the remote automatically opening doors. Here’s the scenario: I’m walking with the baby, diaper bag, keys, and purse while holding one toddler’s hand who’s holding the other toddler’s hand because we are in a parking lot. All I have to do is click the button and both doors open, the children jump in their respective seats, buckle themselves if they can and they are immediately out of the danger of running around in a parking lot. I can immediately put the baby in the car with ease because it’s low enough for my short stature to reach (she sits in the middle seat, even with one kid in the back), and lo and behold, everyone is in the car within 1 minute. Larger SUV’s do not offer such ease: kids are often not tall enough to open doors and/or get in themselves and it can be very difficult to get the baby in the middle seat when it’s raised so high. Less/easier loading time can do wonders for sanity, especially when you have to cart your kids everywhere.
Other family friendly features are built in window shades (makes a difference in sunny places), dvd player (we only use it on long trips, but we take several a year), large ‘trunk’ space when all seats are up (you basically get none in a most SUVs when all seats are up), and the really large ‘trunk’ space when the 3rd row in put down. I have fit a store sized display case in the back, ikea purchases, and we have packed for 5 people for a month long road trip and still had tons of extra room. There are also about 16 cup holders sprinkled about the car, which sounds excessive, but with at least 3 kids, that fills up fast. Eight people can fit comfortably so you can chauffeur visiting guests and/or family and friends without having to take two cars everywhere!
Combine that with the fact that Mom and Dad can listen to the radio/cd/ipod while the kids listen to their dvd, and there is a secret storage compartment in the floor, and what could you possibly not love? Oh, and the seats are comfortable and the little extras like seat warmers, drivers side automatic door openers, and you’ve got the most comfortable, practical vehicle out there. Ours is several years old now, but I do know that the new Odyssey’s have a cold storage compartment!! You can’t get better than that when traveling with kids who need juice, formula, and food. They also come with lower price tags than near equivelant SUVs and better gas mileage.
We’ve known several friends who have ‘had’ to get a mini-van after swearing up and down that they never, ever, ever in a million years would. They wanted to hold on to their pre-parental coolness (I totally understand), but why be miserable when you don’t have to. They wear sleek designs these days, and doesn’t everyone want to feel comfortable? Once a family has 3 or more kids, the MV is a necessity. Two-child families are on the border of this need, but they truly do make life easier.
People laugh at me sometimes because I drive a Mini-Van. I never really pegged myself as a mini-van Mom, but I’m all about comfort and practicality, and quite frankly, I’d rather have a fancy, impractical purse than car!
Watch this for a good laugh: