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Discussion Starter #1
So, last year we bought a used Toyota Sienna. We were positive we weren't having any more children, so we went ahead and got the 7 passenger because it was a cream puff vehicle (retired person) with virtually no miles. It is almost paid off and of course, #6 is on it's way!<br><br>
Now we need to find something for at least 8 passengers (unless of course, we have twins again <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue">).<br><br>
What do you drive? Do you love it? Is it reliable? Is there lots of room for car seats and boosters (all of our kids need one or the other)? We will definately need to buy pre-owned because there is no room in the budget for a car payment and we have bikes and trailers and don't even use the van that much. There is the possibility of running from a hurricane where we live so it does have to be reliable.<br><br>
Thanks in advance!
 

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We have a 12 passenger van. It has no frills, we bought it used after it retired from a rental car company( yet had low miles). We have 5 kidlets in car seats/boosters. There is ample storage room. The only other car we would trade it for would be a 15 passenger that we could take a middle bench out of, and that would be just for play room. Gas mileage has not been terrible(about equal to our minivan). I can't hold dh's hand while driving though, the front seats are spread too far away!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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<span style="font-size:medium;">i drive a suburban. i would prefer a minivan (never thought i'd say that!) because around here there is a lot of street parking and the suburban is hard to parallel park, but it was what i could find that would fit everyone for what i could afford.</span>
 

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Can't you get an extra bench for the middle row of your Sienna? When we were shopping for vans I remember looking at the Sienna because it had the option of 7 or 8 seats. That would certainly be the most economical way to go. Presumably you can get one either used or from the dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The sienna we have now has captain's chairs-we were told that the "holes" in the floor weren't compatible with the middle bench, but possibly that info wasn't accurate-I will double check.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It looks like both the floor pan and the seat belt configuration are different on the 8 passenger Sienna. The middle bench isn't compatible with the 7 passenger.<br><br>
We have looked at 12 and 15 passenger vans, but haven't found any yet with reasonable mileage. We are finding the same situation with Suburbans. We have months to find something though. Do you get used to driving something so large? (I have been known to bump things).
 

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We drive a 9 passenger Suburban. With our family of six, a large dog and lots of travel to ski races and soccer games, we fill it to the hilt and I love love it, bad gas milage and all.<br>
A friend (also family of 6) just bought a 2008 suburban ,it only seats seven,tho and i swear the back cargo area isn't as big as ours (a 98).<br><br>
You have to search for the 9 passsenger ones, tho, most seat 7 or 8. (bench seat in the front as oppsed to console in the middle.
 

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oh.. and a used one with 95-100K miles is not bad milage... ours has 160k and still runs like a charm, they're meant to last.<br><br>
One more tip, that someone gave us when we bought our suburban, try to find out if the previous owners used it to tow alot... that puts alot of wear on (the drive train?)
 

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I personally would not go with a Suburban for your family size, unless maybe you have at least a couple of kids out of carseats. I am pregnant with #5, and I am currently in an 8 passenger Odyssey but looking to get a new car (I was looking before I got pregnant though, I can fit 5 carseats in my car) and I have looked at Suburbans, but the third row is actually smaller than the third row in my Odyssey, and they don't have a headrest in the middle of the third row (so only a HBB or harnessed seat can go there) and they don't have as many tether anchors as my Odyssey. The middle row is huge, of course, but it's difficult to access the third row if you have three in carseats in the third row. Lots of cargo room, but I think a minivan is more practical and makes better use of the space.<br><br>
I also looked at 8 passenger Siennas (both 2010 and older and the redesigned 2011s) and neither had more usable space than my Odyssey. The 2011 8 passengers are really nice, but the 8th seat can not hold a carseat. I thought for a while (from hearing reviews and seeing pictures) that an older 8 passenger would be perfect but when I actually saw them it was so cramped inside and the seats didn't really slide forward enough to make using the entire third row practical for me. If you have a skinny out of booster older child, you might really like the new 8 passengers though! Super easy access to the third row even with carseats in the captains chairs. Small small small 8th seat though, but I could sit in it comfortably.<br><br>
The current Odysseys are nice, get great gas mileage with the EX-L and Touring (I get 28mpg on straight interstate driving, and 22-24 in my day to day life), and the 8 passengers really do hold 8 passengers, but access to the third row is difficult with 3 carseats across the middle row. The 2011 model is coming out this fall, and from what I hear, they are going to have a bigger more flexible middle row with three sets of LATCH. That would be nice!<br><br>
My dh is trying to convince me to get a conversion van, and a lot of larger families I know have them and love them. I'm not convinced though. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We have 3 in boosters, 1 in a Radian and 1 in a Marathon. For the new baby we will need another Radian or similiar. Even in the Sienna it is very difficult to get three across in the third row. I frequently let one of the 10 year olds (still in a booster due to height) sit in the front in the booster because it is so difficult to get them across in the back. The latch placements complicate things as well. They just aren't designed to have carseats/boosters in every seat.<br><br>
Dh is realling gunning for the conversion van as well. He wants a 15 passenger he can take the last seat out of for bikes and gear.<br><br>
I am surprised that the Suburban doesn't have a big third row. I have only seen them in pictures and they look huge. Thanks for the info. My brother has an odyssey and loves it, but he has 3 kids. A new one just isn't in the budget.<br><br>
Do conversion vans have LATCH?
 

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A fifteen passenger van. I hate it. All our relaztives refer to it as "the church bus" . <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

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Not a large family here but an active family of 5 that researched the heck of out large SUVs before getting one this year. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent"> The Suburban's 2nd row if you get a bench seat, is huge, it can fit 3 across easily, the 3row is tiny like another poster mentioned. It sits in between the wheel wells, the 3rd row of my Sienna was FAR superior to the 3rd row of the Suburban. It would only be possible to fit very narrow carseats 3 in a row back there, not an easy feat. The leg room is actually horrid as well. If you are looking for a large SUV, Ford makes a Expedition EL that is the same length as a Suburban with a 3 row that is actually decent. The cargo space loses a few inches compared to the Suburban because they do give the 3rd row more leg room. The only started making them a couple years ago and they are not that many sold so it can be tough to find a used one. That is what we ended up with to be able to haul us, all our gear, and the extra people I always seem to have. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"><br><br>
Honestly it sounds like a large van would be the best fit your family though. And yes you get used to driving something so big and this is coming from someone who could barely park a tiny car when I used to drive one. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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I am watching this thread and taking notes for later use. I had no idea what a conversion van even was...<br><br>
My father just gave us his beloved 2001 Suburban; it has 160 thousand miles, all the original parts except the fuel pump and runs perfectly. I am so so so hoping it will last us a while. But PPs are right in that the only thing I could fit three across the third row were radians and I wouldn't have gone to bat for the middle seat's install though a tech might have been able to do a better job.
 

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I'm pregnant with #4 and right now we have a town and country. But, we're hoping to trade it in next year for a Suburban.
 

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I've only got one of my 4 still in a car seat, so that didn't enter my mind.<br><br>
For us, a suburban makes more semse than a mini van because of the cargo. we need that extra space in the back, but if I had more car seats I'd probably be considering a mini van or conversion.<br><br>
PS..Our Suburban (a 98) has a fair sized third seat. two of my kids usually sit back there very comfortably (12 and 9). As I said before, tho.. it seems the newer ones are built differently and seem smaller. (AND I wouldn't want to deal with car sears back there.)
 

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As far as cargo room, we just bought one of those big box thingies that attach to the hitch of our Durango. When we have the third seat up, there's hardly any room for anything, but that really gives us a lot of flexibility. I need dh to help get it on and off, but it's not that heavy or that big of a deal to do. Buying that means we don't have to buy another vehicle quite yet. Next baby we will, though.
 
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