Moms with 4 kids - which minivan is the best??

cheerit

I am 7 months pregnant with #3 and are planning to have 4 children. I currently drive a Ford Explorer and need to upgrade to a minivan. We will drive this thing forever (as we do all of our cars) so I want to pick the right one that will be big enough for the next 10 years!

I know VERY few moms with 4 kids but there seem to be lots of them here. So, if you don't mind please answer some questions for me.

1) What is the best minivan for 4 kids? Price doesn't matter b/c we will drive it for 10+ years so I don't care how much it costs initially!

2) Do you have 2 bucket seats in the 2nd row or a bench seat? Why?

3) What are features of your minivan that you couldn't live without and what are features that you don't think are necessary (or even annoying)?

We are looking at the Honda Odessey, leather, with DVD. However, I would love the roll-down windows for the 2nd row and a sunroof. I was looking at the Toyota Sienna but heard that it is much smaller on the inside. Three of my children are already BOYS so I will need lots of room! LOL!!

Thanks so much in advance!

Julie

SaveComment13Like
Comments (13)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
trekaren

We bought the Toyota (I only have one kid but haul a lot of people) because it seemed larger on the inside than the Odyssey. In addition, at that time, Odysseys were undersupplied and overpriced. The Honda's rear hide-away is nice but if you have 3-4 kids you will be using that seat, so the feature is a moot point.

Now, I have a friend who has 5 kids. She drives an Odyssey that she got at a dealer, it was the dealer demo so she got a very good price on it. She bought it when she had 4 kids, and it has accomodated #5 very nicely.

The Odyssey and Sienna are very comparable in safety, features, etc. The primary difference is the rear hideaway, nterior roominess and price. You'll have to go look at both with a tape measure. When I bought mine, it seemed that the Toyota had more headroom.

I have two buckets in the Toyota, and a bench in my ancient Dodge Caravan. To me I notice no huge winner here. The buckets and bench are both removable, but the buckets are easier. So if you want to use the van for hauling things instead of kids, the buckets slightly edge out the bench for ease.

You can't 'technically' use the bench for a third person as there is not a third seat belt.

Best of luck! The Sienna and the Odyssey are both good choices! You might get more features for your buck with the Toyota.

P.S. If you are a Costco member, I bought mine thru that car buying program after getting quotes from several other buying programs I had access to, and Costco's deal came out the cheapest for the exact same car.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
janetwilson

My mother drives the Honda and it's very nice, hers is loaded out with every accessory. She cares for 4 of her grandchildren after school and takes her elderly mother nearly everywhere. I like the fact that she can open and shut the back doors automatically from the front seat. She deliberately bought a minivan (as opposed to an SUV which the rest of the family drives) because her mother can get in and out of it quite easily without having to step up into it. This is also nice for small children.

I'm glad to hear your going for the DVD player, it's sooo worth the extra money with children. We have one in our Yukon and use it all the time. I wish car manufacturer's would give us the option to have a privacy screen from the front to the back (like in a limo) so that when we're on long drives we could drown out the kids in the back seat!

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lindac

My son ( or rather his wife!!) drives the Honda......and that option of built in child seats is wonderful!!...They only have 3 kids and a dog....but 2 of the kids are twins.
My daughter with 4 kids drives a pontiac grand caravan....but she totaled her car....and couldn't be choosy ( and 4 kids didn't have a scratch!)
Linda C

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
SandiD

Initially the idea of the built-in child seats is great, but you have to think about how long you'll have the vehicle. My parents bought a Windstar (back in '92 before all the really good goodies started showing up as options). Mother's van was brought with the thought that she would be taking my kids places while I was working. Now my oldest is almost 13 & Mom primarily uses the van to take my 86 yo grandmother to the doc, store, etc. The built-in child seats are NOT comfortable. Even my kids don't like sitting there.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
michael_mn

We have the Toyota Sienna and with the 03 models, they now have the rear seat that sinks into the floor (all at once or 60/40 split). The newer Sienna's have more interior room, they have made them wider and taller. We will definitely stay with the Sienna. This year they also beat out the Odyssey in Consumer Reports as the CR Best Buy.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
robinwise

When putting kids into carseats, the thing that seems most important to me is access. Therefore, it feels like the bucket seats with room in the middle to access the back seats is inconvenient. For this reason alone, we only considered cars whose sliding door opened to space, not seats. We ended up buying a Toyota LE (1986 - used), and the other option was a Vanagon. The problem with our 1986 model is that they don't have shoulder belts, therefore, I have to buy very pricey Britax Marathon or Husky car seats and have the van modified for floor tethers. That's going to be $1,000 right there.

Bummer for us! But my opinion still stands. Buckets with room between them to access the back = trouble.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
trekaren

In my own experience, I put kids/carseats in the buckets in the middle. It's a snap to buckle them (haha). And in our other van with a bench (older model like you mention with space to access back) I still put them in the middle, when toting kids around. That rear bench is a pain to get to, no matter the configuration of the middle seats. Plus, for whichever parent is riding in front, it's easier to give them a juice or bottle or the toy they dropped, or whatever they need.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cheerit

With bench seats can you put three car seats in the middle? Otherwise, I will have to be accessing the back no matter what. Plus, don't some mini-vans have sliding seats in the middle row? So you could put them close together or further apart?

I think that having a space bewteen the kids would be nice to prevent too much touching - which always leads to fighting! But, then we have to crawl through the middle to get to the back.

Still going to try to fit 3 in the Explorer - but DH is doubtful! I need to pick out the model I want just in case I HATE the 3 in the Explorer even if they do fit.

Automatic sliding doors seem soooooo nice!!

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
momto4kids

I know there are some great things about vans (like the automatic doors!), but I love my Suburban. I have 3 rows (front is bucket seats, then the middle and back rows are benches. I can easily fit 6 car seats in my 2 rows when I gang up with friends. But when it's just me and the kids going to school or running errands, I use the middle seats of each row for a milk crate with books, kleenex, etc, for the kids in that row. My older 2 (8 and 7) sit in the back and have their stuff. The younger 2 (5 and 3) are in the middle with their stuff. Everyone can help themselves. It really takes a load off me.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PeaBee4

We have had both Dodge and Pymouth minivans and have found them to be dependable. My son recently bought a chevy minivan with two benches in back. Both center doors open and can be closed automatically from the front. the backs of the center bench seat fold down and move so that there is easy access to the rear seat. Also, the back seat back also folds down and large things can be carried on the backs of the bence seats. If more room is need for hauling things, both bench seats can be removed.

I would vote for two bench seats because it is very handy to be able to carry extra people. That gives you room for six plus the passenger seat up front. Or room for kids and groceries or a dog or two.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
intherain

We have 3 children and a '99 Toyota Sienna. We love it, but wish it had more space (we never had to store a stroller in this car, luckily). We recently looked at the new Siennas and they are VERY nice and spacious. That's what we'd get if we were upgrading right now. My sister has the Odyssey and it is not as comfortable as our car, but it is definitely larger, especially in the cargo area (she DOES have a stroller, so it makes a big difference for her). I don't think you can go wrong with a Toyota or a Honda. #1 for us is safety.

As for bench or bucket seats, we've had both and we definitely have preferred the bucket seats. I would never get a bench seat again.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cheerit

We bought the 2004 Sienna. It has EIGHT seats and the middle 2nd row seat moves up so that you can reach the baby. I love that the children can easily climb into the car without help and the sliding door is awesome! We also got a DVD and sunroof. The kids love their windows down too so that was important. I just love, love, love my van! Thanks for all of the suggestions. :)

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
notsuperwoman

Just a note. The 2005 Odyssey will be a long awaited redesign so you may want to wait until Sept. (I think) to see what it is all about. There is an Odyssey forum at the link below, and everyone there is guessing what new features it will have. Rear windows that actually go up and down, power gate, stow and go third row seating, better fuel economy, power antenna?????

I bought the 2004 Odyssey, despite that the Sienna was slightly larger and slightly better equipped, because it came in the color I wanted (yeah, cuz that will make me "cool"). Anyway, I love the Odyssey but wish it had a power rear-gate. I'm a little short and it's a little heavy for me to get it down easily. I have the seven-seat configuration with the access row on the side because I have three car-seats and that was the best configuration. People go on and on about the seats that fold flat in the floor. My third row does, but you really need to think about how often you would need a completely flat long bed, before going with a van with second row fold flat.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2005 Odyssey Forum

Save    
Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Home Innovations Houzz Tour: Meet a Home Made With Minivan Parts
Sawn-off car roofs for the siding, windows popped out of van doors ... this California home is as resourceful as it is beautiful
Full Story
Kitchen Design Open vs. Closed Kitchens — Which Style Works Best for You?
Get the kitchen layout that's right for you with this advice from 3 experts
Full Story
Furniture Which Dining Table Shape Should You Choose?
Rectangular, oval, round or square: Here are ways to choose your dining table shape (or make the most of the one you already have)
Full Story