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Old 01-02-2011, 04:24 PM   #1
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Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

We've decided to go with a 12 or 15 passenger van (have a Yukon XL now, which is just getting too tight as we can't fit any additional people in it when we go someplace). So we're looking at either a GMC Savana extended 3500 or a E-350. Thoughts on either of these? I noticed the e-350 is very popular, but not sure if there's a reason to choose that over a Savana? Thanks!

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Old 01-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #2
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

We did exactly what you are doing when the babies were born. We had a Yukon XL. I loved it and I still miss it. I bought it brand new with all the options available. We bought our van used and they didn't offer many options. I think they offer more now, but in 2007, the year of ours, they still didn't offer much. However, I have gotten used to it now. Plus, we sold the Yukon for over 10k more than we bought the van for. We bought a Chevy Express. That would be the Chevy version of the GMC. (Both GM and exactly the same vehicle, just different name.) We decided on a 15 passenger and are glad. We like having the extra room. It is a little longer than my Yukon was and is harder to park. Overall though, it's not much different. We liked the GM over the Ford. It seemed to drive better to us. One thing I would suggest is definitely getting one with a sliding door on the side. The van is wide enough without having doors to open on the side when you are parked next to someone. Happy car hunting!


ETA - We have the back row out also for cargo room. (Actually, we don't own the back row. This one didn't have it and we got a deal on it. I'm actually glad we don't have it because we don't have to store the seat! ) I have no problem getting all our gear (including my quad stroller) and all groceries or whatever in the back.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:38 PM   #3
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

We bought our Chevy 3500 15 passenger when we had our fifth child. We bought an old one though, with 120k miles, a 2001. Anyway, the van now has 250k, and is still running strong!!! (where is some wood to knock on?) We are so happy we went with the 15 passenger even though the 12 wouldve had enough room for all the carseats at the time. We are now pregnant with #7, and still dont have to worry about seating! Plus, I can take extra kids to bible school, church, or just out to eat with us. This has also been great! We take out the back seat, and use that room for storage for strollers, groceries, and my oldest son's wheelchair! When we travel, we dont have to use a car top carrier b/c that space is sooo large!

I truely felt so relieved when we moved from a mini van to the big van. So much less stress! Everyone has space, and we have so much cargo room. I did miss some of the nice features of our old vehicles. But having a vehicle that meets your families needs is much more gratifying to us!

Well, happy car hunting! Hope you enjoy yours as much as we have ours!
I do agree with the sliding door on the side! That would be nice!
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:41 AM   #4
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

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Originally Posted by mhschool6 View Post
We bought our Chevy 3500 15 passenger when we had our fifth child. We bought an old one though, with 120k miles, a 2001. Anyway, the van now has 250k, and is still running strong!!! (where is some wood to knock on?) We are so happy we went with the 15 passenger even though the 12 wouldve had enough room for all the carseats at the time. We are now pregnant with #7, and still dont have to worry about seating! Plus, I can take extra kids to bible school, church, or just out to eat with us. This has also been great! We take out the back seat, and use that room for storage for strollers, groceries, and my oldest son's wheelchair! When we travel, we dont have to use a car top carrier b/c that space is sooo large!

I truely felt so relieved when we moved from a mini van to the big van. So much less stress! Everyone has space, and we have so much cargo room. I did miss some of the nice features of our old vehicles. But having a vehicle that meets your families needs is much more gratifying to us!

Well, happy car hunting! Hope you enjoy yours as much as we have ours!
I do agree with the sliding door on the side! That would be nice!
It is nice to hear of someone else buying a 15 passenger when they "only" had 5 kids. I get a lot of people thinking we went overboard and were silly to buy such a big vehicle. It has really been a blessing to us though and it's nice to know that if we have more, which we plan on, we have the space and don't have to get another new vehicle to accommodate our family.

I just noticed you live in St. Augustine! My husband went to Grad school there. He is a physical therapist and went to The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. I lived there for a few months after we got married and before he graduated. Beautiful town! I'll never forget getting stuck down town on July 4th! We lived 4 miles from the fort, but it took us like 3 hrs to get home!
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:10 AM   #5
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

See - that's what I always thought - people with 12 or 15 passenger vans had 10+ kids. :lol: DH wanted to go straight to a passenger van when he found out we were expecting twins again, but I was the one that didn't want to. Now that the boys are outgrowing their infant seats, we're facing the fact that all 3 older kids will soon be in the back row together (yikes) since we won't be able to reach a rear facing carseat in that 3rd row for the boys. And since all the older kids are in boosters, it's a very tight fit in that 3rd row.

Plus we travel a lot (drive down to FL from NY, regularly drive 3+ hours to go camping in the summer, drive 4+ hours to see family, etc...) so we need something that everyone can have their own space in. We've been talking about maybe looking for a 9 passenger low top conversion van (they are so nice) but then we'd only be gaining 2 seats. Of course that would give us the 4 bucket seats and then a 3 seat bench in the back so all the kids would be separated. Not sure if the bench seats would be better though?
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:07 AM   #6
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

We have the E350 15 passenger. We have the front bench seat out and I put my Valco stroller in the big space that it leaves. I love love love having the space, but hate hate hate the vehicle. Like another poster, I had a lovely SUV- Ford Excursion- but when the second set of twins came along, we had to move up to the passenger van, with all the carseats we were needing. It was honestly like going from a 5 star hotel to motel 6, but I have gotten used to it.

My husband is a mechanic and does all the research on the vehicles, so I defer to him. We did look at getting a sprinter, but they are so expensive and it's hard to find them used. If only we got one for free like Jon & Kate +8 .
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:17 AM   #7
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

With all that traveling, you need to think about cargo space too. I'm not sure how much cargo room a conversion van has. They are nice though. My kids all have their own space. We have 2 kids in the 3rd row with the middle seat empty and then one child in the 2nd row. That carseat is next to the window leaving the 2 outside seats empty. That is nice because I use that space to change diapers in and to nurse both babies at the same time on (if I need to do them together while we are traveling). I can also sit there comfortably when we are driving if I need to. I don't do that often, but it is an option. The babies are in their infant carrier seats in the first row. (Well, technically, that's the 2nd row and we are in the first, but you get my picture.) I also have them on the ends. So, if I need to, I can sit between them in the middle. That is tight, but doable when needed. There really are a lot of options. My two older boyss who sit in the last row can reach each other. That can be a problem sometimes. If it becomes an issue, I make them switch with my DD who is in the row in front of them. They don't want to do that because she has a pink car seat. The other option I have when we are traveling is to grab a suitcase from the back and put it between them like a room divider. It works great. Anyway, I don't have all the bells and whistles that I'm used to, but this van really works well for our family functionally. I really struggled with this more than my husband, but it's really been the best decision. He used to get mad at me when we still had the Yukon because I would still drive it an not the van. I kept reminding him that once it was sold I wouldn't have the option. I'm fine now and I realize I don't need all that other stuff I had anyway.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:20 AM   #8
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

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Originally Posted by mammaof?? View Post
We have the E350 15 passenger. We have the front bench seat out and I put my Valco stroller in the big space that it leaves. I love love love having the space, but hate hate hate the vehicle. Like another poster, I had a lovely SUV- Ford Excursion- but when the second set of twins came along, we had to move up to the passenger van, with all the carseats we were needing. It was honestly like going from a 5 star hotel to motel 6, but I have gotten used to it.

My husband is a mechanic and does all the research on the vehicles, so I defer to him. We did look at getting a sprinter, but they are so expensive and it's hard to find them used. If only we got one for free like Jon & Kate +8 .
This is exactly how it is!!! Great description. I'm going to steal that.

We looked at a Sprinter too. Ultimately, we decided the same things as you. Plus...it's so...ugly... We just couldn't do it. (Just our opinion of course)
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Old 01-03-2011, 12:07 PM   #9
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

My only concern is....we live in 4X4 country where if it rains or snows, we need four wheel drive to get around. Is that an option on the 12 or 15 passenger vans? I have just started looking into them and haven't been able to find any information as to whether you can get a van with four wheel drive or all wheel drive.
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:02 PM   #10
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Re: Moms with 12 or 15 passenger vans...

We bought our first 15 passenger when our 5th was 9 months. We loved it and drove it until almost 200,000 miles when I totaled it. We kept driving it for months until we bought our newer 2008 15 passenger. Both of ours were/are Ford's. We have had very, very few issues w/ our older one and none w/ our newer one. The reason I didn't continue driving my older, 1996, was b/c we needed more lap/shoulder belts and in Ford's '08 and up have lap/shoulder in all positions. Our new van has a sliding door which is the best!
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