Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Van Dilemma?

Awhile back I mentioned that we needed a new van so that all of us could ride together.

We are still have not come up with any solution to our problem...

It seems that 15 passenger vans and safety are a huge issue.
We have vacillated with this decision. One minute we think "this or that" vehicle will work and then we change or minds OR we find out it doesn't come in a 15 passenger...

We were the only family while in China scoping out the the large passenger vans and busses that the groups were riding in!

I really want to hear from you!
We need help processing this issue...

Here goes-
 our requirements were 
that it-
 holds up to 15 people,
could fit in the garage and car wash
and that it was affordable... 

So that gave us a few choices-
 GMC Savanna
Ford Econoline
Chevy ? van

BUT now there are safety issues with these vans in the 15 passenger size.
Schools and church groups are no longer able to order then or even use them in some states.

Have you heard this too?
Do you have one and love it or like it?
As long we drive safely would we be okay?

Our other issue was that they do not have head rests and some of our girls are getting a little taller. So we wanted head rests. Then we would need to go to conversion shop and order them after market. The bank does not like financing after market things in a car.
(and as you know all extra cash for us goes to bringing home the children)

than we heard of the Nissan NV!
Got a little excited BUT it does NOT come in a 15 passenger...

Next was the Ford Transit- YAY!
It is in Europe and Asia and will be coming to the USA!
However, there is no date set for it's arrival
it will not be coming in the passenger version, yet...
The cargo version is arriving first.

Okay, okay, okay
our options are getting very limited...

Then a light bulb went off and we decided the
Sprinter (freightliner)
would be great!
It won't fit in the garage, or the car wash BUT it is safe and it will fit all of us!
We liked the 16 passenger shuttle bus! Huge, yes BUT great for our large family and great for trips, etc!
Awful to park BUT roomy...

you need a special license to drive it because it is a 16 seater.
 I can get the license and so can hubby
BUT our sitter and older children wouldn't want to do that...
(and actually hubby doesn't really want to either)
So that one is OUT...

The next thought was a Sprinter Van that seats 15.
We've seen them but don't know how to get one.
There doesn't seem to be many available.
They are expensive, the don't fit in the garage, or the car wash...
Used or new would work...

So what are your thoughts? Are the 15 passenger GMC, Chevy or Ford really that dangerous? 
I drive like a little old lady now that I have precious cargo inside.

But it will be filled to the gills...
just saying...

Looking forward to your insights and thoughts!
Sally's friend Karen feel free to email me again on how much you love your sprinter- I wanna hear it!


julie said...

Filled to the gills??? Are you keeping something from us? I only come up with 13, including you and the hubby. :-)

Nikki said...

Julie...I was thinking the EXACT SAME THING!!!!

Jolene said...

We have the Nissan NV and just adore it! I sure wish it came larger for you all because its such a great option for our size family...we have 7 children (with more possibly in the future). Can't help ya with your questions but just wanted to give a shout out for the NV!

Matt and Maria said...

When I was in college, clubs were allowed to use the school's 15 passenger vans, as long as the driver passed a cursory test with a security guard. There were quite a few minor accidents and two or three very major accidents during my 4 years in college. Vans have a much larger stopping distance and time, especially when they are packed full. Of course, there are more distractions for the driver with more passengers, especially when the driver is 18. Probably for you and your husband, you are experienced drivers, accustomed to large vehicles, and would be much safer than average. We have a family member who drives a converted half-bus (the little school bus type) when the whole family goes somewhere, and that works for them.

Jenny Goff said...

Hello! We ran into the same problem and found out they no longer made new 15 passenger vans. So we went to a commercial bus company and found exactly what we wanted. It is 15 passenger, with LOADS of room and tv/dvd player, leather seats,large center aisle and 2 air conditioners. The down side is it is 9 and 1/2 feet high! Which is great you can walk all the way to the back of the bus. Great for buckling kids in car seats. But not so great for drive thrus! Hope this info helps!Love reading about your family!

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

We are on our second Chevy Express. I like them. Last one was configured to hold 15 passengers, but this one is set for 12, although we can add another seat if we need to at some point. With 12 seats, we have a ton of cargo room in the back, good for the double stroller.

Prior to that, we had a GMC 15 passenger. I do like the Express better, but sounds like you need to take what you can get your hands on at this point. Have you tried eBay or checking online? Church groups and schools are off loading them to avoid the passenger endorsement requirement.

Dh won't let me use it for field trips or any school,or sports team related activities because the law here is a little open to interpretation. "Personal use" to him means just our family and friends. I say personal use means my child's softball buddies, but he says that's driving for the school, which gets iffy.

Good luck finding just the right vehicle to haul your crew.

Rebecca said...

Most of my big family friends have the "church can", but I also know a family with the NV & Sprinter. I think you have to be open to the possibility that whatever you get will most likely not fit in the garage. I've heard that the church vans are not safe. I don't think I'd risk it. You may drive safe, but who knows about the other guys on the road:) I'd go for the Sprinter!

Faye Verquer said...

Love our GMC Savanna I would buy another one in a heartbeat! Its 11 yrs old and still running strong! Id say go with that! We cant fit it in the garage but that's ok by me! Why again do you need it for 15????!!!¡ ;)

Jenny said...

We are on our THIRD Ford Econoline van. We had a 15 passenger for a few years and sold it when we quit doing foster care. Then we bought a 12 passenger when we adopted from Liberia. Now we traded our 12 passenger for a 2011 15 passenger when our newest came home from Ethiopia. It's great. It has anti-rolling traction something-or-other AND the seats are high now to protect from whip-lash (that concerned me with our previous older model.) They also have the sholder belts in the middle seats now. I really don't think you have any serious safety concerns with the newer years.

It's a Wonderful Life said...

We have had an Express for 12 years and it is doing good. We will be looking for a newer one in the near future. There have been issues with the large vans rolling over but that is when you turn a corner too fast. The Express has a longer wheel base than other vans that makes it safer. It takes more to cause it to roll. We haven't had any problems with ours. I too drive pretty conservatively. The van will fit in the garage and I can go in all parking garages but I like to park when there are two spots open next to each other.

We also have a mini bus that seats 22. In our state we don't need a special license if it is for personal use. As far as I'm concerned anything that is not for commercial use is personal. Therefore we let others borrow our bus too. We love our bus because it is so roomy. We put in an aftermarket TV and DVD player so it is great for long hauls.

Mama Ds Dozen said...

Ford E350 15 passenger.

LOVE them! We owned a 1987 15 passenger . . . later upgrading to a 1991 15 passenger . . . later upgrading to a 2002 15 passenger. Yes! I drove a fully loaded 15 passenger Ford for 21 years (with a combined total of over 300,000 miles), and really did LOVE it. We "downsized" to an 8 passenger Ford Excursion a year ago, now that our big kids are grown and gone.

I have heard of the high rollover rates, but absolutely believe it is because inexperienced drivers are jumping into these big vans and driving them like a mini van. You have got to respect the size and power of these big vehicles.

When our big kids get their licenses, we require them to drive our smaller vehicles for a year before putting them behind the wheel of the BIG van, filled with the younger siblings.

We have had a GREAT experience with all of our Fords . . . with VERY few repairs over the years. (I have had multiple friends with many repair issues with their 15 passenger Dodge vans.) When we had 185,000 miles on our 1991, we headed out across the country for an 8,000 mile drive. No concerns at all. We bought our 2002 when we realized how FUN cross country road trips were, and have now taken 4 trips and visited 41 states in our Big Ford Vans.

Hope you get just what you are looking for.

mama of 12

Lesa and Samuel said...

We have a Ford Econoline 12 passenger and we love it! We found several dealers that had the 15 passenger and we test drove one and liked it but we opted for the 12 passenger. I didn't think we needed the extra room but now we are adopting again so maybe we will regret that decision :) But we do LOVE the econoline. We wanted it to be affordable too so we didn't even look at anything over 25K cause we paid cash.

blstmama11 said...

Ha Ha...I have to tell you that you weren't the only family scoping out vans/buses. We are constantly doing this. My understanding is that the 15 passanger vans don't even have safety ratings. That along with the lack of headreasts is concerning to me as well. The sprinters look nice...everyone I know that has one has had terrible problems with rust:( Hope you can find something soon! ~ Denee

Dara said...

We love our sprinter! We have driven three different 15 passengers for the past 15 years but I definitely prefer the Sprinter. Drives like a dream. I like the seatbelt arrangement better than a 15 and the headroom is such a blessing to my olders who help with the whole car seat buckling and unbuckling. The back a plenty of storage even with the 15 seats. With our 15 we had to take the seat out all the time to have storage room but then not enough seats! For us our 15 didn't fit in the garage anyway so that wasn't a factor. Does make parking harder but we just chalk that up to another challenge of a big family! :)

GracefulMommy said...

GMC Savanna all the way! We had a Dodge Ram 15 passenger before this and It was all over the road. Savanna, Love, Love it!

Every car, truck, van has safety issues and we firmly believe you need to be familiar with the driving of such vans. It is our family car like it is going to be your family car. Church groups and others do not have regular drivers...anyone with a license can drive them so they can get some with minimal experience driving large vehicles! Thus the larger rate of accidents.

We acutally have a 12 passenger extended that we bought from another large family who special ordered it new when they got it. We love it!

We try to use care when driving because our cargo is priceless! I think you would be fine in one as long as you don't drive crazy!!!!

McChesney Family said...

We purchased a Ford Econoline 12 passenger van last year. We drove the family down to Florida last year and actually slept in the van a couple nights. Everyone loves the room. Now 6 seats are filled
since bringing our second daughter home from India and we are praying that we can fill more seats soon.

Karin said...

Great discussion! I didn't know about the NV van--but now I am all excited about it. LOL. We drive two mini-vans because we can't decide on a bigger one. Thanks for posting this. :)

Janet said...

SPRINTER!!! Mine looks just like the link, only black.
What I LOVE------center seat belts are from shoulder of seat, not hanging down from ceiling, etc. Even without raised roof, I can still walk thru. Not raised, but with a/c, I am just a hair under 9 feet tall. I can go thru many drive thru's, but not parking decks. That isn't a problem for us, hospital is only place we go with a deck, and we have a handicapped tag, and get to park out front.
My seats are leather (maybe fake) and fabric combo, nice looking, not takcy like many other vans. I have heated seats in front, sunroof, etc..the main reason I DID NOT want a van was loosing my luxaries. I had a Yukon XL Denali before, my sprinter is the exact same lenght, so not much adjustment in parking. Again, with handicap tag, we get wider spaces. If not handicap are available, I am careful where I park. My version has back-up sensors, as well as sensors on front bumper.
Yukon was a V, Sprinter is 6cyl, I was concerned about not having enough power. NOT a problem, since it is a Mercedes engine. Mine has a Dodge emblem, but my van is exactly as the ones on the Freightliner site, and a sticker somewhere on inside of door frame says Freightliner. Mine only seats 9, so each seat has more hip room. I've had up to 5 huge Britax seats in it, not problems. I can sit between 2 carseats, and I am plus size. No way could I sit between car seats in the yujkon we had.
Mine is 5 years old, and we've had a few repairs, totalling about $2k.
I love it, and have no plans of trading anytime soon. I loved my Yukon, but refuse to go back until everyone is out of carseats, and is big enough to open-close car doors=)

Janet said...

P.S. No rust problems here. If you buy used, make sure your getting a rear heater, it's not standard, aince they start with a cargo van. We do not have one, but we live in AL--which also is why we do not worry about rust.

Mom to my China Posse said...

What do you drive now? We are in the market for something bigger to travel in. Right now we like someone else said use two vehicles when we all have to go somewhere together but sure don't want to travel long distance that way.

Deanna said...

Our church bought a people mover. It seats 20, but in our state you can take out the back row of 4, which allows you to drive without special license. That also makes it easier to use that space for storing "stuff". There are two seats on each side and walk row in the middle. This makes it easier for passengers to make their way through the aisle. It won't fit in garage or go through a carwash, but maybe the good space will meet your needs. Hope this helps! Love your blog!

Mom to 5 bugs said...

Thanks for doing this post, Jean. We're in the looking stage too--possibly the NV. Drove all the 12 pax choices and like that one best. LOVE reading all the BTDT comments.

MommaT said...

We have a Chevy Express Van 12 pass. Love it other than the fact the transmission went out (and it is only about 5 yrs old) - am told this is not uncommon in the Express vans...so you might want to stay away from them..$4300 for our transmission!

aunt jackie said...

don't know alot about vans ..but i do know how to pray .. so that is what i can contribute ..may the Lord give you wise judgment ..trusted connections ..and safe travels ..
praying from florida

Vickie said...

We have a 15 passenger Ford Econoline van and LOVE IT!!! We've had our van for 9 years this month. We've never had an issue with it. I feel it is very safe. When the youth group needs to go anywhere, they borrow our van. No...there are no headrests and that would be nice for our taller son when we are traveling and he'd like to take a nap. They do make a 14 passenger Ford van that has all bucket seats. Therefore a headrest on every seat. I rode in one of those once and didn't like it because of those headrests. They blocked my view of being able to see all the kids. But that's a personal preference.

Deb said...

We bought a Ford 15 from Enterprise (rentals) in California that had been converted to 14 bucket seats. They use them for carpooling in Calif. It was safer and more comfortable because it had built in headrests. I am an OT and it made me crazy thinking that my older/bigger kids could get whiplash or worse yet be paralyzed if we were in an accident, so we searched and searched for large vans with headrests. Also it had reading lights above each seat. It was like an airplane on wheels! We had it delivered to Illinois! Good luck on your search!

Angela Black said...

There is a man in Pensacola Florida that (I think I'm getting this story right....) has a used car dealership but also loves to help large/adoptive families find vans large enough and with the options they want/need. He does nation wide searches and is supposed to be pretty good at it! I know a LL mom that has used him and is probably going to be talking to him again soon. This particular mom is also great at finding the after market items to make her vehicles more comfortable and such. I know she even found a jump seat to up the capacity of her Suburban. If you know who I'm talking about, hit her up - she'd love to put you in touch with this guy and let you in on her secrets. I have her email here somewhere and can help you get in touch w/ her if you don't know her. She is in the Bham Alabama area and initials are L.F... Also mom to a few bios and many adopted. Let me know if I can help!

laurellee said...

Just want to affirm the NV comments....:) we have had ours for a yr next month....if you get the pleasure of needing a big van, I like this one!!:) but I am sorry that it doesn't work for you Jean with only 12 seats.....but love it and the options it had available to us vs the other 12 pass....if you any one is considering a NV we definetly recommend it:) it does have headrests for every seat as I know that has been a part of this discussion....but we leave most of ours off right now as our children mostly do not need yet and also you can't see behind you with them....:( one bummer....we have the backup camera that I can't imagine being without it?!.... Just a few thots to consider....:) blessings to you Jean on your search!!