Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Suburban vs. Mini-van

*no one is compensating me or sponsoring me in any way for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own based on the vehicles that I own and drive or have owned and drive*

When we first got married, my Dad gave us the car that I had been driving- a Dodge Dynasty that had belonged to my Grandparents.  That was a great and faithful vehicle for us.  Noah had purchased a VW Golf the year before we got married.  That car was maybe not as great and as faithful, but it was Noah's baby, so it's high maintenance-ness was tolerated. [It wasn't that bad, and it got ridiculous gas mileage - N] And we owned it for almost 15 years, so that wasn't too bad.  [230,000 miles, that's not bad at all - N]

In 2005 when Roman was just a baby we bought a mini-van.  My car's life was slowly coming to an end, and we thought the extra space would be nice for our little family of two kids.  Twenty months later, Lincoln was born, and we loved the extra space.  That van has served us well, and, since Deacon was able to move out of a booster right before Everyn was born, we have been able to fit our whole family in it for the last two years- five kids and all.

The van is great for trips around town, but it's ability to accommodate seven people and all the stuff brought along for camping trips and road trips is somewhat questionable.  When Noah's car officially drove it's last mile in the fall, we had to seriously sit down and decide what we were going to do.

Through a series of events, we now own three vehicles.  Noah has an older Lexus to drive to work as his commuter car.  I will probably start driving it to work on the weekends as well  because it gets the best gas milage of the three, and we both have pretty long commutes.

And then there is our van and the new-to-us Suburban.  I told Noah a month ago that I was going to write this post comparing the two, and he said he was looking forward to reading it.  I then proceeded to tell him all of my points, so I doubt he needs to read it anymore. [Yet, here I am, editing it :) - N]


1. Stow n' go seating: I love this.   When the seats are up, it lets you have extra storage under the floor on trips for things that you don't really need until you get there, or for things you hope you aren't going to need at like jumper batteries, first aid/emergency supplies, etc.  And, when you need to haul  10 bags of leaves to the compost pile, you can easily just flip the seats down into the floor, and you are good to go.  Just as long as you have a babysitter for the kids that you are now going to have to leave home.  Because your seats are folded down.  You're following, right?

2. Room between captain's chairs and front seat: in the space between seats in the van, there is plenty of room for the 31 bag I use for swimming stuff, bags of groceries, and a folded up pack-and-play. This means I can walk to the door, open it, and put Everyn in her carseat and drop my most commonly carried items right there.  No need to open up the trunk.  When we return home, I can grab her and the bags also with only one door opening.  On trips, the space holds blankets, pillows and small duffel bags of kids clothes.  

3. Smaller: it's easier to maneuver and park, and the gas mileage is better.

4. Ability to haul stuff: you actually can haul a lot of stuff in a mini-van, despite what the tool rental guys at Home Depot seem to think.  And, the bonus is, if I decide to buy a massive new dresser at a garage sale, I can fold down all of the seats ALL BY MYSELF.  I still have to find a babysitter, but at least the vehicle can now accomodate the dresser.  Small victories.


1. Only seats seven: we're at max capacity.

2. Not a truck: there's no 4 wheel drive.

3. Less all around space; this is especially true when we're loaded down for a long haul.

Suburban PROS:

1. Comfort: There is just more room, and the seating is more comfortable.  The kids like it because they have more space width wise, and Noah and I also have more space in the front seat.  It is unfortunate that it doesn't have the bench seat in the front, because I always like to sit right by my man, but I guess I can overlook that.  

2. It seats eight, so we can bring an extra person with us, which is huge, because with five small people, it is nice to have someone else help chaperone.  Like an aunt or a granny nanny.

3. Storage area in the back is much larger.  Approximately twice as large.

4. Heated seats.  It's Minnesota.

5.  What can I say?  It is a massive truck with big wheels.  It has a throaty V8.  It is fun to drive.  Noah likes the 4 wheel drive.  [Noah also enjoys the rear wheel drive ;)  -N]

Suburban CONS:

1. Some wonky positioning of  LATCH system anchors: they aren't on all seats we want them on, and they are on seats that don't make much sense.  Despite their best efforts, Noah lists this one as an engineering fail by a design engineer with only two kids.

2. No space for the swimming bag without opening the trunk :(  [And those goofy design engineers neglected to put a physical key lock on the gate, so you either have to have the electronic key, or stop off at the drivers door to unlock it. -N]

3. Gas Hog.  Thirty gallon tank.  Ouch.

4. No stow 'n go, which requires extra help to haul something massive.

5.  It's too big.  The side effect of having all that space inside is the thing is huge.  It handles pretty well on the road for something that big, but parking and tight maneuvering can be cumbersome.


I like driving the Suburban, and the kids are happy.  We have a big family, so we need a big vehicle, and I think the Suburban is a good choice.  But, I will tell you this, mini vans are made for people with children, and for busy families.  If I had four or fewer children I would hands down, no questions asked, drive the mini van.  It is slick, it is convenient and it is set up for my life- pick ups, drop offs, hauling stuff- I am a jack of all trades, and I can move people and seats around without any help for whatever suits my purposes that day.  And the gas mileage is better.  But, we have five kids, and for that many, the Suburban will allow us a more comfortable drive and that spare seat that makes life so much easier.

Winner?  We're keeping both until something dies.

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