We are not big spenders when it comes to our cars. We have kept the same cars for years and years (in 20 years I’ve only owned 3, and the last two I owned span 15 years) and it’s been a great way to live. When we had Willa, we still fit into our cars, but suddenly, no one ELSE did. The Outback started to feel very small, so we have been looking around for a minivan. I test drove one from a private seller a while ago, but I was nervous about the transmission (2nd gen Hondas had notoriously bad ones) and I didn’t LOVE it, the color wasn’t right, there was some rust, etc. I test drove a Kia from a dealer, and it was okay, but we couldn’t meet on price, and the dealership just made us feel gross when we walked in, it wasn’t a great experience, so we decided to keep waiting. One of Dave’s biggest clients (and longest clients, 12+ years!) is a dealership in town that we really like, so he talked to his people there and we sent them a list of models to keep an eye out for. We’ve been waiting, and I’ve been repeatedly checking their inventory in case anything slips in that is justright — and this weekend, that is exactly what happened! I had a spreadsheet with two columns, things I required (certain safety features, seat configurations, etc) and a list of things I desired (preferred colors, leather trim, options, NO DVD player, etc).
The list we’d sent was looking for certain models of Kia, Hyundai or Chrysler/Dodge, and we had left Honda and Toyota off the list because the ones we could afford would likely be in the bad model years. But the car that was the dark horse was a 2005 Honda Odyssey EX-L that met every item on BOTH columns. (Well, except for ‘ipod interface’ and ‘backup camera’ on the desired column, but those can always be added aftermarket.) We drove to the lot on Sunday to eyeball it with no one around, and I emailed our friend form Darling’s from the lot — we were definitely interested!
I test drove it on Monday, and was sold — and that was BEFORE I realized it had a remote car starter! Cherry on top, that is. Yesterday we filled out the paperwork and I drove it off the lot, and I am so happy with our new purchase! (So happy I need to just write about it, see?) Our Outback (which we still own — we can sell it for more than we could trade it for, so if you know anyone looking for one of those, let me know) has served us well, but had some issues for us with kids. Number one — the carseats! Installing seats in the Outback was a trial, they are notoriously hard to install in, and our car(s) predate the LATCH system, so it was always done with seatbelts and always, always frustrating. And then there was the day a few weeks ago where I realized that at some point, something had unclicked the belt holding Ing’s seat in, so I had been dutifully securing her in a 5 pt harness…. in a seat that wasn’t secured to the CAR. That was a horrifying thing to realize. With the new car, it has LATCH, and it would be just about impossible for the girls’ seats to become accidentally unsecured because of the way that works. AND, the seats install in minutes, with NO swearing, with SO much room to move around and make sure it’s in tight! It’s great. The other thing that I’m already loving is the tinted windows, the Outback didn’t have them so we used a self-stick square sunshade that didn’t provide full coverage, but it provided SOME coverage, and you had to remember to not roll that window down. Not only do we have privacy glass now, but there’s even another sunshade that pulls up if it’s STILL too bright. LOVE IT.
I will also love the sliding doors, I just know, the first time I take the kids to Target or Hannaford and am dealing with getting them in and out. No more worrying about our door hitting the car next to us as I am fastening buckles and wrangling kids! Love it. Oh, and they are power doors — when I pulled up to the house to take Ingrid for a ride, and I opened that door from the driver’s seat, her eyes were as big as saucers — “MAMA, how did you DO THAT?” Whe she stepped in, she was amazed at the size — “this is a BIG VAN!” and she questioned the moonroof (MOONROOF!!!) “Mama, why is there no ceiling right there, just window?” Because mama is a lucky lady, honey, that’s why.
The van came with all its service records, every oil change, wiper blade replacement, fluid refill, etc, and was owned by an octogenarian funeral home director from the most northern reaches of Maine, according to my research, and in those records the two big things that can go wrong with an 05 already did and were replaced. It has 95k, but we drive very little (although we will probably drive a lot more, really, now that we can!) and it has the dark leather that we prefer. I sound spoiled, but it was in the Outback and I swear it helps with my allergies, and especially now that we have kids, muddy footprints and other mishaps wipe right up — but in recent years there’s been a trend towards light leather, which drives Dave nuts. So, dark gray leather? CHECK. There’s an 8th seat (currently stowed in the floor, but we might just keep it in the garage so we can put the lazy susan storage compartment in the floor, you can see it in the way back in the pictures) and the rear seat is a 60/40 bench that is currently stowed, too. We can move the two captain’s chairs in the 2nd row together to make a sort of bench, but who knows what we’ll do. We just have the OPTION to do whatever which is great. Climate control (which I am still figuring out, I’m used to just having manual controls!), 6CD changer (need to find 6 CDs for the car, now, and I’d like to someday add an iPod connection, which can be done fairly easily), seat heaters, heated mirrors, remote entry, REMOTE START (that one is just killing me, I *almost* can’t wait for winter to use it), a million airbags and ABS and traction and stability control, really fuel efficient, and probably the thing that excites me more than it should, an outside temp gauge! I’ve wanted one of those for.ev.er
, and now I have one! I don’t need to rely on bank signs to tell me what the temp is! 🙂
Can you tell I’m excited? Since it will probably be another 10-15 years before I get a new-to-me car again, I’m enjoying the thrill right now. We can’t wait to be able to take friends with us without needing multiple cars, and we really can’t wait to take Grammy Audrey out to lunch! Everyone makes fun of minivans until they realize they could maybe use one… and I am totally owning that I am (almost) 36 years old, a wife and mom of two kids, and I am a minivanner. YAY.