The van is one of the most important cars for a big or medium sized family. If you are thinking of getting a van, check out these tips from the perspective of a husband and wife with 3 kids.
Carl Dy is a Property guru, speaker and investor. His wife of 12 years, Jenny, is a consultant, interior decorator and hands on mom. They have three beautiful daughters: Catie (8), Jia (7) and Chloe (2). In the past few years, they have experience driving the following vans: Toyota Sienna, Hyundai Starex, Toyota Previa, Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival. Carl and Jenny share their experiences on what they look for in purchasing a van that works for their family. Here’s how they ranked their priorities in choosing a van that suits their lifestyle.
Carl: DRIVING COMFORT
The van is my weekend car with my wife and 3 kids. It is also the vehicle that we use for long out of town trips. Ease of driving, light steering, light pedals, clear view of the overall van for easy driving is my number 1 priority. I see driving as an experience, not just a chore. I like to enjoy it and savor the experience.
Jenny: ACCESSIBILITY AND PASSENGER COMFORT
I rarely drive when I’m with my husband so my priority in choosing a van is riding comfort and that means leg room and a lot of space. I’m tall, so leg room is very important to me whether I’m sitting up front with my husband, or I’m sitting in the back with my kids. I like vans that give me enough space to move quickly from the front up to the last row especially when I need to help my kids eat, drink, sleep or throw up. When you have long drives, you never know when you suddenly need to change a leaky diaper. Having a spacious van allows me to get to them quickly wherever I’m sitting.
Carl: PASSENGER COMFORT
We use the van when I take my family on road trips, so the van is part of building memories. I want my family to be comfortable. The seats should have a snug feel for the kids. It should be able to recline comfortably for the kids to sleep. I am a fan of real leather seats, I love its feel and smell. Our family van should be quiet inside, road noise as minimal as possible so we can have a nice family chat while on the road.
Jenny: AUTOMATIC DOORS AND TRUNK
The van is my husband’s weekend car, but it’s our everyday car. I want our kids to be able to shuffle quickly in and out of the car at the school drop off line without having the driver get out of the car to open the door for them. I think it’s safer that way too. The driver can stay with the car and the kids can quickly get inside school. It’s the same way at the supermarket drop off when I have to get in the car with a lot of groceries. It’s so convenient to be able to quickly get inside even with both hands full because you know the driver can quickly close the door for you.
Carl: LOUNGE FEEL
Since our family van will be used on long 4 to 8 hour road trips, I value the feel of the van inside. This includes the finishes of the vehicle, the ambient lighting, the smell, seating position, free space, elbow room and the overall comfort of my wife and 3 kids.
Jenny: LITTLE THINGS LIKE CUP HOLDERS AND AIRCON VENTS
My kids eat breakfast in the car everyday on their way to school. I love vans that have cup holders on both sides of the door and in the middle and back where the seat folds down. It prevents spills and keeps their hands free. I like vans that have vents and control knobs in the back that they can reach and close because they need to be able to adjust it when they feel hot or cold.
Power doors and trunk, dual sunroof like that of the Sienna, smooth powerful engine, auto locking doors, branded audio systems adds to the rewarding feeling of driving a van. A TV Screen to keep the kids entertained in the back makes a long trip more fun for the kids and bearable for adults.
Jenny: PLUSH LEATHER SEATS AND REAR USB PLUG
Traffic has sometimes given the opportunity to treat the back of the van like an office. So having plush leather makes all the difference when you have to sit for hours working on your phone and making calls so I like that the newer vans that have USB ports in the front and back as well, so I can charge my phone without troubling the driver.