Once you reach big family status car shopping becomes a whole different experience, it is no longer what car do I want it is what car can we fit in and not feel like sardines! Right before my 5th daughter was born we sold our minivan (an older Ford Windstar) and bought a Yukon XL with 2 benches. I agonized over the decision we have 5 kids under 8 which means everyone is either in a car seat or booster seat. This also means I am still in stroller stage and diaper bags so I need lots of trunk space. After driving my 5 in the Yukon XL for a few months I got the Toyota Sienna for 3 months to test drive and it was perfect for me to compare which worked better for me.
So here are the reasons I like having a minivan with 5 kids and by minivan I mean Toyota Sienna. I have owned or rented or tested out several different models and with 5 kids the Toyota Sienna is thus far the only one I would consider with 5 kids.
- It is still a “normal” size car and fits easily in parking spots, parking garages, parallel parking spots and house garages.
- The automatic sliding doors are a big deal, it means mom can open the door and tell little ones to get in from far away. It means no banging into other cars or poles thus denting and scratching the doors and it means the chance of pinched fingers is greatly reduced.
- Everyone does fit and the Toyota Sienna has a wider back bench so three across car seats is a realistic possibility with the right combination.
- As the kids grow out of car seats they will still fit comfortably with great leg room and the captains chairs are nice for teens.
- The drop down trunk means a stroller plus other stuff does fit.
- It is not a gas guzzler like the next size up cars.
Here are the reasons I do not like having a minivan with 5 kids and prefer my double bench Yukon XL.
- The minivans deep trunk means I stack my groceries on top on the stroller and each other as opposed to the long trunk that means I have lots of surface to set groceries flat without stacking while still having a stroller inside.
- With 5 in car seats the configuration works better with the two benches, no one is climbing over a kid in a car seat who is in the captains chair. For the minivan my 2 youngest take the captains chairs and that means my big girls climb over them at school pick up and drop off as well as at dance drop off and pick up which results in tears almost every time.
- I don’t have room for a friend in the minivan.
- A minivan is not as good for towing a trailer which we need when we go camping as a family of 7.
So as you can see there are pros and cons of each vehicle for me the Yukon XL with double bench is best at this time in my life but it is a beast and a gas guzzler which is rough. Ideally my husband would have a Toyota Sienna as his car meaning we always have enough room for the whole family, that was a real big bonus for us when we had the Sienna.
So if you are a big family shopping for a new vehicle hopefully this helps!