So I had the chance to take a fully loaded Nissan Quest on a prolonged test drive last week. It was fantastic to feel how it drove over a variety of different kinds of terrain — gravel roads, steep hills, curving, narrow lanes, and open highway. A nice luxury, though something I think every car shopper should be able to do. I mean, you're investing tens of thousands of dollars in this purchase, and you've got to make a decision after maybe 20 minutes or half an hour of local driving? Not realistic, but that's the only option most of us have.
Lots of people, including some of my fellow moms at the ride-and-drive event, are anti-mivivan. They're big, they encourage you to store a bunch of junk (which eventually messes with your gas mileage by making the vehicle heavier), they're unsexy.
I've got a message for those folks: Until you drive one with a couple of small kids, you don't know what you're missing! It's so much easier to load kids into their car seats. You can load four Ikea Billy bookcases in, and still close up the back. You can easily add in an extra booster seat if you need to pick up your kid's best friend from daycare.
OK, so the Quest looks a bit like a giant block from the outside. But inside, it's been designed specifically for parents' utility. A few of my fave features: Covered storage wells so you can tuck smaller items underneath the floor at the back of the vehicle; plus the ability to fold down the third row of seats without having to rearrange any of the crap you've been driving around with in the back of the van. The seats fold forward and down when you need to increase storage space. And the middle-row captains' seats do the same! Have a look:
Plus, it feels like a small, agile car when you're driving it.
I know what you're going to ask next: Is it in the running? Well, it would be, if our kids were smaller, or we had more of them. But with Bronwyn out of a booster, and Isobel now in a booster (plus absolutely no more babies in our future) we don't need quite as much space.
So the search continues. Next stop: Subaru.
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