Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NV Envy

Since I am stopped in every parking lot in town and asked about our new van, I'm going to share my little review here.  On Sunday we spent 5 minutes chatting with the Border Patrol agent at the checkpoint just outside our town because he was interested in the van.  Nissan started selling the NV Passenger last spring and there aren't very many om the road, especially in this tiny town.

It has been hard to be patient while waiting for our new van.  From the moment I saw the announcement that Nissan was designing a full-size passenger van, I wanted one.  Once they started selling the NVP last spring, I started getting antsy.  The prudent thing to do was wait, especially since we had two vehicles that were completely paid for already and a new van meant a (huge) new car payment.

But our poor Express couldn't fit a seventh car seat and so we were suddenly driving two vehicles anytime we needed to go anywhere as a family.  Our old van was a 2006 Chevy Express and it served us well.  In fact, I shed a few tears when Jason drove it away to take it to its new owners.  I honestly feel like we spent more time in that van than in any of our houses, especially while Jason was deployed.  That van carried us safely to 44 different states.  It held a lot of special memories and it was so hard to see it go.

 After finding out that there are waiting lists (!!!) to order the NVP in Arizona, we decided to order from a dealer in Georgia.  Four months later, we finally had a new van.

Meet Big Blue...
I'm not a fan of the boxy exterior, but there really are not a lot of options when it comes to big passenger vans. The well-designed interior makes up for the square, funky exterior.
The front seats have far more leg room than any other vehicle we've owned.  This is great since Jason is 6'3" and I'm 5'10" with longer legs than Jason.  We have plenty of room and my knees don't touch the dash!

A huge bonus is the dual zone climate control.  Jason prefers the arctic temps but I can set my vents to a slightly less freezing temperature on my side.  (This feature alone was why we selected the trim model we did.)

The kids have a third control for the vents in the back.  There are even heating vents on the floor, in addition to the ceiling vents... not that we have had a chance to use them yet, of course.

There's a huge storage compartment in between the front seats.  If there's one thing I love, it's organizing.  This compartment is where I keep our first aid kit, extra diapers, baby carriers, etc.

We have already played musical car seats several times.  We temporarily had to move Nathan's seat to the front row when he was unbuckling himself while I was driving.  He has since moved back to the middle row.  
One great thing about this van is that every seat has its own lap/shoulder belt and headrest.  Those of you who are car seat techs will appreciate that fact!  Because of the headrests, we were finally able to remove the headrests on the high back booster seats for Matthew (age 10) and Joshua (age 9.)  Up until now, they had to keep the high backs on their boosters because the Chevy Express does not have headrests in any of the rear seats.  

The picture below shows the headrests only in the seats where Matthew and Joshua were sitting.  They're easy to remove so we took out the rest for better visibility.

(Ignore the residential carpet samples that we are using right now.  The dealer didn't give us our rear floor mats yet.)
Each row has cup holders that extend from under the seats.  They are easy to push back when not in use.  We haven't needed them since all six of the kids' car seats have their own cup holders.  There are even extra cup holders built into the side wall and there are outlets there for charging video games and whatnot.

Our current setup is 2 Britax Frontiers (Leila and Sarah) and a booster (Joshua) in the back row.  Nathan and Ryan are in the middle row in Frontiers.  Matthew is in a booster in the front row, next to Amelia in a Britax Roundabout.  Because Leila and Sarah are so small (37 and 38 pounds at 7 years old) I think these seats will stay as is for a long time to come.

I do wish there were more LATCH locations in the NV.  Although we aren't using LATCH for the big kids, we are tethering the 4 Britax Frontier seats and we are short on tether locations.  Also, the headrests make it very difficult to see out of the rear windows (even though we have a back-up camera) so we tried to keep Matthew and Joshua on the outboard seats since they are the only ones using headrests.

The picture above is our current seating arrangement.  There's so much more leg room in this van!

Because of the fantastic leg room, there is far less cargo space in the rear.  We do have the ability to remove seats and rearrange the seating in each row.  (324 seating configurations!)  But we need all of the seats, so we're making do with the limited cargo space.  We can always tow a trailer for trips.  Sadly, my double stroller barely fits in the back now.  There is no way we could fit the quad in this van.  (One big bonus for having the Express when we needed it!  It held The Beast!)

Aside from a few annoying manufacturing defects, we love the new van.  We have had to make three 180-mile trips to the dealer in Tucson to have leaking window trim replaced and order a new part for the faulty sliding door.  Apparently the sliding door malfunction is a known problem because the dealer said the part is back ordered and it could be months before they get it in for us.  I'm guessing there may be a recall soon.
Otherwise, we are blessed to have a van large enough to fit our family and reliable enough to take us all across the country on our adventures.  I can't wait to see where Big Blue will take us...

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