Selecting a New Family Van

Here in Moushey-land, we have a special emphasis on our mode of transportation. Not only do you fill up a lot of seats with 6 kids, but the baggage that comes with that many children isn’t easy to deal with either (yes, I mean that in every possible way). With the birth of our most recent baby, Benjamin, we have completely maxed out our 8 seater, 2005 Yukon. When we realized that our faithful SUV wouldn’t be able to tow the trailer we our planning to get for next year’s adventures (more on that soon), we realized it was time for a change.

We sat down and put together our list of must-haves and wants for our new vehicle:

  • We needed at least 8 seats (though 10 – 12 would be nice so we could bring friends on adventures with us)
  • We want to get a trailer with a bunk house and need to be able to tow at least 8500 pounds
  • Flexibility in seating is super helpful so that we can trade out seating for extra storage as needed
  • The vehicle must be comfortable enough to accommodate long drives
  • Must be under $35k after registration and taxes

We considered a number of different options. We’ve heard good things about the Mercedes Sprinter, but ultimately it didn’t have the towing power. A couple years ago we had a 2015 Ford Transit (12 passenger) that we really liked, but towing capacity was an issue on that as well. The final contenders came down to the traditional Chevy or Ford 12 passenger van, which can tow a ton (well, 5 tons to be exact) but is just hideous in my humble opinion, and the Nissan NV3500 passenger van. We tried really hard to give the Chevy and Ford a fair shake, but at the end of the day our hearts were won over by the customizability and comfort of the new Nissan van.

The Nissan NV3500 is a relatively new kid on the block with its debut in 2012. During our research we discovered that the van will be discontinued in the near future since Nissan has not been able to acquire as much share in the commercial market as they’d originally hoped. This vehicle boasts 324 seating configurations, 8,700 lbs in towing capacity, and 378 horsepower. Not only that, but the SL version includes leather, heated seats and a built in towing package.

When we first started looking, we came across an amazing deal for a used vehicle down in Portland. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how amazing of a deal it was until it had already sold. While these Nissan’s are pretty popular with large families, there are not very many used options on the market and we quickly found that we’d need to expand our search. So we spent the next few weeks researching and looking all over the US for the right fit.

One of the things that we found interesting about this van is that it utilizes many components from the Nissan Titan truck. Because of this, there are several companies who offer 4×4 conversions. If you’ve ever driven a 12 passenger van in the snow, then you know how big of a deal this is! However, we also discovered that this conversion is only available for models from 2017 and newer when Nissan upgraded the engine and drive train. This helped us narrow our focus quite a bit.

Eventually we found a 2017 model with 60,000 miles for about $28k. I was hoping to find something with slightly less miles and a year or two newer (so that we’d have a bit more time left on the 5 year Nissan warranty), but this vehicle seemed to be the perfect compromise and fit right in our price range. The caveat is that it is in New York! So this weekend they’ll be shipping the vehicle out to us and I hope that it lives up to expectation. I’ve never purchased a vehicle sight unseen before. Wish us luck!

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