Can Hardly Say Enough Good About It
May 15, 2013
We currently have five children aged one to twelve, and we may have more. Needless to say the usual options--minivans and SUVs don't really cut it for us, especially not for a new vehicle investment for the family.
So what's left? Passenger vans and a couple other oversized SUV options. Armada and Suburbans are overpriced and barley top the common 7-passenger options, with not much room for stuff.
As I said, we didn't want to invest in a new vehicle only to have to go bigger in a couple years. So a passenger van was the choice.
I've never been a fan of the van look or the big honking bench bench bench approach. So I was thrilled to see another option. The NV may not be the most beautiful vehicle, but I think it's a head above the standard van look. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of it as a van--more like a truck or maybe a big SUV.
The seating is as awesome as the marketing makes it out to be. We haven't figured out the 300+ configurations, but the flexibility is awesome. We removed the last row (for now) and scooted the 2nd & 3rd rows back, which gives tons of leg room and copious cargo space, while comfortably seating eight.
We bought this about three weeks ago, just before an epic road trip. We put 2800 miles on it in the last couple weeks. Up and down mountain gravel roads, along highways, and of course city.
I am a big guy--over 300lbs and six foot. I was impressed how comfortable it was for many hours of driving. The kids were comfy, too, and my wife even rode in the 2nd row with the baby for many hours without complaint.
The integrated seat belts are nice indeed. The back doors with the magnetic locking is great--worked with wind on an incline in the mountains. We love the sliding door--no more worrying about kids banging into things.
We opted for the V8 SV with towing and tech. We haven't towed yet, but there is plenty of power. Sucker will get up and go when you need it for sure. I wouldn't go off roading, but as I said, it managed to power up the gravel mountain roads fully loaded with fam and cargo. Be nice if there were an AWD/4WD option, but no biggie most of the time.
MPG - we seemed to average around 15mpg on the trip. You can get better if you stay closer to 55/60, but I guess the drag at 70/75 pulls you back, plus of course stop and go, it will gulp gas, but you don't get this for its gas mileage, and its comparable, actually impressive, given what a big box it is. My V6 2004 Ram 1500 averages 15mpg...
One thing I liked was the minimal options. I hate sifting throw tens of options when configuring a car, always not sure about the choices, feeling like I'm wasting money or missing out, and ending up with a ton more $$ on the price tag. This one starts at a very, very good baseline, and doesn't burden you with too many options.
I'd say that the tech package is a must have just for the back side camera--you can't hardly see behind you, and sonar only goes so far. That said, I am very underwhelmed with the radio and nav. We kept comparing the built-in nav (which requires a subscription to keep it up to date) and maps on our phones, and the built in nav usually didn't pick the most optimal route, and it didn't give you specific other options.
I couldn't believe that it doesn't support Bluetooth audio streaming. Isn't this 2013? It requires you to use USB, and it doesn't have a pause--you have to turn it off and on. Factory audio never fails to disappoint. The down side is the rear camera is integrated, so replacing it isn't much of an option.
Other than that, we wanted the front sonar, but you only get that with the top level trim, which forces you to get leather seats. Given we have a bunch of small kids, we opted to stick with the easier to take care of cloth in the SV trim and just miss out on the front sonar.
You will have to practice parking in this behemoth, but just park a bit further out and give yourself extra room.
Overall, we absolutely love it. It's really perfect for us, and probab