Goodbye to the old van (and hello to the new one)

Last night we finally checked a long-standing to-do off the list: Trading in the old van and getting a new one!

Longtime readers may recall that we (meaning mostly my husband) have been on the hunt for a Toyota Sienna with all wheel drive for a while. Due to various supply issues, these vans were pretty much impossible to find for the last two years. Then they were charging a large premium over list price. That has finally come down a lot, and this fall our local dealer could order an actual vehicle (as opposed to vague promises to look for one…). So we took the plunge.

We spent a lot of time this weekend emptying out the old van, vacuuming, and scrubbing. Let’s just say that having a car seat on a particular seat for the vast majority of the last 9 years will do a number on it. The new van is shiny. We shall see how long that lasts. The 8-year-old has been charged with being the enforcer on keeping it neat. He likes using the vacuum, so this may actually work.

Anyway, we’ve taken a lot of trips in that van since 2014 — out to Indiana a few times, down to North Carolina, up to Maine. We drove babies #4 and #5 home from the hospital in that van! It’s fun to think about the miles that will be put on our new one — though also strange to think that if we kept this one 9 years, we wouldn’t really need a van anymore by that time as three of the five kids would be out of the house. The next family car could be small.

But for now, we need all that space. Here’s to lots of minivan adventures….

In other news: In addition to a new van, we also welcomed a Venus flytrap into the family yesterday. The 8-year-old is very excited about this project. We’re trying to figure out how not to kill it given that we are past first frost, and it’s supposed to go outside. If anyone has successfully had a carnivorous plant in your life, I welcome tips.

Photo: The old van, before it departed to new pastures…

14 thoughts on “Goodbye to the old van (and hello to the new one)

  1. Yay for finally getting a new van! We also got a car 2 weeks ago after a 2+ year waiting process. We ended up having to give up on the plug in hybrid we wanted and instead got a Rav 4 hybrid. We still benefit from the strong used car market – we got $3k less than what I paid for my Camry 8 years ago which is kind of insane.

    1. @Lisa – you did well on the Camry – we did not get only 3k less for our trade in van, alas. But it was time…

    2. We also got the RAV 4 Hybrid this year after waiting a year! It feels very fancy after having our trusty Mazda 5 for 10 years. We loved the Mazda 5 which was both of our first car ever to own but now that we are 10 years into family life it felt like time. We do really love it and trekked it out for our annual family visit to Nova Scotia only a few weeks after getting it and are loving having the hybrid! Though, we learned the hard way that it seems to have all the bells and whistles except for a tire pressure alarm. We got a flat on the highway only two months in. That was a bummer. All is fine but definitely feels like that would be something that would be on a new car!

      1. @Jen – eek, the flat on a new care tire sounds like no fun! These new cars do have a lot of bells and whistles. Probably makes them harder to fix!

  2. We got a new family car about a year ago. We were hunting and then one day we were at a dealership on the 30th of the month. We ended up having to have a length discussion about buying vs. leasing given that we really only need a 7 seater for the next 5 years or so. Crazy to think how much life will change in that time.

    1. @Gillian – ooh, smart to go on the 30th. I generally think leasing isn’t a great deal but it probably depends on the car!

  3. Congrats on the vehicle! We also recently purchased a 2023 Toyota Sienna AWD (LE). It was difficult to find, particularly since we wanted AWD, but I did not want leather seats or an entertainment package. Eventually, I got what I wanted. I have to say, this vehicle, while surely not rising to life changing status… just may be life altering… in a profoundly positive way! 🙂 Especially with Sirius XM and Spotify Premium.

    I had no idea what I was missing out on by continuing to drive a 2009 Toyota Sienna. Everyone else knew, and told me repeatedly! But we needed to do first things first (house purchase in 2022). Not to mention busy with 4 children since 2009.

    Now everyone will assume we’ve always lived in a nice house and driven nice cars. Only we will remember the many long trips in a subpar vehicle during the pandemic, and we can turn them into nostalgia.

    Enjoy the new minivan!

    1. @Courtney- we liked our 2014 Sienna – but yes, things were starting to get a little old. This one, I hear, drives quite well. I don’t know because while my husband and nanny have both driven it, I have not yet. But eventually I will try it out 🙂

    1. @Louise – who knew? The quantity of Venus flytrap YouTube videos being watched around here has gone way up (but I think YouTube shorts has gone down, so that is a win…)

    2. I know the local pet store will sell live crickets for feeding lizards, etc. They might even let you have dead ones, since the flytrap won’t care if it is live or dead!

  4. For everyone who thinks they won’t want a van once the kids are gone – my husband and I are empty nesters, and last year we replaced our van with…a van! The back seats are down more often than not, but it is actually better than a truck for hauling furniture, wood for projects, my husband’s fishing kayak, and bicycles (including my backfiets cargo bike – the service center for that is 45 miles from my house, so I do have to load it up occasionally!) I have enough need to move STUFF that not having a van would be extremely inconvenient. Our young adult kids also come back and forth with stuff from college, and move every year or two from house to house, so even if you’re not a van diehard like me, you may want to widen the timeline!

    1. @Seppie – interesting! I guess there are needs to haul stuff alongside people (and I don’t think we’d ever get a pick-up truck, so perhaps the van is the way to go). My husband would use our old van to haul the recycling down to the curb, but we’re not doing that yet with the new one!

  5. Welcome new van! It will be fun to feel spoiled with all the new technology. My 2017 has a HEATED STEERING WHEEL which is absolutely wonderful. I am sure in no time the new van will be home to lost french fries, pokemon cards, pencils, candy wrappers and more. But for now, enjoy that new car smell!

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