Monday, February 10, 2014

A Big Family Van: The Nissan (Envy) or NV Passenger

IMG_7850Our family grew and we outgrew our Toyota Land Cruiser, the vehicle I said I’d drive until it died. The children won, in numbers that is, and we had to purchase a passenger van, a van I said I’d never drive. My family and friends, who know me, have been waiting for this day because time and time again I’ve said, “You’ll never see me driving a van.” When the mention of a van was made the jokes and comments came flying at me. Even people at church have enjoyed poking fun at me and I’ve enjoyed making fun of myself too. I’ve had a ton of people ask to see our new rig, and me behind the wheel, but so far there is no photographic evidence available, of me behind the wheel, that is. Sorry. I will, however, show you our new tank. We purchased the Nissan NV Passenger van in the middle of December, so I’ve now had plenty of time to get a feel for it and figure it all out, I think.
Before making such a large purchase, I did have some requirements for any vehicle that we would get because I knew that what we bought was going to be driven for several years. The biggest must have for me was to have it fit in our garage. Yes, I’m spoiled and I don’t like to go outside in the snow, or clean off windows when it’s cold. This Nissan fits into our garage by inches, maybe not even an inch, but millimeters. Whew! 

Leather seats were high on my list, but is that even a possible feature in passenger vans? I don't really know my options in passenger vans. I've never really researched them because I knew we'd never need one. When you’ve got a ton of children, leather is the easiest thing to clean when it comes to puke and mud, am I right? I also love heated seats, but I didn’t think that was ever going to happen, so it really wasn’t on my list.

My fear of driving such a large vehicle had me yearning for a backup camera, but I wasn't getting my hopes up until my lovely husband offered to install one for me. He knows the way I drive and probably knows that a  backup camera would be quite beneficial to the frame of any large vehicle that I drive.

Let me tell you though, I think we found the perfect vehicle for our family with everything on my list and a ton more! I’m leaning towards saying that I actually like this van better than my old Land Cruiser, but is it really fair to compare these two vehicles: a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser to a 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van? My only complaint would have to be that the van is a little too wide and a little too long, but when you’re adding 4 extra seats what can you do about it? Check out the Nissan NVP.

First of all I’ve got 6 car-seats and booster seats in this van that fits 12. Crazy, right? I know. I’m thankful that some of the seats have the latch system and we are able to take advantage of that.  Our Land Cruiser didn’t have the latch system and sometimes car-seats would get unbuckled by accident. Speaking of the seat-belts, the seat-belts in this van are awesome! Each seat has its own seat-belt attached to the seat and not the sides of the vehicle making it easier to get to your seat. They also buckle in opposite directions so, you don’t have to worry about unbuckling the seat-belt right next to you.
_MG_4755.jpg The seats in the Nissan are also amazing. The website says that there are 324 different configurations that can be made with the seats. For our purposes we’ve taken one seat out to allow for extra space, and making it easier to get to the other seats. The very back row seats 4 people, while the 2 middle rows seat 3 people each, leaving two bucket seats in the front. Did I mention that all the seats are LEATHER and each seat comes with its own removable head rest?  With small children we don’t necessarily need the headrests so, we’ve taken some of them out, as you can see in the photos. I also have HEATED SEATS in the front. Holla!!
IMG_7885 I’ve been completely spoiled by this Nissan. There are features in the vehicle that I don’t have in the Land Cruiser. The back up camera, or rear sonar, has been a dream. It also has front sonar to detect how close I get to objects in front of me. Who knew that this was an option for passenger vans? I didn't until we began looking into this van. Now I don't need an aftermarket camera installed.
A navigation system was also included in our Nissan which I have been getting used to using. I’m not going to lie, I’ve always been one to use Google Maps and print out my directions. I’m old school like that. There are also USB plug ins for your phone which connects to the system using the touch screen on the navigation. It’s all very new to me, this technology stuff. Up in the front of the Nissan there’s dual climate control so, when I’m freezing cold and Jared is burning up we can set our own thermostats. 
IMG_7887There's a crockpot hiding out in that insulated bag!

What I absolutely love is that there are 2 outlet plugs in the vehicle. I’ve been able to haul my crockpot to church and keep my soup warm at the same time! There’s one in the back of the vehicle and one in the center console in the front of the vehicle. Charging my laptop will probably be happening in the near future from the center console. The center console also houses an extra USB port as does the middle row for a total of 3 USB ports in our party wagon.
Speaking of console, have I mentioned how much space and storage this Nissan has everywhere? For starters, I can fit my huge purse in the center console and lock it up if I need to. With 9 children, I don't carry a small purse. ;) 


Under the driver's seat there's also a secret storage drawer. I call it secret because I never would have found it had I not seen a video about it. Shh! Don't tell anyone about it or they'll start going through my Nissan looking for my secret stash of chocolate. 
It's command center right here!
There are also cup holders in all the rows and 4 different sized cup holders up front! That’s a win if I ever saw one. Hopefully I won’t have the children’s water bottle rolling around all over the place. When not in use the cup holders slide back in place so they aren't a nuisance.
I’m pretty spoiled with the controls on my leather-wrapped steering wheel too. I can control music, cruise control, and even make phone calls with the Bluetooth system.
At the top of the Nissan are climate controls for the back of the vehicle, that way when the children complain about being hot or cold I can control it all from my seat when I'm driving. The thoughtfulness of a compartment just for my sunglasses is perfect because I am always losing my sunglasses. Now I can always keep a pair in the vehicle.
Every row in the vehicle has reading lights that are super easy to use. Just push on them, and they turn on or off. It's almost like we're in an airplane with a row of overhead lighting and vents. Vents are also located in every row in the ceiling as well as heating vents in the floor making the vehicle more evenly heated or cooled.
Isn't it beautiful with the snow falling in the background? Speaking of snow, I've been a little nervous to drive this monster in the snow because unlike my Land Cruiser it is NOT 4WD. We've been blessed with a few snow storms recently, and with the cold temperatures nothing has been melting. Since I didn't have the choice of staying home, I had to take this big tank out in the snow and ice. Yikes! I was less than thrilled to be out on the road in this vehicle, but much to my surprise it handled incredibly well. There is the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system that helps the van sense its surroundings to know how much brake pressure is needed or if speed needs to be reduced. My husband loves driving in snow and ice, and often enjoys turing donuts in his vehicles. Since this beast was new to us he tried to make it slip and slide, but this tank wasn't having it. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't get the tank to fish tail out of control.

One last detail that beats out my Land Cruiser is the power off the line from this Nissan. I know, you shouldn’t have races, but this Nissan definitely has more power with its V8 5.6L engine compared to the Land Cruiser’s 4.0L engine.
And, because I’m vain and all about looks, this Nissan has beautiful chrome wheels and grille. Guys totally dig it. Most of the people who gawk at us are men. Did I mention that a lot of people stare longingly at us? I’ve been told that our swagger wagon looks “Hummer-esque” and at first glance it looks like an SUV. My children even told me that while I ran into a Starbucks there were people walking around the Nissan totally checking it out, not knowing that there were children inside.
NVP Seating
So, how does our family of 11 fit into the Nissan NV Passenger? Here's a little peek at where everyone sits. We've taken one seat out for a little more space and movability. No one feels cramped and there's a ton of square footage for extra stuff. The height and width of this tank make it easy to move around in, and there is plenty of leg room for your average adult. There are little nooks and crannies all over where I’ve been able to stuff my Costco-sized groceries.

So there you have a it, a tour around our party wagon, short bus, beast, or tank as some have called it. Hope you enjoyed getting to know our new Nissan. Now you’re itching to get one for yourself aren’t you? You'll be the NV or envy of all of your friends and family! Good luck! 


Lauren said...

That thing is a beast. I still think you need some flames or racing stripes on the sides.

Erin said...

We are totally jealous. My husband especially!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. It (and many other large family blogs) has helped me in thinking about buying a NVP for our large family once we return to the US from Guam.

Schaefer Clan said...

I have one question: does it fit into a standard sized garage height-wise?


knlrachel said...

Can I ask what kind of mileage you get with the V8? We are pregnant with number six and can't fit in our minivan anymore. The NV is HIGH on my list...

knlrachel said...

Oops, I forgot to ask to be notifies of follow up comments when I wrote :). How is the gas mileage?

Jan Melius said...

Our gas mileage is usually between 12-14 mpg in the city. I don't do a lot of highway driving. If I do I'm usually sitting in traffic.

The height of the NVP is 7ft. Our garage door is just over 7ft. We fit with less than an inch to spare.

Hope that helps.

Daniel said...

Nice Passenger Van.

Anonymous said...

What is the length of the NV?
I desperately want this and am totally sold other than the fact that it has to fit into my garage. I live in canada and need my vehicle to fit in my garage.

Kim McGee said...

This is an amazing review of the NV! Are you still in love after a few years? It looks like you have a single car garage that right?

Unknown said...

Crazy question - does your front sonar still turn on when you are in reverse backing out of a parking spot? The manual says it shouldn't but it beeps to tell us there is a car in front of us when we are backing up... ha ha Other than that - I love it!

Hannah Sivilay said...

Our sonar is super sensitive! It beeps when there is a car pulling up next to us, pulling up behind us, initially it was so confusing to me! I'm used to it now and you can manually turn it off, I think ours is really sensitive though.

Anonymous said...

We just got the NVP 2015.It is definitely the way to go with large families. We have 8 kids. The taller kids have lots of leg room. We call ours the Grand SUV.

We have to get an Entertainment system install for the longer trips.
Overall, it is an awesome family ride!

Anonymous said...

I'm highly interested in this vehicle simply because my blessed Sienna is getting well used & will need retirement. My only reason for not replacing it with a new Sienna is because of the new configuration of the middle 8th seat (too narrow to even be called a seat). With my frequent long state to state travels, my #1 question is how durable is this vehicle and what could the projected longevity be as mileage accumulates? My 2nd question is how comfortable are the passengers as the seats are fairly erect & do not recline? I do hope someone can answer these questions that have first hand personal knowledge! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

How does the van handle on snow and ice? I noticed you commented briefly on it but I'd like to know if you slide around a lot or if it feels like it grips the road well. We live in North Dakota and have brutal winters with lots of snow and ice so we're a bit hesitant with the RWD and no 4x4. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Machelle Ledoux said...

A good friend of mine recently bought the exact some Van and she and her family love it. They just had their 7th child and needed something much larger, which on one hand is crazy considering they had the large Escalade. When you’re sitting in the far back seat, it’s amazing how far away the front seat appears. It really is an awesome Van. Nissan thought of everything on this baby.

Machelle Ledoux @ Total Garage Repair

Joey Hannon said...

I get 12.7 miles per gallon in the city. I am an aggressive driver also. Haven't yet tested highway driving.

Joey Hannon said...

I get about 12.7 gallons to the mile in the city. (Sarcasm) O have yet to test highway mileage.

Kathy said...

You have a crock pot plugged in? Can it cool while you drive or is it just on a keep warm setting??

Paige Hollingsworth said...

I LOVE my Nissan NV Passenger van. The only downside is that I always end up driving the carpool because all the kids fit in my van. I feel you on the size though. I was afraid I had to take a window off parking it in our garage for the first few weeks. I got used to it eventually.

Wes Peterson said...

We have 6 kids and just bought an NV this week :) WE have been drooling over them for the past 4-5 years! I think only a larger family can truly appreciate them! :) Just a question for you...are you cooking in your crockpot on the road? My DH wants to know! He didn't think the converter was right for a regular crockpot??
We are looking at a lot of traveling with our family and it would be very helpful if dinner was cooking on the road instead of the drive thru.


Jan Melius said...

Hi Misty!

Your husband is right! You cannot cook in the crockpot, but it does work on the warm function, if you have one. I cooked meals and just put it on warm when we drove, so it didn't get cold.

Kim McGee said...


We have used it, but a word of caution (unless I am using the plug wrong) you MUST turn the outlet back on after you have turned off the car and then back on (like, at the gas station). I forgot and our food wasn't as warm as it should have been!